The final day of the 2013 Dealer Expo had a lot of action, but sadly, it was the action of a lot of people getting out of town. The already sparsely attended show reportedly picked up a little steam at opening on Sunday, but then a long period of aisles empty of people began and the opening of the next-door Progressive International Motorcycle Show didn't help. Admittedly, Sunday is a slow day, but this one, was slower than any in recent history. Still, there were booths to visit and stories to be uncovered -
Oxford Products USA -
The name Oxford is familiar to motorcyclists and scooterists around the world. They are the makers of an interesting, useful and correctly priced array of "gotta have it" products that just make sense. U.S. customers have had limited access to some of their products through importers and dealerships for a few years, but in 2012 Oxford Products USA was started. Oxford USA is a dedicated sales, marketing and distribution facility, specifically designed to accelerate the availability of their wide range of products through all the Americas.
Oxford is based in rural Oxfordshire, U.K., and features a 45,000 sq ft headquarters that houses teams to test and develop their products. If you are not familiar with their products, consider that they cover almost every item that would be of use to a motorcyclist or scooterist. Everything from headed grips (the Oxford Hot Hands) to covers, to side stands to battery chargers, bags, locks, alarms, ramps, bike stands and probably everything in-between. Its great to see a UK gear giant make a commitment to the US enthusiast market.
TCX Boots -
I dropped by the TCX Boots booth for just a moment on Sunday, after I was handed one of their catalogues by their youngest booth staff member on Saturday. As I was happily walking along the aisle, a tiny voice rang out "Would you like one of these?" and I saw a darling little girl attempting to hand out one of their catalogues from behind a boot display. How could I resist? I took the catalogue, thanked her, and only later got a chance to discover their line of dedicated motorcycling (and scooting) boots.
TCX is in a partnership with Novation Group of Italy to provide high-quality and CE-rated protective boots for the motorcycling industry. Their products are rated on things like upper cut resistance, abrasion resistance of the outsole, transverse rigidity of footwear bottom and abrasion resistance of the upper. Not only that, but they look fantastic.
Their product line contains actual motorcycle racing boots, touring boots and an "All Uses" line that looked particularly attractive to the scooter set. The All Uses line feature sport-looking GOR-TEX booths like the Jupiter EVO and a couple of waterproof boots, but I was attracted to their "Ultimate Sneaker Collection". These seven offerings include waterproof black and blue, denim (with Aramid textile), white, two-tone grey-blue sneakers plus an anthracite grey and light grey for the ladies. Each of these fairly-standard looking sneakers feature robust leather construction with strategically reinforced malleolus, toe and heel sections. They are all high ankle designs and look and feel substantial enough for scooter riding use. This protective footwear would be great for the scooterist who insists on wearing those same old Converse Chuck Taylors on rides. As opposed to the Chucks, something like the X-Street Waterproof Black sneaker from TCX offers real protection to ones feet.
Parts for Scooters -
It's always a pleasure to visit the Parts for Scooters booth at Dealer Expo and to talk to Matthew Maney. He's a long time scooterist and parts monger, and he tells some pretty remarkable stories about the business. The best part is that he brings examples of what they sell through their universal parts and partsforscooters.com businesses. Things like Dr. Pulley sliders, HiT clutches, tiny pistons, brake pads, batteries, and more line the shelves of the booth as examples of what they sell to dealers and the public directly.
Matt also brings his race scoots. They are both Chinese GY-6-based scoots, but with a difference. "We basically threw the warehouse at them" said Matt with a smirk. In years past, he's told that they actually degraded the performance of the first race scoot by just throwing parts at it. He continued, "It's a cautionary tale." He says that parts are just one aspect of performance tuning. "The parts have to be of a good quality, but you have to get them to work together." Carburetor jetting, exhausts, and even measuring what the standard shocks actually offer (in terms of damping and rebound) are all important as far as putting an integrated package together. But when you get it right, you can get some pretty incredible performance out of the scoots. Parts for Scooters latest project is their Drag Bike, running nitro methane and featuring a sub 8 second run up to 80 mph. As usual, Matt says that there is more performance to come out of it by "dialing it in some more." He says that they also "learned a lot about running nitro" with another one of his ever-present smirks. Parts for Scooters is another scooter company that "gets it."
SSR Motorsports -
SSR Motorsports brought something new to Dealer Expo 2013 and you'll only find it here. As a follow-up their successful Lazer 5 moped, there were debuting the new Lazer 6 at the show. As the pictures show, this one is a prototype, but features an entirely new design that mashes up a vintage motorcycle and an old-school moped and takes it to an entirely new level.
I spoke with Pat Scott, a product manager with SSR, and he told me that the debut of the Lazer 6 was generating a lot of interest at the show. He said that although "it builds on the Lazer 5 but the 6, is a longer, lower bike with some vintage motorcycle style." He said that it still features the Lazer 5's 49cc, four-stroke power plant and optional human propulsion system (via the real pedals), but uses a "high tank" and "horizontal shock" to add "a little old school" look to the typical slung tank look of the 5. It also comes with some larger 18" wheels that really sell the look of an old motorcycle. Pat also told me that the second seat is completely removable for a customizing option and that there are plans to come up with a complete line-up of optional parts to satisfy everyone. Performance of the stock unit (which uses a manually shifted two-speed transmission), will still be limited to 30 MPH, or at least that they will come that way when purchased from the dealer. Pat told me that possible colors include black, silver and red, with an outside chance of a blue and yellow. If everything goes as planned, the Lazer 6 will hit these shores in about six months. Customizers, you have been told!
What's next: Dealer Expo 2013: Two more