V-Twin Expo. Business Is Back Belonging To The Pros.


vtwinexpo09So just like it wasn’t the case that everybody in the country was making a mint flipping houses a few years ago, it also isn’t the case that everybody is doing bad in the motorcycle industry. We certainly can’t deny that unemployment is rising and earnings are hurting, but this daily drumbeat of negative news only tells part of the story. If I have to make only one conclusion after talking during these last 3 days to dozens of professionals and checking all their wares during the V-Twin Expo , it would be that if our economic brain is severally damaged, our creativity is fully intact and that some vendors are doing very well.

The V-Twin Expo is closing in a few hours. What’s different this year? Everybody, from dealers to retail clients is going to see less new motorcycle products, but much better parts with more Bang for your Buck. “Me-Too” products, the ones with no added value, cosmetically and/or mechanically (very often named new when they were in fact copies or even copies of copies from its original designer) vanished like winter morning mist in South Florida. Junk parts are mostly gone. Excellent. I guess you can always get some perks even in bad economic times. For this 9th edition, exhibiting at the V-Twin Expo was living proof that you are doing Ok (meaning Good when translated in 2009 new economic language). Also true that the joy to be among my peers was somewhat tempered when I obeserved that a few good companies were missing in action on the floor of the most important V-Twin trade show of the year. This 9th edition could be summarized by “”Our Business Is Back Belonging To The Pros”. Just what we needed.

20 Responses to “V-Twin Expo. Business Is Back Belonging To The Pros.”

  1. 1 Squiggy Feb 9th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I agree 100% with the above statement, most junk disapeared and there were some very cool new parts, for example motorcycle electronics is adding many new players with very good products. As well it seems like the industry is starting to see that people are not coming to our brick and motor stores as much and want to purchase from the web sites of dealers. Custom chrome has that vision making it easier for dealers to sell on web and ship, Bike shop full throttle makes it very easy for dealer to have a internet presence, with over 40,000 products listed on there program that you can add to you website in seconds, more parts means more sales, and better choices for the customer. Also the slow times are weeding out a lot of bad shops and web sites, with the quality people remaining, All in all the future looks bright even if sales are slower.

  2. 2 Squiggy@dumbassbiker.com Feb 9th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    by the way awsume pipes guys

  3. 3 Lucas Feb 9th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I want to mention to all readers that i am in Cincinnati, participated to a seminar about the motorcycle industry and the use of internet and that Cyril huze blog was mentioned many times by all participants as the absolute reference for efficient use of the web digital space..

  4. 4 Rollin Feb 9th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I thought it was one of the best shows ever. Yes there were less people, but the mood was back to business with dealers and buyers looking for new products that could help their bottom line. If this was an indication of what’s to come for 2009, we are headed in the right direction.

  5. 5 Bobzilla Feb 9th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Agreed Cyril. It’s a much better show than what people thought or feared. Great work reporting & analyzing.

  6. 6 BCOOL Products Feb 9th, 2009 at 10:25 am

    There were many very good manufacturers of quality products that were not exhibiting this year and my company, B’COOL Products, was one of them, however, that doesn’t mean that we/they weren’t there being represented. We had product on display with Maximum Motorcycle, on the very cool candy red bagger with the 24″ front wheel in the main lobby built by Metalrodika and on the crazy chop by Anarchy Mo Co on display in the Wizard’s Detail Products booth. We thank all of these people for representing us.

    Yes things have been slow and we couldn’t justify the expense this year(we spent our money on new fender tooling and equipment) but we did manage to attend, make new contacts, rekindle old ones and let all know that we are still alive and well. The show was much smaller than years past and attendance seemed to be down but overall my opinion was that spirits were high and people hopeful that 2009 will be a better year than last. My year already is and we hope the same applies to all of the good manufacturers that couldn’t make it this year. If 2009 continues they way it has we will be back next year to show what else we have been working on.

    If you turn off the doom and gloom media then things seem to be much better. My glass always seems to be half full!

    Randy Briley

  7. 7 Gunrunner Feb 9th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Knowing what to expect at the V-Twin Expo made it predictable. With that mindset, I thought it was a great show. It was so great to see all of the industry veterans with a good understanding of what they are doing now is honing their stamina for this troublesome year to come. As Bert Baker says “stop watching the news, and watch Leave it to Beaver”.

    There was a lack of new products this year compared to last year, but we all expected that. However; Heartland USA had a great kit for the H-D Rocker, Big Dog Motorcycles unveiled a brand new bagger model that was really awesome, and Hells Foundry had a great new product for baggers as well. There is a lot more, but you get the point.

  8. 8 Brenda Fox Feb 9th, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Betlach does an incredible job putting the show together and I commend him and the Paisano Family for putting on the “Grammy Event” of the Industry.
    Good to hear the positive vibe, the weeding of the rift raft and the players that are around – are the players we want to play with.
    Gunrunner – thanks for the feedback on that BDM Bagger, I look forward to the editorial review I’ll be doing on it.

    Cyril, Its no surprise your blog received several honorable mentions.
    Its common knowledge the best info in the biz can be found right here.
    You have …as you always do, a great job of keeping us posted.
    (Pardon the pun).

