Riders willing to shed cash for customization
In an era when traffic at a dealership isn’t quite up to peak levels and the purchase of new units is still down, it’s welcome news to hear that new bike buyers are still spending money on PG&A, and many are spending more than customers have in the past.
In 2011, 43 percent of the 3,369 new bike buyers who said they bought parts and accessories reported that they spent more than $1,000 on them, according to the 2011 J.D. Power and Associates Motorcycle Competitive Info Study. Five years ago, in the heyday for many motorcycle dealers, only 36 percent said they spent that much.
Though Ray Smith, owner of Cycle Stop in South Hadley, Mass., said his dealership sees most customers spend a little under $1,000, the figure doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to him.
“I think they’re so pumped up because they’ve done a lot of research on the bike that they’re looking for,” he said, “and if the bike doesn’t have all the accessories they’re looking for, they want to make it look spanky right away.”
Mark Moses, owner of Indian Motorcycle Charlotte in Lowell, N.C., said about 70 percent of his new bike buyers are spending more than $1,000 on parts and accessories. The most popular purchases include exhausts, leather goods, bike covers, timing and clutch covers, audio and navigation accessories and seating items, such as passenger backrests.
“Even though the new Indians are well-equipped premium cruisers with very little aftermarket accessory support, we still have a few hundred accessory and custom pieces to offer,” he reported.
Despite the lack of accessories to offer, Moses’ staff still goes the extra mile to make sure each bike is customized to a rider’s liking before it leaves the dealership.
“We do our best work when we slow down and take the time to know our client during the sales process and are thrilled to help them ‘create’ their own special machine,” he said.
More customers are willing to buy parts and accessories at the time of purchase not only because they want their motorcycle personalized before riding, but also because there can be some financial incentives.
“It is also an easy time to finance the upgrades at the time of the motorcycle purchase,” Moses said. “[Indian] OE accessories installed at the time of sale are also covered under the OE warranty period of two years, versus a shorter period for later accessory purchases.”
Gear has also caused riders to open their wallets after buying a new bike. In 2011, 39 percent of the 1,863 riders who said they purchased gear bought more than $400 worth.
Smith hasn’t seen many gear purchases of that size, as most of his customers aren’t first-time riders, but some are still buying a couple items here and there.
“If they’re already a rider, they have the jacket and chaps,” he said. “They just might buy something like a helmet to match the new bike though.”
Moses has an easier time reaching the $400 threshold, as a classic Indian jacket can cost $600 or more. Popular gear purchased at his dealership includes jackets, vests, chaps, hats, gloves, pins, patches and helmets. T-shirts are the best sellers.
Moses said when buying PG&A, it’s important for riders to look like their peers, yet stand out a bit from the crowd.
“The biggest factor is riding the brand — you need to look like it,” he said. “It’s the sea of sameness — our clients want to be unique and different then the masses.”