Thursday, January 12, 2012


A visit to Moto International in Seattle, Washington

B 1200 Sport
SIX OR EIGHT MONTHS AGO, the Moto Guzzi bug bit me. I’d ridden a beautiful bike known as a 1200 Sport at the Guzzi dealer nearest to me. (A nod, here, to the good folks over at Elk Grove Power Sports. Thanks!) Enamored by everything this bike presented except for the café-style bend-your-body-forward handlebars, I weighed whether, so set up, this would be the bike for me. I checked on-line forums, motorcycle reviews and finally contacted a dealer whose name kept coming up over and over.

In retrospect, my question about the handlebars on a B-1200 Guzzi was a very trivial thing. As with most motorcycles, aftermarket modifications and fixes are abundant and there would be a solution to this “problem.” Still, Dave Richardson, owner of Moto International in Seattle, Washington, returned my call and spent quite a while explaining to me the options I might pursue if I chose the 1200 Sport.

B 1100 Breva
As history played out, I found a used Guzzi, very similar to the beautiful Sport model, but one that came with handlebars more to my liking. And I bought it.

LAST WEEKEND, after a two hour stint with Southwest Airlines, I arrived in Seattle to celebrate a 60th with a friend. Knitted into our errands, I was afforded the opportunity to stop by Moto International. I wanted to thank Mr. Richardson for his advice and time. Living 800 miles away, I am certain that he knew the odds of me purchasing a bike from him were slim, but I think he saw me as a potential member of a community he is dedicated to serve.

Having visited MI’s website, I was eager to pour over the large selection of current and non-current Guzzis, and Dave has a ton of them. When he approached in his rather cozy showroom, we shook hands and I shared my gratitude for his previous call. Now a member of the community, our conversation moved to a question of oil weights recently raised on a Guzzi forum site I frequent. Within minutes, he gave me a primer on 10w60 synthetics and ran a page from his book “Guzziology” to save as a reference. Again he was going to make no money on this exchange.

MY VISIT LASTED ONLY TWENTY MINUTES. I had places to go and people to see in preparation for the friend’s 60th. But as I drove away, these thoughts circulated: Dave runs a small business carrying a very unique product in a very tough market. He probably grosses enough to pay for the small crew of very cordial fellows who work the parts counter and the service department, leaving something to support himself and his loved ones. So I suspect that the money-side bottom line is positive most years.

But there’s another bottom line: That one is being a member of a larger community. It is measured by how the business serves its customer base, as well as also those who may wander in – as I figuratively did over the phone that day. In MI’s case, the larger community includes folks who tear around the country with ear-to-ear grins because they ride a Moto Guzzi; and those of us wanna-bes. I further suspect, from the handshake and conversation, Mr. Richardson is also quite a contributor to his neck of the Seattle community because of his affability, his patience and his dedication to educating and helping others.

Successful small businesses have two bottom lines. One is financial, the other is more difficult to measure. But if the business is to remain successful, both are essential. In fact, they are inseparable.


Moto International:

© 2012
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. I live in Thunder Bay (Ontario) and purchased my V7 Classic through Moto International. After my very first email exchange with Mr. Richadson I couldn't help but feel that he was someone I wanted to do business with. The logistics of ordering a bike from so far away (in another country), and the prospect of buying a used V7 somewhat closer to home, initially steered me away from Moto International. However, I ultimately ended up resuming my corresopondence with Dave (who was always quick to respond) and ended up with the bike from Seattle. Great bike, great service. I proudly display the Moto International license plate frame ("Cogito Ergo Zoom") on my bike to remind me of it's roots and my good fortune at crossing paths with Dave. One day I hope to ride across country to visit Moto International, check out the store, and thank Mr. Richardson in person.

  2. Excellent post.Two big thumbs up for Mr.Brilliant, Mr.Richardson and MotoGuzzi.

  3. A Guzzi rider asks:

    I've spent more money at MI than a new bike would cost and have even asked for a t-shirt to no avail -- and I go there from 1700 miles away. So just out of curiosity, did you buy that swag or did freebees happen?

  4. Since I didn't have the pocket change to buy the '09 Stelvio he had on the floor, I figured the least I could do would be to purchase a hat and a shirt.

    The only swag the Church of the Open Road has hangs over the dinette in the kitchen. :-) Sorry to disappoint.

  5. I purchased my '07 Norge from Dave with the whole transaction occurring by phone. I've never met him in person, but dealing with him as a great experience. He's always available to answer questions and provide what assistance he can.