(This post was in response to an article published on January 2007 by the Motorcycle Product News magazine.)
I read your November “Holeshot” column with a bit of sadness and disappointment: sadness that you have to waste so much energy defending open dialog and original thought concerning this great industry, and disappointment that there are still so many cowards who consider themselves “professionals” in the power sports industry. However, offering your four-legged companion as a sacrifice to the boneheaded, near-sighted backyard mechanics in this industry might not be the best way to satisfy the word police. It won’t pacify a frightened dealer, and couldn’t be too good for your karma. If a dealer gives good service, and is there for his customers, he will have all the work, sales, and good will that he could ever ask for. I don’t know anything about the Ride Now Group, but they must be doing something right to support all their branches. If they are criminals, I hope the market will eventually expose them, and they will disappear. The real criminals are the ones who try to step on our rights of free speech by trying to intimidate you into not saying or doing anything in your magazine that provokes thought or might be a bit controversial. If there was no evolution in this industry we would all be riding around on air-cooled piston-port 2-strokes with drum brakes (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Don’t get me started on the dealers who panic every time an attractive model is used to bring attention to a product on your pages. Where would we be if it wasn’t for the Norton ads in the ‘70s? You threw out an idea for the industry to think about, but instead of coming up with an intelligent reply, they attacked you — so I guess you were on to something all along? I think the reaction you received was better than silence (a little more uncomfortable for you though I’m sure). Really, this business is easy if you remember what your customer wants.
When I was a punk kid at 16 riding around on my Yamaha 125, I bought all my parts from a small Yamaha shop in Modesto, California. Even when I moved up to a Triumph (sorry, Norton girl) I had them order all my parts from Beck Arnley. The reason? Every time I walked in that store, the parts guy looked happy to see me. He might have even known my name. Not sure about that, but I remember he smiled and seemed like he wanted to help. I don’t know if I could have gotten the parts cheaper somewhere else, but I didn’t care. Here was a place a dirty poor kid felt welcome. I would never think of going anywhere else, and of course I bought my next new bike from them after I save up for a while. You are not just a business — you become an extension of the customer’s family. Everyone knows you can choose your dealer, but you can’t choose your family. There’s a moral there someplace. With service like this, all the cheap Chinese imports and low-ball dealers don’t stand a chance. That’s just the way it is.