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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Polaris Industries Inc.

Indian Motorcycle unit retail sales up +16 percent in Q3

Polaris Industries Inc. has reported third quarter 2017 sales of $1,478.7 million, up +25 percent from $1,185.1 million for the third quarter of 2016. Adjusted sales, which excludes the impact from Victory Motorcycles net sales for the third quarter of 2017, were $1,480.3 million for the 2017 third quarter, up +25 percent. 

Scott Wine, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Industries, said:  “Our emphatic return to profitable growth in the third quarter was a testament to the power of the Polaris brand, the strength of our dealer network and the competitive drive of the Polaris team. During the quarter, strong retail growth in both North America and nearly all of our international markets drove record sales and highlighted our ongoing product innovation, improving product quality and sharpened execution.
“We delivered North American unit retail sales growth of +13 percent and overall company sales growth of +25 percent, about half of which was organic, while lowering North American dealer inventory seven percent year-over-year. Results were strong throughout our portfolio, led by Indian Motorcycles’ exceptional performance as they accelerated share gains and outpaced a declining North American motorcycle market, while also delivering strong growth in Europe, Australia and Asia.
“I am particularly proud of the improved performance from our Off-Road Vehicle business, which was fueled by a well-planned and executed factory authorized clearance sale and the strong reception of our model year 2018 introductions. Encouragingly, RZR retail sales were especially strong in the quarter, and we had our best ATV retail quarter in two years.
“Most importantly, strong total company sales growth translated to bottom-line improvement. Despite higher than expected costs for warranty and re-work and complications from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we delivered significant operating profit growth and earnings per share expansion for the quarter. With strong growth in revenue, profitability and cash flow, I feel very good about the performance of the Polaris team and our improved outlook for the fourth quarter and beyond,” said Wine.
Motorcycle segment sales, including PG&A, totaled $155.1 million, a decrease of -14 percent compared to $181.2 million reported in the third quarter of 2016, which included $39.4 million of Victory Motorcycle wholegood, accessory and apparel sales. Indian motorcycle wholegood sales increased in the low twenty percent range in the third quarter driven by new product introductions and improving brand awareness. This increase somewhat offset lower Slingshot sales. Gross profit for the third quarter of 2017 was $10.4 million compared to $20.3 million in the third quarter of 2016. Adjusted for the Victory Motorcycles wind-down costs of $7.6 million, motorcycle gross profit was $17.9 million, down from the third quarter last year due primarily to lower Slingshot volume.
North American consumer retail demand for the Polaris motorcycle segment, including Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot, was up mid-single digits percent during the 2017 third quarter. Indian Motorcycles increased retail sales +16 percent, partly driven by new model introductions, including the new Chieftain Elite and Limited models and Roadmaster Classic. Indian Motorcycle market share surpassed the ten percent mark in September.
Motorcycle industry retail sales, 900cc and above, were down high-single digits percent in the 2017 third quarter. Slingshot's retail sales were down, although the rate of decline decelerated during the quarter.
The company has increased its sales guidance and expected earnings per share range for the full year 2017 from previously issued guidance. The company now expects adjusted net income to be in the range of $4.75 to $4.85 per diluted share, compared with adjusted net income of $3.48 per diluted share for 2016. Full year 2017 adjusted sales are now anticipated to increase in the range of 18 percent to 19 percent over 2016 sales of $4,516.6 million.
Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) and Snowmobile segment sales, including their respective PG&A related sales, were $1,007.4 million for the third quarter of 2017, up 12 percent over $895.6 million for the third quarter of the prior year, driven primarily by improved side-by-side shipments.
ORV wholegood sales for the third quarter of 2017 increased +13 percent, primarily driven by strong RZR shipments. Polaris North American ORV unit retail sales for the third quarter of 2017 were up mid-teens percent from the 2016 third quarter, with both side-by-side vehicles and ATVs up mid-teens percent. The North American ORV industry was up high-single digits percent compared to the third quarter last year. ORV dealer inventory was down -12 percent in the 2017 third quarter compared to the same period last year.
Snowmobile wholegood sales in the third quarter of 2017 increased +20 percent to $144.2 million due to timing of shipments year-over-year, as the company manufactured and shipped its snowmobiles later in 2016.
Global Adjacent Markets segment sales, along with its PG&A related sales, increased +17 percent to $91.6 million in the 2017 third quarter compared to $78.5 million in the 2016 third quarter. Work and Transportation group wholegood sales were up +17 percent during the third quarter of 2017 primarily due to an increase in sales in the company's Aixam quadricycles and Goupil light-utility businesses.
Aftermarket segment sales, which include Transamerican Auto Parts ("TAP"), along with the company's other aftermarket brands of Klim, Kolpin, Pro Armor, Trail Tech and 509, increased significantly to $224.7 million in the 2017 third quarter compared to $29.9 million in the 2016 third quarter. TAP added $190.6 million of sales in the third quarter of 2017.
Parts, Garments and Accessories (“PG&A”) sales, excluding Aftermarket segment sales, increased seven percent for the 2017 third quarter. All segments and categories increased sales during the quarter.
International sales to customers outside of North America, including PG&A, totaled $156.8 million for the third quarter of 2017, up +1 percent from the same period in 2016. Sales in EMEA and Asia Pacific increased low-double digits percent in the third quarter, with Latin America growing sales mid-single digits during the quarter.
Gross profit increased 40 percent to $364.0 million for the third quarter of 2017 from $260.8 million in the third quarter of 2016. As a percentage of sales, reported gross profit margin was 24.6 percent compared with 22.0 percent of sales for the third quarter of 2016. Gross profit margins on an adjusted basis improved due to increased volume, lower warranty, significant gross VIP cost savings and positive product mix, somewhat offset by higher promotional costs. Sequentially, adjusted gross profit margins were 130 basis points lower than the 2017 second quarter, primarily due to higher warranty and the added costs from a combination of supply chain and natural disaster related headwinds during the quarter.
Operating expenses increased 19 percent for the third quarter of 2017 to $265.2 million from $222.6 million in the same period in 2016, which included $1.3 million in Victory wind-down costs and $3.5 million of TAP integration expenses. Excluding these costs, operating expenses increased primarily due to the addition of operating expenses from TAP, as well as increased research and development expenses and increased selling and marketing costs related to the introduction of new products, offset somewhat by lower legal related expenses.
The company reported third quarter 2017 net income of $81.9 million, or $1.28 per diluted share, compared with net income of $32.3 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, for the 2016 third quarter.
Income from financial services was $18.1 million for the third quarter of 2017, down six percent compared with $19.2 million for the third quarter of 2016. The decrease is attributable to lower income generated from the wholesale portfolio due to the lower dealer inventory levels.
Third quarter gross profit margin was 24.6%, up 261 basis points over prior year. Adjusted gross profit margin was 25.5%, up 351 basis points versus last year primarily due to positive product mix, increased VIP savings and lower warranty costs.
Net cash provided by operating activities was $494.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2017, compared to $426.2 million for the same period in 2016. Total debt at September 30, 2017, including capital lease obligations and notes payable, was $920.0 million. The company’s debt-to-total capital ratio was 51 percent at September 30, 2017, compared to 32 percent a year ago due primarily to the financing of the TAP acquisition. Cash and cash equivalents were $132.3 million at September 30, 2017, up from $122.7 million for the same period in 2016.
During the third quarter of 2017, the company repurchased and retired 257,000 shares of its common stock for $23.3 million. Year-to-date through September 30, 2017, the company has repurchased and retired 1,015,000 shares of its common stock for $88.9 million. As of September 30, 2017, the company has authorization from its Board of Directors to repurchase up to an additional 6.4 million shares of Polaris common stock.


