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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

American Flat Track Twins presented by Vance & Hines

Smith wins Sacramento Mile to give Indian a third podium sweep

The fifth round of this year’s 18-race American Flat Track Twins presented by Vance & Hines saw reigning Grand National Champion Bryan Smith bring home his No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750 to lead a third podium sweep for Indian’s 21st Century “Wrecking Crew.”

Staged at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds, the Harley-Davidson Sacramento Mile presented by Cycle Gear “witnessed both a rider and a manufacturer in action at the height of their powers.”
Smith and his fellow members of the Indian “Wrecking Crew”, Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) and Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750), “were again in a class of their own on Saturday night.”
After 25 laps Smith’s victory came by a minuscule 0.025-second margin over Mees, with Baker a further 0.05 seconds adrift in third. The win was Smith’s seventh in succession at the Sacramento Mile, and his third in a row this season.

After securing sole possession of the championship lead, Smith said “I played my cards just right. I sat back there, saved my tire, and went hard the last couple of laps.”
While he got pushed out of at least a share of the championship lead for the first time this season, Mees did manage to maintain his perfect 2017 podium streak with his runner-up result in Sacramento, saying “I’ve got to give a big shout out to my team. It was a good race, and it’s great to get another Indian sweep with these guys. It stinks getting second, but it’s great for Indian Motorcycles. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) snatched fourth place by a narrow 0.050 second margin from quick-starting Jeffrey Carver Jr. (fifth on the No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650). It was another disappointing weekend for Harley-Davidson and their XGR750R - Brandon Robinson was 9th, 14.32 seconds behind Smith, and Kenny Coolbeth Jr was 16th, having only completed 16 laps.
Next week, the American Flat Track will make the first of two 2017 doubleheader stops in Springfield, Ill., with Saturday May 27’s Springfield TT and Sunday May 28’s Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile I.

Photo credit: American Flat Track/Scott Hunter

The Bike Shed

‘The Bike Shed’, London, May 26 - 28

Billed as “Europe’s best independent annual motorcycle show” and London’s “new wave” motorcycle emporium, in a few days’ time (May 26 – 28) ‘The Bike Shed’ will open the doors of the 8th annual bike show that will be staged at the historic and chic Tobacco Dock venue in East London’s Docklands for the fourth time.
“Celebrating the creativity of the new wave and Cafe Racer custom motorcycle culture, with over 200 curated custom motorcycles expected, the weekend will feature live art, a photographic exhibition and hand-made accessories, alongside selected brands, retailers and exhibitors.”

Photo by Autohouse

With all the contemporary upscale tweaks to set it apart from orthodox European custom bike events, ‘The Bike Shed’ is the nearest thing Europe has to a “new wave/new gen” show of the kind seen in events such as ‘The One Show’ at Portland, Oregon, ‘Mama Tried’ at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ‘Handbuilt’ at Austin, Texas, and ‘Born Free’ in California.
Like ‘Handbuilt’, the event has grown out of a retail establishment – one based on lovingly converted old, classic and unmistakably British style railway arches close to one of the wealthiest potential ‘Square Mile’ markets in the world in Old Street in the City of London. With the backing of like-minded souls as investors, founder Anthony Dutch van Someren has turned what started out as a blog into a burgeoning network of retail, social club and events for the new post-boomer audience that is emerging.

Scout sprint racer 'Miracle Mike' by Young Guns, Switzerland, unveiled earlier this month at the 'Art & Wheels' art and motorcycle show in Switzerland – destined for the Essenza sprint races at the Indian Motorcycle sponsored ‘Wheels & Waves’, Biarritz, in June

“This is NOT a motorcycle trade fair” says Dutch, “it’s an exhibition in a giant pop-up member’s club, where everyone is invited. There’s plenty of space to chill out and enjoy the crowd, and people tend to want to hang out all weekend, soaking up the entertainment and the vibe.”
Every element of this unique and privately run event is hand-picked by the organizers (usually based at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club in Shoreditch). The exhibited bikes are ‘invitational’ and selected from the best bike builders in the UK and Europe (with guests from the US), displayed without ropes “so visitors can get up close and into detail with their pictures”.
“Every brand, retailer, artist, photographer and exhibitor is selected and approved by us. Every barista, bar tender, burger (or salad box) and coffee bean is tried and tested, and the organizing staff are all bike-loving volunteers and members of the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club (BSMC). The event is extremely family friendly, safe for kids, and enjoyable for non-bike riders as well as custom aficionados.”
Supported by the mainstream motorcycle industry, the event is sponsored by Ohlin’s suspension, Rev’It! apparel and motorcycle manufacturers such as Triumph, Ducati, Yamaha and BMW, all exhibiting alongside other manufacturers, pro-builders, amateurs and shed-builders alike.

