Indy Show Wrap-Up

New goodies for you and your bike at motorcycling's biggest U.S. trade show.

Every February the motorcycle aftermarket gathers for a huge show-and-tell of the latest and greatest in motorcycle gear. The "International Powersports Dealer Expo" is where aftermarket product-makers and distributors show their wares to motorcycle dealers and try to snag big orders. The show has gotten so big that it is about to overflow the combined floor space available from the Indianapolis Convention Center and the adjacent RCA Dome. A constant topic of discussion at this year's event was where the show, which came to Indy just a few years ago because it had outgrown its previous digs, will go next. But that growth (some companies reported increases of 39 percent over the previous year) underscores the vitality of the motorcycle business, even when the rest of the economy seems to be weak. (Some experts say that the motorcycle market leads the rest of the economy, so maybe it's time to get back into stocks.)

Attendees on a snow, cold opening Saturday in Indianapolis were soon warmed up when Cobra unveiled its hot new super-custom. And Cobra wasn't the only company showing off traffic-stopping new showbikes.

Dubbed the StrataCruiser, the ninth annual showbike created through a collaboration of Cobra and builder Denny Berg, the machine is based on the yet-to-be-released Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Classic. It's a radical departure, heavy on bodywork, with a sleek, clean profile and much of the bike enclosed. It was the most daring effort so far, and put off some enthusiasts who like their customs to look more like the original cookie-cutter bike. We can tell you it looks more exciting in person.

Rolling on new Performance Machine wheels, the narrow look of the bike was obtained up front by installing the standard fork legs in a bored-out Harley triple clamp, which necessitated relieving the wheel to move the brake inboard. The caliper is positioned at the bottom of the disc. The faired headlight comes from a 1966 Kawasaki 125.

The bodywork is topped by cover made from a single piece of alumnimum. Fuel is carried in two tanks at the bottom of the bike. The footpegs are Performance Machine handgrips. The bike is marked by Berg's usuaul talent for concealing clutter, and like other Cobra projects, it can be ridden.

Cobra also unveiled some less radical but more real items for the VN1600--products you will be able to buy if you acquire a Vulcan 1600 of your very own. These include about 50 items, with plenty of Cobra staples such as light bars, six different pipes, backrests, floorboards, visors, and billet covers. The list also includes Cobra's new Tachometer ($230), which comes with a billet mount and has applications ranging from the VN1600 to Yamaha V-Star 650s. The firm's Fi2000 Fuel Management System ($200) is also ready for the 1600 when it arrives, expected to be some time in March or April.

Cobra has also been creating applications for Honda's VTX series, including the 1300s, which enjoy a similarly substantial number of bolt-ons from Cobra. The company has also moved into a new expanded facility this past fall, and says that it has vastly increased its ability to meet demand for its products, which has been a challenge in the past because of an enviable growth in its order volume over the past several years.

Another company unveiling a new custom was DG Hard-Krome, which built an aisle-clogging VTX custom to show off its two-into-one exhaust for that bike. Raked out, dropped, cleaned up and brightened with additional chrome, billet and a dazzling orange paint topped with black, the Hard-Krome showbike bikes recreates the VTX in the mold of the classic American custom and enhancing the attitude that radiates from that big V-twin. Hard-Krome also showed off its American Classic Straights on other bikes.

One of the first companies we talked to during the pre-show set-up day on Friday was National Cycle, which should now have convinced any remaining doubters that it is no longer just a windshield company, although it's still the leader in that category. With two new divisions and a range of completely new products, National Cycle will be attracting the attention of even more cruiser enthusiasts.

National Cycle can now equip your VTX1300 with a with its front-end and rear-end gear, including its one-piece Heavy-Duty Windshield in regular or tall sizes. Dress up the 13 with NC's lightbar, which includes driving lights and turn signals, and comes fully assembled, to simplify installation. The firm also has its Highway Bar for the VTX.

In back, you can fit National Cycle's Cruiseliner saddlebags, made from a high-density polymer with a push-button latch. The chrome mounting system is sold separately, and bolts to the Paladin luggage rack and backrest, also separate items. Get additional information at www.nationalcycle.com.

