A Letter From Sheldon Coleman CEO Of Big Dog Motorcycles

bigdogbaggerBelow the email I received from Sheldon Coleman.

“Happy New Year to all!! 2010 is here at last. Personally, I am glad to have 2009 behind us, and am looking forward to all the prospects of a fresh year, with hopefully an improving economy and a more robust industry! As a reminder, we have decided to focus our energies on only one of the two February trade shows for this year. In the past, we have tried to accommodate both the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo and the Indianapolis Powersports Dealer Expo into our schedule and budget. Unfortunately, this year we had to choose between these two fine events.

As previously announced, for 2010, Big Dog Motorcycles will only be exhibiting at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo (February 12-15). We have enjoyed the years of exhibiting at Cincinnati and will miss exhibiting this year at this excellent show. We are respectful of all that Easyriders does for the industry, and are appreciative of the many awards we have achieved at this event. Hopefully next year our budget will allow us to return.

In the meantime, we are pleased to attend the Dealernews Powersports Dealer Expo with our Big Dog booth and factory team”. Best regards, Sheldon Coleman, CEO Big Dog Motorcycles.

33 Responses to “A Letter From Sheldon Coleman CEO Of Big Dog Motorcycles”

  1. 1 36 Special @ Open Road Biker Jan 6th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I am thinking about trying to promote my website at the Cincinnati show but really not sure I can afford it. It would be nice to see if it would help me out though.

  2. 2 Mike Jan 6th, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    The V-Twin expo is a cool show, but honestly it pales in comparison to the Dealer Expo in my experience. As an exhibitor, doing the V-Twin expo is sooooo much easier and more laid back. But we just don’t get the ROI there that we get at Indy. It seems many of the attendees at the V-Twin expo are there to rub shoulders with the names in the industry, and meet up with friends and BS with people they don’t see that often.

    But we do a tiny fraction of the business there that we do at the Dealer Expo.

  3. 3 Dave Blevins Jan 6th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    After all that Easyriders has done to help promote BigDog over the years, this kinda seems like a middle finger. I realize that Pisano Publications was paid for ad space in thier magazines, but they always sang the praises of BigDog every chance they could in the mags and at the V-Twin Expo… I doubt that much attention will be given by the rice riding guys at the Powersports Expo in Indy.

  4. 4 Jim C Jan 7th, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I am not going to VTwin this year but am going to Indy. The Indy show is more rounded in terms of what is available. In this economy,you must diversify or die.Big Dog made the smart move in terms of ROI. Nowadays,you have to make some hard cloices. They have gotten a lot of free exposure from V Twin and hopefully they took that into consideration.

  5. 5 Pat Jan 7th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    That’s cool. I’ll be at the V twin Expo. If I need to know what a new Big Dog looks like I’ll just pick up one of their 2008 catalogs or stop by any dealer and check out the bikes left over from last year. I get the whole budget thing but I’m old school and you stick with the one that brung you to the dance.

  6. 6 No Pain No Gain Jan 7th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Sure, the V-Twin Expo is the first conglomeration of the v-twin industry mainstream for the New Year since the last show for everyone to get together was… Biketoberfest-ish, and it is a great time to re-bond with all of your old friends in the industry.

    Let us not forget the primary reason for these motorcycle manufactures that are attending these shows. They need to solicit and enlist new healthy dealerships for their network. Are those healthy dealer inquiries dedicated to the American V-Twin marketplace these days…?

  7. 7 I mean really Jan 7th, 2010 at 11:25 am

    “seems like a middle finger to Pisano Publications”… from what I can see after all these years of a respectable relationship, that would never be possible, Dave.

    Pat, good luck trying to find a 2008 catalog I ran out of those 3 months ago. Although, you will have great luck in finding leftover inventory at any (motorcycle/car/truck) dealership in the entire country right now…

    “I mean really”

  8. 8 Pat Jan 7th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I actually left my computer for awhile and some moron in my shop posted that under my name. I will find him! At this point in the life of the industry we all need to support anybody that is still trying to make it. That’s old school.

  9. 9 Scot Jan 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I think Sheldon should do what Dar with Brass Balls did last year. Don’t rent a booth. Just show up in the lobby with a bike and win bike of the year honors.

  10. 10 Gene Jan 7th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I would like to have seen BDM at the V-Twin show but think Indy is geared a little more at overseas markets, hell just look at all the import stuff at this show (Pocket bikes :). There is not much more BDM can do in the states that they have not or are not doing. Overseas may be the only thing that pulls them out.

  11. 11 Jeff Nicklus Jan 7th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I am sorry to say that I believe that in the next couple of years we will be back to one show again …… there isn’t enough of us remaining to justify a V-Twin Expo and Indianapolis Dealer Expo. Just way too expensive and time consuming to do both!

