St. Charles Parish’s motorcycle enthusiasts need not travel far to find a new ride of choice — a “hidden gem” lies just off of the interstate in St. Rose.
That’s general manager Mark Babin’s favored nickname for Indian Motorcycle of New Orleans, a motorcycle dealership that stands alone in the St. Rose community – and stands out from the competition in numerous ways.
“We’re 100 percent not your typical store,” said Babin, a retail veteran of 40 years. “This isn’t a high-pressure environment, a place where you’re uncomfortable. It’s a very family-oriented atmosphere here.”
It’s a tight-knit community between the store’s staff and its customers, and a large reason for that is that in many cases, they’re literally neighbors: Babin, sales consultant Lynn Muller and finance manager Mike Wright all live in Norco, each just a little more than a five minute drive away.
“That wasn’t planned, but it just happened that way,” Babin said with a chuckle. “This is our community. When a lot of our service customers are here, it’s really like a big family. They’ll stop in by Lynn’s office and ask how her kids are doing … they know Lynn, they live by Lynn and there’s a real trust there.
“Integrity’s huge for us. It’s not just expected, it’s demanded. This place wouldn’t exist without our customers.”
Muller agreed: it’s the only way to do business, she said.
“We have a relationship with our customers. We see one another out and about, at the grocery store … I want to be able to see my customers and neighbors and stand behind the work we do.”
That work includes providing an inventory of Indian and Slingshot makes and models. An award-winning service department is on site, as well as a wide selection of products, parts and accessories. When one is ready to make a purchase, Wright uses his financial expertise and lender contacts to quickly get them on the road.
“We have lenders for people with all income and credit scores,” Muller said. “ Mike is great at working the numbers and can help just about anybody to come get their motorcycle, be it someone with amazing credit or someone who’s working on their credit.”
Three eye-catching bikes displayed on the showroom floor are the popular Indian FTR 1200 race bikes, often described by the tag line “Born on the dirt – built for the street.” Indian’s flat-track racing factory team, the Wrecking Crew, has been a dominant force with back to back championships recently. The success the brand has had with its FTR 750 “dirt warrior” bikes inspired the creation of the 1200 model, an evolution of the 750 into a road-ready model.
“We’re 100 percent not your typical store.” — Mark Babin
“A lot of the younger age groups are really into this style of bike,” Muller said. “It’s the first time this style of motorcycle’s been available through an American-made product.”
Last summer, the 750 grabbed headlines when stuntman Travis Pastrana executed three of Evel Knieval’s most famous stunts upon the bike on the “Evel Live” television special. This year, four-time X-Games medalist Vicki Golden will be attempting to set a new firewall record on “Evel Live 2” while riding the Indian FTR 1200 S.
“I think that’ll be huge for female riders,” Muller said. “We’re seeing a lot more ladies ride than we did in the past. It used to be a very low percentage, but now as high as 38 percent of people who ride are women, and it’s pretty cool to see.”
Indian Motorcycle of New Orleans is located at 10567 Airline Hwy. in St. Rose and can be reached at 504-305-5436. Store hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.