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Tuesday, 21 February 2017


American Motorcyclist Association CEO testifies against proposed motorcycle tariff

A proposed 100 percent tariff on European motorcycles would harm U.S. consumers by pricing affected models beyond the reach of American families, American Motorcyclist Association President and CEO Rob Dingman told a federal trade committee last week.
Dingman said motorcycles should be removed from the list of products included in the proposed tariff.

“Many of the European-produced motorcycles in the affected categories are available at reasonable prices that allow for entire families to enjoy countless hours together outdoors, strengthening the family unit,” Dingman said during a public hearing of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Section 301 Committee.
“A tariff that threatens to significantly raise the retail cost of these motorcycles or curtail their supply, holds the potential to cause irreversible damage to outdoor recreation and the families that participate in it.”
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative proposed the tariff on 51cc to 500cc motorcycles imported from Europe as part of its ongoing battle with the European Union over U.S. beef raised using hormones. The EU will not accept the beef, so the Trade Representative is seeking leverage in negotiations.
The tariff would affect motorcycles with engines displacing 51cc to 500cc from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM and Vespa.
There is no direct connection between motorcycles and the EU’s ban on the importing of U.S. beef products treated with hormones. The lack of an agricultural tie between the two products runs counter to sound trade policy, Dingman told the committee.
“American motorcyclists are unnecessarily caught in the crossfire of this completely unrelated trade dispute,” Dingman said. “Since my organization represents motorcycle-riding consumers, I can objectively and without vested commercial interest assure you that this action will do more to harm individual Americans than it will to leverage the European Union.”
Motorcyclists sent more than 10,300 e-mails to Congress on this issue, posted more than 9,400 comments to, and sent nearly 5,300 e-mails to President Donald Trump. Of the comments submitted via, 82 percent came from motorcyclists.
European makers of 51cc-399cc motorcycles used for racing provide nearly half the units available to U.S. consumers, and nearly a quarter of the market in the 400-500cc class. There are no significant U.S.-made options for consumers in those market segments.
In the on-road motorcycle segment, 100 percent of the models 300cc and smaller are imported to the United States from abroad.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative tried this same tactic in 1998 and 2008, but the efforts were thwarted when the AMA, the Motorcycle Industry Council and bike manufacturers and retailers rallied motorcyclists against the plan. At that time, the U.S. Trade Representative instead raised the tariff on a variety of European food products.
Others testifying against the tariff today included Carroll Gittere, President of Powersports Data Solutions; Iain McPhie and Ritchie Thomas of Squire Patton Boggs; John Hinz, President of KTM North America Inc. and Husqvarna Motorcycles North America Inc.; Mario di Maria, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas Inc.; Rick Alcon, owner of R&S Powersports Group; Tim Cotter, Vice President of MX Sports; and Tim Buche, President and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council.


AIMExpo creates strategic partnerships with local dealers in new host city of Columbus, Ohio

Following the announcement that the 2017 American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) would be relocating to Columbus, Ohio, for the fifth annual event, two of the best known dealerships in the USA - A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson (A.D. Farrow) and Iron Pony Motorsports (Iron Pony) - “each expressed a desire to lend their local expertise to make AIMExpo’s move to the heartland of powersports a greater success,” says AIMExpo organizer MIC Events.

“Both dealerships call Ohio's capital home and will be working together with the AIMExpo team to help communicate the value of AIMExpo’s platform in its new host city to the greater powersports industry and to the region’s deep enthusiast consumer base.” AIMExpo will take over the Greater Columbus Convention Center this September 21-24.
A.D. Farrow is one of the most successful and storied Harley-Davidson dealerships in the United States, celebrating its 105th anniversary this year, first opening its doors in nearby Nelsonville, Ohio, in 1912. Now with three locations in the area, A.D. Farrow is Harley’s oldest authorized dealer.
“Columbus is everything our industry needs to have a great gathering,” said Bob Althoff, Dealer Principal, A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson. “First, it is a friendly place, and I sense a real anticipation on the part of folks hereabouts to roll out the red carpet for AIMExpo. Second, there is a concentration of riders here in central Ohio who will, I assure you, turn out in a big way. The visuals surrounding this year's AIMExpo will be a remarkable sight, and with perfect weather in late September, Columbus will be a terrific ride-in destination.” 

