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Perseverance pays off for Redline

You’ve got to take your hat off to Redline Motorcycles for being the UK’s first KTM Superstore and having had the franchise for 30 years. If you need anything from a baby’s branded orange dummy to a 1290 Super Duke GT, Redline has got it in stock. But back in 1991, when Redline first got involved with the brand, it was a different story according to managing director Tim Walker.

“We had decided to take on KTM at the NEC Motorcycle Show in 1991, only to be told the following week that KTM had gone into liquidation. I’d bought three 1992 model year bikes and some spares, and in those days there was no forward financing available. At the time KTM wasn’t a particularly popular brand, so I thought I’d made a big mistake. The then importer persuaded me that if I stuck with it everything would be alright as there was going to be a management buyout. Well, there was and the company was refinanced. The 1993 bikes had a major facelift but by the end of that year we’d only sold about a dozen bikes.”

Redline’s original KTM customers were the local farm boys and the most popular MX-ers were Honda and Yamaha. Walker persevered, loaded the van with KTM spares and accessories, and attended the local AMCA meetings at the weekends reassuring his customers that they would have good back-up. Business was building slowly but the turning point came in 1998 when KTM turned orange and came out with a completely new 125, which won the World Championship.

Redline’s small premises in the Leicestershire village of Sileby began to bulge at the seams with spare parts and Walker admits that the business was making more money from mail order, as it was then, than from bike sales. As Walker says, “Moto X riders like to order their parts on a Monday, so that they can get them fitted for the next weekend.”

In 2004 Redline moved to its current site in Loughborough and in 2016 got the opportunity to take over the unit next door, doubling the size of the business to 5000 sq.ft. “It was just a case of knocking down a wall and putting in a mezzanine floor and we were in.”

By now KTM was producing four-strokes and road bikes, so that was expanding the business. It also enabled Walker to get back to his road-racing roots, his career prior to starting Redline. Sponsoring the winning Moto3 bike in the British Motostar Championship for three years was pleasing for Walker and over the years Redline has sponsored motocross and enduro riders as well. Walker sums up his take on the situation now: “I’ve finally realised that it’s okay to say no – it took me a long time.”

Going into lockdown Redline had a lot of stock of spares and bikes, which initially made Walker slightly nervous about how that would affect cashflow given that customer activity had virtually stopped. Walker admits that he isn’t afraid to shift things at cost to help the cashflow along. As Lockdown began to ease, however, Redline reaped the rewards as many competing off-road dealers were low on stock with manufacturers unable to supply many brands due to container shipping issues. ‘Made in Austria’ suddenly became an even more attractive proposition (production at Mattighofen did stop for a while during the first wave of Covid but very little knock-on effect was evident).

As we’ve said, Redline is a KTM Superstore, which means it offers new and used on and off-road motorcycles, PowerParts accessories and PowerWear clothing, and the workshop employs KTM-trained technicians. Redline has also had Honda and Yamaha for years and more recently Beta.

Tim Walker concludes, “KTM is our main activity. It is a very proactive company – they’re not scared to move quickly and make changes, and that can put some people out but actually I think it’s the way forward if you want to stay in business during changing times.”

Perseverance has certainly paid off for Redline with KTM being, perhaps, the most high-profile off-road brand currently which includes junior and electric models as well as the favourably reviewed 1290 Adventure and road bikes.

Redline Motorcycles; 01509 230001; www.redlinemc.co.uk

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