It is very rare for a retailer to have a five-star rating on Yelp, but Top Gear Powersports has one. According to one Yelp review, the Chicago-based dealership has great owners, great staff and great service. What more could you ask for?
Top Gear Powersports, located west of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, not only has a five-star rating on Yelp, but also a 4.6 rating on Google and Facebook. Anthony DeSimone, Jr., the manager of the business, takes a fair amount of time out of his busy day to review online reviews, thank the many people who post compliments and resolve the issues of anyone voicing a complaint.
“We take pride in our online presence,” says DeSimone. “It’s so important to have an accurate online reputation.”
Top Gear is owned by DeSimone’s parents, Mona and Tony DeSimone. Race fans may remember Tony DeSimone from when he was racing for Genesis Racing back in the day. A brief stint with Team Hammer Suzuki ended when DeSimone retired after an accident. The DeSimones have gone through additional challenges since then, but their dedication to the motorcycle industry has brought them back every time.
After retiring from racing, Tony DeSimone managed a motorcycle dealership, which was closed by the 2007-‘08 recession. Out of work, DeSimone found employment with an automobile retailer. Automobiles kept a roof over the family’s head for a while, but DeSimone missed selling motorcycles, and noticed that it was difficult to find good protective gear in the area. Mona and Tony started a small business selling apparel and accessories. The shop thrived, although DeSimone kept his day job for some time.
After a competitor opened shop a short distance away, Top Gear added a service department at a second location in order to stay ahead.
“The service department grew our customer base,” Anthony says. “Then in 2017, we had a fire in the service department. It was very difficult – we had some customer’s bikes in the fire. But, we did our best and are proud to say that some of the customers who had bikes in the fire are still our customers today.”
The first technician Top Gear hired had extensive Harley-Davidson and vintage Japanese bike experience, which brought in customers with these bikes. Anthony says that 30%-40% of their service work is on Harley-Davidson, including older machines that dealers are often leery of working on. The Top Gear website states, “We fully service most makes and models, including sportbikes, Metric and American cruisers, off-road vehicles, scooters, vintage bikes, (most) Chinese vehicles, and more.” Customers often cite good results and fair pricing in their complimentary reviews.
Between 2014 and 2016, Top Gear sponsored weekly Bike Nights. These popular events drove business to the dealership to the point where Top Gear had to discontinue Bike Nights to concentrate on running the business. Since the end of the pandemic, Top Gear has started to schedule events again, including MotoGP viewing parties, test ride days and new model unveiling parties. There is also a vintage bike display area at the shop, with some of the bikes for sale. This display gives people a reason to visit, and once in the store, they often realize they need something.
The sales department has grown gradually. A few years before the fire, Top Gear started displaying consignment bikes, then in 2016, gained its first franchise, SSR, a maker of budget-friendly pit bikes and off-road machines.
“We saw the bikes and felt it was a brand with potential,” Anthony says. Shortly afterwards, Top Gear picked up Wolf brand scooters, another budget machine, and then Benelli entry level road bikes. In 2018, Top Gear was running out of room, so it moved to a new location where the service department and the display center could be under one roof.
Piaggio Group approached Top Gear in Fall 2021. Piaggio did not have an Aprilia outlet in Illinois and wanted to expand its reach. Top Gear took on Aprilia and Moto Guzzi in July 2022 and is aggressively promoting these brands. Given the wide variety of offerings, the customer base of Top Gear is very diverse.
“We cater to all corners of the motorcycle customer base,” he says. “We have customers who want a $20,000 Aprilia sportbike and customers who can just afford a Wolf scooter. We try to take each customer as an individual. We have a well-stocked inventory, so we can offer each customer something that will work with their individual needs, including their individual budget.
“We are still getting new riders in, although that has slowed down a lot since the COVID rush ended. We ask them what kind of riding they have been doing. We pride ourselves on quality safety gear and put a big emphasis on making room in the budget for safety gear. A lot of times, new riders don’t know what things should cost, so we educate them. Skill education is important, and we encourage our riders to improve their skills. We have a good relationship with Ride Chicago and Sport Bike Track Time. We are a title sponsor for Sport Bike Track Girls, the women’s branch of Sport Bike Track Time. We also have a good relationship with the Illinois Moto Guzzi Club.”
Top Gear rarely does traditional advertising. Customers generally find Top Gear through word of mouth and Cycle Trader, which regularly carries ads for Top Gear’s used inventory, and the dealership works hard to cultivate its organic presence online.
The Top Gear website lists all bikes currently on the floor with prices, and provides a form to send to the parts department with parts requests, and a form to send to the service department with service requests. The website also features an announcement that the dealership will take trade-ins and purchase “anything with a VIN.” One important service in the Chicago area is winter storage, which can be arranged online through the website as well.
“In the next five years, we are planning to grow the Guzzi brand,” Anthony says. His parents plan to continue as owners of the shop, but they are getting older and may step back a bit. “The dealership is continuing. Our business is strong and the future is bright.”
Top Gear Powersports
65 W Irving Park Rd,
Roselle, IL 60172
OEM: Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Benelli, Wolf Scooters, SSR
Aftermarket: Tucker Rocky Distributing/Bikers Choice, Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties, Sullivans Inc., Western Power Sports
Number of employees: 11