Iron Pony Motorsports boasts one of the largest dealerships in the United States, representing 12 different manufacturers inside its 133,000-square foot showroom. The family-owned dealership has been in business since 1975 and is dedicated to making the user experience the best it can be. This includes aisle after aisle of OEM and aftermarket products, hosting a rental program through EagleRider Columbus, and offering its Iron Pony Riding Academy in association with Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Motorcycle Ohio safety instructors.
“The city of Columbus and the surrounding region is full of passionate motorcycle riders and powersports enthusiasts,” said Frank Lark, Vice President of Marketing at Iron Pony Motorsports Group. “We interact with them inside our dealerships and ride alongside many of these folks, so we know firsthand there is a real desire to have a show here in Columbus that is the caliber of AIMExpo. We’re thrilled to be working with the AIMExpo team to help build excitement and make 2017 the best year yet!” 

As dedicated, high profile family-owned dealers, A.D. Farrow and Iron Pony will work alongside the AIMExpo team to integrate and build exposure for the event in the region surrounding Columbus. A co-branded presence at regional events, expanded advertising, marketing and social media campaigns, exclusive access for loyal customers of each dealership, and other initiatives will highlight the strategic partnerships.
“With 41% of U.S. powersports dealers within a 500-mile radius of the city, we’re looking to key local partners to help us tell the story of ‘Why Columbus’, and why dealers and consumers – both near and far - should visit AIMExpo,” said Larry Little, Vice President & General Manager, AIMExpo. “This strategic partnership with two of the most prestigious and influential dealerships in and around America’s 15th largest city is an important step in connecting the industry with the region, and in creating the setting for Columbus to become ‘Powerports USA’ to AIMExpo’s domestic and international visitors.”

Performance Motorsports International

PMI (Wiseco, ProX, JE Piston) sold for $150m

Dover Corporation has sold its Performance Motorsports International (PMI) division - owner of the likes of Wiseco, ProX Racing and JE Piston - to New York based private investor Kinderhook Industries, a diversified portfolio equity investor with around $2Bn. of capital under management.

A new holding company – Race Winning Brands (RWB) – has been formed to trade the former PMI business, headquartered with Wiseco Piston at Mentor, Ohio. The deal is reported as being for some $150m., with Dover retaining a small percentage stake in the new holding company.
Commenting on the transaction, Dover's President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert A. Livingston, said: "This transaction provides the new owner the opportunity to leverage the strong leadership position PMI has built over the years and grow the business.  At the same time, it allows us to focus on our higher growth core markets."

Kinderhook, owner of the likes of NitroFill, Superwinch and Bestop, will install operating partner Brian Reese as CEO of RWB, with former Mr. Gasket CEO (ACCEL etc) Bob Romanelli, also a Kinderhook operating partner, as executive chairman.
Paul Cifelli, the Managing Director of new owner Kinderhook is quoted as saying: “A fundamental tenet of Kinderhook’s investment philosophy is identifying unique investment opportunities where our experience, abilities and network of operating partners can help create value. Race Winning Brands aligns perfectly with this investment philosophy. We are confident that Kinderhook’s proven ‘buy-and-build’ strategy will allow us to expand RWB’s leadership position in the automotive and powersports performance markets.”
Financing for the transaction was provided by a debt syndicate led by Antares Capital, Varagon Capital Partners, Madison Capital and NewStar Financial.


E-H … “Reborn to be Wild” Part Deux?