National Cycle's new ZTechnik division showed off the new SmarTire Monitor, which lets you keep an eye on pressures in tubeless tires, warning of slow leaks or other problems before they get you in trouble. An FM transmitter in each tire signals the LED indicator on the dash of potential leaks. The complete kit sells for $264. In addition, ZTechnik is also developing accessories for BMWs, including exhaust systems for the R1200C and R1200CL models. It is also developing more products for the CL models. See www.ZTechnik.com for details.

We time looking at some of the offerings of companies who import small cruisers from Asia. Prominent among these is AlphaSports of Augusta, Georgia, which imports a pair of 250 V-twins fropm Korea. The GV-250 Classic and GV-250 Sport are powered by an air-cooled 28-horsepower Suzuki-designed engine with five speeds. In a bit over a year, these roomy, nicely equipped machines have taken an impressive bite out of the 250cc street bike class pie, even though at $3600 they are more expensive than comparable twins from Honda and Yamaha. For further info, seee www.AlphaSportsMotors.com.

Another company selling small import cruisers here is United Motors, which imports the 198cc Renegade 200. Like the AlphaSports machines, the single-cylinder Renegade's styling is more contemporary than the Japanese 250s. You can catch a glimpse of the Renegade, which was being shown in two styling variants, one with very full fenders, and the rest of the United Motors line at www.umamerica.com.

There were some other fresh and reincarnated motorcycle brands at Indy. The Norton logo resurfaced on a very clean looking cruiser with a Harley clone V-twin providing the motive force. However, there apparently are other firms that believe they have rights to the Norton brand. Big Brute, a relatively new V-8 powered machine was in attendendance, and drawing interest. The same Honda derived 250cc V-twin in the Venox was on hand wrapped in a chopper-style chassis under the TMEC brand, which was looking for U.S. distribution.

However, it's the accessories, parts, and apparel that are the headliners at this show, not complete production bikes. The show is so large (the program listed about 1000 exhibitors) that it is literally impossible for one person to talk to every company during the three says allowed.

We snapped photos of a couple new dress-up pieces, such as the Highway Hawk's billet instrument-console cover for the Suzuki Intruder 1500 LC and its speedometer cover for the Yamaha Road Star. We also saw the Custom World International treatment of parts for the Honda VTX1300s, including aits billet luggage rack and that plush passenger backrest with armrests. See www.cw-intl.com.

Another Canadian company, Travel Horse, caught our eye with its very vintage looking Kawasaki Drifter, a style created partly by the paint and exhaust system, but also by the firm's "Big Cruiser" saddle (which features studs and conchos) and its synthetic-leather saddlebags. They have a number of saddlebag styles for Japanese cruiser brands (as well as Harleys) as well as a line of comfy-looking saddles for Kawasakis, Suzukis and Yamahas. If you are shopping for leather bags or a saddle, it's worth taking a look at the Travel Horse Collection on their website: www.travhorse.com.

Down the way, we found Olympia Sports setting up its booth and some new designs in its extensive lines of gloves. The firm now has a short glove (no gauntlet) with venting and armored knuckles. The same vented glove is also available without the hard armor in the knuckles. For further info, visit www.OlympiaGloves.com.

But the big news there was that the Olympia name can now be found on line of technical leather and textile jackets and pants. There are Olympia mesh jackets with liners and armor, and a variety jacket styles. Some models, such as the leather Roadmaster ($389), are obviously intended for cruisers, and feature comfortable armor, a foam back protector, reflective black piping, venting and a unique zip-out liner. The black liner, made of ripstop nylon, is styled like a military flight jacket, making the Roadmaster two jackets in one. See www.OlympiaMotoSports.com for more styles.

Wolfman luggage came to Indianapolis with significantly redesigned soft luggage to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The new designs are more versatile, have more features, and include refinements like curved pocket closures that better seal out water. Go to www.wolfmanluggage.com to get a look at or order the new gear.

