Good morning everybody. This post from West Palm Beach Airport. I know very well the good reasons why the V-Twin Expo is held in Cincinnati, but I am still bitching when I have to leave in winter sunny and warm South Florida (today 80-63F) for the frigid temperatures (32-25F) and coming snow of Ohio. Well, I will arrive this afternoon at my downtown hotel after hopefully a non-eventful trip without snow delay or confiscated computer gear by a TSA agent… So I should be in Cincinnati reporting every day about this trade show that vendors consider one of the yearly bellwethers of the health of the V-Twin Industry.
But a few facts I already know and that I can already share with you. While the number of vendor booths is sharply down from the top of 2006 (a time when 2 floors of the Duke Energy Center were necessary to welcome all exhibitors), participation has stabilized, many vendors opting to reduce the size of their display instead of missing this important trade show. The list of exhibitors and the ware they are showing this year reflect a difficult economy and a legislation-induced trend towards street legal custom bolt-on parts (retro-styling is big) and performance custom parts. If you ask, most dealers will confirm to you that since the start of our recession their major sources of profit have come from installation, maintenance and service.
As I reported too many times in my Blog, casualties have been important during these last years. But, the economy is healing and we already know that technically (ask the Wall Street pundits) we are out of this deep recession since almost one year and in a slow recovery mode with Americans getting more optimistic every day. I also know that many bikers who have a job, feared the worst and consequently didn’t spend money on their bikes have continued to make wish lists…The custom motorcycle industry is far from being dead. It was sleeping. All my professional indicators show that we have bottomed out, a reason to be conservatively optimistic for the rest of 2011.
As soon as I arrive, I will do a walk through of the Energy Duke Convention Center for a preview of all new ideas and products that vendors will start showing tomorrow when the V-Twin Expo opens its doors at 10 am. Talk to you later from Cincinnati.