Ever owned a motorcycle business?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by nomad_games, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    Hey guys,

    I've been a professional fabricator (museum exhibition, high end furniture, structural steel, retail design, other people's art, etc.) and college adjunct professor in sculpture for about 10 years. I'm really good at it, and I hate it. Well, I love teaching, but the current state of higher ed is really fucking sad, and I want no part of it after my experiences the last few years with profit hungry administrations. I also love making things, but not building huge ultra-expensive shit I dont care about that requires heavy lifting and athletic contortionism all day every day, being in someone else's windowless warehouse, on someone else's profit deadlines, etc.

    I've been thinking about starting my own business for a while, originally fabrication/furniture. But it hit me, why not motos? add in that I have an awesome lady, also into motos, also a skilled fabricator with tons of mechanical experience, and what i lack... great organizational and people skills. and she's excited to start the business with me.

    my holdup is that I used to work in bicycle shops as a mechanic, and I know from experience that the majority of bike shop owners are bitter cyclists who love cycling and have come to hate running a bike shop. and they are shitty people to work for, even when they are awesome outside of the shop.

    So have you owned a moto business? What type? Did you find, to your surprise, that having motos be your income made you hate them or the business?

    Thanks for the input.

    Cheers
    #1
  2. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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    I have not worked in the moto business myself, but I have as a consultant, obtained all the permits necessary to open a moto shop, designed site plans, local, state and even federal approvals when necessary, etc. I've done small one man shops, medium size and working on a big 40,000 sq ft of building on 9 acres of land, multi brand dealership, our biggest hurdle will be a wetland impact and Army Corps permit.

    Almost every job like that comes up with some kind of surprise for the client, not so much me, I see the property and see the issues
    #2
  3. Hack'dTiger

    Hack'dTiger n00b schn00b

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    :lurk
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  4. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

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    The old saying goes that if you want to make a million$ in the motorcycle business start with $2 million.

    Been there, done that.

    :1drink
    #4
  5. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    oh, the point isn't to get rich. Just to enjoy what I do.
    #5
  6. Hack'dTiger

    Hack'dTiger n00b schn00b

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    What you said. :deal

    Still munching... :lurk
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  7. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    yeah, i'd like to know, too. I feel like i'm pretty realistic about it, but would like to hear some opinions from folks that have been there. Although I realize no one that currently has a business is likely to respond publicly about that.

    on that note, PM me if you dont care to talk about it on the forum.
    #7
  8. Hack'dTiger

    Hack'dTiger n00b schn00b

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    Ironically I'm in the middle of running some numbers myself, looking at potential properties, etc. It sure feels right, but I know it'll have its ups/downs.

    Interested in what others have to say. Thanks for the thread! :beer
    #8
  9. r60man

    r60man Been here awhile

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    It is a very tough industry to make headway in. Plus the chopper craze is over, the market is very very small. Motorcycles make up a very small piece of the transportation market. I would suggest working for someone first gain a local reputation as a guy that knows what they are doing. Once you have built the rep you can start off on your own.

    disclaimer: I do not work in the industry, but my father did for about 50 years, my grandfather, and great-grandfather before that. It has been in the family, and out and then in again.
    #9
  10. Hack'dTiger

    Hack'dTiger n00b schn00b

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    Not sure what the OP has in mind, but I'm thinking small...one man...low overhead. Mainly tires/service/maintenance, but maybe some consignments too.

    I'm in a decent sized (~20k people) town, but there really isn't any professional service available. There used to be, but I think the overhead killed them. I've spoken to them, and they agree that the market is there...it's just a matter of nutting up and doing it.

    My situation would be a part-time gig (Thursday-Saturday) so I could still maintain some semblance of income, and transition into it if things got crazy.

    It's ironic that I found this thread, but I'm glad I did. Thanks to any/all for experienced input. :deal
    #10
  11. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    I'm thinking small, myself and my lady, repairs and customs, maybe limited sales of used bikes. I'd primarily like to do customs, but would probably start with repairs until I got a name out for the other. I'm totally ready to move to a better market/lower overhead city or town, etc. Also, we have some ideas for some new products that really aren't available, and the know how to produce them. The chopper craze may be over, but I know that at least in large urban markets, the custom/cafe/street tracker/vintage/urban riding market is picking up steam in a big way. All of the kids who got in on the fixie craze are starting to move to motos. It's possible it's just a bubble, as it's really big in the fashion industry right now to use motos in marketing, but I do know that the fixie craze has had lasting effects on increasing the cycling market, as many of those folks have moved on to road bikes or mountain bikes, which are more expensive, require more maintenance, offer more opportunities for accessories, etc. And the data from last year shows that sales at the large manufacturers are picking up again. I mean, BMW had their best year ever for the second year in a row, Harley had a big increase in profits, KTM did well, etc.

    But I'm not worried about that. I know I can make it work if try, I always have at everything I've done. I'm more interested in hearing from folks if the reality of it has proven to be enjoyable. Subjectivity is a funny thing, and obviously won't translate directly, but i figured some anecdotal evidence would be worth it.
    #11
  12. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    The "why not motos" tells me that this is likely not a good idea.

    If you intend to get into it, your passion for all things moto had better be more than "why not motos"

    If you want to make money, do something else with your talent. :D
    #12
  13. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    That isn't what I meant. My family and friends can tell you that I live and breathe motos. However, I think it makes some sense to get a little idea of what I'm getting myself into.

    Its not about money. It's about making a job out of something I love.
    #13
  14. PalePhase

    PalePhase Humour Noir

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    That's neither here nor there
    I think the bigger question is if you'll lose your love for it before it becomes a sustainable business. Basing a business on a personal interest is a great way to scratch off a personal interest.
    #14
  15. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    thaaaaaaaaaaat's what i meant. That's pretty much my question in a nutshell.
    #15
  16. PalePhase

    PalePhase Humour Noir

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    That's neither here nor there
    If you're planning a retail venture, unless you really like dealing with The Public (and by that, I mean all the irrational, dollar-clutching slobs who will try to pass off the costs of their poor decision-making skills onto you), I'd say find something else. If you are going into the service aspect, you need to figure out how to differentiate yourself. If you are planning on product development, you need to have good mfg/sales connections who will not rip off your IP.

    *** Edit ***If you do go into mfg, do yourself a favor and plan ahead for how you are going to handle returns.
    #16
  17. Blueshark

    Blueshark Coastal Castaway

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    Out of somewhat morbid curiosity, what's it take to be a dealer? For example, there's no Triumph dealer anywhere near here. What fiery hoops would need to be jumped through to open a dealership?
    Money, training, building requirements (sq feet, etc), certified mechanics, insurance? A million $? More? Who does this?

    *I know, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. I'm not interested, just morbidly curious.
    #17
  18. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    I would first get a job in a dealership to see what the dealership life is all about. It aint for everyone.

    I would not even consider it.
    #18
  19. bradluke0

    bradluke0 Been here awhile

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    Hi all ! " It's not about money " In my honest opinion anyone who wants to go into business with that feeling should stay out . Unfortunately every business is money driven , they are nothing more than profit centers . If you want to have fun doing it and money is not important , leave it as a hobby .
    #19
  20. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    well, we now have the full spectrum covered, from "only do it for the passion" to "only do it for the money."
    #20