New American-made motorcycle coming to Nashua dealer, thanks to Hollis enthusiasts
NASHUA – For everybody who has dreamed of quitting their day job and opening a business based on their favorite pastime, Adam Schoolsky has a word of caution.
“I greatly underestimated the level of effort needed,” admitted the former lead sales engineer for Salesforce.com, who this year with his wife, Jeanette, turned a side job of motorcycle enthusiast into a full-time business.
The couple owns RocketMoto, which in January they moved from the garage of their Hollis home to an industrial condominium just off Amherst Street, and which on Friday will become the New England dealer of Motus Motorcycles, the first new American-manufactured motorcycle to be created in decades.
Schoolsky said taking a 3,000-square-foot space at 2 Townsend West, Suite 8, next door to the Djinn Spirits distillery, and turning it into shiny new retail space and workshop involved much more labor and expense than the couple anticipated.
Scraping, painting, moving, shifting, tearing down and rebuilding – not to mention making it through the complexity of getting a vehicle dealer’s license from the state, which has different definitions of commercial vs. industrial zoning that does Nashua – the work will continue right up to the ribbon-cutting.
But it’s worth it, Schoolsky said. RocketMoto sells and services electronic, gadgets and suspension upgrades for motorcycles; running it out of their home meant that he sometimes put in 20-hour days between his real job and the side job.
“We finally decided either we go for it and do this all out, or we stop,” said Schoolsky, 56. So they’ve gone all out.
Motus, which says its bikes are all “hand-made,” has prices starting at $31,000.
“It’s not a motorcycle for everyone. It’s not a beginner’s bike,” said Schoolsky.
Motus expects to sell about 300 bikes in its first year. Schoolsky guessed that he would sell 10 of them in a year, but admitted that it was very difficult to gauge interest for such a new venture.
“I might sell 10 next weekend. I don’t know,” he said.
The Nashua franchise will be unusual for Motus Motorcycle. Most other Motus franchises are being set up in existing dealerships, often BMW dealers, but Motus will be the only brand sold at RocketMoto, alongside the accoutrements such as Bluetooth helmet speakers which the couple has sold for six years.
“Adam in the category of uber-enthusiast,” said Lee Conn, one of the founders of Alabama-based Motus. “People drive from all over the Northeast to have him work on their bikes.”
It makes sense for Motus to set up in New Hampshire, Conn said, both because a 2012 study found that the state had more motorcyclists per capita than any state except North Dakota, and because winding New England roads are ideal for the high-end “sport-touring machine” that Motus is building.
“We get an enormous amount of interest from up there,” said Conn, who will be coming to Nashua for the first time for the ribbon-cutting. “There’s an unusually large number of interested riders within 100 miles of Nashua. I don’t know if it’s just pent-up demand because of the short riding season or some other reason.”
Motus started in Detroit in 2008, as the recession was devastating the auto industry, which made it more open to new ventures. Founder Conn and Brian Case of Alabama wanted an America version of premium bikes from BMW, Ducati and the like, which have an upright riding position and such items as adjustable windscreen and cruise control, but more sporty than huge cruisers like the Honda Gold Wing or Harley-Davidson bikes.
Unlike companies such as Dirico, the motorcycle brand made in Manchester using engines and many parts from Harley-Davidson, Motus is manufactured almost entirely in the U.S. That includes its own engine, a proprietary four cylinder, 1,650cc powerplant capable of up to 180 horsepower, which the company will also be selling separately for retrofitting other bikes.
The Motus foundry is in Indianapolis, machining is done in Texas and elsewhere, with assembly and testing in Birmingham, Ala., Conn said.
The company is privately financed and is secure enough that is not looking for more investors at this time.
David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531, firstname.lastname@example.org or @GraniteGeek.