2020 Year-In Review: Good Weather and Lonely Rides
Like most things this year, the 2020 motorcycle season was anything but normal. There was great riding weather, but travel restrictions and social distancing rules limited our ability to travel and meet like we would in a “normal” year.
In a “normal” year, Motorcycle-Vermont posts hundreds of motorcycle events in Vermont and the Northeast. This year was memorable for all the events we didn’t post. Vermont Thunder and the Annual Toy Run ran but were highly modified and for the first time in nearly 40 years, Americade was canceled. Dealerships didn’t run their usual rides, bike nights, and meet-ups. It was a lonely summer.
Not everything was a bummer in 2020, though. The summer of 2020 was the hottest Vermont summer on record and one of the driest, with severe drought across the region for most of the season. This made for great riding weather, even if you couldn’t ride with your friends.
The Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route(NEBDR) -- a 1,400 mile adventure motorcycle route from Hancock, NY to the Canadian border -- launched in the spring. The route crosses through Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Riders were impressed with the Vermont section, whose class-4 roads present the toughest challenges of the route. In many ways, Vermont is made for adventure bikes with our abundance of gravel roads and access to off-road challenges.
When things return to normal, the NEBDR will benefit all of Vermont motorcycling. Riders from a across the country riding the route experiencing Vermont’s unique character will want to return for another sample of our state. Vermont’s lodging and restaurant owners will benefit from motorcyclists using the route and from increased motorcycle traffic buying meals and renting rooms.
Vermont motorcycle dealers had a good year selling bikes as people looked for recreation that allowed them to socially distance themselves from others. Off-road bikes, dual-sports, and adventure bikes were big sellers with popular models selling out. Dealerships had to work harder for each sale, taking unique approaches to meet customer demands, adding services like free delivery and touchless sales. Flexibility was key to survival -- adapt or die -- and Vermont’s service-oriented dealers focused on their customers and benefited.
Not all the news was good for Vermont motorcycle dealers, however. Wilkinson Harley Davidson in Barre bought Green Mountain Harley Davidson in Essex Junction during the winter of 2019-2020 and was ramping operations when the pandemic hit. As in-person sales ground to a halt, Wilkins made the calculation that it was better to close the Essex Junction store than have it drag down a successful business. It was a hard decision to close the Essex Junction store, but one that John Lyon, Co-Owner of Wilkins Harley said was necessary, “We’re making decisions to preserve the long-term viability of the business,” he said.
Motorcycle-Vermont also went through changes this year, moving our website platform from older technology to one that supports mobile devices better and enables us to focus more on content. Our platform is still developing and expect more improvements in 2021.
Motorcycle-Vermont started a new motorcycle photography service in 2020, with a focus on capturing action photos for the average rider. This unique service gives motorcyclists a chance to get that glory shot they’ve always wanted.
And, finally, Motorcycle-Vermont welcomed the Sunset Motor Inn in Morrisville as a new sponsor. Sunset Motor Inn is ideally located for riders touring on VT-1000 or looking for a base for tours through northern Vermont.
We would like to thank all who supported us in 2020, including our readers and our long-term sponsors, MotoVermont, Cyclewise Ducati/Triumph, Americade, and MotoFab.