Author Archive

Feeding the buzz

October 27, 2011

It’s been a day since it was announced that Steve Jobs died and it’s hard to ignore the avalanche of accolades and odes to the Apple man appearing across the interwebs.

As was referenced in this space back in the June 2011 issue of Dealernews, I’m a diehard Apple acolyte, and I happen to agree with nearly everything that’s been written about Jobs and his impact on Life as We Know It. If you boiled down the many and various ways our lives intricately intertwine with technology, you’d end up with Jobs and his vision of what could be — which more than anything were dreams writ large by a man of unmatched vision.

Here was a guy with a drive to create products that excite people and worm their way into the everyday existence of their users. He took a once-floundering company and turned it into a cultural flashpoint.

So here we are, forever swirling around the bowl of the powersports market’s endless flushing. All this twirling around can leave a person dizzy and discombobulated: Dare we keep our eyes raised high to the light or cast down into the abyss? I choose to keep my sights set upward and onward. Never mind the glass half full, I’m looking at the toilet half flushed. We’re not down yet.

And we won’t be down. Motorcycles are way too fun to go away. Yes, it would be great for a moto-Jobs to come along and raise the entire industry out of the stink, but that’s not likely. And maybe not necessary.

Look around, there are two-wheel visionaries hard at work among us. Dreams are being wrought into reality everyday.

Take Roland Sands. For my money, he’s one of the most forward-looking and creative individuals working in the aftermarket. His eponymous company continues to devise, design and build products that quite simply are like nothing else out there — from their custom bikes to the new

Clarity Line of hard parts (see-through timing cover, anyone?) to its just-released lineup of high-end and stylish apparel. RSD seems to exist on a different plane.

And then there’s Tom Seymour and his team at Saddlemen, where nobody ever seems to sleep.

How else to explain the company’s release of 100 new seats for Harley-Davidson and metric applications? There’s also an expansive amount of new luggage and luggage accessories aimed at the popular touring market. A new overseas factory owned and managed directly by Saddlemen. Nobody at Saddlemen is hunkering down waiting for blue skies.

How about Brian Klock and his team at Klock Werks? Not only is the crew from South Dakota breaking records at Bonneville, it continues to design and develop new products and come up with killer retail solutions to help dealers sell said product. I had a good conversation with Klock at the recent Drag Specialties Rocky Mountain Run about his windshields, parts and dealer programs such as the “Try It Before You Buy It” demo ride offering. Seriously, contact these guys. Not only will Klock knock you down with his enthusiasm and good grace, you might even get a personal visit from one of the Klock Werks’ crew members.

Chris Carter and Motion Pro continually produce new gadgets, tools and equipment to help ease motorcycle operation and maintenance. Cobra Engineering. Icon. Spidi. Drayko. GoPro. Klim.

All have something to keep we riders enthusiastic about being enthusiasts.

And check out Victory Motorcycles, Ducati and Triumph. These OEMs, and a couple others, continue to build some of the best bikes in the history of motorcycling — that is until the next round of new models comes around.

It would be impossible to discuss forward-thinkers without mentioning Erik Buell. H-D? Who needs ‘em. Buell is well into the next chapter in his life and it involves a motorcycle that is as impressive looking in person as it is on paper. Saw and touched the 1190RS up close, and it was one of those moments where I thought, “Should I be getting this excited about a motorcycle?”

So while the industry has yet to find its singular Jobs, it has dozens — if not more — of inspiring innovators who keep us buzzing along on the strength of their creativity. Much like with Apple and its striving for something ever more cool, the world of motorcycling’s never ending search for better continues to astound. Onward and upward.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

These words are for you

September 29, 2011

Writing for a living is a strange thing. You put words down. You send them out and hope that someone reads them. And then you do it all over and over. It’s either an exercise in optimism or the most futile profession on the planet.

And then there was my editor’s note from our September issue, “You love what you do. Right?” This one seemed to stir something in our readers, perhaps the same thing that prodded me into writing it.

From the dealernewsblog.com, 2Big2Ride says this, “Makes you ask yourself how much energy do we all expend over the things we cannot control while being distracted from the positive things we can influence and control?” Agreed. (Though my agreement runs a few words shorter.)

