I’ve just spent 3 days at the Motorcycle Dealer Expo in Indianapolis (http://www.dealerexpo.com). I create graphics for a restorer of vintage bikes, bringing old logos and other components back to life, so I came along to prowl the aisles. My knees hurt, and my feet are bigger than my shoes, but that’s what happens at trade shows. When I see booth bimbos slinking by in their Spandex outfits and 8-inch stilettos, I think two things: I need to diet, and jeez, their feet must hurt. They weigh about 110 pounds (15 lbs of which being unsprung weight in the way of glue-on boobs). Safety considerations: no danger of their falling backward, and, if there’s a flash flood on the Expo floor, they will float.
I’m a street rider with a background in print, currently working as a technical writer and software trainer. That combination, understandably, dictates what I find interesting in such a show. But here are some things that caught my eye:
Danny Gray Airhawk Seats and Pads: www.airhawk.net
A company whose poster stylishly proclaims “This will save your ass” immediately touches my heart. And my ass. While their seat line is currently geared toward cruiser and bagger owners, they’re considering branching out beyond that market. The Airhawk technology is available in strap-on pads, as well as custom replacement seats for a wide variety of bikes from Harley Davidson to Honda and Yamaha cruisers. I have a factory gel seat on my SV650; it’s not bad—in fact, it’s much more comfortable than the seat in my old Honda CR-V, which is filled, I have concluded, with an eco-friendly mix of sand, horsehair, and pea gravel. But after 100 miles on the bike (or 12 miles in the Honda), I’m wishing for a spinal anesthetic. The Airhawk pads (and the custom seats Danny Gray builds with the Airhawk technology) have an interconnected network of air bladders that cushion the rider. Now, after sitting on a sample Airhawk pad, I’m thinking about getting one for the bike, one for the Honda, and one for every chair in the house. I suppose it would be more cost-effective to just buy one and shove it down my pants.
Twin Industries, Inc. Water Transfer Systems: www.watertransferprinting.com
As a lifelong printing person, I find the water transfer systems fascinating. A carrier sheet is floated onto the surface of a tank of water. The carrier sheet itself dissolves in the water, leaving the ink sheet floating. A spray of solvent liquefies the ink completely, allowing it to wrap into all the nooks and crannies of a part dipped into the tank. There’s no electric charge involved (as with powder painting), and none of the hand-fitting required by decal applications. Twin Industries markets a wide variety of patterns, from geometrics such as carbon-fiber-look to camouflage. They will also create custom materials. The tank is only $2900, and supposedly doesn’t present problems with EPA requirements; most of the ink would be deposited on immersed parts, and the small amount of solvent required to liquefy the ink sheet apparently is not an issue. If I had a Jacuzzi, I’d be tempted to try this at home on a small scale, but for the embarrassment of explaining my full-body camouflage tattoo.
Adaptiv Technologies Electroluminescent Jacket Inserts: http://bit.ly/xQQAzO
I’ve come close to not seeing archetypal biker guys dressed in all black, on blacked-out bikes, with a little miniature Christmas light for a taillight, and I’m looking for bikes. Imagine how hard it is for a minivan-driving, text-reading driver who’s not looking for us.
I’m a huge fan of being visible—I have a yellow bike, hi-viz yellow jacket, and hi-viz yellow helmet. I see people slamming on the brakes at cross streets, no doubt thinking, “jeez, I don’t want that all over my grill.” That’s right: I am not a cool, hip biker chick, slathered in brooding black. Nope, I’m a giant, dorky bumblebee.
But all the yellow in the world doesn’t help much at night; I lament that my jacket does not glow in the dark. Adaptiv Technologies’ new GlowRider jacket uses electroluminescent inserts on the shoulders and back to make a rider a bit more visible. The inserts aren’t brilliant, but they’re arguably more visible than narrow reflective piping. Adaptiv claims it can glow for 10 hours on the rechargeable battery pack.
As for me, I’m holding out for a jacket completely covered in LEDs, programmable to display heartfelt messages to those bozos barreling up behind me at a stop light.
GoPro 3D System: http://gopro.com/3d-overview
The GoPro 3D system is really slick: two Hero cameras in a case, linked together. Shoot your action scene, upload the data from the SD cards, and combine the two views using GoPro’s free CineForm Studio Software. Then, play your 3D video on a compatible 3D TV (they were using huge LG screens at the show), don the appropriate glasses, and drop your jaw. The glasses at the show were radial Polarized lenses (not the old red/blue anaglyph lenses), which had very little effect on image brightness. The view angle seemed to have no limit—you could move side-to-side, with no loss of depth effect or focus. It was truly the best 3D I’ve seen, period. I gather that the CineForm software allows you to export for anaglyph, passive, and active 3D systems. I wish there were something compelling in my life to make this worth having (Look! I’m changing my oil—in 3D!)
More to come…