If you ask a motorcycle enthusiast why they ride, prepare to hear about poetry in motion, power, freedom and fun. Expect dreamy sighs and starry-eyed smiles. But then, when talk turns to brand names, engine parts, and riding gear – you realize you need to buy a bike.
For more than 40 years, many who ride have found their way to a shop known since 2018 as District Harley-Davidson, BMW and Ducati in Gaithersburg. Beyond its recent change of ownership, the shop's history runs considerably deep.
“We have a large collective of customers who have come here for years even though it has changed owners,” says General Manager Wayne Pugh, as he mentions one customer who bought their first bike from the shop in its original incarnation in the 1970s. “Now, at age 86, he just bought a brand-new custom top-of-the-line Harley,” Wayne says.
As he looks around the showroom and the shop, Wayne adds, “We have a technician who’s been here for 42 years. Sam on the sales floor has been here for 14 years. We are people who have been around the business and the culture. We even have customers whose sons and daughters have worked here. It’s really a big family.”
Even newcomers are treated like family as the District Harley crew helps them decide what kind of bike best suits them.
“It starts with your plan,” says Wayne. “What will you use the bike for? Do you want it to commute into town? Take long trips? Will you be riding solo or two-up? Do you ride mostly on the road? On mountains? Are you looking for a top-of-the-line high-performance sport bike? Do you need to carry gear? We get an understanding of what you want and we find the style that fits you. The beautiful thing is that all three brands have something that will fit most every type of riding.”
Wayne describes the brands this way:
“Ducati is known for high-performance race bikes. It’s more than that too, but the Italians set the standard for this kind of bike. Not much is sexier in a bike than this. The Panigale and SuperSports have a look and sound that is unique to Ducati. You know it’s derived from race performance."
“BMW motorcycles are known for their German engineering. They function very well. The design is purpose built meaning the engineering behind everything on that bike has a function and it’s not just for looks. BMW has branched out to touring and cruising lines but it’s still very unique in BMW engineering and design. You see a BMW engine and you know what it is."
“Harley is an American company and there’s the heritage and design and look of a Harley. They change but they are very much the same. You can look at brand-new Harleys and then look through old bike archives and see Harleys from the early 1900s and see the design cues that are still there. It’s a sound and look people recognize. Not much has changed since the 1950s and it’s still unique.”
To accommodate different riding styles that influence the position of a rider’s back, legs and arms, experts at District Harley are happy to outfit bikes to fit each customer. “We have fit specialists,” Wayne explains. “That is their entire job; to fit you to the right motorcycle. This is particularly true in the Harley realm. It is the most customized cycle in the world. There’s nothing on the bike you can’t modify to make your own, from looks to style, performance, and audio.”
The District Harley team performs nearly every modification in house. Plus, the parts, accessories and merchandise departments offer riding gear like helmets, boots, and jackets, plus collectibles, and the service department includes fully trained technicians for all three brands.
“The nice thing here is, we make it easy to buy but we can also handle every bit of the purchase,” Wayne says, as he ticks off motorcycle insurance, financing, and all the gear to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. He adds simply, “We are a one-stop shop,” and that is poetry for anyone who loves to ride."
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