    Over & Out,


  12. 12 Mike Jan 7th, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    You think so Jeff?

    I just looked at the V-Twin exhibitor list, it’s just over 300 exhibitors, although many are listed twice (i.e Drag Specialties, S&S, V-Twin publishing, etc)… so figure maybe 275 unique companies there to promote product.

    Conversely, there are around 1,300 exhibitors at Indy.

    V-Twin expo isn’t supposed to be the equal of Indy, it’s targeted to the V-Twin customer.

    The upside of Cinci is it’s such an easy show to do… move in and move out is simple, it’s much more laid back and much less stressful.

    The downside is they charge the same as Indy for 1/10th the return… and guys just aren’t there to do any serious buying. They are there to hang out with their industry buddies and maybe check out what’s new. We have a very very eye-catching booth. I’ll take tons of cards and get tons of inquiries from Indy but practically nothing from Cinci.

    Paisanos needs IMO to focus on getting more press, more coverage, more BUYERS, a more “serious” show for people to actually see trends.

    You will see the same few big companies getting the awards, you will see the same big companies getting all the press coverage.

    Hopefully it will be different this year, but if they want to make the V-Twin expo “THE” show for the Harley, Custom (and their aftermarket) crowd, they need to make the show more valuable to the attendees.

    If it’s another BS fest and guys hanging out shooting the shit, it will be my last year there.

  13. 13 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian Motorcycles Jan 7th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    A smart business person is constantly evaluating and tweaks accordingly. I too will be evaluating which show to do in 2011. I recall submitting my Flathead engine for an award entry some years ago but got kicked to the curb and told you are not elegible because you are not mainstream.

  14. 14 Mike Jan 7th, 2010 at 9:34 pm


    I know your feeling.

    I inquired about submitting some products for the industry awards and discovered the awards are basically decided by one guy who didn’t even want to see the product to make a decision.

    If anyone believes the “best new…..” is a real award, you need a reality check!

    You could come out with an engine that runs on water and get 200mph and 200hp and costs $5k, and you will never win the best new engine award compared to S&S.

    Just how it works.

  15. 15 The Supreme Team Jan 7th, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Good point Jeff, Mike and Mike.
    We are not showing this year, simply because there was next to zero ROI last year…lots of inquiries, but mostly window shoppers. The other thing I noticed is the ENORMOUS amount of west coast vendors showing out there, which leads me to believe that doing away with the Vegas Expo was probably less sensible than the Cinci show. Granted you’ve got the big boys close to home out there, but in the same, and without looking, I would say that 60% of the vendors out there last year were from the AZ, and CA.

    We simply could not see putting out the money to shake hands with a bunch of lookie-loos. Certainly we appreciate meeting folks, but didn’t figure we wanted to pay $1.00 per handshake this year.

  16. 16 1550tc Jan 7th, 2010 at 11:31 pm


    I think Sheldon should do what Dar with Brass Balls did last year. Don’t rent a booth. Just show up in the lobby with a bike and win bike of the year honors.

    in year they had bikes in the lobby of of the Hyatt and in their both iam sure the hyatt would cut them a deal………..the Vtwin get lost at indy amongst all the off shore junk in booths……..

    to me its kind of a ???? decision………pawn off a few rolexes and bite the bullet and get a both, u have what 28 days

  17. 17 Sharpo Jan 8th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Kinda interesting to see the negative comments on this one. If any or you were at the V-Twin Expo last year, you will remember that Big Dog was the only Manfacturer at the show. I have been told that they have not received any dealer prospects for the past 4 years at Cinci, and isn’t that the reason vendors go to these shows? As far as sticking with “Old School”, I think it was Indy before Cinci. I have been to both and Indy is by far the best all around show to attend. Cinci is nice, but it’s all about business at these shows. For a Manufacturer the size of Big Dog, it it takes about 25k to do each. Unfortunatlly they can only do one. They did them both last year and I’m sure they did their evaluation after they were finished. Indy is the best bet right now.

  18. 18 Trademan Jan 8th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Cininnati V-Twin Expo is to socialize with a trade show as a pretext to travel there. Indy Dealer show is all about business. In these times, business is the priority. The 2 shows should be one, and it’s going to happen when the V-Twin Expo lose 25% more exhibitors with Easyriders bleeding money. Big Dog made the logical business choice.

  19. 19 Rambo Jan 8th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    It’s not a middle finger…jeez you narrow minded twit.

    Big Dog is cutting back trying to restructure and SAVE money. I’m sure if the economy was better they would be right in there. It’s just like Pepsi and GM…they’re not doing the superbowl commercials this year…and why? B/c their BROKE, lol. Ya gotta shave un-needed cost wherever possible.
    Big Dog rocks..not only as the best Factory-Custom large production bike maker, but the company rocks and stands behind their product. Long live BD Choppers.

