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10 Takeaways from AIMExpo’s Two-Wheel Takeover in Las Vegas
BY Mike Maravilla //
February 15, 2024
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Photography: Brandon Cody
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Additional Photography: Mike Maravilla
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  • AIMExpo (AIME) is a three-day, trade-only exhibition that assembles respected powersports brands, manufacturers, and thought leaders together to start the year off right.
  • After it acquired Tucker Powersports in 2023, Turn 14 Distribution put its spin on the annual conference as its title sponsor and affirmed its entry into an exciting, new segment.
  • The crossover to electrification brought new opportunities to exhibitors, including e-bike demo tracks to try out new technologies firsthand.
  • A handful of custom bikes were on hand too, as a reminder that the powersports community will continue to be predicated on self-expression and going against the grain.

Our first experience with cars as kids may have been a familiar combination of red and yellow, but our first taste of true freedom came on two wheels. That sentiment still rings true in adulthood. There is an indescribable thrill, camaraderie, and rebellion associated with the powersports community. Where modern cars have largely numbed the driving experience, the open-air equivalent on two (or four) wheels is emboldened by its connection to the journey itself.

AIMExpo strives to harness this spirit into a three-day conference in Las Vegas. It represents the first and most premier opportunity for the powersports industry—from OEM, aftermarket, and disruptive thinker camps—to connect in the calendar year. Turn 14 Distribution, after it acquired Tucker Powersports in 2023, seized the chance to leave its mark on the flagship exhibition and firmly attest to its arrival in the segment. As a newcomer to the conference and a novice motorcycle rider, I was excited to absorb everything that AIMExpo could offer me and, just maybe, help me pick out my next two-wheeled project.

SPOILED FOR CHOICE

AIMExpo’s overall footprint is leaps and bounds smaller than SEMA, but you’d be wrong to think that there wouldn’t be a lot to take in. The comparatively compact scale of two-wheel transportation meant that a lot more machinery could be packed into available booth space. Look left, and you’re greeted by a generous helping of dirt bikes, while the equal and opposite gaze would welcome sport bikes, naked bikes, modern classics, and cruisers. There were also plenty of scaled-down, 2-stroke motocross bikes to introduce the powersports world to younger audiences. This was the most overwhelming part for me; I was unprepared for the onslaught of options that AIMExpo was able to offer in a single exhibitor hall and after each day, I was taken back by how little floor space I’d covered to take it all the details.

ITALIAN THOROUGHBREDS

Still, two Italian sportbikes won my heart. A beautiful MV Agusta Superveloce 98—one of 300 numbered units—looked incredible in its bespoke Rosso Verghera paint scheme. The Neo-classic 798cc cafe racer celebrates the brand’s proud 80-year history and boasts the iconic MV Agusta soundtrack to boot.

The other was nestled in Turn 14 Distribution’s booth: Bimota Tesi H2, one of 250 ever made. The company forged a partnership with Kawasaki to supply it with one of the world’s most powerful production engines—a 228hp supercharged 998cc 4-stroke—to outfit what is undeniably one of the most radical bodywork and chassis designs ever created. There’s a lot to unpack, but the nature of the Tesi’s hub-center steering system means that the bike’s geometry is unaffected by hard braking and acceleration. It’s eccentric and wild in all the ways that an Italian creation should be and it’s an incredible piece of kit to admire.

WEST COAST CUSTOMS

While there’s a lot to admire about those Italian factory specials, creating something of your own is even cooler. AIME had a small selection of handmade machines that gave me serious Mama Tried vibes. The real standouts for me were Cristian Sosa’s BMW R1200 and KC Elkins’s Kawasaki KX500 race bike. I probably spent more time admiring every last detail on these bikes than I did sleeping in my hotel room. More to come on these soon.

TOUCH, PEEL, AND STAND

While top-dollar display cars at SEMA are roped off, the AIMExpo equivalents are open access. Indeed, attendees of AIME are encouraged to get up close and personal with the equipment, whether it’s the bike itself or the accessories that make the riding experience even better. It’s an important acknowledgment that every sense and every opportunity for personalization matters in the powersports world and I deeply respect that. Brands like ProTaper, Answer Racing, and Kuryakyn all brought a generous offering of products for AIME attendees to check out, including some of their latest gear.