Indian Motorcycles’ replica streamliner homage to Burt Munro, the “Spirit of Munro”, who became “The World’s Fastest Indian” 50 years ago

Builders include prior AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building winners and competitors such as Rough Crafts (Taiwan), Old Empire Motorcycles (UK), Sur Les Chapeaux de Roues (France), Black Track (Luxembourg) and Rocket Bobs (UK).
However, in many respects the most interesting development is the involvement of Indian Motorcycle. Onboard as an official partner, Indian will be giving a UK debut to their ‘Spirit of Munro’ streamliner and Young Guns of Switzerland’s ‘Miracle Mike’ sprint-racing Scout.
Complete with a nitrous oxide system, Young Guns are setting up at ‘The Bike Shed’ en route to taking on the 2017 Essenza sprint races and Punks Peak at the Indian Motorcycle sponsored ‘Wheels & Waves’ at Biarritz, France, in June.
Arguably the ultimate “shed-builder”, 2017 is the 50th anniversary of Munro setting his speed record and becoming “The World’s Fastest Indian”. Indian will further showcase its commitment to the custom scene with award-winning Scouts built by dealers in the UK on display alongside Super Hooligan Scouts that are currently being raced in the DTRA Hooligan championship.
In 2016, the event attracted 12,000 visitors, with some 15,000 expected this year. The privately owned Bike Shed Motorcycle Club (BSMC) has a London membership of around 600, but has some 647,000 followers on Facebook and over 105k on Instagram. “We reach and engage with around 5-6 million people in the weeks of our annual events,” says Dutch. “Our online social media reach is genuinely global and 100% organic. The Bike Shed main website serves 700,000 pages a month to around 200,000 unique users. The BSMC is privately owned and run by family and friends.”

Vance & Hines

V&H launch 50-state compliant CTR performance kit

Santa Fe Springs, California based manufacturer Vance & Hines has announced a new 50-state emissions compliant exhaust system for late model Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The CTR (Ceramic Thermal Reduction) performance kit is said to provide “a complete package for exhaust, air and tuning” and to have been granted an Executive Order (E.O. K-006-3) from the Air Resources Board of California.

This means the CTR performance kit “has been evaluated and shown not to increase emissions on 2014-2016 Harley-Davidson Touring models, allowing CTR performance systems to be installed on street registered motorcycles.
“With every kit, you get Power Duals CTR head pipes and a choice from five different styles of Vance & Hines slip-on mufflers, a VO2 air intake and their brand new, ultra-sleek Fuelpak FPC with one touch tuning.”

CTR’s patent pending design gives “the comfort of less heat radiating from the exhaust system while delivering increased horsepower and torque, along with the unmistakable sound of a Vance & Hines muffler.”


J&P Cycles

J&P Cycles sets records

J&P Cycles is bucking the U.S. motorcycle industry retail trend, achieving record-setting retail growth through their “knowledgeable product staff members and improved customer experiences across all of their retail touchpoints.”
J&P Cycles set a company record in April 2017 with over 100,000 customer transactions occurring online, via phone and at retail locations. During the same period, J&P Cycles received a Bizrate customer rating of 9.2 (out of 10) in “likelihood to recommend” J&P Cycles to others. Bizrate is a leading source of online retail customer satisfaction data in the United States.

Kevin Strawbridge - President, MAG Retail Group: “In 2016, J&P Cycles invested in and optimized the customer experience across our channels, all of it geared toward putting customers first. April’s figures are proof that we’ve made the right changes”

“Customers tell us every day in our stores, at rallies, over the phone and in email that they appreciate our knowledgeable staff, unrivaled selection, and our focus on their riding needs,” said Kevin Strawbridge, President of MAG Retail Group. “In 2016, J&P Cycles invested in and optimized the customer experience across our channels, all of it geared toward putting customers first. April’s figures are proof that we’ve made the right changes.”
“To achieve this level of growth and trust from riders means a great deal to us, especially as we approach our 40th anniversary,” said Zach Parham, Vice President of Merchandising at J&P Cycles and son of J&P Cycles founder John Parham. “We could not have achieved this milestone without our customers’ loyalty and our team’s tireless commitment.”