  20. 20 Conrad Nicklus Jan 8th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Ok Ok. This was just a blatant waste of time to write. Last time I checked debt and lack of sales have caused BDM to hit rock bottom. Layoff after layoff has occured over the past two years and now a “wish us well” letter from the CEO is supposed to alter our KNOWLEDGE of what is going on? You can’t hide behind lies in order to make the people on here think that BDM is doing fine and dandy with a letter.

    The industry is down, the bullshit companies as well as the respected companies are falling off the edge day after day, not a big deal. This sucks yes, but it helps to clear out the heard and allow the strong to survive. I am tired of hearing about the same news everyday, BDM I wish you well BUT chances are the end of the year wont make it for you.

    Conrad Nicklus

  21. 21 Out There Somewhere Jan 8th, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Leave it up to Conrad (who has absolutely nothing to do with BDM) to be the all time BDM authority when it comes to the financial situation and business decisions at BDM. Your right Conrad, your comment was a blatant waste of time to write.

  22. 22 just my opinion Jan 9th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    My only comment on Big Dog is that I wish them well and I hope we all have a better year coming than what we have all went thru this past year. As for the dealer shows I do have a couple of things that come to mind. First some of you guys are saying how the Indy show has much more as far as people attending and that is true but how many of those people are v-twin people? Last time I went to Indy there was a ton of people some looking for snow mobiles, some looking for mini bikes, some looking for lawn mowing attachments and snow plows for quads. And lets not forget that over half of all attendance are there for Jap bikes. Do you guys really think that any of those people are going to help your v-twin market? The reason that the V-TWIN show in cinci started was two reasons the first I have already explained the second was the people running the show at Indy. Don’t you guys remember how they do things? Indy has a point system they used to award their space at the show, Let me explain for those that don’t know about it. If your both was 10×10 you got 1 point and you recieved 1 point for being there each year you went. If your both was 10x 50 then you got 5 points for the both size and 1 point for each year you had been coming to Indy. The problem with that system is that the show has gotten so big your customers can’t see everything that is there and the V-Twin section was more popular than other areas so those guys selling lawnmower attachments and plows wanted in the V-Twin section and because some of them had more points they were moved to the V-twin section. EVEN THOU THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH V-TWIN. The last year my company did Indy we had lawnmower attactments on one side of us and cowboy hats on the other and we were in the so called V-Twin section. Some of you may be thinking “SO WHAT” well the so what of it is that some of the v-twin guys were then moved into the section that the lawnmover attachment guy had, so now the guy that is V-Twin has customers that could not find him or his customers thought that he did not attend because he was moved out of the v-twin section and the show became a total waste of time and money. And for those that were V-Twin we had to deal with guys asking all kinds of stupid questions because they were not V-Twin people and I think that we had lost some business because we were busy dealing with non v-twin people and was busy when real V-Twin people walked by and because your busy they think I will come back but some make it back and some don’t . Those that don’t are lost until next year or until the Cinci show. And then lets not forget that the big guys like Honda and Yamaha and Toro and every other big rig was allowed to block all the exits with their rigs even thou they took several hours to take there boths down and were nowhere near ready to load out when they are blocking everyone else. And in the mean time all the guys with smaller boths that were packed up and ready to load out could not get out they had to wait several hours in the marshalling yard because INDY takes care of the big guys and treated the small V-Twin people like pee ons. I say let Indy keep the jap bikes, snowmobiles, minibikes and lawn mowers I don’t need those people to come to my both and finger fuck all my products and ask stupid questions and buy nothing anyway. As for me and my company we will stick with the V-Twin guys and their show at cinci. I may only see 1 person for every 12 you guys will see at Indy but at least I know the people I see at Cinci are real V-Twin people not guys selling lawnmowers acting like they are V-Twin people. I did both shows for many years and all I can say is my company does much more off Cinci than we ever did at Indy

  23. 23 Buell 1 Jan 9th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Big Dog must not have found a buyer yet. I wish them the best.

  24. 24 Lonny Jan 11th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Big Dog choosing Indy over Cinci is a smart move For Them,
    Everybody in the V-Twin Industry knows them and dealer are set.
    If your looking for NEW Customers then you have to look at new venues.
    They have the V-Twin dealers set up, now they need a metric dealer to take on their products.
    All the Metric dealers will be in Indy. You always need to find New Cheese

  25. 25 John White Jan 11th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    We started going to the V-Twin Show a couple of years ago. Why? Because we manufacturer V-Twins. This year we expanded our booth. It was very expensive: $4600 just for the booths. Add the expenses to ship bikes and engines and people to the show and the cost is enormous. I can clealy see where some would say it is not worth it. Is it worth it for Crazy Horse?

    The answer is yes. But this is because we are new and need to expand. Expanding means meeting the people of the industry. Last year we met Dave Perewitz and Ron Finch. We met the owners of Sucker Punch Sally and many others. For us it was a great show.

