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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    Well, it turns out, I really enjoy wrenching, at least at this shop. Don't think I could get down with it at a dealership. it's been a long time since I had a job where I had no idea that it was an hour past closing time because I was absorbed in my work, which is every day at this job. bunch of nice guys, constant stream of awesome bikes (matchless, guzzis, nortons, old ujm's, etc.), flexible schedule, never ending hot ladies walking past the shop, good music, etc. not financially sustainable long term, though, despite getting paid a better rate than most shops. but good info/experience nonetheless.
    #81
  2. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Are you taking detailed notes about what is keeping it from being sustainable? Is it just because it the type of custom work you're doing is a passing trend, or something you could do better if the business was yours?
    #82
  3. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    well, i mean that being a mechanic is not really financially sustainable. The business seems to be doing ok. but yes, I am taking notes in general. and def learning a lot.
    #83
  4. RVDan

    RVDan Long timer

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    I'm hitting an all time high in my gross income for my home based motorcycle manufacturing and repair business. $660 this year :)

    One day maybe I'll get serious about it. In the meantime my business license is only $22 a year.
    #84
  5. Rgconner

    Rgconner Long timer

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    How to make a small fortune with a motorcycle business:

    1. Start with a large fortune.
    2. Buy a Motorcycle business.
    #85
  6. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    jokes already been told at least once in this thread. and the slicker version goes, "How do you make a small fortune in the motorcycle industry? start with a large one."
    #86
  7. hardpackrider

    hardpackrider Been here awhile

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    I know this is a bike forum, but as a creative person... something u mentioned sounds like something ( you may want to consider/try... seems to be staring me in the face.

    High-end furniture building.

    Totally can do while still have your day job.. and really seems less "all or nothing" like a shop would be...and holy S$&! have u seen what great furniture costs? I'm not rich but know some.. and they love unique, custom, high quality furniture If you make it unique, and build it we'll... you will have customers... and.. it will satisfy your creative skills.. a lot more than a tire change/balance job.. (not that there's anything wrong with that ;-)

    Anyway, just a thought..and something I got from your original post.

    All the best in whichever u path u take....


    PS:
    if you do start the furniture business.. put me down for a kitchen table, not too big, with cool iron legs, and a finished, drift wood top... (uhm, though I may need to use the installment plan..)

    ;-)



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #87
  8. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    I've been a high-end furniture maker for much of the last 10+ years. a very, very small sampling of the literally hundreds of objects I have made in that time that have sold for $1000's and $1000s, while I made around $20-$30/hr.

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    For a while, I was very much considering starting my own business doing that, but then I came to the realization that I HATE making furniture. I'm very good at it, but I really have no desire to continue with that path.

    Thanks for the thought, though.
    #88
  9. Tanshanomi

    Tanshanomi Your Favorite Uncle

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    I do page layout for a living. I earn a very nice salary and work in a low-pressure environment with flexible hours. It would be awesome — if I didn't absolutely HATE staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day.
    #89
  10. SgtDuster

    SgtDuster Long timer

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    While I'm in no way encouraging to continue a job that you HATE, I think that a job should put food on the table too and not absolutely fulfill all your dreams and expectations in life. It's pretty damn nice if it does both but don't put your expectations too high so the "dream" becomes a money pit.

    It's what hobbies and side-line are for.
    #90
  11. Frostback

    Frostback Frostback

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    Many have said it better than me but once set in a life's work, some recreational avocations are great to spice it up and keep life interesting. I used to love duck hunting, became a professional guide for a while and it took all the fun out of it and turned a fun recreation into work. I have seen the same thing with musician friends, great pickers who went full time and eventually ended up hating the demands of making music on someone else's schedule.

    I want to keep motorcycling a fun recreation, an antidote to work stress. I even worry a bit about using the bike as a work tool for commuting and business trips.

    I'd suggest keeping work and play separate. Maybe you can enjoy your job but don't try to turn an escape passion into work.

    Lee
    #91
  12. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

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    Those are some really nice-looking pieces of furniture. :clap
    #92
  13. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Exactly!

