Skipping Dealer Expo

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve decided not to go to Dealer Expo this year. Part of the decision was simply practical and personal: I’m (sorry) not a fan of Indianapolis, the weather’s likely to be terrible, I waited too long to sort out accommodations, I have an infant son, and it’s just not a good time to spend money on hotels, food, and booze.

But with the scooter industry in the state it’s in, an awful lot of exhibitors and dealers also didn’t feel it was a good time to spend money on hotels, food, and booze. The conventional wisdom (pun intended) is that this year’s Expo is going to be pretty dismal. A few years ago, the show sprawled across the convention center AND the Colts’ stadium AND all the nooks and crannies and hotel lobbies in between. Last year the show was noticeably thinner on exhbitors, especially in the stadium, and this year, theyv’e abandoned the stadium altogether. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, if it meant fewer leather-fringe vendors and neon accessories booths, but sadly, it seems a growing number of bigger players have either eliminated or drastically downsized their footprints this year too.

On top of that, the scooter fad is indisputably waning. A half dozen reasonably large scooter exhibitors in years past: UM, Tank, LS Motorsports, and more, are gone, and many more are on life support. Also, the American market probably doesn’t look as promising to the dozens of hopeful manufacturers that filled the “Chinese Pavillions” of years past with their comedy gold.

What am I excited about? Genuine’s new Blur and 4-Stroke Stella, of course, but I’ve seen and ridden both, and both are, when it comes down to it, iterations of familiar products. The only exciting entirely-new-to-the-U.S. scooter model I can think of is the Kymco Like, and Kymco’s skipped Dealer Expo for a couple years now, as has Piaggio. Perhaps Flyscooter’s Cub clone or Hammerhead’s plastic “Vespa” will be on display in finalized US versions, or some of the other exciting promises from last year will come to life, but I really don’t think there will be many new products, since most importers can’t get rid of the scooters they have.

Of course there could be surprises. My off-the-wall prediction (you heard it here first!) is that whatever Chinese manufacturer that’s making the “Pato Lambretta” (a hit at EICMA) will show up trying to sell the same bike to American distributors (under a different name, of course). But overall, it sounds like the show will be pretty dull, especially if you love scooters and couldn’t care less about choppers and sportbikes.

Dealer Expo has always as much of a social and educational event as much as it’s been fodder for 2strokebuzz stories. I’ve met lots of great people and these relationships continue to feed 2strokebuzz (and my personal life.) But even in this regard, many old and new friends won’t be there this year. The 2strokebuzz/POC hotel party last year was reasonably epic for its small scale, but it couldn’t compare to the Corazzo parties of years past!

I’m counting on my friends who are there to keep in touch, hopefully I’ll still have a few interesting tidbits to share over the weekend.

5 thoughts on “Skipping Dealer Expo”

  1. If they show off that new Pato (not the Znen whatever thing) that would be interesting. I think the one shown at EICMA was a one off, but it looked good. Especially if they keep it small.

  2. Right Phil, it’s close to us, but can you imagine living anywhere outside the midwest and being excited about paying good money to spend a weekend in downtown Indianapolis? That’s the first problem with the show right there. If it was in Vegas or some other overpriced sunbelt “convention city” I’d personally be even less likely to go, but I’d imagine most dealers and exhibitors wouldn’t. If they’re going to do it in some cheap boring mid-sized city, it could at least be a town that’s not buried in slush every february.

  3. They’ve been sending about three emails a day, they’re clearly desperate. The latest tells me I can win one of 8 $250 gift cards or an Apple iPad (where’d they get one?), and lists celebrities who will be signing autographs. I’m not a big motorsports junkie or anything, but I don’t recognize any of these guys.

    They’re also allowing people to register on-site, which is a riot considering the hoops they usually make people go through to register and sign-in. My bet is that the usual “we need six photo IDs and fingerprints” tables and uptight badge-checkers will be a sieve this year.

  4. First time for me, so I’m kinda jazzed even with the small turnout. I hope to run into Phil and crowd to say hi. Follow me on Twitter for some Twitpics of all the Expo-y action – @detroitscooter

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