Profile: Marlborough Motorcycles

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

A passion for trials riding set the knowledge base for Brendon and Cathy Wadsworth to create Marlborough Motorcycles business

Depending upon your motorsport loyalty, the Marlborough Motorcycles team might be better recognised by many as the Marlborough Trails Centre. Irrespective of which way you approach Brendon and Cathy Wadsworth and their expert team, this Blenheim-based family business knows its stuff, both on the competitive trials side of the equation, as well as in all matters ag and viticulture.

Marlborough Motorcycles’ Warwick Street base in Blenheim

I get an early indication of just how well Marlborough Motorcycles co-founder and general manager, Brendon Wadsworth, knows the range of two- and four-wheel motorbikes and side-by-sides the Blenheim-based company sells while I’m waiting to catch up with him for this story.

A long-time client from the Marlborough wine industry is in the office to get Brendon’s opinion on a new side-by-side he needs for his team. While he’s dead set on getting his hands on a Can-Am Defender (and Brendon is happy to oblige), it isn’t until Brendon happens to ask him about the spacing between the rows of vines that the Marlborough Motorcycles manager’s knowledge base comes to the fore.


"The vines are how far apart? Oh, well a Can-Am won’t work there as it’s too wide," Brendon says. "You’ll need to look at something from CF Moto as they have slightly narrower bodywork." With that, he uplifts a tape measure from his desk and treks outside with the customer in tow to confirm his suspicions among the line-up of CF Moto machines out front of the showroom.

It’s that kind of product knowledge built over decades in the industry that makes Marlborough Motorcycles a go-to for all manner of customers for both business and recreational bikes in Blenheim and beyond. I’m impressed and I haven’t even talked to the bloke at the helm yet.



Trials riding enthusiast Brendon and wife Cathy, who also competes in trials along with their son Gareth, initially started out as a home business after they acquired the sole agency for Montesa Cota motorbikes in 1999. Back then the operation was what Brendon refers to as a "lunchtime business", with the couple working full time in other disciplines in between servicing the growing local trials scene.

"The Marlborough Trials Centre actually predates Marlborough Motorcycles in terms of the evolution of the business," says Brendon. "I’d been riding motocross since I was a kid, but I first started trial riding when I was about 25-years old. I have always enjoyed the technical challenge of trials riding and, because it isn’t about speed, it’s much easier on the body too."

Side-by-sides have come into their own as a ‘go to’ work bike for the ag sector in recent years


Following several years working from a home base, Brendon and Cathy took the plunge and left fulltime employment elsewhere to set up in a bricks and mortar premises in 2002.

Accumulating the rights to distribute well-known trials and enduro brands such as Scorpa, Clipic, Sherco, TRS, Aeon, and Gas Gas followed. Heavy-hitter mainstream nameplates such as Can-Am and Kawasaki were also brought into the Marlborough Motorcycles roster, giving Brendon and Cathy a footprint within the rapidly growing recreational motocross scene, as well as in the agricultural sector.

"Trials bikes aren’t mass market in the same way as motocross bikes are," explains Brendon. "We probably sell around 20 trials bikes per year. In the meantime, we have been fortunate enough to develop great relationships with both the brands we represent and the trials riding community."

Brendon Wadsworth competing in a trials event

While some trials bike brands have since disappeared from the Marlborough Motorcycles/Marlborough Trials Centre forecourt, the knowledge base that Brendon and the team have built up over time remains. Brendon himself is a big fan of Sherco bikes and uses them to compete regularly.

"I just really like the geometry of them; they are fantastic machines to ride," he says.


Brendon will tell you the role of the traditional ag bike has changed forever. While a Kawasaki Stockman might have been a go-to several years ago, focus on side-by-sides such as the Kawasaki Mule as a practical work solution have driven changes in what the likes of Marlborough Motorcycles now supply to the farming sector.

"Side by sides are fast becoming the predominant ag work bike, even more so than quads," Brendon confirms. "We have gotten to the point where we sell maybe six or seven two-wheel ag bikes per year. The numbers pale in compassion to side by sides. The versatility of these types of bikes have definitely changed what our customers look for in a bike for their business.

Popular brands such as Kawasaki have given the Marlborough Motorcycles team a strong foothold in the burgeoning recreational motocross scene

"We have been a service agent for as long as we have had a physical location, and we remain a mechanical service provider for all sorts of businesses, especially within the agriculture and viticulture industries, which are so important to the Marlborough economy. It’s a role we have worked hard to develop and as a result we have a strong customer base for servicing of all sorts of machines, old and new."


Inevitably, the motorcycle industry hasn’t been able to avoid the current day global supply chain issues, which have affected so many sectors of commerce. Cathy says that no brand is immune from the problems plaguing manufacturers.

"Supply is probably our biggest issue right now," she says. "We have over a dozen Can-Ams already sold for example, but the majority of them won’t be here until July at this stage.

"There are big delays through all factories, and we are at the end of the chain unfortunately. We have a very loyal customer base though, so we are lucky in that regard, and most people are understanding that these logistical issues are beyond our control."

Can-Am and CF Moto are two heavy-hitter manufacturers that have rapidly risen in popularity in recent times. Marlborough Motorcycles enjoys great relationships with all the brands it represents


But while some areas of doing business in 2022 present problems, in other aspects the need to diversify has proven the right thing to do. Brendon says the addition of Kea Trailers to the Marlborough Motorcycles roster of brands has been a gamechanger.

"Having Kea Trailers on the yard has provided a big boost for us. It’s a logical step to have trailers here, especially when the ag and hort sectors are moving into side-by-sides at pace. The additional practicality that trailers give customers using those types of vehicles is obvious, so that has been a positive move for us."

More recently, Brendon and Cathy have diversified their product offering with Kea Trailers, which has been very successful

And it would seem that ensuring there is a dependable list of brands on the signage above the door is, in itself, the best move Marlborough Motorcycles has made over the years.

Having a knowledgeable team who can help customers make the right decision for their needs is also an obvious component of the business’ success – up to and including the dimensional width of one brand of machine over another. You never know how far apart those vines are after all.

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