By Elizabeth Riggs

“Look Twice. Save a life.” The tried and true phrase for motorists and motorcyclists alike is especially important this May, which is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

At Gowanda Harley-Davidson, one of the longest-running, continuously family-owned dealerships of the Harley-Davidson chain, May is the perfect time to give riders some extra reminders of safety.

“It’s that time of year. Just talking about motorcycle safety and awareness is another reminder to look twice,” said Gowanda Harley-Davidson Marketing Manager Delaney Peters.

During the month of April, which is National Check Your Helmet Month, the store encourages riders to come in and consult with their experts on motorclothes.

“April is National Check Your Helmet Month and the dealership is always happy to talk about and promote safety. Come in any time and make sure that your riding gear is fitting your properly,” Peters said. “Riders should be replacing their helmet every 3-4 years.”

Speaking of safety, the Gowanda Harley-Davidson store also offers an exclusive program for those who are new to riding.

“For someone thinking about riding, we have what we call Jumpstart experience program. We’d be happy to give you a ride on a real motorcycle. No experience necessary,” Peters said.

The Jumpstart program offers interested riders a chance to throw a leg over a real motorcycle that is fastened to a stationary platform as staff educate riders about controls. They are then given the opportunity to take a real ride, and staff can then assist with obtaining a motorcycle permit or enrolling in local motorcycle training classes.

“Gowanda Harley-Davidson works closely with Motorcycle Safety School (MSS) which is a New York State-accredited Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) class. We recommend taking a course even if you already have your license. You can always learn how to ride better,” Peters said.

Even Gowanda Harley-Davidson employees are riders, as the store location is known as the “dealership that rides.”

“We have employees who actually have their license, which seems to be an increasing trend to hear from someone. It’s a bragging point for us,” Peters said.

Another bragging point is the long list of the events that the store is a part of each season, including the upcoming Hollywood Happening event, which is being dubbed “WNY’s Largest Bike Rally.” The event, which will be held from June 2-4, will raise awareness for the ongoing $4 million restoration of the historic Hollywood Theater in Gowanda.

“It started 19 years ago by a gentleman who worked here, Randy Rosen, who had the idea to get a bunch of bikers together to help raise funds and awareness of the dilapidated Hollywood theater at the risk of being torn down,” Peters said. “It’s become the unofficial start to summer, and for many it has become a family reunion and reunion of friends.”

The event will feature live music, performances in the theater, a motorcycle stunt show, food vendors and more. But it’s not Gowanda Harley-Davidson’s only event this summer – far from it. The store also organizes monthly bike nights which are held at Kissing Bridge Ski Resort in Glenwood.

“The third Friday of every month is bike night at Kissing Bridge,” Peters said. “There is live music on the deck, rain or shine, at Buffalo’s Best Grill which operates Willie’s Smokehouse, deckside. They have a full menu and smoked food, and an outdoor grill with classic summer fare – hot dogs, hamburgers, and Italian sausage.”

Gowanda Harley-Davidson is involved in Springville’s upcoming Memorial Day parade. Retired store owner John Reed, who is also a Vietnam Veteran, started the annual Ride to Remember in honor of local veterans by providing free breakfast on Memorial Day from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Gowanda Legion Post 409 in Gowanda. Riders then ride from Gowanda, through Collins, to the parade route in Springville, and finally stop at the Vietnam Memorial at Sprague Brook Park for a short ceremony.

“Families have sacrificed a lot and we just want to make sure that families know that there are people that remember what they’ve sacrificed,” Peters said.

As further appreciation for military, during the month of May, Gowanda Harley-Davidson store is offering a $100 gift card to any veteran or active service member who signs up and also successfully completes a motorcycle license course.

For those who can’t attend any of the events, but are still interested in the Gowanda Harley-Davidson store, Peters said there are plenty of reasons to stop in. But the main one may be the service.

“We have three master techs in the building. We have a long-standing tradition of training. Gowanda Harley Davidson believes in sending their service staff for training as much as possible,” Peters said. “Gowanda-Harley Davidson was started by a service tech back in 1947, and today is still known as the go-to shop when you need something done.”

Gowanda Harley-Davidson is located at 2535 Gowanda Zoar Road, Gowanda, NY. For more information on their bikes, motorclothes, events, store hours and more, visit their website: www.gowandaharley.com.