Superior quality, unwavering passion and a healthy dose of fun are the building blocks that have made Bill Berroth’s Motonation a success story since 1999.
While Berroth comes from an off-road riding background, he figured out pretty early on that the market is much larger on the street side. “It’s actually more profitable because the street guys are a little older, a little more educated, more affluent, and they don’t tend to lead with a request for a deal on every sale,” says Berroth.
After seeing great success with the renowned Italian Sidi boot line, the company expanded to put together a full package of products for the street rider.
Motonation is in its third year as U.S. license holder for AGV Sport. While relatively new to Motonation, the AGV Sport brand was actually one of the first street apparel lines in the world. The brand works with a variety of suppliers, which gives a wide breadth of range to the product lineup from upper-echelon, high-end gear to more affordable, quality-conscious options.
Vemar Helmets rounds out Motonation’s Italian trifecta. The company started out manufacturing fiberglass barrels for winemakers, but when the Italian government made helmets requisite in the early ‘80s, Vemar easily transitioned into the helmet marketplace.
Berroth is quick to point out that Motonation doesn’t follow a traditional distribution model. “We work in partnership with our vendors,” says Berroth. We’re not a big book distributor. We don’t just take on a brand and sell it. We are a team with our brands, and we work very closely with all of them. That extends out to our customers as well.”
Every single product added to the collection is physically ride-tested by one of Motonation’s 12 staffers. The Motonation team also contributes to research, development and production for all three companies using its real-world riding experience as well as customer and racer feedback to guide the future of the product lines.
The Motonation racing program is unique in that the riders can get as much gear as they want with one caveat — everything has to be returned to the Motonation offices after it’s been worn.
“Sometimes riders have a hard time articulating feedback, and learning from them is critically important,” says Berroth. “Russell Bobbitts is based in South Carolina, and I don’t get to see him very often at all, but when he can send his boots back to me, I can learn in five minutes what’s working and what’s not.”
“We look for trends and opportunities, we then photograph the boots, or we’ll box up the boots and send them back to Italy. We make a lot of improvements and running changes in the line based on that feedback — it really helps a lot. It is really time-consuming, but when you’re dealing with a high-end brand, you have to maintain it.”
This focus on quality is at the heart of Motonation’s brand identity.
“We’re not trying to sell to every motorcycle shop, repair shop and accessory store in America at all,” says Berroth. “We’re trying to have the best few dealers in each community that represent our brands. It helps keep dealer margins up, it reinforces the quality of the brand within their territory and the feeling that they have something special and unique that their competition may not have.”
Brand integrity is reinforced through a stringent MAP policy that makes zero allowances for online discounting. It’s been in effect since Day 1.
“I believe in doing things right instead of doing things quickly,” says Berroth. “We’re not building Motonation to spin it off and sell it to a big distributor. We just want to have a good, fun, well-run company for the owners, for the staff, for our partner dealers and for Sidi and Vemar and AGV Sport.”
While the company has stayed small by design, they are unveiling strategic growth in 2012, adding a New Jersey distribution center set to open April 1 and taking on the Canadian distribution of all three brands, not to mention a presidential bid — Motonation mascot Tony the burro has officially thrown his sombrero into the race for the White House, but that’s, in fact, a story for another day.
Vemar Eclipse – Carbon Fiber
The Vemar Eclipse – Carbon is engineered and manufactured in Italy to the motorcyclist specific EC standard while also meeting the USA’s DOT standard. For 2012, detail improvements include an improved visor gasket for better sealing, enhanced venting for more cooling air flow and an all-new shield mechanism. The Eclipse carbon fiber helmet is made of three separate pieces of carbon fiber laminate, unlike Vemar’s lower priced competitors, which use a patchwork of 11-plus pieces to construct their carbon helmets. A medium Eclipse carbon fiber helmet weighs only 1410 grams, or 3.1 pounds!
Retail Price: $625
AGV Sport Tornado Perforated Leather Jacket
AGV Sport’s Tornado Perforated Leather Jacket is constructed with 1.2mm (body) to 1.4mm (impact areas) premium, top-grain leather. Two zip-open rear exhaust vents on the back and perforated chest provide controllable air flow. External titanium shoulder caps, CE approved dual-density shoulder/elbow protectors and 10mm thick memory foam back pad round out the safety features set.
Retail Price: $349
SIDI ST Series Boots
SIDI ST boots are constructed with Lorica, which has similar characteristics to leather, but wears better over time and requires little to no break-in period. The STs employ the same external bracing system technology as SIDI’s flagship boot, the Vortice, and SIDI’s exclusive cam-lock buckle system for easy entry and boot removal — all while still offering a perfect, glove-like fit. For the same price, the ST Air version features fully perforated Lorica for maximum air flow.
Retail Price: $395
Learn more about these products and the entire Motonation line at www.motonation.com.