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Roger Daltrey may have sung, “I hope I die before I get old.” But Harley-Davidson riders seem to think otherwise.

For many years the Motor Company’s main customers have been the baby boomer generation, a generation of riders who are now, shall we say, considering retirement?

Now, due to the ravages of time, those riders are having to deal with issues that can affect their riding. We all know how heavy a Harley is, but if you have to deal with arthritis or perhaps a hip replacement then that weight can become a real concern when it comes to keep the bike upright when you stop. The answer to this problem would appear to be the addition of extra wheels if the displays at the V-Twin Expo are to be believed.

Numerous exhibitors had trikes in their booths which had been accessorised with those companies’ latest and greatest products. The Iron Bagger Review display of show bikes at the rear of the Expo centre was split about 60/40 between bikes and trikes and in the main show itself there were a couple of trike manufactures and many companies offering trike conversion kits
and parts.

It doesn’t stop there either. Described by the manufacturer as, “For the guy who doesn’t want to stop riding because of health issues but who doesn’t want ride a trike or can’t afford a one.” What was being describing was the ‘Side Kicks’, basically, a set of stabiliser wheels that can be raised and lowered as and when needed, that bolt to a Touring bike’s crash bars.

That self-same company also offers a seat that has been designed to increase comfort for riders with among other health issues prostrate problems … yes proof indeed that Harley’s target market is getting older.

February in Cincinnati, Ohio can mean only one thing to those involved in the American motorcycle business – the annual V-Twin Expo.

Every year, for the past 12 years, the great and good of the V-twin industry have come together to show off the latest parts and accessories for Harleys and many other American made v-twin offerings.

A few years ago it was also the show to go to, to see new models from the small volume manufacturers, but these days the likes of Big Dog Motorcycles, Big Bear Choppers and many other have seen sales slide so badly that they are no longer in business. That downturn in trade has impacted on the rest of the H-D aftermarket trade too.

On first arriving, a quick walk around the show floor revealed that the actual take-up of booth spaces was dramatically down on previous years and many of those companies that are displaying their wares have downsized their show floor foot print.

Anyway enough with the doom and gloom, those businesses that are in attendance are bullish about the market and some are positively pushing ahead. SuperTrapp for instance is making a big deal of having purchased the custom brake and control specialist Jaybrake. 

When I asked about the reasoning behind the purchase, given that it's somewhat removed from the company’s core business of exhausts I was told, ”We’ve been making bikes go faster for years so now we can stop them quicker too.” 

Meanwhile over at the Performance Machine booth they’ve gone all bright and cheerful with a selection of colour anodised parts. So now if you want your wheels, sprocket and brake rotors finished in, for instance, bright orange you can, just so long as you buy them from Performance Machine.

It is also wheels that are quite literally the big thing at his year’s Expo. Having first seen one or two examples of 30-inch front wheels at last year’s show I thought they would be a passing trend, with 26-inchers being widely lampooned at the time. Oh, how I was wrong, so wrong.

Within the Expo there is a display of custom Baggers from professional custom builders and the vast majority of them are sporting 30-inch rims at the front.

If further proof is needed that the trend is here to stay, a stroll along the show aisles revealed that Performance Machine and Xtreme wheels (a business owned by Performance Machine) are the only wheel manufacturers there not retailing a big wheel.

Had a blast putting the new Dyna Switchback through its paces yesterday. Read the full story in American-V 48, out in early October.