And Lori Alminde brings it right into the powersports fold: “I work as a sales rep and I love my job more than anything. I’m a biker first, a sales rep second. … I don’t wanna do anything else in my life. I love what I do. I even have my two bikes in the living room.” Now those are some interior decorating skills I can appreciate.

Most agreed on one main point: There’s way too much negativity in an industry that is rooted in pure, unadulterated fun. Yes, times are bad, but let’s all be thankful we didn’t take the Al Bundy route to Shoe Sales Hell. Our own service columnist, Dave Koshollek explains things pretty well with, “The good thing about this business is the passion everyone has. The bad thing about this business is the passion everyone has. Time to put that passion in check, step back and realize that anyone involved in the powersports business is better than anyone not involved in the powersports business.” Thanks, DAKO.

On to other things …

¡Viva la evolución! so say the T-shirts and bumper stickers. And evolve we must for nothing stinks likes stagnancy.

In the pages of Dealernews. On the floor of Dealer Expo. In the dozen stops of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. In the quiet corners of our own lives. We need tweaks, nips and changes to stay fresh, to keep moving.

Click on through our e-zine and you’ll likely see some new faces and names in the pages of this Dealernews.

One of the first new partygoers you’ll see is Rod Stuckey, founder and president of Dealership University who, along with EVP Tory Hornsby, will be penning monthly columns on Sales and Marketing best practices. For October, Stuckey offers advice on how to foster a good online reputation and encourage positive reviews by offering excellent service. Hornsby is up next for a lesson in Sales — stay tuned.

Another newcomer that will be appearing monthly is a feature that’s chockfull of data from ADP Lightspeed’s Data Services team. The info (p. 31) is the result of a partnership between Dealernews and ADP Lightspeed meant to provide dealers with a real-time snapshot of what powersports units consumers are buying.

The ADP Lightspeed Product Mix report uses information gleaned from a sampling of dealers using the LightspeedNXT DMS to compare units sold, by segment, on a month-to-month basis compared to 2010. See what segment is losing share while others are picking it up. Also, learn which segments are bringing in more sales revenue and which are decreasing. The goal is to give dealers some insight into what mix of units from each segment can help improve profitability.

The remainder of this issue is filled with the fresh and insightful news and features you’ve come to expect. If you’ve noticed from our cover photo, our feature dealer is of particular interest. While some battened down the hatches in the doldrums of 2008, Bill Comegys kicked into high gear at Grand Prix Motorsports in Littleton, Colo. I don’t want to give away the story, so here’s the short version: Comegys converted some unused space into Grand Prix Guns, and the firearms store will make up for 10 percent of the store’s total gross this year. Nicely done.

So, turn a page or two and check out some of the words we’ve laid down for you.

Dennis Johnson

Editor in Chief

dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

Let’s make the safety pitch

August 29, 2011

This space has been filled more than a few times with my take on motorcycle safety gear and apparel — why it should be worn, why it could be smart business for dealers to sell the heck out of it, and why the industry as a whole should be more aggressive in promoting its use.

Yes, training is absolutely paramount, too, but protective gear is something I feel very strongly about personally, and it’s an aspect of riding that intimately involves powersports dealers. It seems to me it’s one-third of the trifecta — unit sales, service, and PG&A — that makes up much of the business relationship between a dealer and its customer.

There are tons of reasons why a rider should wear ATGATT and why it should be promoted, and we’ve heard from dealers like Bob Henig, owner of Bob’s BMW, whose store atmosphere revolves around strongly suggesting that customers wear all the kit — not because it’s legally required, but because it’s the smart thing to do.

Yes, I can sound a little preachy, but quite simply, I’m a safety geek. Motorcycle riding is inherently risky and can result in death or severe injuries, and for me it’s all about managing that risk. Suiting up each time is second nature, so much so that I feel naked if I’m not in full kit.
And then I received in the mail a package from Phil Davy at Leatt USA (see our “Five Questions” interview with Davy on pg. 12). Inside the box was Leatt’s new STX Road neck brace, the street-rider version of the company’s successful lineup of neck braces developed and built for off-road riders.

