This might seem like a strange message for a company to put out about itself. And, of course, we think that there are just as many, and hopefully more, good reasons to visit see us, but by the same token we accept that we are not the right shop for everyone.
Our shop is small, space is limited, and what we have learned is that some people who visit us end up being disappointed because we are not what they expected us to be. It seems to me best for all concerned, therefore, that we try and give potential customers a bit of a feel for what to expect. That way we can hopefully avoid upsetting anybody and wasting anybody’s time. We’re here all day, but your time may be valuable, and if we can prevent you from making a potentially wasted journey, that seems to us to be a worthwhile thing to do
So, let’s go.
We are not on the high street. We don’t occupy a modern edifice fabricated from glass and steel. We don’t even have a shop window. Our neighbour on one side sells windows. Our neighbour on the other side, chimneys. Out-of-town retail parks have been a major area of growth in the retail sector over the last decade. But we are not even on a retail park; we are in a unit on an industrial estate. Glitzy it is not.
You could drive past our front door and never know there was a shop here at all. In fact, our retail space is but an unused office in the corner of the warehouse.
We are tucked away on the outskirts of Guildford, and even though we are actually only a mile from the town centre and the railway station, we are on nobody’s regular route to anywhere. We don’t even appear on some satnav devices. You actually have to work quite hard to find us. Because of where we are, there’s unfortunately nowhere for the other members of your family to go and entertain themselves whilst you visit us, although tea and coffee and motorcycle-shaped biscuits are always on offer to anybody who is prepared to cross the threshold.
There are some huge, football-pitch sized, motorcycle apparel emporiums out there that you can walk around, and browse in, to your heart’s content. Our shop, by contrast is barely bigger than a squash court.
We like our shop, but some people are very disappointed when they first come through the door. It looks bigger in photographs and in our videos. But the reality is that there’s not a huge amount to see on the shop floor. You could walk around the entire place in under a minute, be finished and out. And indeed that’s exactly what some visitors do!
Of course, for us, the shop floor is merely the space in which we we meet to discuss your needs. And what is not always apparent is that the shop is attached to our warehouse where we hold nearly £3 million of helmets, clothing, boots, gloves, and so on. What this actually means is that, in terms of the amount of gear we have here in the building, we are technically the second largest motorcycle apparel shop in the country.
But, for some, it is first impressions that count, and if what you were looking for was a shop where you could exercise your legs a little, and kill a little time ‘window shopping’, those impressions won’t necessarily be great.
The good news, though, if that is what you seek, is that J&S, Infinity and Sportsbikeshop all have nearby shops of the type we’re talking about.
It can be galling.
You’ve driven down from Scotland. You’ve ridden all the way up from Dorset. You might even have flown in to Gatwick, caught the train to Guildford, and a cab from there. You ring the doorbell; and then somebody comes out and asks you to wait in our waiting area.
Not everybody has to wait before they come in; that’s kind of the luck of the draw. But what we do here is pretty personal. When you come into the shop, you will have someone on the team dedicated to you helping you. And when there’s nobody free, we will ask you to wait until one of us is.
Now we realise that no other motorcycle clothing seller operates in this way. With every other shop, there’s an open door that allows you to come and go as you please.
Some people accept that waiting is one of the costs of doing business with Motolegends. We don’t like to keep anybody waiting any longer than we have to. We are as efficient as we can be in the shop, but if you are simply not the kind of person who can bear being in a queue then, as we have suggested, all the major multiples have branches within a short ride from us.
What I would say is that we try to make the wait as painless as possible. We have what we call our ‘First Class’ waiting room that we will take you to until one of us becomes available. We’ll bring you out a proper Illy Italian coffee or a proper pot of Yorkshire tea. And, unless the staff have eaten them all, a motorcycle-shaped shortbread biscuit. There are sofas, a table, USB sockets for charging your phone, and even a Sega Super Hang-On’ motorcycle arcade game from the eighties. The place is nice and warm. All this will hopefully make the wait more bearable, but we can never promise that you will be able to come straight into the shop.
If you’re in a hurry, there are probably better options out there.
Nothing in the shop has a price tag.
This is not something we do to hide from customers how much they are spending. We will always expect to discuss budgets with you, but we know how motorcyclists sometimes end up buying their gear based on the price tag alone, and this is not the way to do it, in our view.
We see this when we visit other shops. People leaf through the racks of jackets They have set themselves a budget. They find something that fits that budget. It looks the part. It fits, and so they take it. But all too often they end up buying the wrong item; something that doesn’t meet their requirements.
Our approach is different. We concentrate first on identifying the type of gear you need or want; we will advise you on what is going to work best for the kind of riding you do. Having done this, there will be a discussion about the cost. We can normally meet the brief at a number of price points, but if we feel we can’t, we’ll tell you. And we’ll suggest perhaps some brands and products that we don’t do, and that you might want to seek out elsewhere. Being helpful sorts, we’ll even tell you what shops might have the kind of clothing we think would be suited to your requirements.
