Give A Shift is the punny name given to an initiative intended to forward the cause of motorcycling in the U.S. market, which is showing signs of shrinkage due to a variety of reasons: demographic, cultural, and systemic.

Spearheaded by Robert Pandya, a moto industry stalwart in public relations and marketing, GAS is bringing together all interested parties to identify problems and to come up with possible solutions. All voices are desired, from newbie millennials to veteran industry personnel and stakeholders.

The first GAS conference was held last November, with a panel of 25 individuals from diverse backgrounds, including yours truly. A follow-up gathering was assembled last week.

Flattening motorcycle sales will have a profound impact on the transpo-tainment aspects of motorcycling that we’re passionate about. Baby boomers have girded the moto market for decades, but their collective influence is dying off, quite literally. For the motorcycle industry to maintain its current sales volume, particularly here in North America, we need an influx from younger generations.

The panel heard a breadth of perceived reasons why moto sales are dwindling, which boiled down to five prevailing opinions.

1. We have a categorical desirability problem, not a product problem

2. Motorcycles can get eliminated in an autonomous vehicle future

3. Mothers and female ridership increase is critical, but real action is needed

4. Motorcyclists and industry must relentlessly self-promote to survive

5. Improvement in the dealership experience is desperately needed

Personally speaking, I also attribute a portion of blame to modern cultural dynamics affecting the latest generations of potential riders. Younger people, generally speaking, are less inclined to value personal transportation than previous generations. It’s impossible to ignore the data that kids are spending much less time outdoors than older generations. As discussed in the editorial linked below, already nearly three years old, kids are riding bicycles much less than they used to, and if they’re not riding bikes, they’re certainly much less likely to opt for relatively risky motorcycles as a transportation choice.

Duke’s Den: Kids On Bikes

Additionally, it appears many younger people are using smartphones for much of their social interactions, avoiding the costs and hassles of personal transportation for years after being eligible for driver’s licenses. It’s not at all uncommon for young adults to lack licenses to drive cars, and if cars are seen as too much hassle, it’s an awfully big upcharge to get anyone committed to the extra costs and risks involved with motorcycling.

I believe kids today are disinclined to be uncomfortable, like being cold and wet/dirty on a motorbike, preferring to interact with peers via social networks in the comfort of their homes. We need to inspire a sense of adventure on two wheels that appeals to the youngsters who might be tiring of living in the virtual world.

Anyway, as Pandya freely admits, the original GAS roundtable revealed no silver bullets that will easily right the ship of motorcycles. But the prevailing point is that this is a conversation that needs to take place now. Otherwise, with fewer stakeholders and enthusiasts on the table, the moto industry will eventually be headed for an inevitable decline.

If that happens and road safety becomes the main driver in outlining transportation choices for the future, we might be facing the potential of one day being legislated out of existence. I hope that possibility frightens everyone reading this. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to figure out ways to keep our sport relevant in the future of transportation.

The State Of Moto Publishing

Some say we need to make motorcycle use safer for riders, and that would of course be desirable for all of us. But that’s a conundrum not easily solvable, at least not for several years.

I believe the best chance of maintaining relevance in the near term is to make efforts to turn the conversation about motorcycle use toward the practical side. For streetbikes, that would involve publicizing and exploiting the commuting advantages of parking space and lane-sharing. Registration fees should be lowered to account for the negligible damage motorcycles inflict on roads relative to heavy cars and trucks. And rider training should somehow be made free of charge.

And for dirt riders, we need to find ways to open up riding opportunities in urban areas so the cost of trucks, trailers and transportation fuel doesn’t become an unbearable financial burden. Perhaps urban riding parks could be possible; they certainly could if they were accompanied by a fleet of electric motorcycles that could be rented by riders, and an e-bike park could even be an indoor facility that would enable year-round use.

I wish I had the easy answers. Any smart ideas are welcome! For example, we endorse the initiative started by industry veteran Scot Harden, the Plus-1 program, outlined in the link below.

 Here’s What You Can Do To Help Save The Motorcycle Industry

In the meantime, we encourage everyone to download the GAS report linked in the release below. As Pandya says, “Here’s a conversation that needs to happen.”

We hope to hear your suggestions and concerns. Bring ’em on!


Begin Media Release

Give A Shift Clicks up the Gears in 2018: Additional panels to drill into five areas of focus

The Give A Shift About Motorcycles initiative was formed out of a desire to elevate and promote the category of motorcycling in a public manner that leverages industry experience, enthusiasm and new ideas via an “informed anonymity” round-table. With new motorcycle sales stagnating after a significant drop in 2009, and a quickly shifting consumer base and retail culture, GAS is an informed grassroots effort to facilitate a variety of solutions. The goal is to discuss issues, address some problems and develop some solutions. The initiative was seen by a considerable audience, becoming the biggest business story in the LA Times in December 2017 with over 80,000 reads of the story and thousands of downloads of the report. Additional stories and sharing of the report has spurred increasing interest. The final reports and the full and anonymous transcript from the first meeting can be downloaded at the new web hub at www.MotoGiveAShift.com for free. Additional links, a blog, photos and all future materials will be posted to this site as well.

