The picturesque spa town of Ilkley may not sound like the ideal place to start a classic and bespoke motorcycle business but a successful one exists there none the less. The tourist driven economy, allied to the out of the way location, would suggest there isn’t a lot of passing trade looking for high quality classic motorcycles, but in these days of a shrinking world driven by the web, it doesn’t seem to matter where the base is and for Route 65 it would appear business is booming.
Originally opened as an offshoot of the established retail outlet, Moto Strada based in nearby Skipton, Route 65 as the name suggests, sits on the A65 linking the two towns. The shop is laid out very much in a stylish and airy boutique style, and the collection of stock represents the very best of biking, both classic and the classically styled. Iconic Ducati 851s and Suzuki RG500s sit among Ducati Paul Smart replicas and Bimotas, with many more familiar machines filling the gaps.
“The original idea was to have an alternate outlet to the existing Moto Guzzi and Aprilia franchise” Route 65 salesman Gary Burn added, “The main inspiration was to stock and supply some of the more exclusive, limited edition Latin machines from the Ilkley premises, so we opened the shop in June 2010 and filled it with sportsbikes and the like, but soon took in two classics as part of a part exchange deal. One was a BMW R100S and the other a Suzuki GT500 and the both sold within days. It got us thinking and the hunt was then on for other good examples of older and desirable machines. Another GT500 was quickly located, as was a TZR250, and many more to take their place in the showroom. To date things have gone very well and already during the first few weeks of 2011 we have sold 14 classic machines, compared to just a handful of more modern models.
“The key to our success is having a keen eye on the market and Route 65 owner Mark Johnson does just that, scouring the classifieds and the Internet for appropriate stock. He is very good at buying bikes and spends countless hours researching and tracking down suitable machinery. More recently, a lot of prospective stock has been made known to us via word of mouth too, having the shop is a great stopping off point and people call in to have a look and then spread the word. Its been a great move for us and the future looks good, the classic scene is expending and becoming part of the biking norm often with modern bike owners having more than one machine and then adding a tasty oldie into the mix too. Modern machines offer so much but also by definition mean riders can disappear into the crowd whereas a classic bike is fun to ride cheap to operate and stands out in any environment.
“The interest is shifting too” Gary added “Whereas a couple of years ago the Laverda Jota commanded high prices, so now do the less desirable models in that range like the Mirage. As one particular machine becomes rare, or financially unobtainable, then others rise to take their place and for the moment there doesn’t seem to be any end to this increase in interest particularly in the 70s and 80s tackle. We have purposefully left the British machinery alone as it is already well subscribed by other dealers and a little out of out knowledge base too.
“For the future we intend to stay exactly as we are as it has proved to be a success, but would like to source some more diverse and interesting machinery to sit along side the Japanese bikes. Maybe some older Guzzi, Bevel drive Ducati and smaller capacity MVs can be found, just to create something a bit different for people to come along and view.”
Route 65 Classic Bike Gallery
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Tel; 01943 607 809