Alan Veracka has been an avid off-road motorcycle guy most of his 61 years. He opened his motorcycle shop up in 1978, in Brockton, Massachusetts, and specializes in used motorcycles of all brands.
When you first speak with Alan, you a hear a provincial accent that is a real, salt-of-the-earth kind of accent. Alan comes across as an affable man with a palpable passion for riding bikes in the dirt.
Alan didn’t even know that e-bikes existed until about three years ago when he took his fat bike into a shop for repair. The guy at the shop offered him an e-bike and said, “Here, jump on this and ride it!”
“For sure the e-bike thing is going to go big!”
Alan recalls the moment his life changed: “I pedaled the thing 100 feet, and I turned around and I knew I was buying one! I was immediately hooked. Being 61 years old and weighing in at 220 pounds, I’ve never been a super athlete anyway. It was like this was my ticket, you know!”
He bought and sold three e-bikes of his own, then one of the Haibike reps ended up at one of Alan’s brother’s Harley-Davidson dealerships (his brother owns three H-D dealerships). His brother knew Alan was riding a Haibike, so the rep visited Alan’s shop, and within two days, Motorcycles 508 became a Haibike dealer. That was two years ago.
Alan took on Haibike, expecting he could sell 10-20 bikes a month. Almost immediately, he was selling twice that many every month. Armed with this level of success, the shop contacted almost every manufacturer. He expected that bicycle companies like Specialized would turn them down because he was a motorcycle dealer, but to the contrary, he was soon an official dealer for Specialized, Giant and others. Trek turned them down because Trek also wanted them to carry regular pedal bikes, but that wasn’t of interest to Alan, so he turned that deal down.
He also added Bulls, Izip and Raleigh Electric. Most of the bikes he sells are mountain bikes, which is puzzling to Alan, because the leisure/road market in his area is tenfold larger than the off-road market.
The shop has sponsored quite a few motorcycle racers over the years, and they happily come back to the store and are some of the best customers for the e-bikes. Some of that comes down to the fact that many racecourses won’t let riders preview the course on a motorcycle, but they will on a bicycle, including e-bikes.
One such rider is Keith Johnson, a former pro motocross rider (celebrated as the first pro rider that Cannondale hired to race their soon-to-be-defunct motorcycle) who has been helping promote the shop and e-bikes in general. There are quite a few top riders in the area that now also ride e-bikes.
Since the shop specialized in only pre-owned, high-end, late-model motorcycles, they call themselves the “unauthorized dealer for every brand”. They usually have about 130 motorcycles in stock.
On the other hand, for e-bikes, they only carry new bikes and stock about 300 bikes at any given time. That makes for a pretty serious selection.
Alan spots trends. He’s seen emerging markets with three-wheel ATCs, four-wheel ATVs, things that started as limited markets and “went to the top of the pile,” as he says. “For sure the e-bike thing is going to go big! I have kind of like a little sales pitch I do with all the motorcycle guys is. If you’re an off-road guy, an e-bike is everything a motorcycle is and everything it’s not!”
“For starters, it’s perfectly legal to ride it down the street. Nobody ever hassles you for it.” Even on trails, “I’ve run into the tree-huggers numerous times, and they’ve all just smiled and waved, because you don’t look like a Power Ranger and you’re not ripping up the ground and you’re not making any noise, you know? I didn’t know they existed; most people don’t know they exist.”
The shop sells e-bikes all year long, which is different from their motorcycle sales, which drop off 70–80 percent in the fall and winter months.
Alan also makes comparisons of the costs and convenience of e-bikes over motorcycles. If a father and son want to buy dirt bikes, they’re likely in for at $10,000 for the dad and $5,000 for the son for the bikes, plus $1,000 to $2,000 each for clothing and safety gear, plus a trailer or big truck to carry everything versus two e-bikes that can have the front wheel removed and both fit inside a Honda Civic. It’s a new world indeed.
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