Flourishing in the Future Addressed by Custom Culture Forum in Austin

It was a meeting of the minds in Austin, a collection of talented young builders and leaders of the millennial moto-movement bouncing ideas off industry veterans, magazine publishers, Motorcycle Industry Council members and OEM representatives. The second “Custom Culture Forum, held at Revival Cycles during the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show weekend, was spearheaded by industry veteran and V-Twin Director of the AIMExpo, Bob Kay.

The objectives of the forum are multi-tiered. High on the priority list is fostering motorcycle culture for future generations. To do this, the bridge between the aging old guard and the burgeoning millennial segment must be gapped to secure the culture for future generations. Being united gives motorcyclists a better chance of “fighting against legislation that tries to impose itself unjustly against that culture.”

Bob Kay

Bob Kay, a long-time industry advocate and V-Twin Director of the AIMExpo, spearheaded the “Custom Culture Forum” in Austin, Texas, held the weekend of the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show.

And there’s no shortage of counterproductive moto-legislation afoot, moderators mentioning regional acts like Texas’ initiative to scrap titles if belly numbers don’t match to the national level. Recently the EPA launched a proposal that would make it illegal to convert street-legal motorcycles to race bikes if doing so changed the motorcycle’s emissions. This would be a huge blow to companies that make aftermarket parts that affect a motorcycle’s emissions, even if that bike is built solely for racing.

In Kay’s outline for the “Custom Culture” collaboration, he states “We must be able to separate riders’ rights issues from obstacles that get in the way of growing the motorcycle industry. Both are equally important but our goal is to focus on those that stifle customization and put undue burdens on new businesses. We must also identify initiatives that are counterproductive to the motorcycle lifestyle. We can then partner with the appropriate organizations to resolve any negative or unreasonable challenges.”

The “Custom Culture Forum” acknowledged the way events like the Handbuilt, The ONE and Mama Tried Shows are able to bring in crowds of non-riders and enthusiasts alike, broadening the reach of moto culture, which is another goal of the forum.

2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

Events like the 2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show are having great success at attracting non-riders and giving them a taste of the moto-culture elixir. 

“We need to pull in riders, intro them, offer training, to involve those who haven’t ridden, and to offer them smaller starter bikes,” said Casey Potter, Creative Director from Bell, in the minutes on the meeting.

Shows like the ones mentioned above are bringing in some of those potential new riders by blending bikes, art, and culture. The upbeat atmosphere and creative energy makes the lifestyle an easy sale. But beyond lifestyle, the forum wants to emphasize the utilitarian side of motorcycles as well as affordable, efficient means of transportation.

The second “Custom Culture Forum” made a lot of headway from the modest initial gathering in Daytona Beach during Bike Week. This headway should continue into the next gathering scheduled for the AIMExpo 2016. Kay is in the process of assembling a cross-section of panelists to lead the hot-topic discussions. Increased participation from OEM’s and the MIC is anticipated.

And while the objectives of the forum are honorable, achieving their goals won’t be easy. Small shops are inherently independent and are accustomed to making their own rules, generally types that cast a suspicious eye on entities like the MIC. OEM’s have agendas, and getting them to work unilaterally and meet the wants and needs of independents is a difficult chart to graph. But we applaud the forum’s efforts to lay the groundwork for the propagation of the moto-industry, to help millennials in their pursuit of success, and to tackle the issues that infringe upon our lifestyle.

Bob Kay’s correspondence on the Austin forum concluded with, “Once again I would like to thank ya’ll for attending our 2nd meeting at Revival Cycles in Austin. I was humbled by the turn out and even more so by the sincere level of participation. As previously stated I would like you to review the minutes and get back to me with your pick of the top 6 action items. I am also interested in anyone wishing to participate in the Custom Culture Roundtable at AIMExpo. I am pleased to report because of your involvement AIMExpo is not only give us a place for our roundtable discussion but they are going to rebrand a whole section for us including The Championship of the Americas, Artisan displays, Builder displays, The Standard Moto Company Showcase Lounge, The Sara Liberte Photo Exhibition and more.”