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EagleRider turns 20

Harley-Davidson

Dave McMahon, Senior Editor
June 11, 2012
Filed under Features, Top Stories

McIntyre ‘bullish’ on future of motorcycle tourism

When EagleRider celebrates its 20th anniversary on July 21 in Los Angeles, Chris McIntyre figures to get asked plenty about the next 20 years. And he’ll beam with excitement upon replying.

“I’m very bullish,” McIntyre said. “Motorcycle tourism is going to flourish and is here to stay and grow. I’m so much looking forward to 2012 and the next five years. The market for used, the demand for recreation and motorcycle leisure travel is exploding. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re at a quarter-million rental customers in the next five years.”

That’s a far cry from the company’s origins. McIntyre and Jeff Brown founded the Harley-Davidson rental business in 1992. A Los Angeles garage had a fleet of four motorcycles, and EagleRider’s first four customers were Austrian. Today, that fleet has grown to more than 4,000 and serves about 60,000 customers per year.

Chris McIntyre was riding his Harley-Davidson when he formulated the EagleRider business plan with co-founder Jeff Brown.

“I was working at AT&T and was on a ride with Jeff,” McIntyre recalled of the original concept for the company. “We pulled over and had a cup of coffee in Big Sur, and started talking about why nobody rents these. Why is there no single company known for rentals, tours and travel on motorcycles?”

A few months later, the business launched. Initially McIntyre saw how other industry segments worked hand-in-hand to build their customer base.

“I did all the enthusiast sports when I first came out here,” said McIntyre, who grew up playing hockey in Madison, Wis. “All of them except motorcycling had one thing in common. They all focused on promoting the business. The manufacturers all succeeded by promoting the recreation and leisure of their sport. Skiing was all about collaborating with a resort, and that’s how they sold more skis.”

EagleRider’s business has simply snowballed over the past few years despite the economic times.

“Business is booming. The last three years, some of the worst in the industry, EagleRider has seen consistent double-digit growth,” he said. “And it’s been over 20 percent in all but one year.”

EagleRider, which saw its employee base increase to 250 employees from 225 a year ago, expanded facilities in many markets in 2011 in addition to offering new product lines.

“We focus on purpose and passion, and the profits will follow,” McIntyre said. “2011 was fantastic.”

EagleRider’s origins as a Harley-Davidson rental business have evolved into offering other brands. The company’s product lineup now includes Triumph, Honda Gold Wing and BMW. EagleRider’s top rentals are the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, Harley-Davidson Road King Custom, Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail, BMW GS 1200 and Honda Gold Wing.

“Let’s face it — a lot of people still want to ride Harleys,” McIntyre said. “But some markets have done well with the other brands, either within dealerships or in our stand-alone facilities.”

While top-line revenues grew by about 20 percent in 2011, profits stayed flat compared to 2010, mainly due to used bike values.
“They’re coming back, but the prices are taking a while to come back,” he said.

Dealers continue to turn to EagleRider to enhance their pre-owned inventory. McIntyre estimated earlier this spring that the company had a fleet of about 800 stock rentals available for sale.

“Dealers are buying our bikes,” he said. “Two years ago when they were trying to keep their head above water we took our bikes to auctions, but they’re continuing to come to us to build their inventory. Our bikes are really diamonds in the rough to augment their new bike sales. Some are two years old, and some are 10 months old. They’re stock bikes and they have perfect service records.”

An EagleRider bike could be placed in a showroom at any of its 110 locations, travel 21,000 miles in six months, then be ready to be sold to the dealer body. About 25 percent of EagleRider stores are located within dealerships. The company has 80 locations in the U.S.

EagleRider co-founder Chris McIntyre has high hopes for the company’s future.

McIntyre is encouraged by the first-quarter growth of the motorcycle market in the U.S. His business, also, has seen what McIntyre calls a “substantial increase” in new motorcyclists who want to try before they buy. “They get their permit and use EagleRider as a place to try out the various models.”

McIntyre says he’s not surprised by the decreasing number of dealerships that are offering bike rentals on their own, but instead deciding to partner with a third-party provider like EagleRider.

“If you’re an expert at motorcycle tourism, you’re not in the rental business,” he said. “It comes with more of a travel background.”

EagleRider plans to celebrate its first two decades with a celebrity-laden event on July 21, which will include bands, a fashion show and VIP rooms and red carpet.

“We pioneered global motorcycle tourism in 1992 with a dream, all the money in our pockets and four Harley-Davidson motorcycles in a Los Angeles garage,” McIntyre said. “Now, we’re an international franchise that offers motorcycle enthusiasts the opportunity to explore tourist destinations around the world on a motorcycle. We want to show our appreciation to our customers, vendors and franchisees.”

Comments

2 Responses to “EagleRider turns 20”

  1. john costa on June 26th, 2012 10:18 am

    When in Vegas this past december ( 2011 ) i rented a bike from Eaglriders, I chose Eagleriders over Las Vegas harley Davidson becuase of an article i read in a motorcycle Magazine.. The service i recieved from your Outlet in Vegas was terrible, The problem started with the GPS i rented with the bike, I realize the faulty GPS is not your your responsabilty, and was told that when i phoned to tell them that it wasnt working, i spent the day pretty much lost and rode around pretty much aimlessly and could not find my way back to Eagleriders. I should mention that i rented the bike for 24 hours but only used it for a few hours becuase of the frustration i was experiancing .. When i called them for someone to either give me directions or have some one come and lead me back to your location i was treated with total disrespect, i was told that service was not included in the rental package and would have to pay for it..and was made to wait almost 2 hours at a gas station for some one to come and get me. The person i was trying to follow was pissed off and drove so fast thruogh the city i could barely keep up. Also, a shuttle back to my hotel was supposed to be included in the rental but when i asked about it i was told they didn’t have time, I had to call a taxi which cost me $30,00.. If i would of knowing how badly i was going to be treated i would of called and told them where the bike was a just took a taxi back to my hotel from the gas station.. I am Director of our local HOG Chapter and when ever bike rentals comes up i don’t hesitate to tell the other members, or anyone else, of my experiance in Las Vegas.. I’m from B.C Canada and one of the main reasons for going to Vegas at that time of year was to get away from the snow and ride…

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  2. Joe on September 20th, 2012 11:26 am

    Just read John’s remarks about his EagleRider experience in Las Vegas. News flash… we have things called “maps” that most people can read and use to find their way around places they are unfamiliar with. Bashing the rental company because your GPS didn’t work sounds very lame and whiney. You were at the gas station. I’m betting they had a map there. Man up and find your way around. I was in Sturgis this past August for the first time in my life and managed to ride all over that area, go into Wyoming and Montana all without the aid of a GPS. I know, sounds impossible but it’s true. Pull out the map, figure out your next couple roads, stop, figure out the next couple roads, rinse and repeat until you finish your trip. There are some aspects to John’s story that sound like genuine concerns for the level of customer service but not having a GPS is not one of them. If you can’t ride without a GPS you shouldn’t be riding at all.

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