Wednesday, 20 January 2016


One of the things I have tried to avoid about riding motorcycles is any form of prejudice for one brand over another. To me, it is important to treat all motorcyclists equally and to treat them all as is they were a brother, no matter what the name badge on the tank says. I have tried to always respect the choice we all have when choosing which brand we each ride and so I really don’t like the “my bike is better than you bike” brigade who are so blind as to not be able to see anything beyond their own handlebars.

However, those principles took a bit of a shaking today when I visited a BMW dealership.

I must have seen my local BMW motorcycle dealership dozens of times as I rode / drove past, but until today, I just kept going. This morning however, curiosity got the better of me and I swung around and went to see what it was all about.

The motorcycles were stunning.

With different types of bike to suit every form of riding, be that on-road, off-road, commuting, race bike lookalikes, scooters and even a few with sidecars, every taste was catered for. I marveled at the technology, the sweeping lines, the clean and crisp designs and the cleanliness of just about every aspect of the bikes. Deep down, each one is probably exceeding well designed, with handing, power and performance that is unequaled. It was very impressive stuff.

The sales person who spoke to me knew everything there was to know about every motorcycle – a real powerhouse of information.

Then it struck me.

Everything about the dealership was so perfect, it was dull. The bikes were displayed in an order that made perfect sense. The marketing materials were absolutely factual. Even the china coffee cups were laid out in a symmetrical pattern that likely needed a surveyors tape to be so precise. The clothing department (really just a few rails) had only really dull t-shirts and the same suits that all GS riders seem to wear. The range of helmets on sale were boring, with just a teaspoon of design flair added to each one.

What was missing was any sense of fun or enjoyment. There was no music playing. I was the only customer in the building. Nobody was smiling and there was no banter, but each member of staff had an immaculate desk and a shiny computer that they were fixated to. Groan.

The place had as much character as the local branch of my bank. I couldn’t wait to leave.

I walked outside and noticed about fifteen of the nearest car parking spaces to the building entrance were all marked as reserved for staff. All of those spaces were full, meaning the building was full of people working there. I had needed to park furthest away from the building. Does the dealership really mean to annoy its customers like this even before they park?

I have to say that everything about the place was depressing.

I am so glad I ride a Harley.

Yes, BMW riders can and probably do claim that their motorcycles are superior in many ways to the ones that I ride, but that isn’t the point. Motorcycling should be fun, embracing, inclusive and dealerships should be inviting places where you are made to feel welcome and can fit in whatever your background. So, I say this to BMW. Even if you want to make one of the best performing motorcycles in the world, please make your dealerships less perfect, then you will get more people walking through your doors.

I won’t be going back soon.