Zach Parham, VP Merchandising: “To achieve this level of growth and trust from riders means a great deal to us, especially as we approach our 40th anniversary”

J&P Cycles will celebrate 38 years of operations by hosting the Iowa Rally on June 24-25, 2017 at the J&P Cycles original store in Anamosa, Iowa. The celebration will include over fifty motorcycle parts and accessories manufacturers, Cowboy Kenny’s Steel Rodeo motorcycle stunt show, live music and food and beer vendors.
The rally will also host the 2017 Hot Bike Magazine National Garage Build-Off Competition. Additional information about Iowa Rally activities can be found on the rally page at
J&P Cycles operates retail locations in Anamosa, Iowa, Daytona Beach, Florida, and Sturgis, South Dakota. The company’s Rider Service Center is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. J&P Cycles supports motorcyclists with retail pop-up stores at over a dozen motorcycle rallies, races and events throughout the U.S. each year.

Parts Unlimited & Drag Specialties 2017 NVP Product Expo

In the fourth trade event with V-twin industry ‘action’ in the space of four weeks in January and February this year, Drag Specialties and Parts Unlimited pulled off a coup with a “comeback” for industry involvement at Indianapolis. This year saw them filling an exhibition hall underneath the Indianapolis Colt’s state-of-the-art Lucas Oil Stadium, but the word is that an even bigger 2018 event will see LeMans booking out the main hall at the remodelled downtown Indianapolis Convention Center ... the crime scene of many a powersports industry dealer weekend of years past!
A hectic schedule of trade events concluded in February with Drag Specialties and Parts Unlimited “bringing back Indy” in the form of their 2017 NVP Product Expo housed in exhibition space beneath the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium on February 18 and 19.
Preceded by two days of vendor presentations to the group’s sales force and visiting dealers, the event isn’t a replacement for their well-known NVP Product Expo at Madison, Wisconsin, in August. That will still go ahead later this year (August 26 & 27), but it was an opportunity for the company to “ring the changes” after three or four years of hosting two somewhat later events at King Of Prussia in Pennsylvania and at Atlanta, Georgia.
“It’s always good to change things up once in a while,” said Jim Matchette, National Sales Manager for Drag Specialties, when I spoke with him at ‘Indy’ back in February.
“The events at King of Prussia and Atlanta have been really good for us, but we are a national business, so it makes sense to embrace different areas whenever we can. We may well be back in those areas at some stage – in fact the company will still be involved at Atlanta later this month when Parts Unlimited stages its Showcase at the Supercross.
“However, this year sees Drag Specialties stepping up to the plate to create our own tour of events. The Supercross events work really well for Parts Unlimited, but we wanted to do something different this year for Drag Specialties, so we have created a truck tour where the emphasis is on dealer training.

Jim Matchette: “It’s all about connecting effectively with our dealers. Our sales teams will get the opportunity to work closely with their dealers, at an event in their area, and our vendors get the opportunity to extend training with dealers they may never otherwise get the opportunity to meet”

Backed by several of Drag Specialties’ vendors, the series starts at Tampa, Florida, at the end of March, and then visits all four corners of the United States with 24 events already planned, with the possibility of adding more.
“It’s all about connecting effectively with our dealers. Our sales teams will get the opportunity to work closely with their dealers, at an event in their area, and our vendors get the opportunity to extend the kind of training they can give dealers at our NVPs on a more local level - with dealers who may never get the opportunity to otherwise meet with them.”
As reported in AMD Magazine two months ago, the series, as presently planned, finishes up in Texas (Dallas, then Houston) in October.
The vendors backing the Drag Specialties tour include the likes of S&S Cycle, Bassani Xhaust, Custom Dynamics, Hogtunes, Khrome Werks, Saddlemen, Klock Werks, LA Choppers, Magna Flow, J.W.Speaker, Memphis Shades, Revolution Performance and four of the tire companies – Dunlop, Pirelli, Michelin and Metzeler.
This tour is only one strand of this year’s event activities for Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties though. LeMans’ VP Sales Jeff Derge told me that, altogether, the company is involved in more than 70 events this year.
That includes ‘Indy’ and Madison, the V-Twin Expo at Cincinnati, the Drag Specialties Dealer Training Tour dates, the Parts Unlimited ‘Showcase’ series hosted at Supercross and Arena Cross events, other race involvements and sponsorships (“We Support The Sport”) and another new tour program created this year for the firm’s helmet and apparel programs.
“We have created three six-week tours, one each for the Western side of the country, one East Coast and a central swing, with six weeks each expressly for our helmet and apparel brands,” Jeff explained.

