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Colorado Motorcycle Expo

For a swap meet the expo meets the goal.

By David Campbell

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After an absence of a year Jeff Brown was able to bring back the Colorado Motorcycle Expo to the National Western Stockshow complex in Denver. A standard feature was missing, no MCs were in attendance. The only motorcycle organization I saw was ABATE. The lack of the MCs did change the mood a little, some thought it was a little more relaxed, others said not as much fun. I thought more on the relaxed side a better feeling. Now for 35+ years the MCs had been attending with no incidents. The show had become annual meeting for some of the clubs and for others it was a funding event and recruiting opportunity. But with one incident, shots fired and a biker dead, they were not invited this year. We will see if they come back. Now per the name, 1% of the biker population shouldn't make that big of impact on the community as a whole. An Expo should cater to the complete community.

For a recovery year the first day of the show did well, with a steady stream through the doors all day long. Custom and restoration builders came in and present a fair representation of the motorcycles that one can chose. Long choppers, big tire twin-v, bobbers, antique Harleys, Vincent’s, BMWs, the list goes on and on. Out of state builders showed and won a couple of categories. The local custom shops were well represented and chatting up prospective customers. If you wanted to buy a patch for your vest you would have had a plethora of options. If your building or restoring, you could find any part you needed. The swap meet part of the show was a hit, just what was expected. I saw guys heading out with fenders and chrome in tow.
The music was 70's rock with a good local band filling the dance floor with well-endowed biker chicks. While listening you could browse the for-sale bikes and about 40% sold, so a good day for the used market. Only two of the main line dealers graced the show, Indian and Honda.
The crowd really came to life when the wet t-shirt contest started. Sponsored by Saloon Cut¹s Barber shop the white t-shirts were filled out and the water poured freely. Soon the nipples were freed, and a winner was named. It's not a party till there are titties.

For a swap meet the expo met the goal. As an expo and a conduit for the community to expand the show fell short. With the direction of the industry an event like this needs to reach out and expand the biker community. We need to bring in hipsters, millennials, teenagers, techies, anyone who is not riding. Not that it’s a bad thing but most of the attendees at the show were above 50. Now there was a sprinkling of families and a few millennials but not enough to sustain the show. The over 50 crowd does have the most disposable income per capita, but we need to bring in new money, new enthusiasts

An expo should show the community what is available now and in the future. It should have all the major manufactures. It should have concept bikes. What about scooters, not what you and I think of but the Vespa style. More than just a few v-twins bring in the leather clad bunch. They need to advertise to new demographics and court new vendors.
I know Jeff is trying to head this way as I saw a few new vendors this year. An artist with some hot new style paintings and a few new motorcycle shops that specialize in restoration.
Now, I’m a traditional Harley rider, I also have a Spider and am thinking about adding a Royal Enfield to the garage. To grow the community, we need to bring in new blood and if you remember back to your first ride I would bet that it wasn’t a Harley. More like mine, a Tecumseh Mini-Bike, an old beat up scooter and a Honda SL125. I tore the world up on those bikes and it instilled the love of riding and freedom that I still enjoy today.

I am looking forward to the future and hope we can turn around the direction of the industry. I’ll be at the Colorado Motorcycle Expo next time and look forward to changes. What else is a rider to do in the middle of winter in Colorado. It was 45 degrees and I rode to the show, great to get out and ride...

-- David Campbell
Earl's Garage Motorcycle, Hotrod, and Event Photography

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