Kellermann indicators now available through Kuryakyn

Somerset, Wisconsin based Kuryakyn and German specialist lights manufacturer Kellermann GmbH have announced a partnership and introduction of the “Kuryakyn by Kellermann” collection. 

Kellermann has been designing and manufacturing premium motorcycle accessories for more than 25 years. Their exceptional quality has generated a cult-like following among the custom bike culture, and has also earned the brand numerous prestigious honors, including the coveted Chicago Athenaeum Museum’s “Good Design Award” as well as multiple Red Dot Design Awards for the BL 2000 and Bullet 1000 series. 

This brand alliance strengthens Kellermann’s position as a segment leader of state-of-the-art motorcycle indicators, leveraging Kuryakyn’s worldwide dealer, distributor and retail channels to strategically penetrate new markets with an emphasis on North America.
“Kellermann and Kuryakyn share a passion for technology and product innovation,” said Holger Mohr, President of Kuryakyn. “This partnership reinforces Kuryakyn’s commitment of offering the highest quality, best-performing accessories to our dealers and consumers, and is a tremendous opportunity for both brands to showcase our respective leadership positions within the motorsports industry.”

The ‘Kuryakyn by Kellermann’ collection showcases a variety of high-performance L.E.D. indicators “offering modern styling” in a variety of sizes and profiles. All indicators operate via integrated circuit at 330 kHz, are universal for 12 volt electronic applications, and feature precision zinc die-cast metal housings. Kellermann’s HighPower L.E.D. Technology combined with Longlife Protection Guard “delivers maximum L.E.D. brightness and lifespan for unmatched longevity.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to bring our range of innovative and premium quality motorcycle accessories made in Germany together with the Kuryakyn team to the challenging U.S. market,” says Dr. Stefan W√∂ste, Kellermann CEO. “We are ready to listen to what bikers in the U.S. want, and will push the envelope even further to bring more cutting-edge technology to the American motorcycle scene.”

Blackstone TEK (BST)

BST celebrates 15 years as carbon fiber wheel pioneer

Leading carbon fiber wheel manufacturer Blackstone TEK (BST) of Johannesburg in South Africa is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

Founded in 2002 by Gary Turner and Terry Annecke, the company almost single-handedly created the volume production carbon wheels market, and as such has had quite an influence on the race and custom motorcycle industries.
The company has been ISO 9001 certified since 2003, audited by the German TUV and JWL and DOT E certified, with BST indeed being the only OEM certified supplier of carbon fiber wheels in the world and the biggest aftermarket supplier.

