One Man’s Take on the Motorcycle Industry

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Not mine, but that of Bruce McLaughlan, a motorcycle blogger (read him here) for The Detroit News. In his latest posting, McLaughlan riffs on the result of the most recent J.D. Power and Associates Motorcycle Competitive Information Study — yes, we love studies with unwieldy, ponderous titles — and the Novi, Mich. stop of the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show tour. To see the result of the J.D. Power study go here.

KYMCO unveils the Quannon at the Long Beach IMS stop.

KYMCO unveils the Quannon at the Long Beach IMS stop.

McLaughlan, a marketing executive/club racer, digs into one of the study’s main results and that is being able to test ride a bike is a big HUGE factor in buyer satisfaction. He points to the crowds at the Novi IMS show, noting how most everybody spends the better part of their time test-sitting on bikes. And in his words:

Potential buyers can spend a few hours trying the “fit” of bikes representing all of the major brands, and perhaps even ask questions of knowledgeable factory reps.

This saves a lot of running around, and sadly, it represents a more personalized level of attention than you’ll get in the typical multi-brand dealership. That’s pretty pathetic.

I happen to agree with McLaughlan’s take. I’ve never been able to understand why more dealerships don’t offer test rides. I mean, if there’s anything where a perfect fit is essential it’s with a motorcycle. I understand the worries about liability, etc., but I’ve talked to enough dealers who do offer test rides (usually with the help of their OEMs) and say they are critical to selling units.

I’m not a dealer, nor do I own my own business, so I can’t say I’m second-guessing anybody, but I’d think that having a tool like test rides in your sales arsenal would be a no-brainer. Even working with the local Eagle Rider franchise to help customers size up their potential rides seems like a smart idea. I’m lucky enough that I get to ride a lot of new bikes and for some of them I’m thankful they’re only on loan to me and not sitting in my garage on a payment plan (though I’d really like an MP3 500 or a Star/Yamaha Raider for a l-0-n-g term test. You hear that Brandware and Yamaha?). But if I were in the market again for a new bike, I’d certainly gravitate toward dealerships and brands that offer test rides as an option. Given the current state of the economy (mine and the country’s) I’ll have to stick to the press loaners.

As sales get tougher will dealers and OEMs take note, not just of my ramblings, but of McLaughlan’s take and the J.D. Power results?

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