  9. 9 Lee Wimmer Feb 9th, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    I just got back from doing the show. I have to say it was one of the very best I have ever done (except for 3 years ago when I proposed to my now wife Nancy there) Anyway we wrote more sales at the show than I did when things were really good. Yes numbers were down buy it’s Quality NOT quanity!. The attitudes were great as well from all the vendors. And there were STILL some new items out there. Jim and the crew did a great job as always to make it easy to do this show. We’re signed up for next year as I’m sure almost everybody else is.
    People….ya got to stop watching CNC so much. It’s a media ploy to bring us down. Things are still strong in this biz!

  10. 10 Marilyn Stemp Feb 9th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Cheers, Lee, I couldn’t agree more. Several other company reps told me they had written more business at the show this year than in the prior six or eight years there – when attendance numbers were much higher.
    If everyone stopped complaining, quit listening to pundits, and went out and bought something for their bike – even just a quart of oil – we’d all be better off. Quit whining – go riding…

  11. 11 Nicker Feb 9th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    “… less new motorcycle products, but much better parts with more Bang for your Buck….”

    Quality should once again be the hallmark of American industry.
    Now that’s “Change”…………. !!!!


  12. 12 rodent Feb 9th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I bet even Cyril assembled a bunch of parts for his next build!

  13. 13 Fred Feb 9th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I think we all can agree that PARTS vendors did well at the show. I am curious what numbers the bike manufacturers in attendance had in signing dealers or pre orders for the spring . Any feedback from them?

  14. 14 dale Feb 10th, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Cyril, Right On!
    The energy,mood, feel and spirit was back for sure.
    There were more smiles, and more heartfelt exchanges amongst professional peers going on everywhere in the show, hotels and outside venues.
    The crowd was down, but so were ther tirekickers.
    V-twin set the stage for a great year to come.
    We were happy to be part of it, thanks.
    360 Brake

  15. 15 Lee Wimmer Feb 10th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Sorry about the typo. I meant CNN not CNC
    one is crappy TV news one is wonderful manufacturing. What a difference one letter can make 😉
    by the way I wanted to find the 360 brake guys but no time to get away….great product guys! Job well done!

  16. 16 Blackmax Feb 10th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Cyril….
    Your assessment of the show was spot on, it was a time for the “weeding out” process to begin.
    Again, less than in past years, but more in quality & good times seeing old friends.
    Sorry I missed a chance to interview you (that’s twice now) but I promise we’ll get together & do it at first opportunity. Great website !!!!!
    Take care

    Two Wheel Thunder TV & Road Wheeler Magazine

  17. 17 Doc Robinson Feb 10th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Good post Cyril, as always. As a magazine editor from Australia I found the show to be just what most of the guys above me have said. However, as I pointed out at a couple of the marketing seminars, US manufacturers should think a bit more outside the square. You all know what is happening to Harley sales in the US. Well in Australia, sales are very strong with the Motor Company reporting record sales for 2009 for about the 10th or so year in a row. Our economy is still pretty strong and our dollar is down against the greenback, way down. When I was over here last year we were in the high nineties against your dollar, now it’s around 60 cents. Which means your US dollars go nearly twice as far so advertising is way cheaper. From a buyer’s point of view, our bikers are used to it as that’s how it was for so long.
    Sure, we’re not a huge market, but an excellent niche one, and one which particularly benefits smaller US companies, especially parts manufactures. If anyone wants help or advice on how to market products in Australia they are welcome to contact me through the magazine web site at
    http://www.heavyduty.com.au or via email at info@heavyduty.com.au.

  18. 18 Rogue Feb 11th, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I know I am late commenting but have been busy going over my photos and getting them out.
    I agree that it was a Great Show and that Jim Betlach and his crew did a fine job.
    There were some excellent seminars as well as exhibitors and I am sure there will be plenty of reports on each shortly.
    The Next Generation Marketing seminar and the addition of the Lipmnickie Lot were great additions and we should see a lot more on that soon.
    The Aftermarket Motorcycle Industry Committee chaired by Keith Ball was a sucess and I feel we all will see more co-operation between motorcycle organizations as the goverment continues to come out with laws that are not in the best interest of motorcyclist.
    Let us not forget the parties, social gatherings and all of the networking that went on.
    It was good to see all of those I know from the past and to also make some new friends.
    I am already looking forward to attending next year.
    Ride Safe and Free

  19. 19 Bugle Feb 11th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    The show was great. The big winners are the vendors that make parts that bolt-in or bolt-on bikes made by the motor company; they are giving our industry a few hundred thousand potential new customers each year. On the down side of the market are the vendors that create parts that a custom bike must be built around.

  20. 20 Jim Van Landingham Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    You hit the nail on the head Cyril. It was Ironspirit’s third Expo and we found it to be the best in quality. Those Dealers and Vendors who invested time & money to attend the show or display at the show were more serious than in the past. We, (Dealers & Vendors), realize we’re dependent upon each other for our mutual survival.

    It was nice to NOT have to compete with companies of lesser quality products for the Dealers valuable time and attention. And I’m sure the Dealers were happy they didn’t have to walk past too many instant “Mc V-Twin Parts” companies before speaking to a company that has true passion.

    Here’s to a great 2009!

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Cyril Huze