2010 Indy Dealer Expo Report
The top 10 (or so) things we saw at America's largest motorcycle trade show
America’s largest motorcycle trade show, the Advanstar Dealer Expo, was held again in chilly Indianapolis last weekend. Dealers from all over North America came to see the ridiculously wide and diverse selection of motorcycle products they have to choose from to bring to their cities.
The pall that has been cast on the motorcycle industry for the past 16 months was reflected in the reduced size of this year’s Expo, as the mood of attendees was indeed more somber than in years past. Budget cuts resulted in fewer and smaller displays, and were perhaps most evident in the dearth of booth babes that usually enliven the show’s mood among its mostly male attendees!
However, with about 750 vendors and 240,000 sq. ft. of show space, there was still an enormous amount of cool motorcycle-related items to see. In fact, despite two full days of pounding aisles and discussing new products, there were some booths we didn’t have time to explore.
Of the hundreds of products we checked out, here are our favorite 10. At the top of our list are a few new motorcycles introduced at the show.
For us, the highlight of the show was the emergence of a new manufacturer – an American-based one, no less! The formerly underfinanced Swedish OEM Highland is reborn as US Highland, Inc., headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma and now on firm financial footing. R&D work will continue in Sweden. The renewed Highland is preparing to launch a line of at least eight different motorcycles this spring.
A key distinction of the Highland bikes will be ability to have them tailored to each rider, from seats to handlebars to suspensions and steering geometry. “Riders in America deserve works bikes,” US Highland COO Chase Bales told Motorcycle.com.
Bikes based around a liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine include a motocrosser, an enduro, a trail bike and a supermoto. Each style with be available with a 450cc or 507cc motor except the Trail line which will have a milder 350cc mill. All are fuel-injected.
Each of these Singles are wrapped in an innovative stainless-steel frame made from a new alloy Highland calls Hy-Tens that results in a chassis said to be lighter than aluminum and doesn’t deflect like aluminum frames. Expect the motocrosser’s price to start around $13,000 for a base version.
Bigger power is available from a range of compact and lightweight V-Twins that share some components with the single-cylinder line to maximize efficiency via a focus on “standardizing and unitizing.” Highland is able to create Twins of various displacements: 550, 750, 950 and 1150cc. The largest motor is purported to crank out 155 hp at the rear wheel, which would put it firmly in the realm of the potent Ducati 1198.
Three distinct V-Twin platforms will be available, including a big dual-sport with Hy-Tens stainless frame, a Tuono-like naked sportbike with a Spondon frame, and a dirt-track-inspired roadster with a steel frame. The so-called Street Tracker has a claimed dry weight of just 268 lbs in its 750cc form.
To seasoned skeptics like us, this all sounds like a fanciful pipe dream, but Bales and US Highland’s president Mats Malmberg are adamant they have a realistic plan. Lending gravitas to the program is the recent addition of Husqvarna’s former CEO, Bengt Andersson, as Highland’s chairman.
Keep your dial tuned to Motorcycle.com for more details about this exciting new company.
Husqvarna motorcycles have rarely graced the virtual pages of Motorcycle.com, but after the Indy unveiling of two new street-legal big Thumpers, we hope that soon changes! After being purchased by BMW in July 2007, Husky is now better capitalized than ever, and this is clearly demonstrated in the two new 600cc models seen first at Dealer Expo.
First off, don’t expect the model names to have a direct relationship with the engine sizes. Just as the former TE610 didn’t have 610cc of displacement (it had 576cc), the new TE630 is appropriately sized at an exact 600cc. Joining the dual-sport and street-legal TE630 is the supermoto- and street-ready SMS630.
The liquid-cooled single-cylinder engines in the “630s” utilize a new cylinder head that incorporates double overhead cams instead of the previous SOHC layout for a notable increase in power. Richard Kenton, Husky’s national sales manager and a supermoto racer, says top speed has been increased from 105 mph to 115 mph which, if true signals a significantly stronger motor. Kenton adds that the addition of a free-flowing exhaust system can yield 70 rear-wheel horsepower, comparable to a KTM 690.
A transmission with an overdriven sixth gear keeps highway revs low for a 110-120-mile range from the 3.2-gallon tank, and an engine counterbalancer keeps vibration at bay. Fuel injection helps both models meet 50-state emissions requirements.
The dual-purpose TE630 is fitted with DOT-approved knobby tires for playing in the dirt, using a Brembo 2-piston single-action front brake caliper on a 260mm rotor. The 45mm Marzocchi fork holds a more serious radial-mount Brembo 4-piston caliper on a large 320mm disc on the supermoto SMS version. The SMS630 also receives a taller second gear and fatter 17-inch street-biased tires.