After bravely trying to bring the brand back in the 1990s in an attempt to exploit Harley’s production shortfall at that time, Don Hanlon’s purpose-built Belle Plaine, Minnesota based Excelsior-Henderson factory hit the buffers in 1999 and filed for bankruptcy in 2000, despite making what were regarded at the time some good bikes (dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder anybody?).
News has now emerged that Denver, Colorado based Aaron, Bell International (ABI), an “independent investment bank” and M&A advisor, has been hired to explore options for a phoenix of the Minnesota based manufacturer.
In a press release that raises as many questions as it answers, ABI founder and president Ralph Bellizzi said: “We look forward to working with Excelsior-Henderson during this exciting time in America, with the resurgence of manufacturing pride and interest in motorsports.”
The release went on to say that the “convergence of several market factors has created a unique opportunity to reignite the heritage-rich Excelsior-Henderson brand. Recent motorsports industry reconfiguration, with Polaris Industries ending production of Victory Motorcycles to focus on its historic Indian Motorcycles, and Arctic Cat’s sale to Textron, combined with the strength of American motorcycle manufacturing and sales worldwide, make the market ripe for the re-emergence of the venerable “E-H” marque.”
Regardless of just how accurate an interpretation of current market conditions and opportunities those statements are, the release goes on to say that “Excelsior-Henderson’s deep, rich heritage is what elevates this opportunity well beyond the ordinary. As one of the original “Big 3” OEM motorcycle manufacturers along with Harley-Davidson and Indian during the early decades of motorcycling, Excelsior-Henderson’s heritage includes owners Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and a long list of ‘firsts,’ being the first motorcycle to circumnavigate the world and officially ‘clocked’ at over 100 mph, to engineering and design innovations until ceasing production by owner Ignatz Schwinn of Chicago during the Great Depression.” [Bicycle magnate Schwinn bought E-H in 1911, but then closed it in 1931].
“In the 1990s, that engineering and design legacy was painstakingly carried forward with the rebirth of the brand and the development of a proprietary new Super X motorcycle by the Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Manufacturing Company. The company produced nearly 2,000 motorcycles featuring dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, closed-loop fuel injection, integrated cassette transmissions, anti-dive suspensions, and more. Owners of the motorcycles today are just as fervent about the brand as on the day they rode them off dealers’ lots.
“Despite discontinuing production in late 1999, the business opportunity remains relatively turn-key due to its intellectual property and intensely loyal, active customer base.”
Bellizzi said it’s impossible to overstate the unique opportunity this presents. “An offering like this is extremely rare. An entrepreneur or investor can essentially pick up where the previous company left off, bypass the most difficult barriers to entry, and build upon the established success of this heritage-rich brand in a highly lucrative industry. It’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Arnott Air Suspension

“Lower your bike, not your standards”


So says Merritt Island, Florida based Arnott Air Suspension on their new website - a site that features their ‘Ultimate Ride’ and ‘Smooth Ride’ system options. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, Arnott say they are the “leader in true onboard adjustable air suspension kits” and that dealers and their customers “should not be fooled by air cylinders or so-called ‘air assisted’ suspensions,” says Arnott’s Doug Taylor.

“Unlike many competitors, our TruAIR technology is true adjustable air suspension, not simple air cylinders, ‘air-assisted’ shocks or automotive cast-offs. We use monotube shock bodies for great looks and durability, and our ‘Ultimate Ride’ series features genuine FOX shocks. Our kits offer fast, on-the-fly adjustable air spring firmness, using a powerful onboard compressor.”
Applications include Tourers, Softails, Dynas, Sportsters, V-Rods, Tri-Glide trikes and Indian Motorcycle Cruisers, Baggers and Tourers.

Motorcycle Industry Council

Ackerman retains MIC Board seat

The Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) 2017 Board of Director election results have seen Arnie Ackerman re-elected to serve as an MIC board member for another two years, and to therefore remain as the current Chairman of the MIC’s Aftermarket/Allied Trades Committee.

MAG Chairman Emeritus Arnold W. Ackerman is re-elected to the MIC Board of Directors and will continue as chair of its Aftermarket/Allied Trades Committee

Ackerman is Chairman Emeritus and founder of Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG). It was Ackerman who principally steered his Duff Ackerman and Goodrich investment firm into the program of acquisitions in the 1990s; a program that saw MAG emerge as a powerhouse in the market with ownership of leaders such as Vance & Hines, Performance Machine, Kuryakyn, J&P Cycles, Mustang seats and Progressive Suspension, among others.
He retained involvement as Chairman of MAG when DAG sold to L.A. based Leonard Green & Partners, and it was he who was a prime mover in shaping the deal for Tucker Rocky owner Lacy Diversified to buy MAG and merge it with TR in 2014.

