One part refinement, one part rumble. The new Wolf Motorcycles serves up two distinct rides
Photo: Mark Minnie
LIKE ENGINES ON motorcycles of the past, Mark Minnie had a two-stroke plan when he purchased Wolf BMW in 2017.
The first stroke was to make a smooth transition from the founding owners who started the business in 1991. He had to gain the trust of the dealership’s loyal customers, across Southwestern Ontario and beyond, assuring them the long-time staff and service experts were staying.
Even as he did that, however, he began planning for the second stroke—a shiny new home for the business and an expanded product line to support it.
“When I bought the dealership, I had to pitch my five-year plan to BMW,” Minnie says. “And this was the plan all along.”
The Hyde Park Road dealership, now known as Wolf Motorcycles is more than twice as big as the old home, so far east on Oxford he could have operated an airport shuttle service. Minnie can display dozens of motorcycles in a showroom that feels more like a lounge than a bike shop. Everything BMW makes is on display, not far from a vastly improved service bay, accessible from behind the building.
“When I first approached Indian about opening a dealership in London, they weren’t too responsive. But when the BMW purchase was finalized, they said yes, right away” —Mark Minnie
The 8,000-square-foot showroom is also home to a full line-up of Indian Motorcycles. The iconic U.S. brand began in 1901 and has ebbed and flowed ever since. It’s enjoying a renaissance since Polaris Inc. bought the company in 2011 and moved manufacturing to the American Midwest. If that sounds faintly like another U.S. brand, it’s no coincidence. Indian is aiming squarely at Harley-Davidson, with a collection of rough-and-tumble bikes that—importantly—are nothing like BMW bikes.
“They are perfectly complementary,” Minnie says. “BMW loved the idea. When I first approached Indian about opening a dealership in London, they weren’t too responsive. But when the BMW purchase was finalized, they said yes, right away.”
Minnie started selling Indian bikes last year from the old location. Indian enthusiasts were thrilled and have been buying bikes at a rapid pace. “There was some pent-up demand,” Minnie says. “We sold 15 new bikes in the last 11 weeks.”
The showroom is split evenly between the two brands. If the two sections are not obvious, the floor colours offer a hint. Both manufacturers have their own shade of grey, polished concrete, and Minnie had to get them exactly right.
Rather than lease, Minnie formed a partnership to buy the property. His partners each operate their own businesses on the site. Jennifer Grant owns Dell Tech Laboratories Ltd. It has been providing consulting services to the chemical specialty industry worldwide since 1980. The office is not visible from Hyde Park.
The third member of the troika is the team of Dave Lamers and Rob D’Amico, who own and operate Abruzzi downtown. They will open Taverna 1331, next to Wolf, with a patio on the north side of the building. It won’t stray too far from what’s made Abruzzi a long-standing foodie favourite.
Minnie is excited, and not just because he will have a place for lunch.
“When people come to have their bikes serviced, they can wait here, of course. But they could also head to the patio and have a drink. We’re also planning to have a special Wolf burger on the menu that can be delivered to our lounge.”
It’s a long way from the old location, and that’s precisely the point. Christopher Clark