The winner of multiple international awards, BST has over 25,000 wheels in the market worldwide, offers four different styles of wheels in sizes ranging from 12” to 23” and offers over 200 individual fitments for 20 different manufacturers.

BST wheels have become a default choice for Harley, Buell and performance V-twin customizers looking to save weight and add strength. BST carbon fiber wheels have been the ‘go to’ for AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building competitors, for whom performance engineering is the driving force in their design decisions.
BST’s latest success has been with Ducati’s new 1299 Superleggera, said to be the first ever factory bike to be equipped with carbon fiber wheels.
“To lighten the load and provide a reduction in rolling resistance, Ducati chose BST carbon fiber wheels to enhance the performance,” says Gary Turner.
“A traditional metal wheel manufacturer uses one wheel per test – our wheels are engineered to withstand four tests - cornering fatigue, radial fatigue, torsional fatigue and impact testing - all using the same one wheel,” Gary explained.

BST employ some 50 plus people at their 4,800 sq m (approx. 51,500 sq ft) facility and have exported their wheels “to just about everywhere in the world, including Kazakhstan…basically everywhere that has a motorcycle community.”

AIMExpo 2017 review part 1

Kirsh Helmets 
The CHM-1 from Schenectady, New York based Kirsh Helmets is a DOT approved polycarbonate half shell helmet with what the company describes as a “revolutionary approach to helmet safety, one that is “smaller and denser than traditional motorcycle head protection, and fundamentally different in design.”

A “Fluid Displacement Liner”, it has been designed by the company to “provide strength, durability, increased elasticity and reduced angular rotation applied to the head in the event of a crash.” It is manufactured with a non-toxic, food-grade antifreeze (propylene glycol) injected into a removable silicone lining that is said to “feature a patented technology that offers versatility at both low and high energy impacts, from any direction, at any one point in time.”

Founder and CEO Jason Kirshon describes development of the Kirsh helmet as an “extinction level event” for traditional helmets that “allows the force of impact to continue in a straight line towards the wearer’s skull” and that “relies on a thick layer of foam liner to reduce the force to a safe level before it reaches the skull.”
“The Kirsh design spreads the force of impact through a honeycomb of silicone gel lining the helmet, dissipating the impact energy so that no single point of the rider’s head receives a harmful degree of impact.
“The result is a remarkably stable half helmet that looks as good as it works.” Available in eight colors, the CHM-1 is “turning the classic half helmet market on its head,” according to Kirshon. “No longer do you have to sacrifice safety for that slick, low profile look. Compression technology (styrofoam) in helmets is now a thing of the past.”

Blud Lubricants
The new Scottsdale, AZ based motorcycle industry-specific oil brand launched three new blends at AIMExpo, all under the ‘BLUD’ brand name – ‘HAWGBlud’, a 100 percent synthetic for V-twins; ‘BIKERBlud’, an extreme duty synthetic for Japanese and European made street and sportsbikes; and ‘DIRTBlud’, a 100 percent synthetic for 4-stroke UTV/ATV engines, transmissions and wet clutches.

‘HAWGBlud’ is described as an “ultra-performance, severe duty 100 percent synthetic oil created for V-twin motorcycles that can be used in the engine, crankcase, primary chain case and transmission.” A 20W50 PAO (Poly-alpha-olefin)/Ester blend is said to be “unique in that its base stock and ‘BLUDLINE’ additive formulation creates a robust oil for the serious V-twin owner.”

By way of durability and high-performance credential, BLUD Lubricants have been chosen by the world’s fastest female motorcyclist Valerie Thompson and her Land Speed Record Chasing Team Seven as the oil of choice for their Bonneville Streamliner.
" I am excited to announce Blud Lubricants’ sponsorship of Valerie Thompson, America's Queen of Speed, as she sets out to rewrite motorsports history by breaking the motorcycle land speed world record of 376.36 mph. Valerie and Blud share the common goal of striving for maximum performance in challenging environments. Go Valerie!!! " -  Jefferson Green, CEO, Blud Lubricants LLC.
Valerie was rained out at Bonneville on her most recent visit, but as Jefferson Green told AMD Magazine: “Stay tuned, we are still only at the start of this story!”

BELL Powersports unveils 2018 Street Full Face Helmet Line-up
The Rosemont, Illionis based helmet brand traces its history back to 1952, when it was founded in the garage of a Southern Californian speed shop by Roy Richter. The past decade or more has seen the brand traverse difficult times, but with the acquisition last year by Utah based outdoor products specialist Vista Outdoor Inc., Bell has the backing and resources to leverage its storied past.

