by Joe Buttweiler –
MASON CITY — Opportunity and need have intersected at Mason City Honda with the purchase and renovation of an adjacent property.
“We were kind of cramped for space,” said Curt Clausen, manager of the dealership, 152 Fifth St. S.W.
An increase in conversions of big Gold Wing motorcycles into trikes has accelerated the space needs, he said.
Property just to the east of the Honda store became available, so the dealership bought it and remodeled it, also building a link between the newly acquired building and the pre-existing showroom.
The expansion provides additional showroom and storage space. The renovated easternmost section, which previously was home to the Mason City Motors car dealership, will be leased as office space, Clausen said.
The new 1,600-square-foot link straddles what was once an alley. Bikes that have been sold and are awaiting pickup or delivery are stored in the back, and the front is used for showroom.
Clausen said the recent recession slowed down business “a little bit,” but the demand for used bikes has gone up.
As well, there have been a lot of riders, particularly older ones – with Gold Wings who are having them converted to trikes, he said. “We started selling them (conversion kits) three months ago and got about five sold.”
Service Manager Gene “Yogi” Miller and technician Kyle Meyer went to South Carolina in October for certification to install the trike kits. Prices commonly start about $7,000, but most people spend about $10,000, Miller said, by customizing.
“It’s a very meticulous process,” Miller said of the conversions, which take several weeks. “You’ve got to pretty much take the whole back end apart,” Clausen said.
While trike kits used to be made primarily out of car parts, the ones Miller is installing – made by California Sidecar – are made specifically for motorcycles. “Every component in here is top-shelf,’’ Miller said.
And they’re mighty durable, he said, recalling the great fun he and Meyer had test-riding the trikes around curves of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. “I wanted to break it but it couldn’t be broke,” Miller said.
The closest they came was Meyer tripping the fuel shut-off while going around a sharp corner, Miller said, adding that the stability of the trikes is amazing.
Improving stability, of course, is the main purpose of “triking,” Clausen said. “Older riders are often a little worried about handling a big heavy bike. After triking they don’t have to worry about that and can go pretty much anywhere.”
Clausen said the dealership may build more to the north of the existing building as space is still kind of tight.