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Fun On Two Wheels

The last time I visited Sierra Motor Sports (June 2006), there were different faces at the helm of this Honda/KTM/Suzuki/Piaggio/Vespa dealer. New owners Wayne and Sue Johnson closed escrow on the business in August of that year and have been serving the needs of local on-and-off roaders ever since.

The shop is still Grass Valley’s authorized dealership for Honda products, including generators, snow blowers, lawn mowers ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) and motorcycles. And it’s still the dealership for KTM and Suzuki motorbikes and ATVs. The shop still sells apparel and riding gear, including boots, helmets and gloves and its top-notch service department is available to repair problems with your power equipment and motorized bikes.



Two-wheeled motorized transportation and recreational bikes and ATVs continue to be the bread-and-butter of this business, which has been in Grass Valley since the 1960s. “KTM on-and-off road bikes are very popular just because they’re unique,” Wayne said. “They’re one of the most highly rated bikes in the magazines and stuff, and Honda and Suzuki have just been around forever.”

Honda manufacturers a line of motorcycles with riders at all skill levels in mind, from beginner to pro, according to Wayne. “They’re user-friendly, they’re not race-oriented at all, unless you want the specific race bike, but they make a beginner line,” he said. “KTMs are lighter, have better suspension, they make a better race bike and they’re kind of set up for that. They do make a couple of beginner models but the Honda beginner models are even more beginner-friendly.”




One of the biggest selling trends right now is the dual-sport and adventure bikes. Both are street legal and allow riders to go both on-and-off road in just about any area. There are miles and miles of dirt and gravel roads and trails throughout the United States just waiting for weekend exploration, according to the Johnsons. Ghost towns and the desert are popular destinations and “there’s a trail from Tennessee that you can go from Tennessee all the way to Oregon (Trans-America Trail) and never ride on a paved road,” Wayne said. “Some people go Canada to Mexico,” Sue added. Thick books listing trails and adventure locations throughout the continent are available at Sierra Motor Sports.

KTM bikes, which offer an Adventure bike line, can be ridden to and participate in motorcycle races and over tough terrain, whereas Hondas and Suzikis offer a more comfortable long-distance ride for the average weekend explorer. In fact, KTMs usually win the Dakar Rally, a 6,000 mile annual endurance race that began in 1978, starting in Paris, France and ending in Dakar, Senegal. The event has followed other routes over the last decade and this year’s race was cancelled due to terrorist threats.

Utility quads are a big seller too, according to the Johnsons, who say their best customers are ranchers and homeowners that just want a quad for moving things like firewood and brush. They come with attachments similar to those available on a tractor, such as a snowplow, a very popular add-on in Nevada County. The quads can get into areas a truck or tractor can’t and still get the job done, Johnson said. “The center of gravity is so low, when you side-hill with a quad you don’t feel like you’re going to tip over like you do with a tractor.”

The Johnsons are also authorized dealers for Vespa and Piaggio, with ‘the largest selection of scooters in the foothills’, according to their website. That selection includes the new Piaggio MP3, which features two wheels in front instead of the standard one. “Vespas and Piaggios are very popular because of the gas prices,” says Wayne. “They’re making them more road-worthy,” Sue said, and many of the scooters are freeway-legal. Prices start at about $1,700 for a motorbike that is easy to ride and gets about 80mpgs.

During the first half of March (4th-15th), Sierra Motor Sports will participate in a nationwide ‘Scoot Into Spring’ Open House for Piaggio and Vespa motor scooters. The event will introduce consumers across the country to these popular two-and-three-wheeled motorized bikes, with demonstrations and special financing available during the sale period.

They also sponsor a local chapter of The Honda Riders Club, which meets at 7pm on the second Tuesday of each month at Larry and Lena’s Pizza and Grill in Alta Sierra, and are active supporters of the Nevada County Woods Riders, which meet at the same restaurant on the first and third Monday each month, also at 7pm.

Sierra Motor Sports is located at 12121 Nevada City Highway, just up the road from the Fowler Center. More information is available by calling 530-273-9324 or on the Internet at http://www.sierramotorsports.com.

NASCAR Note:

Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500 last Sunday, giving car owner Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 win and ending Newman’s 86-race win drought. Teammate Kurt Busch was second, giving Penske a one-two finish in the Cup Series season opener. This Sunday’s race is at the California Speedway in Fontana. And yeah, I know Dale Jr. didn’t win the big race, but he did win the Bud Shootout and his Gatorade qualifier!


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