With some interest, I’ve watched as neck braces have become a fairly common part of motocross and off-road racing and riding. (An interesting phenomenon yes, but remember the days before knee braces became the norm?) But I never made the connection to the street until Leatt announced the STX at Dealer Expo.

Upon inspecting the STX I was struck by just how much it looked like safety gear. The armor in a riding jacket is pretty well-hidden, Kevlar jeans are mostly discreet and helmets are just helmets. But this, it looked absolutely orthopedic and a bit awkward. In adjusting the STX for fitment, I was concerned it would be bulky and strange to wear.

I was wrong. After it’s dialed in and properly fitted, the STX just kind of disappears, and can barely be felt while being worn. In fact, there’s almost a comforting feel to having it snugged up against me. It quickly has become a standard part of my riding gear, even for spins around town.
Although it’s comfortable, the Leatt makes me hyper-aware that I’m wearing a protective brace to guard against neck injuries in the case of a crash. Putting on the neck brace before each ride has made me even more keenly aware of protective riding gear — mainly how little of it many riders wear. It’s summertime, so you know the drill; shorts, T-shirts, tennis shoes, no helmets. In noticing all of this it has me thinking about what the industry as a whole can do to get more people suited up.

Perhaps these are wasted thoughts, that those of a mind to protect themselves will do so, while the rest won’t. But I can’t help but think it’s a good thing for our industry if there was a concerted effort to promote protective gear.

Pushing safety gear doesn’t scare people away. Indeed, Davy says that “injured, maimed and dead motorcyclists do more to chase away new customers than any safety pitch.” We all should keep this in mind.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews September 2011 issue. 

Dealers: You love what you do. Right?

August 1, 2011

THIS COLUMN originally was going to expand on something Mike Vaughan brings up in his column on the last page of this magazine.

In talking about the news that Kawasaki is taking its Costco referral program nationwide, Vaughan points out the never ending negativity that inevitably creeps into any discussion about a new product, new concept, new proposal or impending change in the motorcycle industry.

It’s an observation for a larger point he’s making, but Vaughan is on to something. See the negative online comments accompanying our Dealernews.com story about the Kawi/Costco partnership. But don’t stop there. At any given time stories on our website elicit nothing but negative comments.

And it’s not just our website. This grumbling pessimism and negativity is all pervasive across a myriad blogs, websites, forums, even in person among groups of industry folks. New bike model? It sucks. Someone get a promotion? Oh, he’s an asshole. New biker TV show? What a bunch of tools.

Understood that things have been in the toilet now for a few years and thoughts run bleak in times like these, but this creeping negativism isn’t relegated only to the recession years. It was evident even in the Boom Time, often from the same folks spewing bile now (hmm, maybe there’s something to that?).

Now I understand that some people are just irascible cranks, and I’m no Pollyanna — far from it — but I guess my original question to those who grumble and spit is, what the hell?

But I digress. This was going to be the topic of this column until the day that I sat down to write it I got news of the death of one of the biggest influences on my adult professional life. Jolene Combs, adviser for my junior college journalism program and mentor to countless working journalists, died July 13.

Prior to entering her classroom, I’d never encountered an educator of such wit, passion and energy who demanded excellence and encouraged all. Just about any student who came through the El Camino College journalism program absorbed Combs’ love of the profession, which she taught with such exacting standards that those who learned AP Style through her relentless testing still remember how she phrased her questions.

As an adult deciding to get a college degree at age 25, I was a bit of an aimless lout who finally found direction through Combs and her colleague Lori Medigovich. These two taught me to love the profession, helped me channel my latent abilities and served to guide my way into this career.

I learned that excellence isn’t something to rest on, but something to continually try to attain. That the next story I write will be the best one I write, and so on. Her teaching helped me into a profession, but her words gave me something more.

What does this have to do with the motorcycle industry and the negativity that spreads through it like a rash? Well, as far as I know, JC wasn’t a motorcyclist, but the lessons she taught me and the guidance she gave transcends any one topic.

You see, JC had “three things,” a trio of principles that would help you find success in life. Find someone to love, who loves you back. Be healthy. And, find something you love to do for a living. She’d say the first two were out of your control to a degree, but the third was well within your power.