Jeff Derge: “Our events investment is huge, but we believe it is the right one. We have always invested in the brick and mortar dealers. Fred Fox has a phenomenal track record of backing the store network, and this is another new way of demonstrating our support for the shops”

“The format is two events a week and 36 shows altogether at which dealers see and engage with our complete apparel and helmet ranges, showcasing Thor, ICON, Alpinestars, Slippery When Wet, Artiva and others. Through conventional marketing channels you can give dealers new product updates, and the reps and existing shows can let them see one or two samples, but this way our dealers see all the designs and colorways, experience the look and feel of our apparel lines first hand, and form a much better perspective about how they can be merchandised in their showrooms and what can work for them in their local markets. It is all about helping our dealers make good buying decisions.
“It is a huge investment, but we think it is the right investment - just as the Drag Specialties Dealer Training Tour is. We have always invested in the brick and mortar dealers. Fred Fox has a phenomenal track record of backing the store network in our market, and this is another new way of demonstrating our support for the brick and mortar shops.
“Other distributors may have different approaches, but we believe in the store owners and still think their investments in their showrooms represents the biggest shop window the markets has. The vast majority of sales are still through the shops. In the scheme of things, e-commerce is still a relatively small percentage. Ours is a technical and hands-on, experiential industry. There’ll always be a role for mail order, of one kind or another, but I don’t think it will ever take over – not in the motorcycle industry.
“The revenue the online stores generate is still money that is going into the industry. But what we also have to do is to help our dealers compete. Above all to help them exploit the unique advantages that a real shop with real enthusiasts brings to the consumer’s enjoyment of their motorcycle ownership and riding experience. That is where our focus is – to help everyone in the industry continue to benefit from that.”
Talking with Drag Specialties and industry veteran Tom Motzko about “Indy being back” and the long-term impact that this could have, he agreed that the potential is huge. “The reaction has been excellent and we would have been in the Convention Center this year, excepting for an event clash. But we are definitely in the expo center for 2018 and beyond, and yes, I agree – I think this is set to become a major feature of the annual industry calendar.

Tom Motzko: “We are super excited about embracing Indianapolis for our own event and yes, of course, the industry legacy is going to help. Next year the show floor will be at least 30 percent larger than this year has been, and we feel good about the plans we have”

“As a city, I think Indianapolis was always more popular with vendors and dealers than anyone realizes. But it and Dealer Expo had its issues. These are different times now though. The city has made itself easier to do business with, the expo center is now way better than it was, and there is a very positive and business friendly attitude.
“We are excited about embracing Indianapolis for our own event and yes, of course, the industry legacy is going to help. Next year the show floor will be at least 30 percent larger than this year has been, and we feel good about the plans we have.”
Talking with Tom about the market, he agreed that the end of 2016 was “challenging – as it was for everyone. But we started 2017 really well and have had our best first quarter in a long time.”
Jeff Derge went on to say that “what is interesting is that there’s been no magic tricks, just good old fashioned hard work. There is business out there for the shops, they just need help creating the excitement the market needs to get everyone enthused.”
Jim Matchette made a prescient remark, bearing in mind that we were talking in mid-February. “I’m picking up a great deal of excitement about the prospects for the Flat Track racing season ahead. It seems to me that the AMA have done a good job in terms of trying to breathe new life into it, and the competition that we may be about to see between Harley and Indian could turn out to be good for the industry.”
Good call Jim – now, about the series outcome, who’s your money on?

News Briefs

The Exhibitor Services Guide and approved housing service links for the 2017 AIMExpo presented by Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio (September 21 – 24) are now available at the show website: Stunning Show Fact # 10,971 – there are 28 local breweries in the Columbus region, and with more than half of them opening in the last five years local residents have been inspired to create the “Columbus Ale Trail”; however, caveat emptor – it is not a circular route!