Andy Leisner, Vice President/group publisher of Bonnier Motorcycle Group, is also re-elected; MIC Board Chairman Dennis McNeal, who has also retired from his position of Vice President of motorcycle operations with Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA and publisher and former second generation Daytona 200 winner Don Emde announced their retirement from the Board. Paul Puma, Executive Vice president of Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution, is newly elected to the Board.
Other MIC Board directors include Eric Anderson (currently owner and founder of VROOM Network); Michael Peyton, VP of BMW Motorrad USA; Jim Woodruff, COO of NPA; Chuck Boderman, VP motorcycles at American Honda; Russ Brenan, Kawasaki; Mike Doughty, Yamaha; Kerry Graeber,  Suzuki; John Hinz, KTM, and ex MIC General Counsel and current VP global government relations at Polaris, Paul Vitrano.
The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., where it shares offices with MIC Events and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and has a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization was founded in 1914, celebrating its 100th anniversary two years ago.

News Briefs

BRP's three manufacturing facilities in Mexico received a "Family Responsible Company" award from Mexico's Ministry of Labor and Social Security (STPS). This distinction is granted to companies in Mexico that apply and promote labor policies that contribute to the development of workers in an integral way, both at work and within their family environment.

British bike maker Ariel is to reveal a $61K model with carbon bodywork, black pearl frame and gold anodizing. The Ace R will be a Limited Edition of which only 10 units will be made and sold worldwide. After launching the Ace in 2014, Ariel has produced over 50 of its 201 hp V4 motorcycles. The company says that further development of the Ace has shown that the chassis will accommodate a considerable increase in power while remaining an easy to ride and flexible road bike.

Former Advanstar/UBM property Dealernews has been bought by DN 2.0 LLC, a Columbus, Ohio based acquisition vehicle established by Bob Althoff, owner of three Harley dealerships in the greater Columbus area, including A.D. Farrow, which claims to be the oldest Harley-Davidson dealerships in the world. Althoff intends to relaunch the 51-year-old powersports media brand “with a new mission and new utilities to serve franchised and non-franchised powersports retailers and service shops in the United States and Canada.” Former Dealernews publisher and content director Mary Green (Mary Slepicka) is joining as vice president and general manager.

A new “Grassroots” group called “Motorcycle Action Network” is launching in a bid to “Rid U.S. Transportation Agencies of Corporate Influence”. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, it is being headed up by self-styled long-time public safety advocate Fergus Nolan as a non-profit organization “dedicated to making roads safer for American motorcyclists and the drivers around them. The organization will raise awareness of federal and state transportation regulations that have been weakened by the U.S. motorcycle industry and its allies, costing thousands of lives every year.” Nolan says that it will initially focus on strengthening regulations set by the NHTSA in connection with motorcycle anti-lock brake systems (ABS).

Ducati sales were +1.1 percent in 2016 at 55,451, with USA their largest market (8,787 units sold). “Ending the year of our 90th anniversary with yet another record is a source of immense pride and satisfaction”, said Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding. “2016 was the seventh consecutive growth year for Ducati.” During its second year on international markets, the Ducati Scrambler brand extended its worldwide success: over 15,500 bikes were delivered. Italy is their second most important market, where they were +20% in 2016; Germany is their third largest market (+8 percent in 2016). Ducati more than doubled its sales to China in 2016.

Khrome Werks

2:1 systems with two-step headers

Designed for “peak performance and style” and to “maximize horsepower and torque,” these 2:1 systems by Khrome Werks have 1.75” to 1.875” 16-gauge stepped primary headers that merge into a 2.5” collector with 2.50” high-flow baffles wrapped in stainless steel wool and high-temperature fiberglass.

The 2.50” tapered baffle exit cone is designed to enhance low-end torque; additional features include 2.25”, 220-degree, 16-gauge heat shields and 18mm and 12mm O² bungs welded into the primaries.
They are available slash-cut or with billet tips, in chrome, black or Khrome Werks’ proprietary ‘Eclipse’ finish (seen here), a high-temperature black chrome electroplate.