Announced at Lucky Wheels Garage on Jan 11, 2018, the Give A Shift motorcycle industry round-table will host additional round-tables to discuss the five major take-aways from the initial meeting. With a mission to create five more sets of reports, and transcripts that delve deeper into the initial meetings output.

  1. We have a categorical desirability problem, not a product problem
  2. Motorcycles can get eliminated in an autonomous vehicle future
  3. Mothers and female ridership increase is critical, but real action is needed
  4. Motorcyclists and industry must relentlessly self-promote to survive
  5. Improvements in the dealership experience is desperately needed

 

Give A Shift will kick off the next set of roundtable events with a late spring session in New York. Additional round table events will be announced in the coming months with a goal of completing the reports and making each available by the end of August 2018. This will produce diverse and actionable information that can be used by anybody interested in the future of motorcycling going into the 2019 selling season.

“What I thought would be a very focused base for the report has grown exponentially”, says GAS founder Robert Pandya. “I feel that the interest is high enough and I have received many notes of support from a variety of people in the industry as well as well-informed enthusiasts from around the world, that committing to a complete drill-down of the five major topics is worth the work and effort. I’m very happy that so many people have taken the time to be part of the initiative and wish to be part of future panels. I encourage OEM’s, industry leadership and connected businesses to participate in the GAS panels and absorb the work.”

Give A Shift is seeking out additional leaders for the remaining panels to encourage a further diversity of voices and leadership coming out of the initiative. Panel leaders will be responsible for managing facilitation, overseeing the report and supervising transcripts coming out of the sessions. In addition GAS is seeing out facilitation sponsors who are willing to donate space, food and and resources to complete the series.

Give A Shift is a volunteer program that leans on simple but critical enthusiasm for motorcycling, riders and the genuinely positive effect that motorcycling and scootering can have on a community and an individual. The program requires voices and leadership that is reflective of the wide variety of riders. Those interested in the program can connect with Robert Pandya directly at RobertPandya@gmail.com or via www.MotoGiveAShift.com.

 

  • DickRuble

    All European brands are reporting record sales. From where comes the idea of an industry in decline? I agree with #5 initiative (re: dealerships) otherwise the whole thing is pathetic. Mothers ridership is critical? Oh well. This whole thing is not unlike a pack of sled dogs having round tables to come up with initiatives to stave off global warming for fear of shedding their fur.

    • Prakasit

      You know, mentioning of mothers ridership threw me for a loop as well. How does mothers ridership have to do with saving motorcycle? Come to think of it the autonomous cars threat is also on the fringe as well.
      May be I shouldn’t be surprised as he is a marketing guy.

      • DickRuble

        Whoever thinks that they can convince a mother to support or even encourage her kids to take up motorcycling has to have their heads checked. They know nothing of mothers and the protective instincts that kick in with motherhood. They should go tell a mother that the odds of her kid becoming a vegetable from a motorcycle accident is only .5% and see where she tells them to shove their motorcycle. This being said, there certainly are outliers out there, but they are just that. I wouldn’t count on them to change the future of motorcycling.

        • Kevin Duke

          Tell that to the mothers that were in the panel that passionately put forth this suggestion. You did read the report and transcript so you were fully informed, right?

          • DickRuble

            Come back when you have a survey of a representative sample of mothers answering a simple question: would you encourage your kids to take up motorcycling? A few women on a panel is not a representative sample. The very fact that they agreed to be on a panel disqualifies them as representative. They’re outliers.

          • Kevin Duke

            Tell you what, I’ll do that survey after you do a survey of mothers who ride. The results will be drastically different, which is the whole point about encouraging female ridership. I hope you can see the connection.

          • DickRuble

            No, I don’t see the connection. I usually fail to “see” illogical arguments. Mothers who ride are irrelevant to growing ridership. They’re already accounted for. You need to convince those who don’t ride, the vast majority that is.

          • Kevin Duke

            So, tell me what is illogical about needing more riders, thus needing to access 50% of the population and their kids to expand ridership?

          • DickRuble

            What’s illogical is the tunnel vision, echo chamber approach. The riding mothers are irrelevant to solving your problem. Their progeny is riding or will ride. You’re preaching to the choir. The potential is with the other mothers, the vast majority. Problem is: you have no problem to solve. I’ve shown in another posting that motorcycle adoption in the US has outpaced population growth over the past 30 years.

          • Kevin Duke

            “The potential is with the other mothers.” See #3.

            Also, please show me the reputable forecast for increased overall sales in the U.S. over the next 5 years. I know you believe you’re smarter than people running MC companies, but you’re being short-sighted.

          • DickRuble

            “Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge. ”

            –Lao Tzu, 6th Century BC Chinese Poet

          • hasty hughie

            After visiting here a number of times, it is clear that this is not the site for me.

          • DickRuble

            Sayonara.. go find us somewhere else.

