After many years in the motorsports industry I’ve noticed a common thread emerge and endure: the unique bond that many companies establish with their customers. Why does this happen more in our industry than in others? Chances are the accessories you buy at your local dealer were designed by a guy who got his start making parts in his garage. Most weekend warriors spend hours working in their garages. A few of them have turned it into their business.
Necessity is the mother of invention! Most companies in the motorsports industry didn’t go into business because there was money to be made; they simply recognized the need for a certain product and opened up shop to fill that void. They started by bending, cutting and grinding their own parts to make their bike run better or look cooler. Skid plates, levers, gas tanks, handlebars, foot pegs – all forged out of ingenuity, built out of necessity. Always has been and always will be when it comes to riding and working on motorcycles.
The scope of this ingenuity hit me smack in the face on a recent visit to an exhaust manufacturer. Imagine a huge production facility, sprawling an entire city block in pricey California real estate. An electric atmosphere buzzing with state of the art machinery, all running and cutting and blazing forward. Yet even the largest companies likely started out in a small garage, with a couple of motorcycle riders looking to make their bikes go faster and to turn some heads along the way.
And how about the young guy I know who rode a Triumph years ago and fell in love with the brand. Fast forward through the college years – and an engineering degree. Now almost ten years and a whole lot of blood, sweat and gears later, the dude is running a thriving business. A passion that started from one ride has turned into a huge company that designs and manufactures accessories for his treasured Triumphs.
Passion! That’s what makes this industry different than any other. We as enthusiasts, and the lucky few that make a career of it, get to share our passion with other passionate people. They make cool stuff and we ride it, we sell it, we talk about it! It’s much different than other industries. Motorcyclists are continually finding an excuse to ditch the lawnmower and make a run to a dealer on the weekend or after work. “Need a plug, need oil, got to get a tube, filter is shot…” Yeah, it’s a right of passage to spend time at your favorite motorsports shop shooting the sh@# about the latest gear.
No matter what you ride, whether it’s dirt bikes, street bikes or ATV’s, there are some parts on your bike – or the whole damn bike for that matter – that were dreamed up by someone just like you, burning the midnight oil in the garage. Maybe you grew up to be a police officer, or a doctor, or a musician or a welder. Whatever your walk of life, we all have one thing that brings us together: the passion to ride.