Despite the dozens of scooters, dirt bikes, and motorcycles seen buzzing about daily in the Virgin Islands, it can be difficult to find new bikes for sale in the territory.

 

Car lots such as International Motors and Virgin Islands Motors don’t keep motorbikes in stock, used ones advertised on pages like BVI Bring and Buy are often snapped up within hours of being posted, and the scooter wholesaler Pookie’s Customs Unlimited in the Huntums Ghut area is open for business but rarely advertises to the public – “I’m busy enough,” Pookie’s Customs owner Kadeem Farara told this reporter.

All that should change in October, though, when Tradewind Yachting Services opens its new store in Nanny Cay, which will feature Yamaha dirt bikes and motorcycles alongside the company’s usual marine supplies.

Tradewind Operations Manager Ted Reshetiloff said that Yamaha YBR125 motorcycles and 125XTZ dirt bikes will be the two cycles displayed at the soon-to-come showcase.

Those bikes are already on sale at Tradewind’s current location in Fish Bay, but Mr. Reshetiloff said he’s increased his shipments from three or four bikes at a time to 12-15 in anticipation of the opening.

“We just received 14 and three are already sold,” he said in late June. “We expect to sell the rest over the next three months or so.”

If business continues to grow as expected, he said, Tradewind might also bring in the Yamaha Tricity — a 125cc three-wheeled scooter often used in urban settings.

For the foreseeable future, Pookie’s Customs will continue to be the main provider of scooters and street bikes. Mr. Farara said he just received a shipment of 40 Yamahas that are available at his shop on Lower Estate Road.

Mr. Reshetiloff said motorbikes are becoming increasingly popular in the VI because many find them more practical than other vehicles.

“There are a lot of good reasons to have a bike here,” he said. “Number one is probably the fuel economy it’s also much more efficient and a lot easier to park, and they’re just more fun.”

He added that bikes require less maintenance because they have fewer moving parts.

“The biggest problem we see is tyre flats,” he said.

However, many have been critical of motorbikes in the past, with people calling for stricter laws governing such vehicles and crackdowns on riders who violate traffic laws.

Those calls were amplified in January 2014 after two people died in separate scooter-related accidents within a month.

Despite those tragedies, Mr. Reshetiloff said riding motorbikes might actually be safer in the VI than in most other places.

“We might be a little safer because of the 125cc [limit on bike size set by the government]. Bigger cc engines would be moving bikes faster,” he said. “That being said, I think there could be opportunities to go up a few cc’s, which would open up a market and make a lot more bikes and products available. At 125[cc] you’re kind of limited.”

To help avoid fatalities and other bike-related injuries in the future, Mr. Reshetiloff said he’s been in contact with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

“We’re working on a programme in conjunction with the police to start a motorcycle safety course,” he said. “We’re hoping insurance companies will sponsor it.”