Friendly Sharks

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

RIDE TO WORK by Steve Lita, Editor

…your riding style changes and you apply the throttle ever so gently when the fuel gage reads LOW…

Motorcycle trade shows are fun! I’ve been attending them since even before starting here at American Iron some 15 years ago. Back then, there were several during the year: The Cinci V-Twin show, The Indy Dealer Show, International Motorcycle Show series, and even motorcycle rallies like Americade prided itself on presenting a midway packed with accessory manufacturers. Some events were dealer-only, and some were open to the public.

A few years back, a new motorcycle trade show was announced. The American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) was conceived to emulate the motorcycle trade shows of Europe. Over there it is common for trade shows to be the launching point for the OEMs to make new model announcements, offer dealers and media sneak peeks at new accessories, and have an element where the public can attend and be hands-on with new products. While the AIMExpo has moved around the USA a few times, this year’s show took place in early October in Columbus, Ohio. Being a short 10-hour ride from home, I was chomping at the bit to ride out and see what’s new.

No ride drama to report, aside from running dangerously low on gas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike one time. I guess I tried to stretch that tankful. Isn’t it funny how your riding style changes and you apply the throttle ever so gently when the fuel gauge reads LOW and won’t give you a distance-to-empty anymore? I was not looking forward to pushing a loaded bagger down the Penn Turnpike. Made it to the gas stop and put 4.8 gallons in a five-gallon tank. I credit coasting down hills for those last few miles.

At the show, I noticed a few new products that I hope to share with readers in upcoming issues. I also sat in the audience for the Gas Tank Competition; and no, it wasn’t at all like my Turnpike fuel stretching episode. In the MIC Gas Tank Competition, five up-and-coming companies make a five-minute pitch to a panel of moto-industry business leaders for new products and services they want to promote in the powersports marketplace. It’s kind of like the Shark Tank TV show, but not scripted for TV. After presenting their business plan, the pitches were evaluated by judges based on monetary growth potential, overall strategic plan, scalability, innovation, impact, and viability. The products and businesses presented were interesting, and they all deserved the chance to come to market.

One of the runner-up pitches was Riders Share. Think of it as the Airbnb of motorcycle renting. If you want to travel and rent a bike on your trip, Riders Share will hook you up with a private citizen who is willing to let you use his or her bike, for a fee of course. Conversely, if you have a spare bike sitting and collecting dust, you can rent it out to a person visiting your area. Of course, there were many questions about insurance and vetting potential renters, which were all answered by the company founders. Since launching Riders Share in 2018, more than 6,000 people have listed their motorcycles for use and more than $2 million in booking requests have been made. This new system of sharing is popular among the newest generation of riders, and it is a way to get more people on two wheels without having to invest big funds in bike ownership. For more info, check out Riders-Share.com.

But the big winner of the competition was the wife and husband team of Nancy Gerloff and Mark Augustyn and their pitch for Mimi and Moto. Who are Mimi and Moto? Only the cutest pair of motorcycle riding monkeys to ever grace a children’s book, that’s who. Nancy and Mark have created entertaining tales to help get the next generation of riders inspired to get on two wheels. It’s Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney meets the motorcycle world, with monkeys—and who doesn’t love monkeys? The motorcycling primates will hopefully be animated in the future to help extend the reach of the brand. Until then, you can start your Christmas shopping early for your kids or grandkids by visiting MimiAndMoto.com.

The passenger on a racing sidecar is often referred to as the “monkey,” so it all ties together. Perhaps I should consider carrying a trained monkey on my rides, and a spare gas can. Wait, this might be my next Shark Tank pitch…