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American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) Roundup and Product Spotlight

Motorcycle industry trade show now in its fifth year

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor
10/26/2017

The main trade show for the motorcycle industry these days is the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo). Now in its fifth year, the 2017 event was held September 21-24 in Columbus, Ohio.

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aimexpo roundup product spotlight tradeshow floor
The Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio was the site of this year’s AIMExpo.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight wrn team
My team and I walked the trade show floor looking for products we think would be interesting to you. From left are Tammy Huoni, Janice Godwin, and me.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight expo hall
The first two days were open to dealers, the industry, and media; the last two days, the show opens to the public.


As in years past at now-gone trade shows like Dealer Expo and the V-Twin Expo, I was always excited to see the new apparel, luggage, and soft goods collections (like seats) presented by manufacturers. At this year’s AIMExpo, those types of vendors were severely lacking.

Sign of the times? Yes. I believe some belt-tightening is still going on in the motorcycle industry as some aftermarket companies continue to rebound and redefine themselves in a new economic environment. I point this out in case you were wondering why those types of products are not featured here.

That said, there was no shortage of actual motorcycles themselves; most of the manufacturers were represented. One exhibit that stood out was the Custom Culture Powered by BMW Motorcycles exhibit designed to attract young enthusiasts while showing off new aftermarket parts.


aimexpo roundup product spotlight custom culture
It was nice to see BMW, a brand you don’t normally associate with custom motorcycles, sponsoring this area. However, introduction of the R nineT platform in 2013 opened the door to a new world of customization that hadn’t previously existed for BMW.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight bob kay
Longtime motorcycle industry marketer Bob Kay is the Custom Culture Director, pictured here with me. He’s got his finger on the pulse of what’s new and hot in the custom motorcycle world.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight jason paul michaels
One of the ambassadors of the Custom Culture show is Jason Paul Michaels, here in the hat. He was on hand to answer questions and promote the area to attendees.

Here’s a preview of some products we found that we think will interest you.

1. Helmet Communication Systems

The two market leaders, Sena (pronounced with a short e; rhymes with henna) and Cardo were in attendance with reps touting their helmet-mounted communication devices that use mesh technology, which eliminates the need for Bluetooth pairing.

Mesh provides for seamless connection between any number of devices, and should one helmet drop out in a group of more than two, the remaining riders can still be connected and not have to re-pair.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight sena
Sena marketing director Leah Langford shows off Sena’s 30K Mesh Intercom Communication System on a helmet. Review of the system coming soon on WRN.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight cardo scala rider
Mike Tole, a Cardo sales rep, shows off the Scala Rider Packtalk DMC Technology, their company’s mesh headsets. That’s me, right with WRN team member Tammy all talking to each other through the PackTalk headsets. Normally, these are mounted to a helmet, but are on headsets for demonstration purposes.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight kristy swanson cardo
Actor Kristy Swanson was there on behalf of Cardo talking about the system’s benefits since she and her husband use it on their motorcycles. Packtalk allows up to 15 riders to connect at a range of up to 5 miles.

2. Jeans for Riding

Wrangler, known for its western work jeans, is marketing its new performance oriented line of denim jeans for motorcyclists. While we’re advocates of protective riding gear and denim that protects in a crash, we know there is large group of riders who love to wear their simple denim jeans on their motorcycle.

Wrangler is offering two new versions of their jeans. “Advance Comfort” with stretchy material and a waistband that moves with you (in men’s sizes only), and Cool Vantage, in women’s and men’s sizes, a breathable jean featuring exclusive sweat-control technology that wicks sweat five times faster.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight wrangler jeans
Joe Andrews of Wrangler holds up a women’s pair of the Cool Vantage jeans that helps a rider keep cool, dry, and comfortable on the motorcycle so she’s less restricted.

3. Adjustable Handlebars

Helibars was a longtime supporter of Women Riders Now, so when we see Harry Eddy, the designer of the adjustable bars, and his team, we always make a point to see what new inventions they have for motorcycles.

The latest is a set of risers for the new BMW K 1600 B Bagger, reviewed here on WRN. Harry loves the bike, but he knew the handlebars needed a little adjusting for some riders. So he set out to design the first set of risers for the sleek cruiser.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight harry eddy helibars
Harry Eddy of Helibars, holds the riser pieces that he created to bring the handlebars closer to the rider.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight helibars
The risers for the BMW K 1600 B move the handlebars 1 inch taller and 1 ¼ inch rearward from stock.

 

4. Heat Shields for Pipes

With a lot of motorcycles running hot these days, DEI Powersports hit a home run with its exhaust tape and exhaust shields that stop heat from scorching the rider.

We’ve written about these innovative products before on WRN, but it’s nice to actually see the pieces to write about them firsthand. The titanium exhaust tape and flexible heat shield also help prevent a rider from burning her or his boot heel on the pipe.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight dei powersports
Dan Stark of DEI Powersports shows off how the titanium heat wrap looks on an exhaust pipe, along with the exhaust shield for extra protection in those "too-close-for-comfort" areas.

5. Tool Kit for the Road

Chances are if you bought a used motorcycle the stock tool kit was missing from the motorcycle. We ran into our longtime colleague and early supporter of WRN, Dan Parks from CruzTools. CruzTools offers motorcycle specific toolkits from Harley-Davidsons, to Triumphs, to metrics and off-road ATVs and UTVs. Gearheads will love browsing his website.

aimexpo roundup product spotlight cruztools
Dan Parks, owner of CruzTools, is pointing to the set of tools for Triumph motorcycles available from his company.

For more information on any of the products mentioned above, visit their website.
Sena.com
CardoSystems.com
Wrangler.com
Helibars.com
DEIPowersports.com
CruzTools.com
JasonPaulMichaels.com (also visit his business, StandardMotorcycleCo.com)

Related Stories
AIMExpo 2013 Recap


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