Archive for Industry

MotoPeds acquired by MotoVox

The very cool urban assault-style hybrid motorized mountain bikes made by MotoPeds may be coming soon to a retail powersports outlet near you.MotoPed urban assault survival bike According to this press release the company has been acquired by APT MotoVox Group Inc. APT has patented a carburetor technology called SmartCarb for two-stroke engines which the company claims will push the MotoPed near the 200 mpg range.

In my humble opinion no Doomsday Prepper should be without one of these. In fact, every apocalypse bunker should come with one as standard issue.

There is no good reason that living on the fringe can’t be cool.

Terry Cordray of Village Creek MX Park

Terry Cordray is a man on a mission – a mission to rebuild his business, to have one of the most successful motocross tracks in Texas, and to make it easier and safer for new riders and families to get into the world of motocross.

Cordray is the owner/operator of Village Creek MX Park in Ft. Worth, Texas. He’s been a track operator and promoter for more than 30 years. And today I had a fascinating, 90-minute telephone conversation with him. Read More…

The business behind the business of motocross

If you have visited this site periodically over the years you know there are a lot of articles with a business or industry slant. I’m a business writer and consulting analyst by trade, and an avid motorcyclist and racing fan — particularly motocross racing.

One area I’ve never covered is the essential business of running a motocross track. Though rarely discussed — except when there’s a legal brouhaha of some sort or someone is complaining — track owners, operators, and promoters are absolutely essential to the health, growth, and preservation of motocross. Read More…

Growing the American MX Nationals via track rotation

A while back I read something, probably in Racerhead, about the unfortunate reality that in order to get a new venue into the outdoor National series an old one has to go away. This is what happened when Broome-Tioga sold its event rights to Tony Miller and Freestone in TX, and more recently, when Glen Helen lost its rights to make way for Pala (which subsequently lost them to Lake Elsinore.)

Then, in a December Racerhead, Davey Coombs was lamenting how hard it is to find a National venue in the southeast, and how even when he found one he had to get a current track to drop out of the series to make room.

That “lose one to gain one” thing struck me as a real barrier to growth. It’s a throw-back, one of the last remaining vestiges of the good ole’ boy power and politics around which motocross was built in the ’70s. How can you really grow a series, and grow the audience for a series, when you have to permanently take a race away from one location to try a new one? And when certain promoters essentially get a lifetime contract — like a season ticket holder at Lambeau Field?

When you’re talking about just 12 races a year, you need a compromise — a way to try new venues, new cities, new tracks, new locations — without abandoning or bringing undue harm to the ones that got you where you are. It’s another way of growing the pie.

So I thought, “Why don’t you just do a planned track rotation?” I did a little spreadsheet to see how a simple rotation would work and it turned out you could easily expand the AmericanMX National series to 18 tracks with a little planning. And luck. Rotation is easy. Finding new tracks is really, really hard. Read More…

HRPSports – It’s not Bob Hannah

I saw a little announcement at Motocross Action Magazine titled HRPSports is Accepting Resumes. HRP. The lightning bolt. Immediately I recalled hearing Bob Hannah say during some interview that his wife Terri was running HRP again. I also thought about the Jimmy Weinert Training Facility and the Jimmy Weinert Racing team that’s competing in both AMA Supercross and the American MX Nationals this year. I bet I’m not alone in thinking, “Is Hannah getting back into the sport in some way?” Read More…

Rekluse Motor Sports, Inc. founder Al Youngwerth on PitPass Radio

Tonight, 06 APR 2010, Pit Pass Radio will have an interview with Al Youngwerth, the founder of Rekluse Motor Sports Inc. If you’ve watched any of the recent Supercross races and wondered how some of the riders manage to keep the engine running when they fall off the bike, it’s because they’re using a Rekluse centrifugal clutch.

