Sister publication 2Wheel Tuner is a sportbike magazine whose readers include soldiers. We asked seven of them to share their thoughts on dealerships.
Most of the soldiers frequent one or two particular stores. But one reported being unsatisfied. Another patronizes only the service department. He turns to the Internet for products, he says, because the dealer doesn't offer a good enough selection of parts and gear (particularly the latter). He also likes the Web's cheaper prices, especially when the online store adds a military discount on top of a markdown.
From brick-and-mortars, most of the soldiers say they get a 10 percent military discount on service and products, with some stores excluding items already on sale. "I think they can do better," one soldier says. "Where I'm at, Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Ga., it's a huge base with lots of riders, so they have a lot of us as customers. Military people aren't rich. Yes, some might be riding that brand-new, sexy bike, but they probably spent a long deployment saving up for it, so they had to put in the hours and hard work to earn it. I wish there were more discounts for the military."
Soldiers stationed in more populated areas seem to fare better. Says one, "Being that I'm in the D.C. metro area and there are quite a few military bases around, most cycle shops welcome the military and offer discounts and special deals."
Compare this to what another soldier says about dealers: "Whenever I go to one, it does not have the thing I want. Here they don't cater to the military. It's like, buy it from us or drive two hours away to get it. I am not happy. I like Suzuki, and the only dealership around my area is a Yamaha dealership. Then when I go an hour away to the Suzuki dealership, they don't have what I want. Most of the things I buy I get off the Internet off of one of the websites [advertised] in your magazine [2Wheel Tuner]."
One soldier, unaware of how financing works, says, "I think the best thing that a dealership could do for the military is get no-questions-asked financing for soldiers. Next would be to carry all the required PPE [personal protective equipment] for soldiers. Lastly, all soldiers purchasing a motorcycle should be required to attend a motorcycle safety course in addition to the one required by the military. It should be more bike-specific."
Another soldier says that most of his local dealers have an adequate selection of PG&A, though they offer no military discounts. She adds: "I know we have a Harley dealership on every military post and while deployed. Why is it that there aren't any sportbike dealerships?"
Another soldier says dealers stock plenty of stuff. Even the Army & Air Force Exchange Service sells reflective vests and other gear, he says. But he also complains about only 10 percent discounts, adding, "On bikes, it is only what the manufacturer offers. That doesn't even cover the taxes you pay on one." Unlike some of the other soldiers, he forgives stores for not being able to stock everything. "If they don't have what I'm looking for, they order it," he says. A final suggestion: "It may be a good idea for dealerships near military posts to sponsor some events on or near bases just to get the name recognition. Everyone loves a barbecue!"