    I spent 30+ years in the electronics business. It was never a passion, just something I was good at and paid the bills. The first ten years or so, I was unhappy with it and always looking for something that would inspire me and make me anxious to go to work every day. Then one day it occurred to me that maybe I didn't really want to live for my work and I should look at it the other way around. When I decided that work was just going to be what I did so that I could live the rest (non working part) of my life the way I wanted, life got a lot better. I even enjoyed the job and it's challenges a lot more those last 20 years than I had earlier.
    #93
  14. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    i understand that sentiment, but it's just not how I'm put together. It'd probably be easier if it was.

    and...it's official. I love being a mechanic, at least a vintage mechanic at a really awesome shop. I'm very lucky in that the shop I work at is owned by and staffed with really awesome low-key guys and is in a building with a bunch of other businesses run by really awesome folks. plus, they are super patient with me learning on the job. now if i could just get faster so I could make decent money, it'd be all good....for now. dunno what this means about my future plans, but I'm really enjoying the hell out of it. it's been a long time since I had a job where I didnt even know what time it was, only to look up and realize I could have gone home three hours ago, but was enjoying my work so much I didn't notice.


    We'll see how I feel about it in a month or two.
    #94
  15. REALGRAVEROBBER

    REALGRAVEROBBER LEAVING GRAVES EMPTY

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    Heaps of knowledge on here, I'll read this thread a few times.

    Consider options for a business. I have worked in a big 4-brand moto retail place, and 2 different 'independent' moto repair shops, and ... did my own eBay-online motorcycle salvage gig by myself for almost 2 years.

    What was the most pleasant and profitable? Junking bikes out on eBay. I'll do it again later in life when I can own my own building. Sending parts all over the world is interesting, the profit margins are great, and IT IS NICE TO NOT HAVE TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE but only communicate through a keyboard and with good digital photo pictures of the parts.

    I think the retail is going to continue to dive, except for new-bike sales. A lot of people will still go buy a new bike in a store. I would rather buy a new bike on eBay and have it delivered to my house. I think the moto-accessories are going to be almost all online sales as time goes on. Sold over 3,000 individual parts on eBay from all sorts of basket-of-parts at yard sales, to parting out fine complete running bikes.

    One eBay moto seller has about 70,000 feedbacks and about 10,000 parts on eBay for sale at a given time. All used parts. Amazing. This is also resilient for wintertime, since people all over the world are rebuilding, repairing, bikes around the clock every day of the year. If you offer international shipping you will be very busy.

    Think outside the box a little. They are usually worth more parted out than together. With public insurance auctions like www.iaai.com you can buy bikes locally from insurance-salvage outcomes. The online selling like eBay, forums, etc is driving the price of used parts down, but it beats working in a convenience store or something.

    Overall, finding a proper and inexpensive workshop is very key. Having it secure is an obvious challenge too. That can keep you out of the red during the lean months.

    People mention hot new markets like cafe racer posers. Few to none ever come in for repairs, and most are so clapped out that we didn't want them in the shop -- when you disturb one part of the bike something else breaks -- which was hanging on by a thread to begin with. My former boss turns away more bikes wanting to be repaired than he will work on due to parts being unavailable, bike is a turd, or owners disappear and you get to store their bikes for free for years!

    A tricky business to be in. You want no-nonsense customers with bikes from 2000 or newer. This can be more difficult than you expect. Tools aren't prohibitively expensive in my opinion, you gain those as you go.

    The repair is not a business I would do unless I had to. Salvage I would do because it is so easy to disassemble, clean, photograph, and list parts for sale ... shipping them out in small boxes.

    I completely agree that after ~2 years of turning wrenches on other peoples bikes you won't want to even look at them at the gas station anymore.
    #95
  16. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    I appreciate the insight. Thanks
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  17. DudeClone

    DudeClone Long timer

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    money, work, love, motorcycle

    if i have the forth i have it all
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  18. DudeClone

    DudeClone Long timer

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    damn what if i could not ride the motorcycle?

    don't want to think about that :cry

    i'd just have to open a motorcycle business and have all i want! and at least look at them all day if i could not ride :1drink

    don't want to think about it :cry
    #98
  19. DudeClone

    DudeClone Long timer

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    how much do motorcycle sales people make? i'd do that. maybe part time? do i get to zoom around town on the bikes? :deal
    #99
  20. nomad_games

    nomad_games Long timer

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    I'm not a sales person, I'm a mechanic at a vintage shop. but yes, I get to ride the bikes. lots of old guzzis, ducs, bmws, but mostly Hondas and Yamahas. it's fun. plus we listen to good music, there's a coffee roaster right next to us that gives us free coffee all the time, there's a vending machine with dollar beers in it (not for me, but the other guys like it), and my favorite part... a constant stream of mind-blowingly hot girls walking by all day.