I’ve never had the chance to ride with one of these things, and they’re only available for modern bikes, but I’m told they are the shizznit — the cat’s pajamas, the real deal, the best thing since sliced bread, etc. One of my buddies — Bill Ramsey of Motorcycle Accessory Shop in Mesa, AZ (2319 West Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201-6839 (480) 835-6228) — says he tried to talk Al into giving him some parts to use to get one working on a vintage bike, but didn’t have any luck.

That’s too bad, because the new Core EXP clutch kit is, relatively, affordable at $800 — at least compared to the $2,000 these things cost originally. Now I know all you vintage guys are out there going, “What!? 800-freakin’ dollars!? I’ve bought entire bikes for less than that!” But from what I’ve been told these things are worth at least two CDI ignition upgrades and, if you’re on an old points-based ignition system that’s $450 per.

I admit, there’s probably only a tiny, tiny fraction of VMX riders who would shell out for something like this, but it would be nice to have the opportunity. I’m told if you ever ride with one you’ll never go back.

So tune in and see what Al has to say.

FIM launches new website

Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme (FIM) has launched their new website. The old FIM site was rather poor. It was only useful for finding press releases, but it was not regularly updated. My expectations for the new site are low and I will probably still be disappointed. But it has video for highlights. That’s something…

Cobra Motorcycles president Sean Hilier on Rush Limbaugh

Cobra Motorcycles president Sean Hilier was on the Rush Limbaugh program yesterday, to discuss the notorious Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) and its devastating effect on his company.

I didn’t hear the show but you can read the transcript here. According to Hillier, Cobra employs fewer than 50 people, but there are about 100 companies around the country that depend on Cobra for business (probably contractors for the manufacturing of various parts.)

Hillier also noted that when similar, game-changing legislation hit the auto industry back in the 1980s the industry had years to react and re-engineer. The CPSIA was passed in August of 2008 and put into law six months later. With catastrophic effects.

This is not the last we have heard about this law. This is another fine example of people who don’t know what their doing, passing a law on a topic they don’t know anything about, with absolutely no consideration for its consequences. This is what happens when government “works”.

helmet head – the Arai difference

arai-xd3motardsilI’ve just returned from my pilgrimage to Indianapolis and the annual Powersports Dealer Expo. There was a lot going on there this year, despite the economy. The biggest news was the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, a law that went into effect last week and summarily killed about 20% of the motorcycle industry in one fell swoop. But I’ll talk about that later.

This post is about helmets and what I learned at the show. The older I get the more interested I am in survival and safety technology. With the recent death of FMX star Jeremy Lusk from a head injury, helmets were high on my list this year. So I made it a point to spend time at the booths of as many major helmet manufacturers as I could — Bell, Shoei, Arai, HJC, and AGV.

These were just a few of the helmets on display. Every major vendor of apparel had at least one rack of helmets, and there were even a few new brands I never heard of before. Mike Metzger, the “godfather” of FMX, was at the show pushing his new line of Kali helmets and apparel.

Here’s a basic rule of thumb — style, color, and trendy design are not the most important consideration when looking for a helmet. Neither is ventilation or how many visor/shield configurations you offer. In my mind, neither is the margin offered to the dealer. But those seemed to be the only things anyone wanted to talk about. Except for Arai.

When I stepped into the Arai booth I was greeted with a wall covered in raw shell castings, cut-away shells, cut-away helmets showing various EPS liner configurations, and a bevy of crash-damaged helmets. I asked the first person I saw to tell me about Arai helmets and what made them different. (This was the first question I asked in every booth.) Immediately the salesman walked me over to the wall and began pointing out the raw fiberglass shell and talking about how helmet technology has evolved.

The salesman was an older gentleman, and in the course of his conversation he mentioned that his son had worked for Arai for 23 years. He took the older, single-layer fiberglass helmet casting (typical of 1980s-era helmets,) placed it on its side on the floor, and stood on it bouncing up and down. Then he explained, using photos and graphics on the wall, the 27–step process Arai uses to hand mold every modern, multi-layer Arai shell and explained the function of the various materials

He showed me the unique, dual-density, one-piece EPS liner that all Arai helmets use. He showed me the emergency cheek pad removal system. Then he began showing me the crash-tested helmets on display.

