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‘Doomsday preppers’ galore drive ADV aftermarket

With the flurry of new adventure bikes hitting the market and upward trending sales numbers, it can be tempting for dealers to close the unit sale and move on. While this is an easy road, it often means you’re leaving money on the table. There are a number of aftermarket accessories and programs that would increase your sales and enhance your customer’s overall experience.

A few minor tweaks to the selling process, including a few small displays, a couple of inventory items and some well-placed sell sheets, can provide significant extra income at the time of the bike sale, or at the very least, plant the seeds in the customer’s mind for future upgrades. The ADV buyer experience can provide many opportunities for a prepared dealer to deliver on the promise of adventure.

The ADV market wants expertise. They’re planning for (or fantasizing about) traveling to the far reaches of Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, or at least an upcoming rally a few hundred miles away. They want gear that will serve their needs and survive their abuse, and they want advice from a dealer who will help them prepare for the ride.

The ADV market is aspirational. Many purchases are driven more by where the rider wishes he or she could travel, than by how the bike will be used day-to-day. More than any other customer, adventure riders are doomsday preppers. They’re willing to spend money to be ready for the zombie apocalypse, even if they’re only planning to drive down a two-mile unpaved road on the way home from work.

My top six list for meeting the expectations of this specific market includes a few simple steps most motorcycle dealerships can do without breaking the bank:

1. Demonstrate expertise in adventure travel preparation, not just adventure bikes. Show knowledge of ergonomics, luggage, lighting, powering electronic doodads, protection, tires and, for the more extreme folks, camping and fuel storage.

2. Help customers visualize their outfitted bike and the trip they want to take. Two ways to do this could be to have fully-outfitted demo bikes on the showroom floor, or take-home posters available for customers. An even more effective tactic would be to outfit the bike of an employee who is an enthusiastic ADV rider. If you have a staffer who commutes daily, make sure that person parks his or her fully outfitted bike right outside your front entrance. Remember that a bug-splattered, dirt-covered daily ride does a lot more to spark conversation than a pristine, shiny showroom bike.

3. Prevent decision fatigue. Provide good/better/best bike-specific packages that fully outfit the bike for the customer’s intended use. These packages should be as comprehensive as you can make them and customizable for a customer’s particular needs and budget. Offer your complete range of accessories, and allow the customer to de-select any options they don’t want … yet.

4. Provide hands-on learning. With the advent of YouTube, customers can learn many things by watching, but there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty. Customers want to practice how to do things before they go on that first big trip, and the more you’re a part of that process, the more of that preparation is spent in your store. At the Twisted Throttle factory store, one of our most popular seminars is on tire repair. About twice a year, we’ll set up a couple of tires on rims in the retail store (one tubeless and one tube-type) and let customers practice plugging or patching the tires. Supplies are for sale; prizes go to the fastest repair.

5. Pick one or two “featured” product categories and create interactive displays. If you’re featuring auxiliary lighting, have a push-button demo where the customer can turn on the lamps. If you’re featuring hard luggage, display two or three models with keys in them so customers can get used to opening them and taking them on and off the bike.

Another favorite evening event in our shop is “see and be seen” night. We use a Denali auxiliary lighting display with four lights on it: an original headlight lamp and three additional auxiliary lights with distinct beam patterns. We set up a cheap deer cutout and a retroreflective jacket at dusk just beyond the reach of the low beam and demonstrate each lamp to show relative beam distance. We’ve also used a cell phone light meter app to measure relative intensity or beam distance on customer bikes. Then we provide a purchase incentive for folks who wish to schedule an installation based on what they’ve just learned.

6. Partner with a motorcycle touring company or training school to provide information on opportunities for customers to broaden their skills and take aspirational rides. Having a few flyers in your waiting room costs you nothing and plants the seeds for the next new thing your customer wants to do with their bike.


In the end, the more you can help your customers develop their knowledge and skills for ADV riding, the more they’ll see your dealership as a key part of their riding enjoyment. This will also generate ongoing demand for the products and services you offer. Help your customers continually find new ways to enjoy their motorcycles, and they’ll keep coming back to you for more.

Erik Stephens is the founder of Rhode Island-based Twisted Throttle. The company manufactures Denali Electronics and DrySpec and distributes SW-MOTECH, R&G Racing and other brands of parts and accessories for adventure and sport riding. Founded in 2002, Twisted Throttle has distribution operations in both the USA and Canada, employs more than 40 staff members and participates in dozens of dual sport events annually. Its factory store in Exeter, Rhode Island, serves as a design lab for creating the perfect adventure riding destination, including an on-site campground, learning center, service shop, retail store, prototyping lab and frequent community events. Stephens is also very good at breaking his motorcycle.


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