First integrated into Bell Powersports in 2016, MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) is now standard in the Bell Star. MIPS is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet, designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain types of impacts. The helmet itself is said to be among the most versatile premium helmets on the market and carries the same racing-inspired pedigree of the Pro Star and Race Star.
It is described as extremely quiet and lightweight “with an amazing fit and features Bell’s exclusive Panovision viewport for a greater field of view.
“It’s not every day that you can take a best-in-class, performance-driven helmet and make it even better, and we’ve managed to do just that with the addition of MIPS to the Star platform,” said Chris Sackett, Bell Helmets’ Vice President. “Similarly, the RS-1 had been arguably the highest value proposition on the market at its price point, and we’ve raised the bar for that helmet with RS-2, and done so at a price point that’s $100 lower than its predecessor.” 

The fan favorite, tried and true RS-1 is back and reconfigured with the second generation premium RS-2. The updated RS-2 features a lightweight fiberglass DOT/ECE design with a super smooth direct drive internal sun shield. This helmet is quiet and comfortable, with an optimized aerodynamic design to eliminate noise from air turbulence. The helmet comes with an X-Static comfort liner, exceptional ventilation, and is also communication and eyewear compatible. The RS-2 is one of the most feature packed and affordable helmets in the Bell line-up.
The 2018 street full-face category is bookended by the Pro Star Flex and entry level Qualifier. This year, the Qualifier line has expanded to include four offerings: Qualifier DLX MIPS equipped, Qualifier DLX, Qualifier DLX Blackout and Qualifier. In addition to the new helmets, the entire 2018 street full-face line will also feature new graphics and colorway options.


Motonation, Malaysia, to host an AMD World Championship Affiliate Custom Bike Show

The latest show to join the line-up of AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building affiliates is Motonation, being staged at the PICC (Putrajaya International Convention Centre) in Malaysia, December 1 – 3, 2017.

One of the biggest events in South East Asia, Motonation is an automotive and lifestyle celebration, and this year features an AMD World Championship affiliate custom bike show for the first time, with the winner receiving travel and bike freight expenses to compete at the 2018 AMD World Championship at ‘INTERMOT Customized’, Cologne, Germany, in October.

The show is open to competitors from throughout the region, and AMD will be there to supervise the judging.

Brass Balls Cycles

Biker’s Choice has Brass Balls

When Dar Holdsworth, a former AMD Production class World Championship winner, started his Brass Balls Cycles off-shoot in 2006, he had no idea his hobby of building motorcycles in his free time would turn into a full-time bikes and parts design business.

Now, 10 years later, Biker’s Choice has inked a distribution deal with Brass Balls Cycles to sell Dar’s fast growing range of designs.
“We are grateful and super excited to be working with Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice,” says Dar. “The entire team embraced us as one of their own from the start and that has really added fuel to the fire and charged us up,” he added.

Brass Balls Cycles has been honored with numerous awards for their customized motorcycles, including those 2011 and 2012 back-to-back Production class wins and multiple additional podiums at the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building and elsewhere. 

In addition to the motorcycles they have built and customized for their customers, they have also crafted several bikes to support the troops. They are active supporters of charities such as Pros4Vets, Wounded Warriors, Intrepid Fallen Heroes and Warriors for Freedom.
Now Dar’s attention is firmly focussed on a burgeoning program of parts and accessories that combines contemporary manufacturing precision with a convincing classic styling that is right in the crosshairs of the current retro and shed build market.

Barnett Clutches & Cables

Scorpion billet clutch basket for 2017 - 2018 FL Tourers

Barnett Clutches & Cables has released an updated Scorpion billet clutch basket for a “bolt-on” install on 2017 – 2018 FL Touring models.

“This billet basket is the highest quality and most cost-effective replacement for a broken stock basket. Precision-machined from tough 2024-T3 billet aluminum and hard anodized, this basket is superior in quality and durability to the stock item it replaces.”
To install, simply remove the stock basket from the ring gear/primary sprocket and bolt on the new Barnett Scorpion basket. All hardware and instructions are included.


Kraft Tech

Rigid Evo straight backbone and wishbone style frames

These custom frames from Californian manufacturer Kraft Tech are manufactured in 1 ¼” DOM mandrel-bent TIG and MIG welded steel tubing with 30 degrees rake and 0” stretch.

Straight backbone rigid 4, 5 and 6-speed frame with 30 degrees rake and zero stretch for 130/140 tires

Designed for 4, 5 and 6-speed transmissions (transmission plate available separately), they accept Evolution engines with clearance for cylinders up to .200” taller than the stock Evos. They use the stock ’86 -’99 Softail oil tank and rear brake caliper.

Wishbone style rigid 4, 5 and 6-speed frame with 30 degrees rake and zero stretch for 130/140 tires

The gas tank mounts, rear axle, exhaust bracket, belt guard tabs and coil bungs are all available separately.



Hyperpro for ’98-’08 FLH/FLT

Noted Dutch suspension specialist Hyperpro has developed shocks specifically for Harley FLH/FLT models with OEM saddlebag guards.

Their type 361 shocks (pair) have an adjuster knob-accessible remote reservoir and are fully adjustable for both high and low speed, which means the panniers can stay in the stock position.
They feature rising rate progressive springs that allow the rider to upgrade and adjust to suit riding style and load. They come in “all black” and are individually crafted in-house at their own Werkendam, Netherlands facility.
They are fully serviceable and come with a unique production number, so the factory can record the date of manufacture and components used, so that customers can be assured of replacement parts availability and authenticity.


