I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2008 Powersports Dealer Expo in Indianapolis (called the Indy Show because it is always in Indianapolis) this past weekend. It was a great trip. I had a good time, met some old friends, made some new ones, and learned lots of interesting stuff. I’ll be writing about all of it here over the next few weeks. For a rather more lighthearted look at the show check out the Racer X Films from Day 1 and Day 2.
To start I thought I’d review some of the more interesting little doodads and helper-items I saw. Nothing really big here, and some of them sell for a little more than I think they should. But they are still neat and may give you some ideas of your own.
First up is the HandyMate from BossMate. Made in Chattanooga, TN the HandyMate is one of those “Duh, why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. It’s just some simple, rectangular braces/brackets through which you slip a 2”x12” board of whatever length you want (probably around 8 feet max.) to create a nice, stable, self-supporting bench. At 21” tall the HandyMate just about the right height to support a long-travel dirt bike. It also makes a nice bench seat for putting on your boots or whatever, as well as a good step stool for reaching stuff on top of the trailer or across the truck bed. If you’re like me and make your loading ramps from 2”x12” lumber, using one of them for a bench seat or bike stand at the trail site is a great extra use. They make all sorts of variations. The HandyMate is the smallest. All you guys with welders and some 1” sq. tubing around can probably make some up yourself, but for a guy like me who doesn’t have that stuff the $45 retail price tag is low enough I can afford to buy a pair. Check them out.
Next is the MX Boot Bunny. It’s basically some 3/16” (or maybe 1/4”) mild steel rod that has been shaped into two upright, sock-like shapes that let you slip your upside-down muddy boots over them for washing. The Bunny holds them nice and steady so you can hit them with the pressure washer or car wash nozzle without fear of filling them with water. The basic Bunny just sticks into the ground, but they also offer a little fold-up base that can be used on hard surfaces like driveways. The base folds flat so the unit can hang on a hook in your trailer or truck. This one isn’t all that applicable for me since I don’t really ride in the mud anymore. Nor do a lot of vintage guys because it’s just too hard on the bikes. But everything needs washing eventually and at $35.95 for the standard unit and $62.95 for the combo with the base and a hanger it’s worth looking at if you don’t like tossing muddy gear into your rig.
The next item is from Park Tool USA and is a nifty portable workbench. Park has been making specialized bicycle tools for decades and is the leading brand in that space. For 2008 they are upgrading and modifying a number of their tools for the motorcycle market. They have a range of things like specialty vises for holding shocks and forks, etc. The portable workbench looks like a nice addition to the pit gear for any racer. It’ll hold as much as 200 lbs (although you shouldn’t try to put a pitbike on it). It has molded recesses so drinks, cans and tools don’t go rolling off. Plus they offer a nice little kit that turns it into a 2-wheel dolly for transporting other pit gear. This item is a little pricey. I don’t remember exactly what they told me, but I think it’s around $150 retail for the table. The dolly kit is extra. That’s a lot.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been happy with the flimsy camping tables from Walmart, etc. The plastic “church” tables tend to fall over easily if the ground is soft, plus stuff falls off them all the time. The Park table has the legs set at a 45-degree angle so even if the ground is soft it will work its way into the dirt and remain stable. The nice, lightweight aluminum tables from places like Pit Posse or Pit Products cost up to $300. That’s totally out of my league. Compared to that the Park table seems like a pretty good deal.
The last item is really a service and web site for ShipMyBike.com. I only talked to this guy for a minute but he seemed knowledgeable and claims to have been serving the motorcycle industry since 1965. His web site has a form you can fill out to get a free quote. Continental US, Hawaii/Alaska, and International services are all available. Here’s a customer quote from his About US page:
“I just got my two Vincent engines shipped by Berklay and they did a great job. Dennis handled it and it came from Mike’s house near Toranto Canada to Texas. Mike wanted it shipped one day after he had them crated and ready. After we got shipping arranged, Mike said they made contact with him, and they were there when he wanted them, had them loaded up and gone exactly when he wanted it. They shipped them to NYC for customs, then to me where I picked them up at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. No problems, no damage, easy to deal with, very reasonable prices (cheaper than I could have driven there!). The crates looked like they didn¹t have a mark on them. No damage to anything, and a great, quick job.” — Charlie Hamburger
He’s just an expediter, and I don’t know what sort of premium he gets over the basic carrier rates. But it may still be cheaper than Forward Air. And if he has solid relationships with the trucking and transport companies so his stuff doesn’t get screwed up that’s worth a lot. If you’re getting a bike from overseas it might be a real help to have a specialist expediter. OH, he has a gawdawful animated audio thing on his home page. Very annoying. But just ignore it.