And this is why I ask, what the hell? We’re all likely in this industry because it’s something we love to do. I don’t know too many people getting rich in powersports, but I do know a lot who love that their careers intersect with their passion.

Taking JC’s advice, I made the choice to do something I love doing in a business I love. So I don’t understand those who made the same choice, who piss and bemoan anything and everything that comes along. I don’t know what purpose it serves other than to reflect a poor attitude.

Think about it. This is what we get to do for a living. This. You’ve gotta admit, this is pretty cool.
Thanks, JC.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

Drink the new ‘Cool-aid’

June 29, 2011

I’ve been a huge fan of Apple computers since I first started drinking the “Cupertino Cool-aid” back in college, but it’s only been since the company launched its retail stores that I completely bought into the Cult of Jobs. The App Store. OS X. iMacs. iPhones. iPads. I’m hooked.
Every time I have to stop by the Apple store for something, I’m not-so-subtly reminded just how great a retail experience can be. Apple’s customer service is now the standard to which I hold all other retailers, from powersports to gardening supplies, and most of them fail. (Trader Joe’s is the only other major exception.)

Like many budding curmudgeons, I find myself having less and less patience for poor customer service and rude or indifferent employees. I don’t expect to be pampered, and I know some retail stores by design cannot match Apple’s example, but how about offering just a smidgeon of help, with a smile? Owners and management, shouldn’t your personnel training be geared toward making your customers comfortable, maybe even happy, about spending their money with you? This doesn’t always seem the case.

Apple seems to have perfected the art of retail. Never in the history of spending money to buy goods has a company made it so effortless and downright enjoyable to spend money to buy goods.

And this is where Apple intersects with the powersports business.

There was a story in The Wall Street Journal in June talking about the success — and recipe behind it — of Apple’s retail stores. The story reports some incredible numbers: Apple’s annual retail sales per sq. ft. are $4,406 (minus online sales), and its 326 stores brought in more customers in a single quarter than the 60 million people who visited Disney’s four biggest theme parks in 2010.

An obvious aspect of this success, the story says, is the must-have clamor for Apple’s popular products. Seems these are items that people absolutely want to have. After all, does anybody really need an iPad? Likely a few, but everybody wants one.

The other instrument of this success, according to WSJ reporters Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ian Sherr, is that Apple is on the leading edge of customer service and store design. Jobs and company grenaded the idea of what an electronics store should be (think back to the days of CompUSA) and pioneered what would become the Apple layout.

A major point: Products are staged to highlight how they could be used, not just stacked on a shelf or hung from a hook.

A second major point: Sales workers are extensively trained not to sell, but to “help customers solve problems” by understanding their needs, even the ones they don’t know they have. They’re schooled on Apple’s principles of customer service and must shadow experienced employees before they’re even allowed to interact with customers. Even the hiring process is selective, often requiring two rounds of interviews with potential employees quizzed about their skills and passion for Apple’s products.

As the reporters point out, specialty retailers like Apple often invest heavily in training. What makes Apple different is that its employees are passionate about the company’s products and are willing to learn.

Hmm … let’s see, what other industry has retail stores whose employees are enthusiasts of its products, and are selling these same products to customers who are just as enthusiastic? And which industry is selling items that are more want than need to people who really, really want them?

Can’t quite get a bead on it right now, but I’m guessing it’s one that’s not exactly steeped in best retail practices and could stand to learn a thing or two from one that is.

Thinking, thinking, thinking …

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

New bike = New thrills

June 1, 2011

Recently I found myself aboard a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring, the über version of Duc’s über sport touring motorcycle.

There’s a very fortunate perk of my job, and the positions of many others working in the business, and that’s getting the privilege of riding a number of different motorcycles from a variety of OEMs. Quite simply it’s a motorcycle geek’s dream gig — even with the long hours of staring at words on a computer screen (that’s the writing geek’s dream job, a different story entirely).

This time around, thanks to Ducati’s PR dude extraordinaire, John Paolo Canton, I got about two-week’s seat time in the Multi, my first time on the do-all machine since its reincarnation as a superbike motor-powered touring bike.