    This year it is a very difficult time for the motorcycle industry. Those that attend are the strong ones. The weak ones will be forced to make decisions based on their financial ability. Big Dog is in financial trouble so they have dumped the V-Twin Show. It was probably the right decision for them. Missing the V-Twin Show would not be the right decision for Crazy Horse.

    I did not know Dar did not have a booth. What a clever guy. No booth expense and he still walks away with an award. That is pretty good marketing if you ask me. Glad he had one of our engines in the bike!

    S&S may be the god of the V-Twin engines but we little guys still have to keep fighting.

    See ya at the V-Twin Show.

    John L. White
    Crazy Horse Motorcycles

  26. 26 mike Jan 11th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    possibly the vtwin expo needs to find a way to be more cost effective also. the weather is terrible most imes we go there too. needs to be more cenerally located and more reasonable. Maybe some one can fill me in on why we go to that town and why they torture us with being there sunday each year and no one ( customers ) are there on sunday. its bull ! terribel waste of money and time.

  27. 27 mike Jan 11th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    spelling, i know! i got all wound up

  28. 28 mike Jan 11th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    one more! its monday we are there and no customers to be seen. not sunday. save us all one days expenses, it would be a big deal

  29. 29 Mike Jan 12th, 2010 at 1:53 am


    Look forwarding to seeing you at the show. Would you say you got a ROI on that investment? You said you met Perewitz and Finch and the guys from Sucker Punch Sally. But did that bring you any additional business?

    I met Arlen Ness, Billy Lane, the Detroit Bros guys, the guy from Big Bear Choppers, and lots of other people. But it didn’t translate into any business.

    What has translated into business for us is getting our name out there on web forums, news sites, magazines, television, etc. I enjoy doing the V-Twin show but as I said before it seems like a bunch of guys going to hang out and rub shoulders with the “industry names”. I hope it will be better this year because a few years ago it was all guys there with cameras snapping pics of their favorite previously-unkown TV celebs.

    Considering that the Expo doesn’t bring us buyers… I would hope it would bring us exposure. But I see very little coverage of NEW products in the industry. Let’s face it, we all know about S&S’s engines. We know Custom Chrome distributes bike parts. We know there are tons of different styles of wheels and various paint jobs.

    Will all the magazines be there and will they be actively seeking out NEW stuff in this industry? And will they be reporting on it? What say you, Cyril? Will you be taking pictures and getting information on NEW products and NEW businesses and NEW developments in the industry? That’s what we need.

    Once people see the new stuff out there (read: growth), it will spur people on to buy it… it will open the creative minds of the builders, and that will make the end customers drool over the latest thing, and that’s what drives this industry.


    there are several reasons the expo is where it is and when it is. I hate the location too – Cinci sucks anytime, especially in winter. But the fact is that something like 70% of all bike dealers are within a half day drive of the area. Dems just the facts…. also, it’s gotta be close (in location and time) to the Indy expo, because many people do both. And they are in February because Presidents Day weekend is when a lot of dealers start moving out the snowmobiles and moving in the bikes. So thats when they are out shopping for parts. Many of the parts take 30 days to arrive, so they see it at the Expo, they order it, and by the time they get stock it’s just getting into the start of riding season.

    I agree with canning Monday, but I think if they did that, people would start bailing out early on Sunday. They like to keep Sunday as a full day, so by having a half day Monday it makes sure that happens.

  30. 30 mike Jan 12th, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    sunday is only a medium day at best so maybe it still would be better to can monday. or start a day earlier. no matter what ,monday is a waste of $.
    i appreciate everyones imput.

  31. 31 V-Twin Nut Jan 14th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I wonder if it was Sheldon making the call to go to the Indy show, or if it was Intrust Motorcycles making that call. Sheldon hasn’t been in charge of Big Dog for several months. Intrust Bank in Wichita is making all of the financial dsecisions for them. Sheldon hasn’t been making the intrest payments for a quite some time. The bank gave them 90 days to find a investor. (sounds alot like Textron and Iron Horse) Sheldon can make all of the statements and try to sugar coat the fact that they are in trouble. If I were a dealer, I would be dumping my Big Dogs quick. There were a lot of dealers that went out when Iron Horse went belly up. I can’t help but think the same thing is happening with Big Dog. I’m really not one to kick a guy when he’s down, but you have to face the facts. Sheldon has said that he is not putting another dime into the company. If he’s not willing to put anymore money into the company because it’s not going to make it, why would anyone want to invest?

    R.I.P. Big Dog

  32. 32 Conrad Nicklus Jan 15th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Out There Somewhere…..As was your comment Mr BDM himself. 🙂

    V-Twin Nut, you hit the nail on the head.

    Conrad Nicklus

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