With a website, multiple magazine titles, consumer bike shows from coast to coast and a dealer convention all lending thrust to their marketing machine, Paisano Publications is a powerful force in today's chopper ecosystem. Given its breadth and scope, one might expect this multi-media company to have its finger squarely on the pulse of the freshest, fastest-growing subcultures in today's custom motorcycle scene.
Surely there's a city in the sunbelt that's willing to host Easyriders' icy homage to all things old and outlaw. Leisure World in West Palm Beach, perhaps? Seriously, asking the motorcycle industry to drag its collective ass through the rustbelt in February is a recipe for disaster.
Excluding the booth for the Limpnickie Lot—itself the co-creation of another magazine entirely—nothing at the eleventh annual V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio, seemed focused on stuff that matters to a new generation of builders and bikeriders—categories like the late-model Sportster aftermarket, for instance, or the Japanese and Brit bike scenes. To the contrary, most of the people, products and programs on display at the Duke Energy Center seemed outdated, misguided, ill-concieved, or all three. Given the growth and vitality in areas like underground events, consumer-direct e-com and social media, this perception seems easily avoidable.
When small businesses can't afford to attend America's biggest B2B V-twin trade show, short-sighted show organizers fill the unsold space with big rigs like this behemoth from Drag Specialties. Easyriders' own dyno drag rig was also parked dormant in the main hall.
Rather than use any of the new web-based marketing tools at their disposal, Paisano seems content to cling to things as they used to be. Examples of such myopia include filling a shrinking show space with big rigs to feign economic corpulence, and erecting curtains around the perimeter to add a sense of density to the ordeal. If the number of booths has indeed diminished, perhaps Paisano should invite motorcycle builders and bikeriders to showcase their machines in the unsold space. Hell—in terms of creating a sense of energy, even the Jim Rose Circus would have been a step in the right direction.
Cash-strapped motorcycle dealers and repair shops needn't install $15,000 trike conversions to difibrillate the spirits of octagenarian outlaws. There is an army of eager 20- and 30-something customers out there who are dying to ride the wild thunder. To attract these young people, simply remove the flame print polyester dress shirts from your garment rounder, hide the $359 apehangers and cut off your salt-and-pepper ponytail.
Last year's big buzz was 26-inch front wheels for bedazzled baggers. This year it was diff kits for trikes. Show officials hosted two seminars on the subject. Nearly a dozen geriatric freedom machines were on display, including this sweet three-wheeled Captain America replica. Peter Fonda's iconic biker is rolling in his grave. Easyrider signage proclaimed trikes "the fastest growing segment" in today's custom motorcycle market. Given the target demo and economic strata for trike customers, I would posit it's the fastest dying. Come on, Paisano—pull your greying head out of your assless chaps and look around. There are millions of Gen Xers and rapidly maturing 'tweeners dying to let their inner skate-punk-turned-chopper-freak run free. How about hosting a seminar that teaches motorcycle shops how to attract these young customers with something more substantial than MoCo-approved plaid shirts.
One trike maker's slogan is, "We Keep Your Dreams Alive." If you need training wheels to save you from sleep apnea, it's time for a dirt nap.
Another hot commodity at this year's V-Twin Expo was bedazzled biker apparel. The first booth that assaulted my senses when I entered the show was an Easyrider kiosk dedicated to such dreck. Like remnants from the cloak room at Criss Angel's Mindfreak Fisting Spectacular, these fey toughguy garments make men look like women and women look like whores. And not the good kind, either. Jersey Shore whores with fake nails, fake tits and chlamydia. Granted, I'd pour the meat to the chick with the guitar if the opportunity presented itself, but I wouldn't use her shirt to wipe off my dick juice for fear of lacerating my pee hole with a rhinestone. Who wears this shit? If you do, stop—you look like a douche bag.
Several fly-by-night operations showed their wares at this year's V-Twin Expo, but most of these booths were manned by pricks.
Not everything at the V-Twin Expo totally sucked. A couple cool motorcycles were on display, and Saturday's $10 lasagna lunch special was delicious. Chris Callen from Cycle Source headlined a good seminar on tricks and tips for using social media, and ChopCult's own Bill Bryant shared insights on the value of low- and no-cost web resources for marketing in the modern age. To help Bill make his point about the effervescence of viral media, I posted this soundbite on Facebook while the affable monitor Don Emde fielded questions from the audience. Chris, Bill and other experts on the dais shared pearls of wisdom with an engaged audience, making this seminar a welcome hot spot in what was otherwise a very chilly event.
See the complete range of Easyriders apparel for men, women and children here.