The Motorcycle Industry Council Board of Directors has elected Paul Vitrano, vice president of global government relations at Polaris Industries Inc., as its new chairperson, succeeding Dennis McNeal, vice president of motorcycle operations at Yamaha Motor Corporation, who retired in December. Chuck Boderman, vice president, Motorcycle Division at American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is the new vice chair, with Jim Woodruff, COO at National Powersport Auctions, as secretary/treasurer. Tim Buche continues as president and CEO.

Polaris has expanded its Slingshot three-wheeled roadster line-up with the addition of a new SL Limited Edition model – the ‘Midnight Cherry’, which is said to “combine the Thrill of the Open Road with the Ultimate in Comfort and Style” with “new style features for an exhilarating, shared adventure.”

In an effort to prohibit the availability of E15 in the U.S., a pump gas formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume, the AMA says it is supporting a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Congress (the RFS Reform Act) that would amend the Renewable Fuel Standard to recognize market conditions and realities. It also would prohibit the U.S. EPA from allowing the introduction of gasoline blends with more than 10 percent ethanol by volume. In other words, E15 will not be permitted if this legislation becomes law.

Following what it says were “an all-time record high retail sales” in 2016, Triumph Motorcycles America has announced that the Bonneville Bobber has been “the most successful new model launch” in their history, and that with five new models added to the Bonneville family for 2017 the company has reported total unit sales up by +15 percent for the first quarter in North America.

43rd annual Custom Bike Show

Norrtälje, Sweden, Saturday June 3rd

Arguably the oldest and longest established custom bike show in the world, the 43rd annual Custom Bike Show staged by Swedish riders’ club MC Norrtälje will again be staged at the coastal city of Norrtälje, an hour north east of the Swedish capital Stockholm.

An established and iconic event in Europe’s annual calendar, the unique one-day Custom Bike Show is a fixture at the first weekend of June (Sweden’s annual national holiday weekend) and attracts thousands of visitors from as far afield as Norway, Finland, Denmark and the Baltic countries, as well as the length and breadth of Sweden itself.
Last year saw over 200 bikes in 8 classes compete for vendor prizes that included a RevTech transmission donated by Custom Chrome Europe (CCE) and an expense paid package for the winners to compete at the next AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building at INTERMOT ‘Customized’ (in October 2018), paid for by the members of Twin Club MC.
This will be the 13th year of affiliation for the Custom Bike Show, making it the longest established ‘AMD Affiliate’. In total over 10,000 visitors are expected, and with more than 5,000 bikes descending on what is a tranquil former port city on the Swedish coast that regularly throws its doors open and welcomes bikers from all over northern Europe, the city authorities at Norrtälje are among the most “rider friendly” in Europe.
Three separate judging systems are used to determine the winners, with a jury of industry professionals deciding on three World Championship affiliate prizes, with the competitors deciding the class prizes, and a Public Choice winner, sponsored by CCE. Last year saw a Bagger class added, which provided the Public Choice winner and Best Paint award.
Last year’s winning bike, selected by the jury, and which went on to compete in the Freestyle class at last year’s AMD World Championship, was a classic Swedish style ‘70s chopper with a 93” S&S Pan-style engine in a Swedish made UCC (Unique Custom Cycles/Gordon Rooth) 40-degree rake, 3” stretch rigid frame with a 4” over Springer front end made in Finland by Mr Moore Motorcycles.

Twin Power

Cush drive chain conversion kit

2009 and later cush drive Harley-Davidson touring models can easily convert from rear belt to chain drive thanks to this new bolt-on rear chain conversion kit from Twin Power. 

“The chain conversion kit installs easily with no modifications,” says James Simonelli, Brand Manager for Twin Power. “Besides being able to transmit much more power than the belt, the 100 percent U.S.A made kit allows easy re-gearing for those who want to make better use of their 6-speed transmission. Plus, swapping the rear belt to chain drive is far less work than changing a broken belt. You don’t need to remove the swingarm.” Simonelli adds: “Look for similar high-quality kits for Sportsters, FXRs and Dynas soon.”
The kit comes with a 24-tooth transmission sprocket and 51-tooth rear sprocket, equivalent to the stock gearing. They are made from heat-treated tool steel and Grade 8 hardware. The hub is made from high-strength billet aluminum with a factory-type black finish. It is assembled with bearing and spacer and is ready to install.
Both the 55-tooth and 58-tooth sprockets are available separately. A 530x120 link chain is recommended, but not included, and must be cut to size, allowing the end user to choose a chain based on their personal preferences.