In not emphasising price, we most certainly are not suggesting that the cost is not important. Of course, it is. But this is a serious business, and the most important thing is to work out what is going to work for you. The cost is a consideration obviously, but it should not necessarily be the primary one.
And that’s because when cost becomes the key focus, it is easy to buy the wrong gear. We see lots of people here in our shop who have made such mistakes in the past. Some who have spent too much because they wrongly assumed that when they spent more they got something better. And others who have spent too little because they hoped they could save a few quid; only to find out later that the gear they had acquired just wasn’t the right gear or up to the job.
We don’t like to trot out clichés and aphorisms, but we do believe that the challenge here is to buy what is right. Do this and you often prevent yourself from having to buy twice!
Once more, we accept that our way of doing business will not suit everybody.
But there is little point in visiting Motolegends in the hope that you can have a bit of a ‘nosey’; and do a bit of browsing. We are simply not that kind of shop. And people who visit us with this in mind invariably end up being disappointed because, frankly, in the shop itself there’s not much to see. In fact, less than 10% of our range is on display. These people end up walking out in a bit of a huff; they then make a beeline for Trustpilot to give us a poor review!
As we have already pointed out, there are no prices on anything. There’s almost no signage. You won’t really know what you’re looking at. And in most cases, as there’s usually only one size of a given item on display, you normally can’t even try something on without a conversation.
We understand that some people simply don’t like to engage. I may even be one of those people. It’s why I sometimes feel a certain reticence at showing interest in something in big city shops where the staff are clearly commission driven. I feel the assistants are waiting to pounce.
Well, that’s not how we operate here. We are not hiding in the wings, waiting to observe a momentary weakening of resolve. But we are here to help; and in our case that means we are here to talk. And if you come into the shop it means that somebody will have been assigned to, and they will be expecting to have a conversation about your requirements. Without a proper conversation about what you ride, when you ride, how you ride, why you ride and what you think you need, we cannot help to point you in the right direction. This is the way we do business.
But we appreciate that this is not everybody’s way. Not everybody is up for good, old-fashioned, personal service. Perhaps you are an experienced biker who thinks he knows everything. Perhaps, you’ve done lots of research on instagram and the forums. Or perhaps you are being steered by what you read in a bike mag. or what a friend told he rated.
So be it, but this is a fast developing market with new technologies, fabrics and constructions appearing on the scene almost monthly. You might think you know a thing or two. But we do this seven days a week. We do this for a living. We benefit from the experiences of thousands of motorcyclists who tell us how they have fared with the products they use. And we are in constant dialogue, like no other retailer, with the manufacturers and designers of the gear we sell. We know more than you. It’s that simple. If you want to benefit from the knowledge and experience we have, you’re going to have to talk with us.
In most motorcycle shops we know that you will not find yourself under such pressure. Indeed, in most you can walk in, walk around and then walk out without anybody acknowledging, or even noticing, your presence. And if that’s the way you like to buy your gear, then knock yourself out. But that’s not the way it is here. Even if all you want is a pair of gloves, we will want to ask some questions, make some recommendations, and then make sure they fit the way they’re supposed to.
Sorry, this is who we are! If you’re the strong, silent type who only trusts his own counsel, then you are simply not going to like it here.
This is almost undoubtedly the case, but it doesn’t reflect the fact that our people here in the shop are super-slick sales people. In fact, on this score, most of us are pretty rubbish. We are enthusiasts, and we all enjoy the challenge of helping motorcyclists find the gear that is right for their needs. But put any of us in a proper sales environment, and I dare say that there’s not one of us who would not be found out inside a week. Not one of us has a background in sales.
What cannot be denied is that we do specialise in higher-end gear. We stock only the products and lines that we believe in. We reject 10 items for every one that we decide to offer, but we cannot hide the fact that we are drawn to gear that is better made, more stylish and more technical. This gear is often more expensive. And that’s why you’ll often spend more at Motolegends than you might do in other shops.
We don’t sell at higher prices than anybody else. We always sell at the recommended prices, but nonetheless the brands and products we sell are often a bit dearer. We still strive to offer great value, and by ensuring that you get the right gear first time round, we could end up saving you a lot of money.
But will you end up spending more here than if you visited one of our competitors? Probably, yes. And if you are looking to spend the minimum you can get away with, don’t set the satnav for GU3 1LU.
We give our visitors an unparalleled level of service. We work hard. We probably dedicate more time to helping our customers find the right gear than any bike shop in the land; probably in the world. We will take as long as it takes. We will make sure you get the right stuff. We’ll then make sure it fits as it should, and if there are do-able alterations we will do them for free.
