As a long time motorcycle enthusiast, I have seen the motorcycle industry in many forms. As a youngster I would look through motorcycle retailer catalogs and dream of spending my hard-earned money on some parts to make my motorcycle cooler, faster, or more unique. I would find the best riding gear and plan for my weekend trips. Today is not much different in that regard. I, like most motorcyclists, want my bike to "fit" me and I want the latest and greatest in gear for when I ride.
What is different these days is the way we find our motorcycle parts and gear. Some of us are die-hard local motorcycle shop supporters, some of us look for all of our motorcycle parts on third party sites like eBay, others have a favorite online retailer, and so on...
In the motorcycle business for 11+ years I have seen a swing in the online motorcycle parts and gear market. Initially that swing was away from local shops, then to 3rd party sites, and now ???? What matters most, regardless of where you buy, is Customer Service and product knowledge of whomever you purchase from.
There is no denying that walking into a motorcycle shop and putting your hand on some motorcycle gear before you splurge for it gives a sense of excitement and relief. Excitement to put on that new riding jacket and relief that you are getting exactly what you expect. The problem is that this method takes time, physical effort to get to a brick and mortar storefront, and once you are there you realize that this may not be the cheapest price available.
Isn't it easier just to search for the bike parts or gear that you want while you look busy in front of your desktop at work? Or you can search for that motorcycle part on your smart phone while you're on the toilet. eBay and other retail sites make this process relatively quick and easy. You also get protection from any online crooks looking to take your $28.95 and never send you anything.
The problem that I see with 3rd party sites is there is a level of anonymity that comes with selling on those sites. A good example of this is the toner that I purchase for my laser printer. I buy it on Amazon and it's an excellent price for what I get. The underlying issue is that toner I bought was from Amazon, and I pay no attention to the business that actually shipped or supplied the toner. What happens when there is a problem with the toner cartridges? What level of quality am I getting?
There is an old saying: "You get what you pay for." Now I am not saying that we should pay too much for a particular motorcycle part or completely disregard price as a buyer. What I am saying is do a little homework before you purchase just any motorcycle gear or part. Make sure it will fit your bike properly, make sure it is made from quality materials, and make sure that there is Customer Service after that sale for cases where there is a problem. This is the advantage of motorcycle retailers versus 3rd party sites.
I am seeing our motorcycle industry peers requesting that their brands not be sold on 3rd party sites for the lack of customer service and product knowledge that is inherent with this marketplace. There are many brands that you won't see on eBay or Amazon going forward and I am inclined to agree with these brands that this is the best thing for the motorcycle community. Riders need to be given great Customer Service. This may come along with spending a little more for quality motorcycle parts or gear, but that little more is insignificant when you have the ease of mind that you're buying a quality part and have a company stand behind a sale.
Check out the motorcycle online stores rather than relying on third party sites. There is a lot more out there than you can imagine. There is plenty of safety standards that come with online retail so be sure to look for those standards.