The new Multi has more technical geekiness packed into than anything I’ve ever ridden. By comparison, my personal ride is a 2004 Triumph Thruxton: a carbureted motorcycle for goodness sake! Ride-by-wire throttle. Electronically adjusted front and rear suspension. Brakes that would stop the earth’s rotation. Ergonomics to die for. Four-mode engine mapping. Motorcycling by way of “Tron.”

When I picked up the bike from Tom Hicks’ Southern California Ducati in Brea, Calif., (home to Ducati’s press fleet) I didn’t know what I was expecting. I’d read about the four different engine modes but hadn’t given it much thought. Didn’t know I’d be giving it a lot of thought later. A brief run-through of features with a tech and away I went.

And that’s when I discovered something about the Multi 1200 S: That ride home made me feel like I was discovering motorcycling again.

Settling into the machine over the next many days, this feeling of newness grew more intense. Sport mode was way different than touring mode as was urban and enduro. Switching back and forth between the settings offered a new type of thrill each time. Just the feel of it. The upright and very comfortable seating on a bike that produces 150hp simply felt like a entirely different experience.
Freeway cruising (touring). Short trips to the store and around town (sport). Quick trips around the block (urban). Long rides through the twisties of Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains (sport). Commutes to work and back (sport, OK, there’s a trend here). Each one a journey unto itself.
The bike’s been on the market for a while now, so I’m not the first person to ride it or write about it. I’m just one rider with an opinion which, when it comes down to it, that’s what we all are. One man’s hyperbole is another man’s yawn.

And with motorcycling, more than anything in life (save for your tastebuds or musical inclinations), riding is a singular event specific to one person at one particular moment in his or her life. That’s why each ride is an adventure. Why one bike that works for this guy might not work for that girl or the other dude.

In this case, riding the Ducati truly felt like learning anew the thrill of motorcycling. Alas, it soon was time to return the loaner and settle quite comfortably back onto my own Thruxton — like putting on an old, British, shoe.

This experience got me thinking about my current ride and my past motorcycles and scooters. How often do I take the time to rediscover the thing that’s in my garage? To make the changes and tweaks to make my next ride that much different? To make me feel like I’m rediscovering motorcycling? To be honest, not enough. It’s been a while since I uncorked the Thruxton’s motor, replaced mirrors, mounted a fairing or changed the suspension.

How often and in what ways do you help your customers rediscover their own machines? How often do you do the same with yours?

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

It’s about damn time

April 22, 2011

Harley-Davidson boasts the highest market share of women riders out of all the OEMs, according to Amanda Lee, the company’s PR manager in charge of Outreach audiences — women, young adults, African American, Hispanic and active military. This, of course, is no big surprise given Harley’s long history with women riding its motorcycles.

Of the 235,000 people trained through the company’s Rider’s Edge courses, 35 percent are women. Lee herself is a graduate of Rider’s Edge, as is Claudia Garber, Harley’s director of marketing and product planning.

The Motor Co. is reaching out to women riders with a host of events and marketing efforts. From the now-ubiquitous Garage Parties to this month’s Biker Bootcamp for Women (a full week in Milwaukee immersed in Harley culture), Harley-Davidson is taking an active and aggressive effort to connect with its female customers, existing and potential.

Harley’s idea is to seize upon the growing women rider demographic and help encourage, support and inform those who have taken or are taking the leap into what has traditionally been a male-dominated sport/pastime/industry.

“As more women get into the sport, it’s kind of a contagious thing,” Lee says. “As more women are riding and more women are seeing other women riding, more women are stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘I want to do that.’

“We’re simply throwing fuel on the fire, responding to a movement that’s happening in the industry,” she adds.

The “women riders movement” — not that it’s a formal title or anything — is a relatively new phenomenon. Yes, women have been riding motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and snowmobiles forever, but not in any great number and not in a way that ever attracted much attention from the industry at large.

Even five years ago a female motorcyclist would have been hard-pressed to find riding gear that not only was cut to fit the female form, but was stylish to boot. Again, yes, there was riding apparel, but it wasn’t until Joe Rocket and Icon jumped into the mix that women’s gear looked like it had actually been designed by and for women.

These days, apparel manufacturers know they need a women’s line to even compete.