THE RIGHT FIT

Ride With Us was one of the exhibitors whose entire mission is taking the guesswork out of participating in powersports altogether. They had a handful of equipment on hand, including one of the most popular entry-level “miniMOTO” bikes, the Honda Grom. I appreciate that the organization tries to pair newcomers with the right kind of bike based on their interests and desired use. By contrast, I bought my first motorcycle based on aesthetics alone without any consideration for how or where I’d actually use it. They also offer training from professional instructors to help make the time you spend on your bike more fun and safe.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

Above all else, the “try before you buy” concept shone brightly at the e-bike demo track. Turn 14 Distribution’s Fantic e-bike course was a big hit and welcomed curious riders into a burgeoning industry within the segment. I might sound like a broken record talking about all the cool Italian things at AIME, but Fantic is an undisputed leader in the e-bike world. It has leveraged over 50 years of manufacturing, performance, and innovation to create its expansive e-bike lineup. Drawing from its experience in motocross, Fantic was the first company in the bike market to launch a differentiated wheel design back in 2015, with 29-inch front wheels that make it easier to go over obstacles and 27.5-inch rear wheels for better traction and control.

Fantic’s dedicated booth space on the show floor allowed prospectives to take a closer look at the company’s wide array of offerings. I was surprised to see some familiar names—Ohlins and Pirelli—on the bikes, both of which further affirm Fantic’s commitment to quality. I’d never considered an e-bike before AIME, but after riding one, I wouldn’t mind having a Moser road bike in my garage for some weekend pedal sessions.

CHALLENGE TRADITION

While we’re on the topic of e-bikes, the transition toward electrification was a hot topic at this year’s show. Super 73 was an early entry into this space via Kickstarter, launching with a series of aesthetically pleasing, urban/adventure-ready two-wheelers. Over the last eight years, it’s fought to keep itself on the cutting edge. The 85+mph C1X is the latest effort in that mission. It’s the brand’s first official motorcycle and debuts its fast charge technology, which charges the bike from 10% to 80% in only 15 minutes. Tech features aside, the C1X looks the part. But to be fair, all Super 73 products always have.

AN EXCITING NEWCOMER

Ryvid approached the electric motorcycle segment with fresh eyes. Its debut model, the Anthem, is a gorgeously proportioned bike that is built on a pressed-steel frame. This means no welding is required and makes the Anthem easier and faster to manufacture. Beyond that, the seat height is electronically adjustable to quickly accommodate different users. The battery can be detached, transported like a wheeled suitcase, and charged in your office. There’s a lot more to say about this brand, but I think it’s great that they made design and functionality considerations that make a big difference for a modern-day rider.

NOT JUST TWO WHEELS

As much as I’ve talked about AIME’s two-wheeled highlights, the conference had plenty to celebrate in the ATV/UTV space, too. Quadboss and DragonFire Racing both brought fully dressed UTVs to the show, helping showcase all of the wheels, tires, and accessories that each brand had to offer. Sparco’s Polaris RZR Turbo S4 was a real standout in Turn 14 Distribution’s booth, too. While the two former examples could tread the line between utility and recreation, the RZR—which had more mods than I even thought was possible—was purpose-built for sport.

ALL ABOUT COMMUNITY

You could argue that every other definable characteristic within the powersports world plays second fiddle to one thing: community. There was business to be done at the expo, no doubt, but you could tell that everyone there was a passionate powersports enthusiast who lived and breathed the lifestyle. The feel-good atmosphere was unmistakable, and an appearance from Stilez Robertson, a rising star athlete for Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing, at the ProTaper booth took that up a notch.

Toward the end of the expo, Horizon Hobby surprised Turn 14 Distribution with a beautifully detailed, custom 1:4 scale RC dirt bike. This was icing on the cake for an incredibly enriching inaugural AIMExpo visit. More than the plethora of amazing bikes, I left the show aching to sit down with more people from the industry just to tell their stories. Consider me officially intrigued by what Turn 14 Distribution has in store for the powersports industry.


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