Another company debuting products for the VTX1300 is Mustang, which appears to offer more room to the rear for the rider's fanny, one of our major gripes about the VTX13. In addition, it has a removable passenger section, and an optional rider's backrest. (And contrary to rumor going around on the internet, you CAN buy just the backrest--assuming you have a Mustang seat to attach it to.) Also new from Mustang is a saddle for the Victory V92TC.

Hondaline, the accessory division of Honda, showed us its new Pro Honda Travel Pack, which includes wipes in resealable pouches. Included in the pack are wipes impregnated with Hondaline's Cleaner/Polish, with Shield Cleaner, and with Hand Cleaner, and drying wipes. Designed as convenient cleaning tools you can drop in a pocket or pouch, the Travel Packs should be in Honda dealers soon.

Corbin, celebrating its 35th anniversary like the show itself, has been very busy in the last few months. One of the least conspicuous but most interesting items in its booth was the Hot Seat an electrically heated saddle, currently available for touring and sport-touring bikes with the usual custom Corbin touches available. Corbin also has color-matched Beetle Bags, Adjustable Fairings and Chin Spoilers with radiator shrouds for the Harley V-Rod and Honda VTX models (both C and Retro styles). You can see it at www.Corbin.com or in Corbin's 282-page catalog, which also includes applications for bikes like Excelsior-Hendersons.

It's a shame that this show, or parts of it, aren't open to consumers, because it is potentially the best show for enthusiasts in the United States. Though not all the new bikes are here, virtually every major aftermarket company is on hand, and it would be a chance to look at stuff you'd have a hard time seeing elsewhere and also to get info right from the sources.

A crowd gathered for Cobra's revelation.
Denny Berg watches reaction to the StrataCruiser.
"I've always wanted to do that," said Berg of the StrataCruiser's front brake caliper location.
The StrataCruiser needs to be seen in the flesh to be fully appreciated.
Cobra's exhaust for the Vulcan 1600.
Cobra's new tach fits most metric cruisers.
The 1300 piped up.
Most injected cruisers can use the Fi2000.
Hard-Krome's VTX is one of the most exciting metric show cruisers at Indy.
The National Cycle kit for the Honda VTX1300.
...when the sensor on the tire detects low pressure.
The LED on the dash warns...
AlphaSports Classic
It even has a tach.
The "Sport" model
The AlphaSport cruisers have an independent company making accessories and a riders' club.
The UM's use a 200cc single.
It's a Drifter-like 200.
Norton reinvented in the Harley style.
Big Brute is a new V-8 contender.
TMEC shares the V-twin with the Venox.
TMEC's radical 250 V-twin chopper.
Highway Hawk's instrument dressing.
Custom World expects to have a new product a month, such as this rack, shown on a VTX1300.
Vanson has a new line of jackets made from ultra-supple leatherm including this nice tan style.
The new Olympia jackets have lots of intersting features and attractive prices.
Olympia styled its jacket liner like a military flight jacket.
Wolfman has redesigned its luggage.
Mustang's VTX1300 saddle.
Warm your hiney with Corbin's Hot Seat.
Corbin's V-Rod treatment.
The VTX a la Corbin.
Stunning paint and bodywork.
Hondaline now has convenient cleaning and finish-care packs to go.
Honda put its best foot forward in other areas as well.
The V-Rod got a lot of attention from accessory makers, including Ohlins, which fits its superior suspension.
Vance & Hines also showed some prettier exhaust pipes for the V-Rod.
Memphis Shades has sone new windshield designs on the small end of the scale.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation had its motorcycle-awareness program aimed at the leans-the-wrong-way-in-corners crowd.
Metzeler's latest monster meat for customs is wider than some of the bikes at the show.
No, your stock swingarm won't be wide enough.
Vanson made its signature star do some eye-catching new tricks.
The black piping on Olympia's jackets hides until light strikes it, then it reflects brightly.
The elastic ties on Wolfman's tailbags are also retroreflective. Without the light from the flash, it looks black.
One of our favorite cruiser-oriented T-shirts from Indy.