Darren Conrad, one of the owners of Conrad's Harley-Davidson, a family-run business located at 19356 NE Frontage Road in Shorewood, used to ride his race bike at Daytona and Road America.
"Road racing is kind of—you see the guys dragging their knees around the corners," he said. "It's a thrill. I did that for five years on my Harley 883. Then, I switched to Buell's, and I did that for probably another four years. It was a lot of fun. I loved it.
"Nothing beats going into a corner doing 80-mph with 15 guys right around you. It was pretty cool."
Today, he sells Harleys with his father, Ray, and his brother, Patrick. The three have been business together since 1984 and now are in their third location.
"We went from an 8,000 square-foot building to an 80,000 square-foot building," Darren Conrad said. "So, there's definitely been a change there that we've seen throughout the years."
Conrad said one reason motorcycle enthusiasts flock to Harleys is because the bikes are produced in America (and most of the parts, too) and the company has come to be viewed in an iconic fashion.
"Guys—and gals—that ride Harleys are very passionate," Conrad said.
Many belong to Harley clubs and ride in organized events on the weekend. The number of organized events goes up at this time of the year—when the weather breaks.
"There's definitely different groups," Conrad said. "We sponsor a 'HOG' chapter. And 'HOGS' stands for, 'Harley Owners Group.' We have a Joliet chapter. They go on all sorts of rides, do all sorts of charity events. Usually, any Sunday, they're out heading somewhere."
Conrad said Harley riders are aging—and studies show this to be true—but Harley is reaching out to attract the 18-35 year-old demographic through a series of bootcamps this spring.
Conrad's is hosting a bootcamp from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on April 19. The educational event is open to anyone interested in learning more about the Harley brand.
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