Sports & Recreation  October 1, 2021

Ducati dealership plays in fast lane

FORT COLLINS — When speeding on College Avenue … you’ll miss it.

Then again, speeding may be part of the point.

These are after all Ducati motorcycles. They go fast.

And it’s been, as Sinatra might say, a very fast year.

“Motorcycles are one of the few industries doing really well,” Dalton Dimick said. “You couldn’t go to movies, sporting events, restaurants closed down [but people] could go out and explore, have fun.

“We had an excellent year.”

Dimick’s general manager at and co-owns longtime dealer Aces Motorcycles at 5900 S. College Ave. Not uncommon to family businesses growing into new generations, there’s been expansion of late.

Working in reverse, the capstone — for now — is a new Ducati dealership that opened in August. But the dealership (slow down and look east for the sign with four aces on it) was on the move before then. Back in the day the 8,000-square-foot main building was a gas station; Dimick’s dad Kurt started Aces in 2002.

The shop sold and serviced used motorcycles for much of its history. In 2018, it added three Italian brands by Tuscany-based Piaggio & Co. SpA: Moto Guzzi motorcycles and Vespa and Piaggio scooters. In early 2020 the family opened a second store in Littleton, which retains its pre-owned focus. This year, it moved Fort Collins parts and service work into a former Pep Boys, grew apparel offerings and in August debuted Ducati.

“We needed more space for shiny new toys,” Dimick said of the spreading out. “We just finished.”

Or perhaps not.

The business owns its land and buildings and has been moving south in its expansion. And the antique store next door is for sale.

“It’s the furthest we could go,” Dimick said.

Vroom

The same doesn’t seem to hold for motorcycle owners who, like Marine Corps recruits responding to drill sergeants, are calling out over their motor’s hum, “one more mile.”

Mid-pandemic last summer, trade group the Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine, California, said U.S. motorcycle sales in the first half of 2020 were up 6% over the same period in 2019. A 2021 first quarter report this year showed a 37% increase over spring 2020, just before the national shutdown.

Every category of bike was trending higher.

The last 12 to 18 months has seen steady sales growth, Ducati North America CEO Jason Chinnock said. People “weren’t spending as much money vacationing or going out to eat but still wanted to be in the outdoors. It’s one of the things they can do.”

Chinnock started in the parts department of a prior Fort Collins Ducati dealer, graduated from Colorado State University and found his way back to the company in 2004. The Bologna-based brand at the time was publicly traded in Italy with significant ownership by private equity firm Texas Pacific Group. The company passed to an Italian investment fund for a few years, then sold in 2012 for $909 million to the Audi AG unit of Volkswagen Group AG. Chinnock spent some time with Volkswagen’s Lamborghini division and was named to his current position in 2016.

He describes Ducati as a “discretionary income, aspirational brand, entertainment not transportation.”

The motorcycle maker could at one time have been called exotic, he said in response to a query — like a Lamborghini or Ferrari — with few dealers and minimal manufacturing. But in the past two decades under private equity and corporate ownership, it has moved more into the premium camp, comparable to, for instance, Porsche.

Riders Wanted

“Porsche is premium but … accessible,” he said. The key in shifting gears through these years was “can we stretch the brand without compromising core values. We were never aiming to be elitist.”

Once Texas Pacific began to boost manufacturing, he said, “you make that investment you need to increase sales.”

Ducati globally sells 55,000 units a year. North America has about one-fifth of the total, the largest single division.

The bike isn’t necessarily the first that a customer will buy, he said, but when someone gets serious “they’ll say, ‘if I’m going to buy a motorcycle, I’m going to buy one of the best.’”

Models can run to $100,000 but start at one zero less than that and average about $18,000. Chinnock said buying one “isn’t rational and that’s the beauty of motorcycling … it’s an emotional choice.”

And customers aren’t just buying to admire “but actually riding it.”

The brand has introduced new models in the past several years, including an electric version. It’s also part of a renaissance not just in motorcycle sales generally but in brands with burnished histories as well. This goes for Fort Collins, too.

Fort Collins Motorsports, at Interstate 25 and Prospect Road, has been in business 30 years. Seven years ago it added the fabled Indian brand, a favorite of late actor and riding enthusiast Steve McQueen. Then this year the dealership said it would begin selling Royal Enfield, whose history dates to 1901.

Indian is owned by Medina, Minnesota-based Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII). Royal Enfield was for most of its life U.K.-based — the Lee-Enfield rifle was the British Army’s standard weapon for 60 years — and died out in the 1970s. The brand is now based in India.

“Ducati looks at this market as the epicenter for outdoor lifestyles,” Chinnock said.

“We want to help build the Ducati brand in Northern Colorado,” Dimick added.

“That’s the biggest thing,” Dimick said, “the riding adventures in our own backyard. Bounce around Old Town, or it’s 10 minutes to Horsetooth, 40 to Estes Park and the gateway to the Rocky Mountains.”

Colorado has three Ducati dealers; the Dimick family’s is farthest north. Sales from Fort Collins reach to Utah and Wyoming, he said.

Ducati models run $10,000 and up; pictured: a Ducati Multistrada. Courtesy Ducati North America

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 9.0px HelveticaNeue}
Apparel at Aces Motorcycles in Fort Collins is for riding, or even if you don’t. Courtesy Ducati North America

FORT COLLINS — When speeding on College Avenue … you’ll miss it.

Then again, speeding may be part of the point.

These are after all Ducati motorcycles. They go fast.

And it’s been, as Sinatra might say, a very fast year.

“Motorcycles are one of the few industries doing really well,” Dalton Dimick said. “You couldn’t go to movies, sporting events, restaurants closed down [but people] could go out and explore, have fun.

“We had an excellent year.”

Dimick’s general manager at and co-owns longtime dealer Aces Motorcycles at 5900 S. College Ave. Not uncommon to family businesses growing into new generations, there’s been expansion of…

Related Content