A 6000-mile service interval keeps the cost of ownership reasonable for a performance Thumper, and both bikes come with a 1-year unlimited-mile warranty. Pricing will be announced in April shortly before the bikes hit dealers as 2011 models. We’ll guess an MSRP approaching $10K.
Husky’s streetable line will continue to include the supermoto versions of 449cc (SM450) and 501cc SM510 displacements.
Bennche is a new re-branding company that is importing to America the European-designed Megelli line built by Chinese OEM Hisun. All will be powered by a 250cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine when the three-bike line arrives by April of this year. Bennche claims a 27 hp peak output measured at its crankshaft.
Headlining the Megellis is the 250R, a fully faired sportbike with styling that hints of several sports machines from major manufacturers. It looks better than can be expected for its $3499 MSRP. Mechanically identical is the streetfighter-styled Megelli 250S, measuring 6 lbs less than the 250R at a claimed dry weight of 242 lbs. The 250M takes on the supermoto style of a Ducati Hypermotard or Aprilia Dorsoduro.
All three utilize an attractive steel trellis frame and– dare we say it – a Bimota-like bridged swingarm made from tubular T6 aluminum. An undertail exhaust, pinstriped wheels and modern instrumentation complete the styling accoutrements that look more expensive than the bikes’ modest prices.
We saw a variety of new helmets at Indy, including plenty of price-point lids we’ve never heard of. But it’s Bell that offered up a unique combination of variety and appeal to keep us in its display longest.
Winning the award for most interesting is the new, retro-flavored Custom 500. If you think you’ve seen it before, it’s because it is styled to look like Bell’s model 500 from the 1950s. Company spokesman and former 250GP racer Andy Leisner says nostalgic-minded riders are paying up to $300 on eBay for the originals, so it’s a smart move for Bell to tap in to that market.
Gone is the ineffective webbing for internal suspension, and in its place is a quilted liner on top of a modern helmet’s standard EPS foam. The fiberglass shells can be had in metalflake ($119) or graphics versions ($139).
After successfully penetrating the high-end market with its Star in 2007, Bell makes available its new Vortex with many shared features such as the faceshield and Snell 2010 rating. But while the Star has an MSRP upward of $500, the Vortex can be had for as little as $169. It uses a cheaper and heavier polycarbonate shell instead of the Star’s fiber matrix, but it weighs only 100 grams more. The attractive graphics versions are surprisingly the same price as the solid colors.
A carbon-fiber Star is also new for 2010, saving 50 grams over the already lightweight TriMatrix construction of the standard Star, but even cooler is a new photochromatic faceshield. It uses the Transitions coating to offer a broad variety of tint depending on the intensity of light, adjusting in less than 10 seconds. It will be available for Star and Vortex helmets in April.
When it comes to premium helmets, it’s difficult to top the reputation of Arai, as it has won every J.D. Power award in the 11 years of its existence. We got a chance to run our hands over its new RX-Q and Corsair V, and we came away very impressed.
The Corsair V is the top-shelf race helmet with maximum lightness, venting and aerodynamic stability, while the RX-Q is built to the Corsair’s high standards yet is biased more toward street riders and is quieter. We’ll hopefully be getting our heads inside them for testing soon.
With suggested prices of these two models no less than $500, perhaps the only negative thing about an Arai helmet is its price. Why does it cost so much? “Put it on,” says company spokesman Rick Menapace. “I’d never felt anything so plush.”
If you need to transport a bike over relatively short distances and don’t have a truck, Cycle Hitch has a way to hitch your horse to your trailer-hitch-equipped wagon. Simply hook the rig up to a hitch receiver then roll up the front wheel of a bike weighing up to 1200 lbs into the wheel well. After tying down the bike and removing the ramp – a one-man job – the motorcycle’s rear tire is free to roll around behind a vehicle.
The Cycle Hitch retails for $499 and has a 99-year warrantee.
Furian is capitalizing on the popularity of college sports with its line of officially licensed college-themed leather jackets. Ohio State is the first school to be featured on the fairly thick cowhide made in Pakistan, and it’s available in sizes and cuts for both sexes.
An armored Streetbike version retails for a reasonable $250, while the Casual model without armor has an MSRP of $170. Next up will be a version flaunting the colors of the University of Southern California, with more to follow.
Brock’s has earned an enviable spot within the dragracing community, and now it’s expanding its reach into the turns-corners sportbike community. It had on display at Indy an exquisite full titanium system for Suzuki GSX-R1000s, with multiple tapers and ultra-precise welds that add up to a piece of metal art. Constructed in Japan by Nojima to Brock’s specs, this system retails for a pricey but not outrageous $1895.