One of the country’s longest-running KTM dealerships, Redline Motorcycles in Loughborough, Leicestershire, is now under new management. Founder, Tim Walker has sold the business after more than three decades, with former employee Nathan Preston, the new owner with Walker assisting for the next 12 months during the handover.
Walker opened Redline in November 1989 – exactly 33 years ago – after an early career as a bike racer. “I was racing bikes through the 1980s, road racing and short circuit racing, but finished at the end of 1988 because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere! I started Redline in 1989, in a tiny high street shop in the nearby village of Sileby.”
Walker started off with what was then a rather niche brand in the early 1990s. “We took KTM on in 1991. It was just off-road then, and we’ve grown with it over the years. Later we took on Honda, Yamaha and Beta, but our core business has always been KTM.”
Redline has much more of a road focus now. “Obviously, we were focussed on off-road in earlier years. KTM’s road bikes really took off with the launch of the 950 Adventure and the 950 SMT, brilliant bikes and good for sales.
“Now we do more road bikes than off-road; I think that’s normal with all KTM dealers. We do a little bit of trials with Beta, and Beta enduro has also been good over the past year. Honda and Yamaha are smaller parts of the business, but still really good.”
So what’s convinced Tim Walker to hang up his bike dealing boots? “I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m just a bit sort of worn out! Nathan has worked for me for quite a few years. He’s a good man and has always shown an interest in the business. We did a deal for a management buyout, and that went through in October.”
Worn out or not, Walker will still be lending a hand, though. “I will be here two days a week, certainly for the next year, then for as long as he needs me. The ‘office’ side of it is where he needs help, not selling bikes. He’s good at that!”
Nathan Preston has been in the bike trade since he left school and joined Redline three and a half years ago. “Before joining Redline I worked for five years at what was originally Ducati Wolverhampton, which then became MV Agusta West Midlands, and I actually ran the MV Agusta UK press fleet there.”
Owning his own bike shop is a dream come true, as Nathan puts it. “Ever since I worked as an apprentice technician back in the day, I’d look at things and think ‘I’d do it this way, not that way’. I’ve gone from technician to parts to workshop to sales, and always done fairly well, so I have a fairly good grounding to keep pushing in the right direction.”
How did the buyout come about? “It came from a fairly candid conversation, Tim had looked at possibly selling up. He’d spoken to a couple of people, and had tried to strike a deal but couldn’t get there. I said to him, ‘It’s always been my ambition to own my own shop, but I don’t think I’ll be able to raise the capital for it.’ Then he said, ‘Well what if you could?’ And it sort of snowballed from there. I spoke to a company who helped me out and we went from there. It’s been coming for about 12 months, and has been quite an arduous drawn-out process, as you can imagine.”
What plans does Nathan have for the future of Redline? “In the short term, there’s nothing I really want to change, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What’s here works, so I don’t need to fix it. It just comes down to experience. Tim’s here for the next 12 months to give me a steer in the right direction, and we’ll move on to good things.”