We make a standard margin on the gear we sell. It’s probably no secret that a retailer in this business earns a margin of between 35% and 40%. We think that’s fair. We don’t, as a company, make a huge profit, and whilst we remunerate our staff more generously than some, we don’t drive Ferraris; and nobody has a yacht. We earn our money, and we think we deserve it. And if, having benefitted from our service, you feel that you merit a discount, we hope you’ll understand if we disagree and decline your request.
You can always ask us us how much something will cost if you buy two or three of them. And if you do so, we may well pass you the calculator. Because at times our maths just isn’t that great.
We are also not, as I have mentioned, skilled sales people. We are not market traders. And we are not great deal makers. Which is why we don’t get involved in such shenanigans. But, by the same token, we do not like, in the finest John Lewis tradition, to be undersold. Which is why we have our unbeatable ‘10% Price Beat Guarantee’ that basically binds us to beating, by 10%, any discounted price from a competitor.
You can exercise this right either in the shop, or for up to a fortnight after you buy your goods. There are a few terms and conditions; nothing too onerous, but you can check them out on the website. We are very disciplined about the way we implement this guarantee. Don’t seek any middle ground. We will 100% honour any valid ‘price beat’ without wriggling or manoeuvring; and we do so hundreds of times every month. But the terms have to be met.
So whereas we have no problem acknowledging that we do not horse trade or do deals. We feel we can counter this by saying that we will always be the cheapest. And by a full 10%. We don’t price match here. We only price beat!
We are all about helping bikers work out what they need. The problem is that many bikers, having spent hours on the internet doing research, come into the shop convinced that they know what they need. And all to often, because there has been nobody to question or challenge their assumptions and assertions, they have reached the wrong conclusion.
This is not a problem. We prefer working with people who have done some research, and who have some thoughts about what they need. It’s far easier for us, for example if you have some idea about the difference between a laminated, a removable and a drop-liner, membrane.
But you should not be too fixed in your thinking. Frankly, if you really have decided what you want, you will get little from a visit here. Order online, or visit one of those stores where you can grab something off the rail, try it on in the changing room, check it all out in the mirror and take it to the till.
Don’t misunderstand us. We are not in the business of telling customers they can’t buy something, although where we feel strongly that somebody is making a truly dumb choice, we will do so. And that’s because usually when that customer eventually realises he has made a mistake he will still blame us, forgetting that we advised him to the contrary.
Nevertheless, it works best for everybody if you come in with an open mind. Let me give you a common example.
I have served a lot of people who have come into the shop telling me they want to buy the Rukka Nivala suit. But after having discussed their biking regime, I will sometimes point out that for the weekly, 20-minute, Sunday ride to pick up the papers and get a bacon sandwich, the Rukka suit is simply OTT and wasteful. With such people, I will often recommend that, in addition to the Nivala, they try on something like the Halvarssons Wien and Wish combination. It’s even more comfortable, just as protective, more than up to the task from a waterproofing standpoint, and less than half the money.
Sometimes, my view will prevail; and I will feel satisfied that I have found the customer a fantastic suit and have saved him a few bob to boot. But sometimes, the customer will turn round, thank me for offering him the option, but elect to take the Nivala anyway. I have no problem with either of these scenarios. A customer that goes home knowing he has made a decision having been made aware of all the pertinent facts, is a customer that will come back; he might even tell his mates that we are good guys!.
But when you come to see us, we’d ask you to come into the shop prepared for a proper dialogue. You never know; you might end up with something even better than the outfit that the guy on the GS forum told you all about.
As has perhaps become clear, we don’t operate like other shops. If you’re in an hurry; say you just want to pop in and pick up a pair of gloves, and you’re not really all that bothered about what gloves you get, then you would probably save a whole bunch of time by popping into your local bike shop. We’re not saying that you can never be in and out of here quickly, but you never know whether you are going to have to wait; and when you do get into the shop we’re going to want to have a chat, make some recommendations and all that nonsense.
It’s horses for courses, as ever, but quick and speedy just isn’t our thing, I’m afraid. Let me add a caveat here. Our staff won’t drag things out. They know you’re here because you are looking to solve your biking gear needs. They won’t be pulling out their phones to show you pictures of their bikes. And these days even Sean can not be persuaded to talk about his various overseas misadventures. You see we all know that your time is valuable, that you might be on a schedule, and that we might even have kept you waiting before you came in. We’ll be as quick as we can, but buying your gear here will never be ‘fast-food’ quick.
And that’s because we won’t cut corners when it comes to finding the right gear for you. We’ll get you try on the items that we reckon match your brief. We’ll tell you if something doesn’t fit properly; even if you think it does. We will want to make sure that the jacket will work both with and without layers. We’ll want to check the sleeve lengths are good, and that the jacket’s cuffs will work with your gloves. Best to find this out here rather than a hundred miles down the road. Ditto trousers. Are the legs too long on the street or two short on the bike? And so on and so forth.
