A classic brand geared toward a new generation of riders
By Leo Dillinger • Photography By Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)
Manayunk is well known for its variety of restaurants, shops, and fitness studios. But at Triumph Philadelphia, they’re turning the neighborhood into a destination for motorcycle enthusiasts.
Located at 3901 Main Street, the 8,000 square foot showroom and service department has become the region’s premier Triumph Motorcycle dealership for the last 15 years. Since taking over the business two years ago, owner John Godsey has sought to expand the British manufacturer’s clientele.
“The European brands seem to attract a different customer than the others,” John said. “These days, our demographic is from 22-35. We have the loyal customers that are always going to buy Triumph bikes, but the newest riders are the ones changing the game. This is an old-fashioned motorcycle business and we are trying to make it go digital the way that everything else is.”
What sets Triumph Motorcycles apart from other renowned brands is their classic designs that are deeply rooted in tradition and paired with modern engineering. The retro look of models like the Bonneville, Tiger, and Thunderbird reflect the company’s rich heritage dating back to 1902. But a lot has changed since they first sold Model H Roadsters to Allied Powers during World War I.
In the 50s and 60s, Triumph became the brand of “cool” with celebrity clients including Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, James Dean, Elvis Presley, and most notably, Steve McQueen. By the early 1980s, the entire company was in a downward spiral toward bankruptcy. It would’ve been the end for Triumph if not for English businessman, John Bloor. After taking over the brand in 1983, he toured numerous factories of Japanese manufacturers with his engineering team to study their assembly methods and the computerization of modern sports bikes. Triple-cylinder engines, pristine balance and handling, and reliable technology are just some of the notable features customers rave about today. Triumph is now one of the world’s top-selling motorcycle brands of the 21st Century.
“The younger kids are the ones who want the sophistication of the electronics,” John Godsey said. “They want advanced bikes because they’re very conscious of what those electronics do for them and how they keep them safe on the road. These are sophisticated customers and we have very sophisticated bikes.”
John and his staff live and breathe motorcycles. As Dealer Principal, he oversees operations, purchases new and used bikes for the showroom, and makes sure the business meets expectations. In the two years John has owned it, Triumph Philadelphia has already doubled their sales and is rolling out the red carpet to welcome a second brand under their roof: BMW. Of course, much of that success can also be attributed to sales manager, Vince Moffa, who has roughly 40 years of retail management experience. Vince makes sure his customers feel comfortable and that all their questions are answered before making a purchase.
Their service department also comes highly recommended. Shop Foreman, Tom Swan, and his team of young, well-trained mechanics don’t limit themselves strictly to Triumph bikes. They’ve worked on everything from Harley-Davidson to Ducati and have earned a reputation for getting the job done.
“I don’t know what makes people want to come here, but if you look at our website and our reviews, that’s the way you build the business,” John said. “Being upfront with people is important. It’s key. People tend to enjoy our laid-back approach with no pressure.”
John acknowledges their relationship with the Manayunk community as another contributing factor to his shop’s success. The staff always recommends their favorite lunch spots to customers that stop in, like Sorrentino’s Deli, Han Dynasty, Winnie’s, SOMO, Bourbon Blue and the Manayunk Brewery. They’ve even hosted barbers from Make Your Mark to cut customers’ hair during events at the shop.
Whether they come from the Philadelphia area or as far away as Washington D.C. and New York City, John and the Triumph team enjoy promoting the neighborhood beyond their four walls.
“The beauty of it is the way we can organically send everybody from here as our customers to all the various Manayunk businesses,” John said. “We’ll end up getting 10 to 15 people here on a Saturday morning dropping their bikes off for service and they’re looking for something to do. That’s when we like to promote the local businesses.”
Though John doesn’t ride as much as he used to, he’s still a huge fan of the culture. There’s an adrenaline rush some people desire that’s only satisfied while riding a motorcycle. The revving engine as you cruise down the road sounds enticing, but John knows it’s not for everyone. You have to be a seriously responsible rider with your head on a swivel. When you don’t pay attention, take your time, and understand your surroundings, you can get hurt.
But don’t let the stereotypes sway your decision to buy a motorcycle. Both men and women from 17 to 70 years old have walked out of the shop with a bike to call their own. From doctors and lawyers to blue-collar workers and everyday people, one thing is certain: you don’t have to be a member of the Old Boy’s Club to appreciate a Triumph Motorcycle.
“The freedom of being on a bike, it’s just…it’s whatever. You’re in it,” John said. “It’s a great relief from everyday stress for many riders. I think the speed and the freedom of being on a bike is really cool and it’s what everybody’s looking for.”