A takeover that ruined a good motorcycle dealer

A national motorcycle operator took over Star City Powersports. Sadly, it ruined a good area business.
Amy's Can-Am -- a good bike for our kind of roads.

A sad lesson on what too often happens when a national outfit takes over an area business and raises prices far beyond what we should be paying — in this case a sad example involving what used to be Star City Powersports in Roanoke County.

Wife Amy has a Can-Am RS-S Spyder three-wheeled motorcycle made by Bombardier Recreational Products in Canada, which also makes sports utility vehicles and jetskis. It’s a nice bike that I also enjoy riding.

Although we bought the bike from Lake Norman Powersports in North Carolina in early 2014, we have had it serviced at Star City before it was acquired by Motosport in Portland, OR. Two weeks ago, I stopped into the Motosport dealer on Peters Creek Road just off I-581, my first visit since they took over the dealership, to ask about the estimated cost of the single rear tire that needed replacement.

The guy behind the counter told me that the cost would involve at least three hours of labor, about $280, plus the cost of the tire, which the parts department said would cost $160 plus tax. That meant a cost of at least $430, which is far more than the cost of replacing a single tire on our SUV, Amy’s Mini-Cooper, or my Harley.

He also told me it would be “at least two weeks” before they could do the job.

Back at home, I visited a few online computer forums dedicated to Can-Ams and was told by many that the cost of $430 was way out of line. We also have a copy of the Service Manual for the Can-Am and it said replacement of a rear tire was about a two-hour job.

A call to Can-Am in Canada connected me to Customer Service, who called the estimate of $430 dollars “excessive” and recommended I check with other dealers in the area. Calls to dealers in Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, and Winston-Salem estimated the cost at around $250 for both labor and tire, so we set up an appointment with Virgil Naff Powersports in Lynchburg for this past Saturday.

A check of comments posted in forums generally praised Naff’s service and pricing and they worked hard to set up an appointment as soon as possible, which was this past Saturday.

Riding buddy Nick Pizza rode along on his Harley Road Glide for the 93-mile trip over to Lynchburg. We headed over to Cave Spring on U.S. 221, then to the Blue Ridge Parkway off U.S. 220 to skirt the streets and stop lights through Roanoke and then East on U.S. 460, arriving in under two hours. We walked over to a Flea Market a couple of blocks away from the dealer, ut found it didn’t open until noon, so we sat at an outdoor table and talked. Less than two hours has passed before my portable phone rang and said “your Spyder is ready to go.”

The service tech also said they checked the bike over to make sure everything was OK and topped off the fluids (the Can-Am is liquid-cooled). The cost? $257,

On the way home, Nick and I rode down Rte. 29 to Gretna, which has a good Dairy Queen, and had their “Thin-Mint Blizzard,” followed by a ride-along Rte. 40 over to Rocky Mount, then down U.S. 220 to Martinsville before heading East on U.S. 58 over to Stuart and up Lovers Leap mountain to Meadows of Dan for a refreshment stop at Poor Farmers’ Market and Deli, owned by my second cousin, Felicia Shelor, then north on the Parkway to Floyd County.

A fun trip for a needed tire change at a cost, even with gas and refreshments, far below than the estimate from Motosport.

A side note. At the service counter for Motosport was a sign saying anyone whose bike needed cleaning would be charted an addtional $35 an hour before even starting on any repairs.

Many motorcycle dealers throw in a wash “on the house” after servicing. I get my Harley washed for free whenever it is serviced by Roanoke Valley Harley-Davidson or Big Bear Harley in Wytheville.

It’s called “good customer service,” a concept that appears to be lost for the folks who took over and — in our opinion ruined — a good local motorcycle operation in Roanoke County.

Sad. On the plus side, we now have a new shop to take care of Amy’s Can-Am.

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