According to the article in the Globe and Mail newspaper website, Honda Canada is going to a combined store that will sell all Honda products from cars to bikes to weed-eaters all in one big store. Just think, a Wal-Mart-style store for Hondas. I can only guess how wonderful the service and sales situation will be there. Short of sales help in the Gold Wing Department? Just grab one of the guys from the Lawnmower Department. A Honda is a Honda, right? A motorcycle is no more or less special than a weed trimmer or a portable generator, right? The customer for a motocross bike is just as dim spirited as the mini-van driving suburbanite buying a lawnmower, right? Idiots.
I long for the day when a motorcycle shop was a place run by people who loved bikes and rode bikes and saw their customers as fellow riders, not sales prey. Long ago, hanging around in a motorcycle shop on Saturday meant meeting friends there, talking bikes, maybe snagging a test ride because the owner or sales guy knew you and knew you were getting tired of your old bike or had just sold it to a pal. Hanging around a bike shop on Saturday meant making new friends and learning things about bikes that you didn't know before. It meant reading Cycle News all the way through and then paying for it because that was the decent thing to do and you wouldn't want to cheat the owner who's name you knew and who knew your's. Hanging around the shop meant knowing the mechanic and the service manager (if there was one) and being able to get a question answered correctly by someone who knew the bikes forward and backwards. Motorcycle shops were colorful places that smelled of engines and adventure, were filled with people who were characters and machines that would become legendary.
The people who ride motorcycles for fun, pleasure, adventure, and a way of life are not ordinary people. Motorcycle riders value the camaraderie of the own kind but find satisfaction in the deep solitude of a long ride alone. Ordinary people drive cars, usually white or beige ones with the radio set to play muzak and with the driver's brain set to numb. Ordinary people find no pleasure in controlling their vehicle, they drive it because they must and therefore to the car driver his vehicle should be as bland and unobtrusive as possible, that's why white is still the most popular color for new cars. In my experience motorcycle riders are usually independent types not afraid to be different, not afraid to look different, not afraid to feel the disapproving stares of the people who would wrap the world in a cocoon and smother everyone in peace and safety and the mediocrity of the masses even while they kill their spirits. Motorcyclists deserve better than mass merchandising their sport and their passion.
People will flock to that big store in Canada and when it succeeds Honda will probably do the same program in the USA. Honda will cater to the great mass of sheeple who value price and convenience above history, knowledge, genuine service, and the kinship of the motorcycle experience. I don't doubt that even people who love bikes will visit that store and the stores like it that are sure to come but I hope that when motorcycle enthusiasts lay down their hard earned cash it is with the independent motorcycle shop that is run by an owner who works there, rides bikes himself, and actually knows the names of his best customers.