Brock’s Performance

Extreme performance ‘Bagger’ swingarm

Dayton, Ohio based Brock’s Performance is offering new, hand-crafted performance aluminum extended (0 – 3” over) Bagger swingarms. Described as 100 percent bolt-on designs, they can be used with the OEM rear wheel, caliper, spacers and associated components.

Engineered for use in high-power, high-torque applications, the optional 28mm DOM (Drawn Over Mandrel) hollow steel axle is proven to 350 ft-lbs; the 3-position shock mounts (+1” forward, standard, -1 rearward) allow flexibility in ride height and billet axle adjusters/ends + grade 8 steel adjuster bolts prevent axle slide.

They have replaceable Aurora PTFE lined spherical bearings pre-installed, shed up to 50% of unsprung weight vs. the OEM swingarm, and are available in a natural brushed aluminum finish.
Brock’s say that “our 6061-T6 heat-treated aluminum extrusion means dependable strength, and we know we are offering unequaled craftsmanship, engineering and weld quality.”


Tuesday 17 October 2017


Harley Q3: -8.1 percent in a domestic U.S. market that is -9.2 percent; international -4.6 percent

Harley-Davidson worldwide retail motorcycle sales were down 6.9 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2016. Harley-Davidson U.S. retail motorcycle sales were down 8.1 percent compared to the year-ago quarter, with the overall U.S. industry down 9.2 percent for the same period. Harley-Davidson’s U.S. market share for the quarter was 53.1 percent in the 601cc-plus segment, up compared to the same quarter in 2016. Harley-Davidson’s international retail motorcycle sales decreased 4.6 percent compared to the third quarter in 2016. 

“The continued weakness in the U.S. motorcycle industry only heightens our resolve and the intensity we are bringing to the quest to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders,” said Matt Levatich, President and CEO, Harley-Davidson, Inc. “Launching one hundred new high-impact motorcycles is a critical part of our 10-year journey, and the all new Softail line-up is a significant statement of our commitment.
“As the U.S. motorcycle industry leader – with dealer strength and rider passion and loyalty like no other – we believe we are uniquely positioned to build ridership and strengthen the sport of motorcycling, not just in the U.S., but around the world. Our investments in new product and marketing are targeted to drive ridership growth. We have the strategies, plans and people to make it happen,” said Levatich.
Harley-Davidson says it continues to expect to ship 241,000 to 246,000 motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2017, which is down approximately 6 percent to 8 percent from 2016. In the fourth quarter, the company expects to ship 46,700 to 51,700 motorcycles compared to 42,414 motorcycles shipped in the year-ago period. The company continues to expect full-year 2017 operating margin to be down approximately 1 percentage point compared to 2016, and 2017 capital expenditures to be $200 million to $220 million.
Cash and marketable securities totaled $683.1 million at the end of the third quarter, compared to $795.3 million a year ago. During the first nine months of 2017, Harley-Davidson generated $949.1 million of cash from operating activities compared to $927.8 million for the first nine months of 2016. The company paid a cash dividend of $0.365 per share for the third quarter of 2017, and a cumulative total of $1.095 per share for the first nine months of 2017.
On a discretionary basis, the company repurchased 4.5 million shares of its common stock during the third quarter of 2017 for $222 million. In the third quarter of 2017, there were 170.7 million weighted-average diluted common shares outstanding, compared to 179.3 million shares in the same period a year ago. At the end of the period, 10.6 million shares remained on a board-approved share repurchase authorization.
Third quarter 2017 diluted EPS decreased to $0.40 from $0.64 in the third quarter of 2016. Third quarter net income was $68.2 million on consolidated revenue of $1.15 billion versus net income of $114.1 million on consolidated revenue of $1.27 billion in the third quarter of 2016.
Through nine months, Harley-Davidson 2017 diluted EPS was $2.95, down 16.9 percent from $3.55 in the year-ago period. Harley-Davidson 2017 net income was $513.4 million on consolidated revenue of $4.42 billion compared to nine-month 2016 net income of $645.0 million on consolidated revenue of $4.89 billion. For the first nine months, worldwide retail motorcycle sales were down 6.1 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

AIMExpo 2017

AIMExpo 2017
September 21 – 24

The move to Columbus, Ohio, for the 5th annual American International Motorcycle Expo raised the hopes of a hard-pressed V-twin parts and accessory industry. With the added impetus of Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle becoming exhibitors for the first time, would the move to the market’s midwestern United States heartland yield the hoped-for results?

Well, the short answer to that question is yes and no; kind of, sort of, somewhat.
It provided a foundation on which the show can build forward if the organizers now make the right decisions, but any expectations that the aisles would be rammed with dealers insisting that exhibitors accept their sacks of money were, sadly, not realized.

