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Local Motorcycle, ATV and Snowmobile Shop Expands

by Scott A. Sumner
    Excalibur Motorcycle Works was started  in 1990 on May Street. After 19 years during which the company outgrew the old location in a huge way, they have relocated to a 6000 square foot building on Walsh Street near the Thunder Bay Airport.  “ You just couldn’t display anything well and parking was a problem in our old location. The layout of the place was wrong for this type of business but we made it work. We wanted to become more efficient and have more floor space,” said Larry Lage, Excalibur Motorcycle Works. “ Now we are using the old location as a storage location for motorcycles for $50 per month and will store sleds in the summer if someone wants that.   We will also service the bike for you and give it back to you ready to go in the spring.”

     The new Excalibur building is double the size of their last location and offers a very attractive show room set up. In the store everything is now visible according to Lage. The bulk of what  Excalibur does is clothing, helmets, tires and accessories too numerous to name.  “It was always in the other store but you couldn't display it. Then we had to do more hands on selling there,” noted Lage.  “ We started in motorcycles but are huge in snowmobile parts, accessories and service. There is a mail order business out of Southern Ontario that people are probably aware of. We supply most of the same products and our prices are similar if not lower. Our service is faster and more direct. If there is an issue with a product you don't have to put it in a box and send it back. We can deal with it more directly right here at the counter.”   At Excalibur they carry  five main brands in snowmobile clothing- HJC , FXR, Arctiva, Castle Racing and Coldwave.
     “ We got to be the size we are by selling helmets. We sell a ton of helmets and helmets are our business. We take selling the helmet very seriously in terms of fitting and matching people’s head shapes up to the right helmet. You can’t fit every type of helmet. Someone might want a certain helmet because of the appearance but we might be wasting time because it will not fit no matter want they do.  Sizing the helmet is a skill you develop over time. The helmet is your main piece of safety.” said Lage.

      Another good safety idea according to Lage is the new tracks. “ There are new prestudded tracks out that are not studded in the traditional way. The carbide stud comes out on top of the lug . This is safety because when you grab a mitt full of brake you want your sled to
stop. The tracks have come along way since the old 3/4 inch versions.”
     Any manufacturer can make a somewhat warm jacket and even too warm according to Lage. It is controlling the  temperature and having the ability to change so if you are riding hard you can ventilate the jacket and not overheat. “ Overheating is worse for you in the long run than being a little cool. You can add another layer if you are cold. The better riding gear  today has temperature control. The new boots are thinner, lighter and more flexible with more ankle protection but you can still walk in them,” said Lage. “ Clothing has come so far in
the last five years people who are wearing the old stuff would be shocked  at the development and how far it has come. The same  with helmets. They have leaped forward technology wise.  If you are snowmobiler with an open mind we can show you amazing stuff.”
   Excalibur is a full service shop and not a dealer for any one brand. “ We are a parts and service store that evolved into a motorcycle dealer. We don’t care what brand the snowmobile is we service them all.About 8 years into the business we became a Kawasaki and KTM
motorcycles and ATV dealer. We could become  snowmobile dealer but haven’t figured out how we would do it the right way yet.” said Lage.
     There are 10 people on staff in the company including 4 servicetechnicians who do engine set up, shock rebuilding, clutching and servicing in general with a labour rate of $79.50. “We are more likely to give you better value for your $79.50. Our staff  are efficient at the work and bill appropriately for the job being done. Sometimes you just have to come up with a price that makes sense. Doing the job right is more important than anything,” smiles Larry Lage. “ I love the job. Anybody that is an enthusiast  in motorcycles, ATV’s or snowmobiles loves the sport.  This might make me unique  in the industry here because I am a rider. Running a store like this is not a job. It is going somewhere each day and hanging out with people I like to be around.”
    “I am expecting a lot of snow and a great snowmobiling season this year like we had last year. Last year was spectacular. We got the big dump of snow we were waiting for. The trail club is also doing a good job extending the trail to Nipigon. I rode it last year and it was
good.” said Lage.
     On my day at Excalibur there were two motorcycle riders in the shop on a ride all the way from San Francisco. It was fun to see the interaction between Larry and these avid riders in the store! For a great selection of snowmobile parts and clothing as well as service you
should visit the new Excalibur location.

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Scott Sumner