Rob Walters may have owned Orwell Motorcycles for only three years but the business, and motorcycles, are very much part of his family and his early life.
Rob’s older brother, Ray, founded Orwell Motorcycles in 1983 after taking over Dave Bickers Motorcycles where he was a mechanic in the workshop. Orwell moved to its current premises in 2001.
Rob and best friend Dave Willis, who met at junior school, bought the business in 2017 when Ray retired.
Rob’s family links to motorcycles and speedway fired his enthusiasm for motorbikes – he recalls riding mini machines in his brother’s garden as a child.
It was natural he should progress to buying bikes from Orwell Motorcycles, and he used to help out there, in the early ’90s.
Taking to the road had a different context for Rob. For, having tried to become an RAF pilot, and working in the construction business he became a civil engineer.
Rob worked for Suffolk Highways for 25 years and he was heavily involved in many local road schemes and projects.
When Ray decided to retire, and with fellow biker Dave looking to work with motorcycles, they decided on a career change. With their passion for bikes it was a chance to mix business with pleasure.
“Dave was interested in some kind of a motorcycle business and, when Orwell Motorcycles came up, it all dropped into place,” said Rob, 51, who is married with one son.
Their skills complement each other well with Dave more office-based, running the business, while Rob is more hands-on in the workshop and showroom.
Rob admits that, even with their love of motorcycles, taking on Orwell was a steep learning curve. But both had responsible jobs running projects so they could draw on years of experience.
“It’s a project at the end of the day but it’s a never-ending one… Hopefully!”
Having had more bikes than he can remember over the years, Rob currently rides a KTM 690 Enduro and also owns a Ducati Monster S2R1000 and a Ducati Scrambler.
“If there was one bike I could have back tomorrow it would be my two-stroke Honda NS400R triple in HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) colours which was inspired by Freddie Spencer’s race bike,” he said.
Rob certainly knows his motorcycles but he and Dave also know what they want their dealership to be known for – friendly, approachable and knowledgeable staff, who are specialists in their fields.
“It’s all part of being a good team. We have individuals who are passionate about motorbikes,” he added.