There was a “just about” viable dealer attendance overall, but not the increases over that seen at Orlando that the organizers and exhibitors had hoped for. Not yet anyway.
Well, that was the short answer. However, with most media outlets simply reporting the numbers and the basics without applying context, the reality (and certainly the long-term significance) of what was seen there was a lot subtler. So here is the long answer, starting with those basics.
The 2017 American International Motorcycle Expo presented by Nationwide kicked off with ‘The Future Starts Here’ opening ceremonies that highlighted the primary challenge facing the industry – cultivating the next generations of riders, “and the critical need for all of the industry to come together to develop our future customers.”
Headlining the opening morning and playing to a packed room were keynotes from Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris, and Matt Levatich, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson. In complementary addresses, each looked at the elements important to grow ridership, and of sharing the experience that we as an industry enjoy and know so well. 

The MIC also unveiled their new direct to consumer ‘RiDE’ initiative - a broad industry program aimed at family and youth audiences that aims to offer an “impactful first-ride experience”. Being staged in a partnership with noted Boston based purveyor of customer engagement and experience, Feld Entertainment, initially the program will see a multi-city tour of “first experiences” offered at 11 Monster Jam Truck events in 2018.
Organizer MIC Events says that some 490 exhibitors had booth space inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which is actually up on the 451 seen at Orlando, Florida, in 2016; and with a record of 13 OEMs involved altogether, 9 of them offered demo rides at the adjacent AIMExpo Outdoors! With the show floor essentially sold out of exhibit space, available seats for demo rides outside ended up sold out for nearly all manufacturers – during consumer as well as dealer days.
We here at AMD Magazine received mixed reports on attendances for each day – I guess one person’s good will always be someone else’s disappointment. The first of the two dealer/trade only days felt promising in terms of aisle traffic, with some we spoke with saying they were pleasantly surprised, but some saying they were disappointed though.
Much kudos to the organizers for the candour of their post-show press release – perhaps pointing to the benefits of the industry showcase now being owned by the industry trade association, they declined to hide behind the customary organizer hyperbole and told it the way it was, which in itself is interesting.
“The second day did not follow on from the first, and dealer traffic was much lighter than anticipated. Overall, 2,090 dealer attendees from 1,034 dealerships attended over the show’s four days, a decrease from the 2,459 dealer visitors representing 1,116 dealerships in 2016. 

MIC’s Tim Buche revealed the new RiDE initiative, a broad industry programme to offer an impactful first-ride experience in a partnership with Feld Entertainment that will see first experiences offered at 11 Monster Jam Truck events in 2018

“While hurricanes played a factor from pre-registered attendees from TX, FL and GA, the number is frustrating given the overall increased trade marketing and location of the show.” Personally I actually thought the second dealer/trade day was busier than the first, and I wasn’t alone in thinking that – but a wise bird who’s been round the block way too many times in such matters suggested that it was because those who were doing an overnighter came in for a second morning, making it feel busier, but then with the weekend looming, they headed off home after lunch on the second day.
With regard to the consumer attendance, MIC Events went on to say: “Saturday’s consumer attendance was quite strong and included a ride-in of nearly 300 motorcycles from Iron Pony Motorsports. Our other local partner, A.D. Farrow Harley-Davidson, was also promoting to consumers all week during their 105th anniversary celebration.”
But that “Sunday’s attendance, while steady, did not meet expectations, with a two-day combined consumer total of 11,897 attendees. For the first year in a market, this nearly achieved the fourth year’s total in Orlando of 12,029 in 2016. Based on reactions from consumers, they were amazed at how large the show was compared to standard regional shows, and were extremely satisfied with all aspects of the event, both indoors and outdoors.”
In other “key figures”, 922 “other industry personnel” were recorded as visiting the show, compared to 630 in 2016 – the increase included the AMA’s Congress, held during the trade days, and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s IRETS conference for rider coaches, which took place again this year.

Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris, pointed to the investment in technology as being the pathway to develop products that will speak to digital generations