How about riding on the back? You’ve got to be kidding. Women are finally coming into their own in the powersports industry, and it’s about time. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But with more women moving into everything from dealership and OEM/aftermarket management to wins on the racetrack, it’s clear: This ain’t the same old boy’s club.

In honor of May’s Women Riders Month, Dealernews puts its focus on the women who help drive this industry, from the pioneers who pushed through gender barriers to those coming into a business that now welcomes them. Even our cover profile highlights Top 100 dealer Donna Coryell and her dealership, Deptford Honda Yamaha. Hers is an inspiring story.

Why is it important to recognize the women in our industry? Because it’s about damn time. Women are more than the “other half”; they bring new perspective and vitality to a business that — truth be told — could use some freshening up. The industry’s history has been drenched in testosterone, and it’s left things a bit, um, ripe.

Indeed, there are many, many women leading the charge at the dealership, in the media, in the aftermarket, at the OEM level and on the racecourse. We’re profiling just a few of them in this issue. Go to www.dealernews.com/women11 to see a running roster of notable femmes and their contribution to our industry. And if you’d like to nominate women for the list, drop us a line at editors@dealernews.com with their names and brief bios. We’d love to add them.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

The next customer boom

April 1, 2011

At the time of this writing, oil prices were uncomfortably hovering a hair above $100 a barrel, and premium gas on the West Coast had settled in at about $4 a gallon.

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East (isn’t that redundant at this point?) assuredly means that these prices would likely go up before they’d go down, or so says the analysts.

In fact, federal energy officials say there’s a 25 percent chance those gas prices will average $4 a gallon or more throughout the summer driving season.

Smells a bit like 2008, the last time oil prices were this high. Another flashback moment? How about some of the news headlines starting to pop up across the Internet. This one could have been ripped straight from a 2008 newspaper: “As Gas Prices Rise, So Do Scooter Sales.”

If you’ll remember, scooter sales that year jumped 66 percent the first half of 2008 and eventually settled in at 41 percent higher than 2007. Many OEMs had to play catch-up to meet the demand of all the new two-wheeler commuters. It wasn’t uncommon to hear that dealers just plain sold out of certain models.

That was the year many first-time riders got a taste of two-wheels. Piaggio alone reported that its sales were up about 75 percent the first quarter of 2008. Former CEO Paolo Timoni would later report that many of these new riders had no interest in riding motorcycles, that they were fine on their Vespas and Piaggios.

Of course, with every boom there is a bust, and we all know what happened after the scooter market crashed. One could make a good guess that there’s a metric boatload of noncurrent scooters — from all OEMs, even the new Asian entries — sitting in storage waiting for gas prices to drive people back out of their cars and onto the seats of those waiting machines.

Well, it’s been a long strange two years since the oil and gas spike and attendant scooter rush, but here’s something to think about: If you were one of those dealers who catered to that huge bloom of new riders, what did you do to keep them coming back into your store? Did you convert them into regular customers or did they travel back out the door they came in, and back into their cars after gas prices dropped down to partially ridiculous levels?

So, if the analysts are correct and gas prices continue to inflict pain on most drivers at the pump, there’s a good chance many of those folks will make the switch to two wheels. And not just scooters. High gas prices could likely get people out on motorcycles as well. (It’s odd wishing for high gas prices, isn’t it?)

The question is, if sales do take a jump and more people start riding, are you prepared to service those new customers? What will you do — this time — to keep them coming back into your store? And how do you reach out to potential customers to let them know you’ve got something that can help ease their petrol pain?

It’s conventional wisdom that getting new customers through the front door is one of the most difficult tasks of running a business. Now, with gas prices giving them a little nudge, it’s your chance to welcome them into the powersports family.
Let us know if you were one of those dealers who converted those 2008 scooter riders into loyal customers. Also, drop us a line if you’re cooking up plans to win over the next group of new riders. Send your comments to editors@dealernews.com.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews May 2011 issue.

The Trench: Joe Rocket’s latest all-climate offering

February 1, 2011

Our man Steve Blakeney over at Sullivans Inc., just sent us the latest offering from Joe Rocket and upon first glance, it looks pretty cool (or warm).

