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Last year I wrote about my favorite motorcycle dealer in the region, Martin Motorsports, and outlined some of the motorcycle dealership best practices they deploy to make visiting their store a pleasure.

Now, the flip side of the coin. My least favorite dealership in the region, which – ironically – used to be a part of the Martin Motorsports family (they split up a few years ago and are now under separate ownership.) Its called Eurosports and it’s a Coopersburg, PA-based Triumph, Ducati, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, and Vespa dealer. Here are some of the reasons why I won’t ever visit this dealership again:

My text to my friend Pete demonstrates my frustration.

1. Let your customer stand around for almost an hour before saying hello.  Eurosports has a couple of bikes in inventory right now that I’m interested in. I went there on Saturday morning, literally with the title to my Rocket III and my checkbook in hand – totally prepared to make a deal.  Nobody said “hello”, “I’ll be right with you”, “Can I help you?”…nothing. I might as well have been invisible.

2. Treat your customer like a criminal for asking for a test ride. When the salesman finally did deign to speak with me, he reacted with horror when I told him I wanted to take a test ride. He said I could only take a ride if an employee rode with me, and that they were likely too busy to do it on Saturday. He asked me to come back on a weekday when it would be convenient for him (not for me though, as it would require taking a day off from work.)

Sorry, but I’m not making a several-thousand dollar purchase without taking the bike for a spin. And if Martin Motorsports, Montgomeryville Cycle Center, and other local dealers can let me take a ride on a bike without an employee in tow, then you can.

3. Don’t have your inventory current on your website. One of the bikes I was interested in test riding was a really nice 2005 Triumph Bonneville. It had a lot of extras and was barely used. In fact, one of my thoughts was to trade my Rocket and cash for the Bonneville AND a V-Strom they have in stock. When I got there, the Bonnie was parked in front, and it was beautiful. But when I asked the salesman about the bike, he informed me it was sold.

Frustrating. As of this moment, the Bonneville is still listed for sale on the dealership’s website. Nothing on the advertisement indicates it has been sold. The fact that the salesman – who witnessed my disappointment that it had been sold first hand – didn’t take the action of removing it from the website speaks volumes.

4. Don’t let your customer speak to your experts. My experience on Saturday morning wasn’t my first frustrating experience with Eurosports. Last year, I wanted to upgrade my Triumph America to get more power from it. I was thinking of a big bore kit, a hot cam, airbox removal…something. A friend told me to speak with one of the mechanics at Eurosports because this gentleman is known to be a magician with the Triumph 865cc engine.

I called the dealership several times. Explained that I wanted the legendary mechanic’s input as to what to do with my America. And I got the stiff-arm from the service desk employee who answered the phone (who is to this day the rudest person I’ve encountered at a motorcycle dealership.)

With 15 minutes on the phone with me, the mechanic could have made a $2,000 sale. Instead I ended up getting frustrated and giving up, and a few weeks later traded the America for the Rocket at a competing dealership.

5. Have a cramped, small, uncomfortable showroom with not a lot of stuff to buy. Unlike Martin’s expansive showroom, which I can’t walk through without finding a shirt or jacket to spend my money on, Eurosports showroom is about the size of a closet. On Saturday there were boxes of merchandise laying all over the floor in various states of disarray. If Saturday is the dealership’s busiest day, I suppose the messiness of the dealership tells me everything about how important the customer is to them.

So like I said to my friend Pete, I don’t ever have to visit Eurosports again. There are lots of places to spend my money. Eurosports isn’t one of them.

Ironically right up the road is the skeleton of Crossroads Harley-Davidson, once a thriving Harley dealer just south of Allentown. It’s shuttered now – a sad reminder of what can happen to a motorcycle dealership that doesn’t keep it’s eye on the ball. Perhaps a cautionary tale for the folks at Eurosports.

Today on Yahoo Autos there’s an article called Someday You’ll Wish You Owned These Cars. It’s about 10 cars that are most likely to become collectors items in the future, such as the Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca and the Nissan GT-R Black Edition.

It’s timely because just last week on Reddit there was a thread asking, “If money was no object, what would be your dream bike?” One of the Redditors responded “Ducati Sport Classic. Hands down.”

This is the color scheme of the 2008 Ducati Sport Classic I 'almost' bought at Eurosport. Image linked http://www.motorcycle-online.info.

I was curious about this, because when I was shopping for my first bike, one of the bikes I saw in a local dealership and seriously considered was the Ducati Sport Classic. It was in my price range (under $10,000) and was stunningly gorgeous. Ultimately I decided against it because I was nervous about owning a Ducati (I had heard stuff about them being expensive to maintain and there are only two dealerships near me – neither terribly convenient to my home or work). I ended up buying my Triumph America instead. It ended up being a good decision because the next year I got into touring on my motorcycle – something that wouldn’t have been particularly comfortable on the Duc.

Turns out that the Sport Classic was discontinued for the 2011 model year and have become extremely sought after and hard to find. I searched a number of websites including Ebay, Cycletrader, and Craigslist and found only two for sale this morning – one of them was at an asking price pretty close to the original sticker price. The other was highly modded and had an asking price over $16,000.

So that Sport Classic I threw a leg over and fell in love with at Eurosports back in the spring of 2008 is now a collectors item. Coulda, shoulda, woulda…

From a first time rider’s standpoint, I think I would have done all right on the Ducati. Granted, a Ducati isn’t a marque that’s typically thought of as making bikes for new motorcycle riders, but the Sport Classic was powered by a 1000 cc engine, which is about the upper limit I would recommend for a new rider. And I do think the current Ducati Monster 696 is a good bike for a first time rider – others who own it like it because it’s light, handles well, and has a peppy but not overpowering engine. And it is a sexy bike that turns heads everywhere it goes.

There are some in the motorcycling world who insist that a new rider shouldn’t buy a first bike with more displacement than 250 cc’s but I’m not one of them. I think I would have been quickly bored by a 250. I did just fine with my 865 cc America; it was nice and tame off the factory floor but modifiable to get more power as my riding skills grew.

As I mentioned in my first post, I spend a lot of time on weekends visiting local motorcycle dealers and testing out new bikes. I’m grateful that most of the dealers in my area support test rides and will let me take a spin. I’ve even been honest with them: “I’m not looking to buy.” They seem to get it. Maybe I’ll take a ride and just have to have the bike. This has happened recently. Twice this season, in fact.

So as the season winds down, I’m going to list the bikes I tested this year and provide a brief blurb on each. When I put this list together, I was pretty shocked. I’ve ridden a lot of different bikes this year.

With my Rocket III Touring on the Blue Ridge Parkway, October 2011. The Rocket was made for trips like this.

1a. Rocket III Touring. Numero Uno on this list is the bike I currently own. I rode the R3T a number of times at a demo day at Eurosports back in May. I liked it so much I ended up shopping for one and bought my current ride from Hermy’s later that month. Since then it’s been a love/hate relationship. In summer, on a 90 degree day, in traffic, I hate this bike. It is like riding a convection oven, it throws off so much heat from that 2300 cc powerplant. When I’m filling it up with gas, I hate it. I’ve averaged 30 miles per gallon this year and more often than not been in the mid 20’s. But when I’m rolling up heavy miles and cruising along on a nice twisty, or passing a tractor trailer on the slab, I absolutely love it. When I’m on a trip with my friends and hauling my camping gear, I love it. When I park it on Main Street in New Hope next to about a dozen ElectraGlides and the peeps walking by stop to look at my bike and ignore the Harleys, I love it. Read the rest of this entry »