Media attendees were down with 197 vs 252 in 2016. “With no global launches, overall media attendance was down, but there were increased requests for immediate information from media outlets not attending.  The MIC’s communication arm,, hosted a number of mainstream media outlets with stories appearing in a variety of non-enthusiast media as a result.”
The overall 2017 attendance - including exhibitor personnel – is cited as totaling 18,176 vs 18,399 in 2016.
MIC Events said that “it is important for the Powersports industry to have an annual gathering to showcase new product, conduct business, network and for the critically important reason of coming together to address industry challenges.
“Exhibitor feedback to the MIC Events team focused on the need to attract more dealer attendees. ‘The Future Starts Here’ spoke to uniting the industry to find new riders, and that AIMExpo presented by Nationwide was the venue to have the conversation about industry challenges.
“Similarly, it is going to take a united industry to get dealers to turn out for the most important industry gathering of the year. As an industry, we must realize we’re not living in the days of Dealer Expo in 2006 when there were significantly more dealers in the U.S., and when it was much easier to get them to attend. As exhibitors, we look to you to join us in a variety of ways to help get dealers to attend, and we’d like to continue the discussion as we look to next year’s show in Las Vegas.”
Well, MIC Events is certainly right about the changed times, and I’d actually go so far as to suggest that representation at the show from some 1,000 or so dealerships is pretty good in the context of it being a new event for the region; in the context of these being extraordinarily difficult times for most shops; and in the context of the dealer representation number not being all that much more after four years at (the rather more limited hinterland of) Orlando.
Moreover, given the ridiculously overestimated attendance numbers at the ‘Indy’ Dealer Expo (and V-Twin Expo for that matter) “back in the day”, the 2017 Columbus dealerships number is not so bad.
Is it enough for the nearly 500 exhibitors (including the 13 OEMs) to be able to liquidate the investment from? No, of course not. But is it a foundation that can be built on? Yes.
Which makes the 2018 move to Las Vegas, before a 2019 return to Columbus, that much more frustrating. Sure, there is merit to the idea of moving the show around to cater to different regional markets sometimes, and the hope is that some of the OEMs might decide to co-join their own dealer conventions with AIMExpo if and when it visits the kind of regions and venue cities they have themselves tended to favour for such events in the past.
But while confirming now that AIMExpo will be back at Columbus in 2019 is to be welcomed, I would suggest that they should immediately decide what they are doing beyond that, in order to maximize momentum and industry confidence.
If an every-other-year frequency at Columbus is the way to go, then fine, that works, but confirm it straight away. If, in fact, the organizers are now minded to review the itinerant show concept and ultimately drop anchor permanently in the region where the market’s trade shows have historically worked best, then also fine – but again, announce it now. Don’t be a little bit pregnant over it. In these times when there is more than enough uncertainty swirling about us without adding to it -  give the V-twin market something steadfast that we can build on.

Matt Levatich, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson, pointed to a future in which “it’s all about the software not the hardware, and the software is the consumers whose world is defined by their screens”

By the way, as the organizers know only too well, nobody should be intimidated by the theoretical top line attendance numbers of the trade shows “back in the day”. Once you drill down, the actual number of dealerships being represented at a time when there were so many more, and when budget was flowing like milk and honey, was nothing like those top-line numbers would have you believe – in the region 2,000 to 3,000 dealerships represented (at most) is more like the reality of it, and even those kinds of attendances took more than a decade to build and represented market conditions the like of which none of us are ever likely to see again in our lifetimes.
It is ironic to be having this kind of debate just as Easyriders Events has been forced to wave a white flag of surrender (for now at least) for the V-Twin Expo at Cincinnati, and as the structural changes and consolidation in the V-twin market result in the emerging dominance of the new generation of February distributor dealer, own brand and vendor events that are also re-shaping the trade show landscape.
The timing of AIMExpo is one of its primary USPs, albeit one that seeks to establish a new order of things for such shows in the United States. The combination of trade and consumer, OE/new model launch is a style of expo that has dominated a market in Europe which, although much larger overall, does not have quite the same tradition of OE events or trade shows that has defined the U.S. show scene for these past decades. In the single continental market of the United States people are not likely to hop an airplane and spring for a hotel to see new models that will be in their local showrooms in the fall anyway – so making the show a permanent fixture within easier distance of the greatest concentration of riders is of critical importance to that formula, and of critical importance if the confidence of the OE community is to be maintained.
While on the subject of the fall timing though – a plea to the organizers: if you are going to hold the show in October, please make it a week later, so you recognize the importance of INTERMOT in the years in which it is staged. Hoisting your colors up the EICMA mast solely is not the smartest or most future facing of strategies – especially where the V-twin and wider custom market is concerned. While INTERMOT ‘Customized’ flourishes, EICMA has had to can its custom element in search of a more convincing solution.
Having flogged the attendance issue to within an inch of its life, there is much else that AIMExpo and the MIC can build on for the future.
The excellent ‘Custom Culture’ feature has proven that it is worth investing in and has legs, especially for a midwestern audience, and with one more year of development under its belt can be massively leveraged in 2019 as a major dealer and consumer draw, provided Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle are still engaged.
I have to say that seeing their participation at AIMExpo was inspiring – and given the different places they are at in their business cycles, seeing Harley-Davidson participating at a show in America was especially motivating.
They are a common sight at the shows in Europe. Indeed, for many years our own INTERMOT booth was practically next to Harley’s, and with the advent of INTERMOT ‘Customized’ last year, they even took a secondary booth to showcase their own custom programs alongside the AMD World Championship in Hall 10 at Koelnmesse.
In the United States though, well, that is an altogether different matter, and in a year in which Matt Levatich made a convincing appeal for industry unity and working together to meet the market’s challenges, kudos to the Harley executive/s who had the vision to “go for it” (take a bow Anoop Prakash?), because in partnership with MIC Events and the custom/V-twin exhibitor community, we all now have the opportunity to work together to build a massive new forward facing platform that speaks the new language of “new gen” consumers.
Harley-Davidson has a brand-new generation of communication opportunity within touching distance in its grasp – one that will allow it to add an important dimension to the raft of initiatives it is already seeking to embrace.
The Rallies are great, but they are what they are. H.O.G. events keep the faithful on the straight and narrow, and presumably there’s no reason why AIMExpo couldn’t become a pin stop in the future. Social media outreach, broadcast and print media all have their role to play - any media or marketing person who claims they have all the answers has none of them!
But, it famously has always all been about the mix (ask Henry Ford – a tad difficult but you get my meaning I’m sure!) – and it is all about achieving balance and about exploiting as many different opportunities as possible, finding as many different pathways into the target market’s psyche (and wallet book) as possible.
In Europe the value that the multi-purpose major national and international shows bring to the table has been an established part of that mix for generations. Now, as we seek to prepare ourselves to sell to new generations, seeing Harley respond to the inspirational thinking, vision and opportunity that Mike Webster and Larry Little have worked so hard to create, and that the MIC now backs, has got to be understood as a new kind of long-term initiative with opportunity stamped all over it.