Rarely is all this accomplished in five minutes.
Same goes for helmets. We’ve all been into one of those shops where somebody points you in the direction of the helmet display, and tells you to come back to the till when you’ve found one that’s comfortable. Well that’s not going to cut it here. We’ll have a chat, and we’ll measure your head, but what we know that many sellers don’t is that the centimetre size is just a starting point. The real challenge is to find a helmet whose shape is right for your head. You might come in set on a Shoei, but just looking at you we may well be able to tell immediately that a Shoei won’t work on you. Once we’ve found a helmet that’s the right shape, we’ll then want to do a custom fitting, changing the cheekpads and headliners as required.
This is your head we’re talking about here. The helmet’s got to be right and fit properly. That guy who told you to find a helmet that’s comfortable was simply wrong. We’re not saying you need an uncomfortable helmet, but almost invariably a helmet that is too large will be comfortable. Here at Motolegends we’ll take as long as it takes. Nobody leaves here until we get the fit right; and if we can’t get the fit right we’ll send you elsewhere to look at helmets that we don’t sell.
The bottom line here is that we will do whatever we have to do to get you the right gear; however long it takes The cynics out there will suggest that this is nonsense, and that all any business wants is to take its customers’ money. But whilst, as a commercial entity, we have bills to pay just like anybody else, we play a longer game, and take the view that the most important thing is that you walk out of here with the right gear. Hopefully you’ll come back; and hopefully you will spread the word. That’s what makes our business work; that’s our business model. It’s simply not about extracting as much money from customers as swiftly as we can.
In fact, there’s nothing swift about what we do here. Best come in prepared for the long haul. We’ll get it done right, but we won’t necessarily get it done fast.
We have never pretended to be all things to all people. We are not Amazon. We are not Argos. We are more a boutique than a department store. In fact, we only cater for certain kinds of bikers. We only carry a limited number of brands. And often we’ll only take a handful of pieces from a given brand.
If you ride a sportsbike, we will probably have nothing for you at all. If you are a serious off-reader, the same applies. We don’t do big, plastic, off-road boots. We don’t do proper off-road helmets. We don’t do pants that tuck inside boots. We don’t sell body armour sets or Leatt braces. And we don’t have any of those colourful, nylon MX shirts.
We do some amazingly cool gear, but we’re not hipsters. We won’t range a helmet just because it’s got a really round shell and comes with great graphics. And we don’t do gear that is not fully CE approved
We do amazing jeans, some great leather jackets and the best wax cotton. We have a pretty decent selection of boots and gloves. We only sell five brands of helmet; and that’s because they’re the only ones we rate. If you commute or do big miles touring, we have the best suits. We’re also pretty strong on adventure riding gear.
But the choice on offer here is not huge; and that’s because we’ve already done the choosing and selecting, so you don’t have to. We’ve chosen the best gear we can find. But that means that the options are often fewer here than elsewhere.
In fact, we don’t even go near some of the popular brands out there. We’re talking about: Alpinestars, RST, Spada, Oxford, Revi’it, Ixon, Ixs, John Doe, Knox, Bullitt jeans, Hood jeans, Tucano Urbano, Merlin and so on.
If you want to know the brands we do offer, you can check them out on the website, but the truth is that we are more focussed on products than on brands; and we reckon we have the right products and the very best products for most eventualities.
But whilst our range is limited, we carry deep stocks of the lines we do hold, and we do try to hold stuff in all sizes and leg lengths. Rarely do we fail to find the right gear for somebody, but often it won’t come from one of the usual suspects.
This article has been an exercise in what I think is called ‘managing expectations’.
We don’t want to discourage people who are serious about motorcycle gear from coming to see us, and despite some of the things I have said, we can work with very limited budgets. In fact, we reckon we have some great options for those who are starting out, and who don’t want to spend a fortune.
But often people have heard about us and are intrigued. But they know little about how we operate. They expect us to be like every other bike shop they have ever visited, and so when they get here they can be bitterly disappointed with what they find. In these circumstances, we are deemed to be the villains.
The truth is that if you to kit yourself out with fantastic gear. If you would appreciate some expert advice. And if you want to talk to people who will tell you the way it is, we don’t think there is anywhere that can help you in the way that we can. We will help you find the best gear that you can afford. We will make sure that it will be right for the kind of riding you do. And we will make sure that it fits you the way it should, so that it works the way it should.
But we really aren’t the best shop to visit if you’re not ready for a dialogue. We are not a destination for a ride out. We are not the shop to come to if you just want to kill some time and chat about bikes. We are here to serve. But that is only ever going to work if you are ready to be served.
For some people, our shop is the very best solution. For others, it just isn’t. We can’t be fairer than that!
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