He noted that every rider had walked away without significant head injury. Some of the helmets were not just damaged, but destroyed. That the rider had survived was astonishing. But the helmet did its job.

After his demonstration I walked over to the shelf of new helmets and found a new XD3 Supermoto/Adventure helmet. I love this helmet — the look, the feel, the fit, the balance. Even though it is noticeably heavier in your hand than a Bell Moto8 or the more-comparable Shoei Hornet-DS, it doesn’t feel heavier on your head. There’s no top-heaviness at all.

As soon as I put the helmet down another salesman walked over and began asking me questions. He also started explaining the differences in Arai construction and pointing out features and considerations that the first gentleman had not gotten to.

In fact, everyone in the Arai booth appeared to be extremely knowledgeable about their product. Moreso than any other helmet vendor I visited. I had a similar, but not quite as thorough, experience last year when I talked with the marketing director at Bell. But everyone else, not so much. They pretty much wanted to show me the new graphics, the new vents, or talk about the margins I make as a dealer. I know that’s important, but it’s not what I asked about.

The AGV rep did talk briefly about the industry-wide discussion over whether Snell is the right standard, and whether Arai helmets are, in fact, too stiff. He mentioned that there was actually a Snell meeting at the show to discuss some of these issues. The AGV helmets are noticeably less stiff than an Arai.

There is a legitimate argument about how to rate and construct helmets, and there is real concern that Snell may not be the right standard. There is significant industry debate over this issue, with competing standards in the US, Europe, and the UK. I wrote about this last year.

In that article I noted that, in an informal survey of several riders, there was general agreement that a $250 helmet was probably 2x better than a $100 helmet, but there was doubt that a $500 helmet was actually 2x better still.

I still don’t know the answer, but I do know this — the Arai folks are fanatical about helmets, and it’s very hard to argue against a company that is so committed to protecting your head. They are not making a fashion statement. They are not bowing to trends and fads if it compromises what they believe a helmet should be. They are 100% dedicated to making the very best helmet they know how to make. And this passion shows in everyone in the company.

I might still say the Bell Moto8 is my favorite off-road helmet, but I’m not sure. I know I love the Arai XD3 and will replace my current street helmet as soon as I can.

Getting Hosed – Price fixing in the rubber market

We have written here before about what price fixing in the rubber market means to the motorcycle industry. The corporate corruption on the part of our beloved suppliers continues.

According to this Oligopoly Watch post “Getting hosed“, the EU competition commission recently issued $173 million in fines to six global corporations for conspiring to fix the price of marine hose. Included in the list:

  • Bridgestone Tire and Rubber (Japan)
  • Trelleborg SA(Sweden)
  • Manuli Rubber Industries (Italy)
  • Dunlop Oil and Marine (UK-based, but a part of Herman conglomerate Continental Tire Group)
  • Parker ITR (Us/Italy)

Any of those names sound familiar? Getting credit for an also-ran position is Japan’s Yokohama, which chose to expose the cartel to avoid fines. These companies control the great majority of a world-wide commodity product — rubber — that is used for a lot of motorcycle parts besides tires.

According to the article, there is some hope as the UK appears to be moving more aggressively toward criminal investigations of complicit executives. It’s about time. After a dozen years of letting companies do whatever they want we need a serious redirection of anti-trust action.

As a side note we, as motorcyclists, need to be extremely cynical that global corporations have our best interests at heart. They do not. Not Honda. Not Suzuki. Not Yamaha. Not Kawasaki. Not BMW. Not HD. None of them. And we need to be extremely vigilant that these companies do not co-opt our rider organizations for their own goals just because they have the money.