Drag Specialties NVP Part 6

Avon Tyres: Leading custom tire manufacturer Avon has added to its popular Cobra range of touring tires with two new fronts (130/60B19 and 130/60B21) and two new rears (160/70B17 and 180/55B18). A firm favorite with custom shops, custom bike builders and performance custom engineers, Avon’s Cobra extensive range for V-twin, metric and custom bikes has grown over the years and encompasses 47 sizes along with 10 WW sizes and two trike sizes. Described as delivering “style and performance for cruisers, customs and tourers,” they are backed by Avon’s Road Hazard Warranty program and 15,000-mile warranty;


Wiseco Performance Products: Recent news from the Mentor, Ohio based manufacturer includes the introduction of their new Black Edition line of pistons for late model Harley applications. Featuring two new proprietary coatings that Wiseco describe as an industry first, ArmorFit coating on the piston skirt and ArmorX on the entire piston are said to “offer superior protection against wear, higher compression, smooth and quiet operation and maximized efficiency. They are available for M-8s and popular Twin Cam and Rushmore model engines (SE heads);


Russ Wernimont Designs (RWD): Based in Murrieta, California, Russ Wernimont started to make motorcycle parts in the 1990s and continues to produce some of the highest quality stamped steel fenders and accessories in the market. His all new ‘Flat Back’ series of front fenders are available for 19 to 30 inch wheel applications; his FXR fairings and FXR/Dyna fairing mounting kits, front fenders and LED taillight and license plate combo complement his ranges of mirrors, dashes and conversion kits;


Cobra Engineering: Recent new products from the Yorba Linda, California based manufacturer include Cobra 4” slip-ons with 4” Race Pro end caps that expand to 4 ½”. Available for 2017 Touring models, they feature a 3” core technology that is described as “far beyond conventional louvered metal tubes.” Cobra says it has been able to engineer and use a “high frequency, sound chattering technique in the high-flow core to enhance the lower mellow tones. The result is a muffler system that offers great sound quality without mid-range distortion”;


DP Brakes: Manufactured exclusively for Drag Specialties, DP Brakes’ (the originator of sintered brake pad technology) premium performance brake pads are said to be dust free, noise free and fade free, offering “superb stopping power even when the pads are cold,” according to Larry Mills, the British manufacturer’s North American Head of Operations. “Sintered metal works as well when cold as other pads do when they are hot. Our upgraded high-tech ceramic heat barrier on the back plate stops the heat generated by braking friction from reducing stopping power or causing brake fade by preventing it from transferring into the brake fluid”;


Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation: Recent new product designs from the Phoenix, Arizona based specialist include a one-piece clean-up accessory to streamline late-model Harley-Davidson gas tanks. Their “Clean and Simple Steel Dresser Dash” is a direct bolt-on application that “looks sharp” on H-D touring model stock tanks from 2008–2017. “The really large OEM tank console plays havoc with the sleek flowing lines we are always trying to create with our products,” says Yaffe. “This gave me the perfect opportunity to create a sleek, low-profile custom dash that makes your stock tank look clean and stretched, with one simple bolt-on part”;


Maxima Racing Oils: Available in the fall of 2017, Californian oil blender Maxima is updating its successful ‘Oil Change in a Box’ program specifically for Harley’s M-8 models. With the engine now also migrated into the 2018 and up Softails, Maxima’s V-twin Market Business Development Specialist Garrett Andrews told us: “The fact that the Milwaukee-Eight actually holds more oil has gone largely unnoticed by a lot of people. Our ‘Oil Change in a Box’ options have been hugely popular with workshops and dealers, as each single order number kit comes with all the necessary products to complete a full oil change - our V-twin formula 20W-50 engine, transmission and primary oils, plus a K&N ‘Wrench-Off’ oil filter in choice of black or chrome;


Klock Werks: The Mitchell, South Dakota bike builder (purveyor of fine limited edition design work for Indian Motorcycle no less!) and parts designer continues to see sales of its popular ‘Flare’ windshield program growing strongly and has scored big this year with Kicker Audio ‘Fit Kits’, their ‘Kliphanger’ and ‘Ergo’ handlebars and recently added device mounts by ‘iOmounts;