The Joe Rocket Trench is a combo bit of kit that features a mesh, armored jacket surrounded by a trench coat-length waterproof outer layer. The inner jacket also sports a removable fleece vest. Oh, and there is a rain pant included that’s stored in a pocket on the outer layer. When combined together, the three pieces look like an all-climate riding solution.

Here’s some of the details from Sullivans:

Trench coat (outer layer) features:

  • 100 percent waterproof
  • Waterproof pockets
  • Reflective stripes and logos
  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Built-in straps that ca be used to secure jacket to legs
  • Built-in storage straps for rolling up and affixing jacket to motorcycle
  • Rain pan included and stored in integrated pocket.

Mesh jacket (inner layer) features:

  • Grade A C.E.-rated protectors in shoulders and elbows
  • Removable spine pad with pocket for optional C.E. spine protector
  • Removable warm fleece vest
  • Multi-point SureFit custom adjustment system
  • Internal face shield pocket
  • Snap Loops for attaching jacket to belt
  • Reflective stripes and logos
  • Available in sizes small through 3XL.
  • MSRP is $249.99

We are a giving bunch

February 1, 2011

Growing up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, I lived across and down the street from a bar that was a hangout for a well-known motorcycle club.

It was the kind of place where a midnight brawl meant that my friends and I could go out the next morning and find billiard balls in the gutter opposite the bar. Cops kept close tabs on the joint, if I remember rightly, and it was always jumping on the weekends.

We mostly avoided the place, but as it is with things dark and dangerous, there always was a strong urge to poke around and maybe peek inside during the safety of daylight. Motorcycles. Bad dudes. Fighting. What boy wouldn’t want to check it out?

Once a year, on the marquee outside there was an incongruous message alongside the dates of Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs’ next appearance. It read something like “annual toy drive” or some such, and it always seemed odd (to my juvenile mind) that a rough-and-tumble place like this would have anything to do with toys.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the toy drive this motorcycle club held every year around Christmas was reflective of something quite common to the motorcycling world as a whole. Sure, the club existed on the fringe of the general two-wheeled brotherhood, but its members were doing the same thing many other riders were doing everywhere — giving and supporting their communities.

Motorcycles and other powersports activities attract a wide range of personalities, but there is one trait that seems to be almost universal, and that is, as a whole, we are a very giving bunch. Toy drives. Charity runs. Supporting veterans groups. Fund-raising events at dealerships. There are countless small events all over the country raising money for local organizations and groups. And then there are the biggies, the mega-events known far and wide — Oliver Shokouh’s Love Ride for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The Ride for Kids events benefitting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

In 2009 alone, the Ride for Kids activities nationwide raised $4.4 million for the nonprofit focused on finding the cause and cure for childhood brain tumors. Some of the top fund-raisers contributing to that amount were held by powersports dealers. Nielsen Enterprises in Lake Villa, Ill., landed the top business spot with a contribution of $126,857. Bob Henig, owner of Bob’s BMW in Jessup, Md., personally raised $59,012. Not a bad haul for either one.

When motorcyclists come together to give back to their surrounding communities, stuff gets done.
Take this month’s cover dealer, J&W Cycles, a Top 100 dealer for 20 years straight located in Washington, Mo. Owners (and brothers) Bob and Jimmy Jones not only serve on several local boards, they’re also behind a popular motocross race held each year and the local Town and Country Fair. Bob is also president of the chamber of commerce and Jimmy serves on the board at MMI, and the dealership supports several local charitable organizations.

The Jones brothers’ commitment to community even earned the dealership the Top 100 Best Community Involvement Initiative award in 2007. Reading over the list of activities and groups they support leaves one wondering how they have time to run a top-notch dealership, let alone get any sleep.

Examples of giving and charitable work can be found at all levels across the spectrum — from the bad-boy motorcycle clubs of my youth to the outpouring of local support offered by the Joneses, owners of a 34-year-old dealership.

So what’s the motivation? Hard to say or even guess, but it likely falls somewhere between laying the groundwork for good karma and pure altruism.

One thing for certain, the Jones brothers’ commitment to community has earned them and their dealership an esteemed spot in their local area and a loyal customer base, which is a pretty good payoff for simply doing good deeds.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews February 2011 issue.