Our photographer's impression of BMW of Riverside

Publish Date: 
May 19, 2014

Photographer Joe Bonnello took photos at BMW Motorcycles of Riverside for this month's cover story. He shares his thoughts about the experience:

When I got the call, I have to admit, there was a slight fear in the back of my mind about that dreaded disease: Beemer Snob!

You know what it is. The usual boorish, aloof, “better than thou” crap that SOME BMW riders are immediately afflicted with when they become one of the chosen ones. Let alone a one-brand dealership right in the heart of the Southern California marketplace.

On the other hand, in over three decades of shooting for Dealernews, I honestly have to say that I have never not enjoyed a shoot. I’m a hardcore motorcycle junkie that shoots photos, not the other way around, and if you ride anything with two wheels, you’re OK in my book. Except for snobs.

So I drove down the hill to BMW of Riverside, expecting a pretty fancy “BMW” uber chic, high brow bastion of sophistication: Espresso machine, panoramic window to the spotless service department, polished Italian marble floors, and too cool hipsters roaming the sales floor ready to place you among the anointed ones.

Well…naahhh. Not this place. Instead, I almost drove right by the joint. After all, they are directly across the street from Malcolm Smith Motorcycles, and next door to Harley-Davidson of Riverside. Talk about a rough neighborhood!

This place is in fact a relatively modest building that you have to look out for. It’s right there, but the competition on all sides is pretty tough.

The service department is separate, a multi-garage type structure slightly out back. There are no bikes out front -- well, two, I think. A nice but not extravagant showroom, small parts department and an accessory area about the size of small bedroom, and this is one of the top two or three BMW dealers in the country? And how did they do this in less than eight years in business??

Meet owner Dan Schoo, a motorcycle rider that rode to Copper Canyon from Riverside and back, with a couple of friends and customers. And this summer he will once again do a 7,000-mile ride around the 48 states on his street bike to visit friends and family.

Meet Owen Balduf, sales manager, long haired 1960s and 70s counter culture guy and BMW freak, who is NOT a Beemer snob. He'll walk out back and actually TALK to the mechanic working on your bike and actually get answers from parts people that know what they are talking about because they all ride.

This is a successful business because it’s run by smart business people, BUT, they are still human beings. Remember that, HUMANS!