Dealers often concentrate in one end of the industry or another. Some dealers offer custom paint and chrome service. Others, in rural areas, are knowledgeable about trail riding and using 4x4s and ATVs in farm and ranch work. Spyke’s is the place for people in the Midwest with a real need for speed.
Spyke’s specializes in helping motocross, cross country and enduro competitors get across the finish line and onto the podium. The official name of this dealership is Spyke’s KTM, but the home page of Spyke’s website says RACER HQ, with video of competitors whooping it up in the dirt. The dealership has hoodies for sale with the logo Spyke’s Racer HQ, and the rider support program has a separate tab on the site. The company information page says the staff is “race oriented.” A lot of the staff races, and the service manager was a supporting mechanic for the international Six Day Enduro (ISDE) a few years ago.
The Spyke’s story starts in 2007, when another owner opened a KTM dealership in Lafayette, Indiana, a town Northwest of Indianapolis that is home to several factories but is also in prime enduro and off-road racing territory, with motocross tracks easily accessible. Present General Manager Justin Brinn was just 15-years-old and had been racing for two years when he approached the dealership for help with his competition program. A year later, Spyke’s started sponsoring Brinn, and he started working at the dealership when he turned 18.
One thing that he did was to start a notebook with ideas for marketing and new products. Brinn’s idea for an oil change kit caught on and became one of Spyke’s most popular items. KTM corporate personnel saw the kit at the store and liked the idea, so KTM has started manufacturing it.
Brinn became general manager of Spyke’s in 2011. Two years later, the shop came up for sale. Brinn’s parents, Benjamin and Jamie Brinn, the owners of several other retail establishments, decided that Spyke’s would be a good fit in their business plan and bought the dealership in 2013, keeping Justin on as the general manager. The shop has moved three times since then, going up in size each time to its present 14,000 square feet, not including the recently added warehouse. Husqvarna, GASGAS and Cobra brands came on board in 2018. Spyke’s now offers WP-certified suspension service and sells Husqvarna e-bikes.
“We specialize in selling new and used KTMs, Husqvarnas, GASGAS and Cobras, mini bike work, full-on race prep, parts, apparel and general knowledge,” Justin Brinn says. “We are fortunate to be supported by and support a large racing network.”
Spyke’s most common type of customer outreach is a booth at a race venue. The company has a regular presence in Vendor Row at Ironman Raceway, Cross Country Racing (IXCR) and Midwest Cross Country Racing (MWXC). This effort produces sales in two ways — racers are always breaking something or looking for a better version of what they have, so teams fielding KTMs, Husqvarnas or GASGAS appear at the booth or the shop on a regular basis in desperate need of parts. Due to the lower cost of real estate in the Lafayette area, Spyke’s can afford to stock the warehouse with motorcycle parts, earning undying gratitude from racers wrenching overnight to make the race in the morning.
The second way the trackside presence fuels sales is that racers appreciate businesses that support their sport, and therefore will direct their spending to them. “We scratch their backs, and they scratch ours,” Brinn says. “We sell to people in a three- to five-hour radius of Lafayette. Folks showed up from Minnesota who were competing in the Loretta Lynn qualifier up the road. They were surprised at how much we had to offer.”
Along with having a presence at the track, Spyke’s has a comprehensive rider support program, exchanging three different levels of support for corresponding levels of outreach. Brinn points out that one of the best advertisements Spyke’s can get is its sticker on the rear fender of the competitor in front of the pack.
Spyke’s believes that supporting many different local racers is a better business plan than supporting one national racer. “Supporting a national effort can be a drain,” Brinn admits. “We think we get better outreach supporting larger numbers of racers on the regional tracks.”
In addition to assisting racers, the large inventory goes a long way towards combating internet sales. “If I tell a guy I don’t have something in stock but can order it, the most likely response is, ‘Yeah, I can order it too.’” The Spyke’s website enables online shopping with an easy-to-understand index. In line with the interests of the shop’s customers, pistons and replacement bodywork are on the first page. They also do a lot of drop ship.
Many folks in Lafayette ride, both on- and off-road, and Spyke’s is there for them. The shop hosts KTM demo tours, the most recent being the off-road moto tour hosted at Redbud MX. After numerous requests for later shop hours, Spyke’s now features Late Wednesdays, when the shop hours shift to 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from the more typical 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The December open house is always well attended too.
“This year, 150 people came through,” Brinn says. “It’s an opportunity for folks to join our community. We get a lot of walk-ins. I want someone on the floor to talk to every person who walks in the door. Between our five brands, everyone has questions, and 70% of our employees are cross-trained in all departments, so they can give answers. I am proud of how much conversation happens.”
Another non-race event was the Stacyc track for little kids that Spyke’s set up inside the store for a few days. According to Brinn, it was a huge hit. Everything Spyke’s has done over the years has been backed by confidence it would pay off. This is a positive attitude about the move to electric motorcycles.
“It’s moving fast,” he says. “Youth e-motorcycles are a good seller for us. They are a lot less maintenance. Electric motorcycles is how the market is going, and we have to be prepared for it.”
The crew at Spyke’s is optimistic about the future and their relationship with their main original equipment manufacturer (OEM). “We are super fortunate to be with the KTM group,” Brinn says. “They are fighting for traction in the industry and very supportive. We are comfortable where we are, but have open ears for the next thing.”
3477 South Street,
Lafayette, IN 47905
OEM: KTM, Cobra, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, Stacyc-KTM, Stacyc-Husqvarna, Husqvarna e-bicycles, WP-Certified Suspension