Cycle Design celebrates five decades

  • Ryan Blankenship, Jayma Wilkins, and Joe Becker in the show room of Cycle Design, which is celebrating 50 years in business. Photo/Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 5/14/2019 10:00:25 PM

PHILLIPSTON — In 1969, a young Doug Mulligan started a business catering to motorcycle enthusiasts in Putney, Vt. After about three years, he decided to move the store to northern Worcester County. Mulligan found a location on Route 2A in Phillipston, relocated his business and has been serving the practitioners of motor sports ever since.

Mulligan no longer works in Massachusetts, having since opened another store — American Trikes & Motorsports — in Keene, N.H. That location specializes in custom trikes and used motorbikes. But the Phillipston location, operating under the name of Cycle Design, is still going strong.

While the season determines what kind of vehicles are most in demand, Cycle Design pretty much sells equal parts motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and side-by-sides, and snowmobiles. Brands carried at the store include Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda. The business also carries Honda Power Equipment, such as generators, snow blowers, pumps, and lawn maintenance equipment.

“It all depends on the season,” said Ryan Blankenship. “We do a lot of everything.”

He added that demand for certain types of vehicles tends to vary.

“Lately, we’ve done more road bikes. We do a lot of dual-purpose bikes; something that’s road legal that you can ride off-road as well. That’s been very common in the last couple of years. I’ll have runs where I do nothing but cruiser bikes for a few weeks, and then it’ll be sport bikes. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. We stopped trying to figure out those trends a long time ago.”

Blankenship also said customers today tend to know what they’re looking for before they walk in the door.

“These days, a lot of people go online first. They look at our website. They either see what brands we carry and will come in looking for that. Some people are brand-loyal and will only own a Honda, or some other brand. Some people don’t know what they want. There is no ‘normal’ customer.”

And young people aren’t the only ones looking for the excitement that comes riding a motorbike or ATV.

“I have a lot of customers who are retiring, and it’s been on their bucket list for years — so they’re learning to ride.”

The store’s general manager, Jayma Wilkins, has been with Cycle Design for 30 years and knows the business “inside and out.”

“I’m very lucky,” said Wilkins, “because we run a short crew, but it’s a very professional and enthusiastic crew.”

Between Blankenship, and employees Joe Becker and Kevin Whitcomb, Cycle Design offers more than 40 years of service and repair experience.

“We don’t really have titles,” said Becker, “because we all do a little bit of everything here.”

Wilkins said when she started in the business, most customers were interested in off-road vehicles.

“Over the years it’s swung more toward on-road,” she said. “We still do off-road — side-by-sides, ATVs, dirt bikes — but it leans heavily toward street bikes now. And a lot more women are riding now than when I first started. I’d say about a third of our customers are women.”

“When I started, it was about half as big as it is now,” Wilkins added.

Cycle Design’s retail space currently encompasses about 10,000 square feet, with another 7,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Cycle Design is located at 305 State Road/Route 2A in Phillipston. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. The store can be reached at 978-249-2244, online at cycledesignonline.com, and at facebook.com/Cycle-Design.


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