Top Products of 2013 Dealer Expo
Although this year’s Dealer Expo was a smaller version of its former glory, the Expo still provided a venue for manufacturers to hawk their wares to both dealers and distributors from North America and beyond. Like always, MO was there walking the corridors searching for the latest cutting-edge technology, innovative new devices and other items of interest that managed to catch our eye.
A twist to this year’s traditionally trade-only show was the attendance of consumers during the expo’s waning hours on Sunday. Local Indianapolites attending the International Motorcycle Show running in conjunction with Dealer Expo inside the Indiana Convention Center were given a rare treat to enter the halls usually reserved for companies that purchase products in bulk.
Not all Expo vendors were enthralled about the change in format, but more on that later when we report on the continuing saga of Dealer Expo vs the upstart AIMExpo. For now, we’ll focus on the latest products enhancing the motorcycling experience.
As wonderful as in-helmet communication devices are for keeping motorcyclists linked to their smartphones, a weakness they all share is the manipulation of their tiny buttons with a leather-gloved hand. BEARTek has devised a way of circumventing the need to touch hand to helmet by putting the control of your Bluetooth device literally at your fingertips. The gloves come with a Bluetooth module that links to your smartphone or any Bluetooth-enabled device, while six integrated touchpoints along the fingers of the BEARTek gloves provide control by simply touching thumb to finger. After checking out the gloves “firsthand,” we were impressed by their capabilities, especially how they will allow us to control our GoPro cameras when filming bike reviews! Not quite ready for public consumption yet, the gloves should go on sale in the very near future. Check out http://www.beartekgloves.com/ for more information.
Akari Visor Insert
We’ve been fans of Bell’s automatically tinting Transitions faceshield since its introduction, as it negates the need to carry a spare shield for riding after dark. Akari's electronic-tinting faceshield insert may well provide an alternative that can be used on any brand's helmet. The Akari AX.11 features e-Tint, a patented liquid-crystal technology enabling the insert to change from light to dark in less than 1/10th of a second. Riders can control the tint of the insert manually with a switch attached to the side of the faceshield or by programming the device to automatically darken/lighten via its light-sensing photocell. The inserts are powered by a rechargeable lithium battery with a 20-hour working time limit. The AX.11 should be on sale this March with a price tag of $150. Click here for more information.
All motorcycle helmets are built using the same general architecture: a hard outer shell, an internal EPS liner and a comfort lining. 6D’s fully-active ODS dual-liner suspension system adds to that equation by infusing 27 elastomeric dampers between two EPS liners, with the intention of reducing minor concussions from low-velocity impacts. The elastomeric dampers feature an escalating spring rate that allows the split liner system to shear omni-directionally to provide improved performance against oblique impacts and angular acceleration demands. Is this a game changer in motorcycle helmet safety technology? Could be, but for now it’s limited to only MX helmets. And while its $750 price tag is within the range of high-end streetbike helmets, it’s certainly more expensive than even the loftiest-priced MX lid. To better understand 6D’s helmet technology visit http://www.6dhelmets.com/.
UClear & Interphone Wireless
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Bluetooth-enabled communication devices are leap-frogging one another with stunning technological advances. We visited them all at Expo, and there were two innovations from two separate companies that really stood out. The first was UClear and its system’s lack of either a boom microphone for open-face helmets or a wired mic with adhesive for full-face lids. Using military-spec Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology, UClear is able to clearly relay your conversation or voice command without the use of a normal microphone. More info at http://www.uclear-digital.com/
The other new comm technology comes from Interphone Wireless and its F5S that features a text-to-speech function that gives audible voice indications over a comm’s speakers when the intercom connects, disconnects, music plays or pauses, and when a phone call is incoming. The F5S will also access your contact list and inform you of who’s on the other end of an incoming call. Check it out at http://www.interphonewireless.com/.
During our bike-testing duties, we’ve come to notice a surprising absence of helmet locks on many current motorcycles. Why manufacturers have stopped including this precious accessory is a mystery, but a company in Australia took notice and offers its HelmetLok for only $25. The carabiner-style lock features a four-digit combination code and an outward opening mechanism. For an additional $6.50 you can add a coiled, 3mm thick cable that stretches to 6 feet in length for running through the sleeve of your riding jacket or other apparel. Simple and inexpensive security for your riding gear.
Metzeler Triple 8
Robert Friedrich Metzeler founded the rubber products company that bears his name way back in 1863. To celebrate 150 years in business, Metzeler launched the company’s new flagship cruiser tire to replace the aging ME880. The ME888 Marathon Ultra, also known as the Triple 8, is purported to provide a contact patch 15% wider than the ME880, and the construction of the 888 utilizes newly processed compounds, updated structure and an innovative tread pattern design. “As opposed to rushing the market with a tire that called for compromise, we took the time to engineer a high-mileage tire while maintaining all of the characteristics that make a Metzeler tire,” says Metzeler’s Chris Wall.
We spoke with Johnny Pag in Indy, and he was proud to tell us that after a short hiatus he’s re-entering the US market with a collection of new motorcycles. Big difference from previous Pag bikes is that Johnny now owns his own manufacturing facilities in China, allowing him to better control quality issues. The 2013 bikes are powered by a new 320cc, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled parallel-Twin engine. Pag also mentioned a 600cc model is in the works. The Malibu 320i was on display in Pag’s booth and will be the first new model to enter the US market. Look for a full review of the $5199 cruiser in the near future.
According to Lehman Trikes’, Jamie Kreager, sales of three-wheelers are booming not only in North America but also in overseas markets such as Japan and China. Helping fulfill the demand is a revitalized Lehman with two new trike models featuring independent rear suspension, the Honda powered Monarch II LLS and Harley-Davidson FLH model Renegade LLS. The independent suspension of the LLS models is designed with lightweight aluminum components coupled with dual coil-over shocks. The LLS body has been re-designed to accommodate the new suspension while maintaining the Lehman’s stylish bodywork. Both also come with a standard parking brake.
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