          • hasty hughie

            DickRuble…not sure what you mean by above, but to be clear. I agree with what you have been saying. It’s that this site is no longer a credible resource for me or the folks I ride with. The editorial direction and tone of this string is just another example. Happy trails…

          • DickRuble

            Your emphatically shutting the internet door is pointless. It’s a free site and your departure won’t mean anything to anyone. However, pointing out the shortcomings, with clear argumentation, stands a better chance at effecting a change. I agree that this whole “Give a Shift” is baloney and the editorial space was horribly wasted. If you feel the same tell them. They’re not a very subtle bunch.

          • Starmag

            The First Amendment is for everyone but some don’t like dissent. I do, as long as it’s civil, I find I learn things. Echo chambers are more friendly as long as you pick the right one.

    • Campi the Bat

      I think they mentioned mothers more along the lines of “half of these damn Millennials promised their mamas they wouldn’t” hurting outreach and sales. Anecdotally, half of my cohorts that won’t ride claim parental fiat as the reason.

    • Robert Pandya

      European brands are doing well – the category leaders would do well to pay attention. European brands are tiny in the us compared to the big 5.

      The Mom point is that as long as Moms are ok with riding, kids will ride. Read the report and if you have the patience the transcripts and you might understand better the point of the exercise.

      • Gruf Rude

        I went to the site to check out the transcripts and found that it required an email sign-in & password. Not interested in more spreading of that sort of info.

        • Robert Pandya

          Try it again – my guess is you were checking it out on your phone and it went to the optional email list first instead of the typical landing page.

          If you still have a problem, please post it up and I can send you the download link directly.

        • Robert Pandya

          This should be fixed now.

  • Starmag

    Unless Kallfelz is wrong (please explain with links), this is a reversion to mean. Of course those who bubbled up on the Fed’s printing spree and easy credit don’t like it. I don’t see a problem with the return of reality.
    http://www.motorcycle.com/features/head-shake-a-view-from-the-yurt.html
    http://motorcycle.com.vsassets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/010518-headshake-us-motorcycle-sales-1990-2016.png

    • DickRuble

      There’s no crisis.. just a clown’s effort to build notoriety and ingratiate himself with HD and dealerships.

      • Starmag

        Yikes, way too harsh Dick.

        I don’t think there’s any chance of you becoming a diplomat. lol.

        I’m really sure you’re going to tell me you don’t care, right?

        • Jeff in the lower midwest

          Different strokes for different folks. According to the bike builders and sellers, the only answer is more bikes. According to the far left loonies, the only answer is no bikes. Note that more socialist liberal Norway does not ban any bikes, although they do have more incentives for electric cars and have a huge tax fund for when their North Sea oil runs out. I wish i was born there instead of the US with corporations and rumpholes running our lack of good government for all.

      • Robert Pandya

        Speaking as the guy who initiated GAS – I’m not too worried about OEM’s breaking down my doors to hire me. I’m fine. I have a house, many motos and cars. I’m good – this industry paid for my life, and needs to address issues to become stronger. Constructive criticism is the process – not blaming and hiding.

        I’ll stand up for this work and those who wish to work to better Motorcycling. Every day.

        • Kevin Duke

          Thank you, Robert, for giving a shit. Too many riders out there are quick to criticize but slow to offer ideas for solutions.

          • DickRuble

            There’s no need for a solution to a problem that you cannot solve. Short of enshrining in the constitution the sacred right of the Americans to safe, prioritary and unencumbered motorcycle frolicking, you, motorcycle “insiders”, won’t reduce highway overcrowding, traffic jams, the number of uninsured motorists, cell wielding house wives, health insurance premiums, unlicensed drivers. If you think round tables are the solution, you’ve got your work cut for you.

          • Kevin Duke

            Ah, yes, the throw-up-your-hands-and-do-nothing solution…

          • DickRuble

            After 9/11 a woman started braiding some supposedly patriotic ribbons out of her hair and distributing them. Her way of doing something about something.

          • Tinwoods

            You win the Debbie Downer of the Comments Award. Congratulations, Dick.

          • DickRuble

            Braid away, don’t let reason stand in your way of feeling useful.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            So you think this is just a HD campaign and since you hate HD, you hate this campaign. Do you have any proof to back this up?

          • DickRuble

            It’s too late now for you, but logic is something for every day, not just computers. You clearly struggle with basic inference.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            You are avoiding the question.

          • John A. Stockman

            All it takes is for a few to not give up. Even just one. So, should I have given up on being able to ride again because so many told me I was an idiot and would surely die doing it? Severely disabled, joint cartilage destroyed by my own immune system, completely fused joints, atrophied muscles, shall I go on? I did it because I didn’t listen to popular opinion. It took me much longer to find a solution because I stupidly thought my goal was a worthy one and didn’t hesitate to tell folks about it. Only when I kept my mouth shut, did I find a surgeon that was willing to help. My physical therapist quit on me when she found out what I was striving towards, telling me I was wasting money and resources that could go to people with worthwhile dreams and goals. Not seeing solutions or answers means give up and/or dismiss the idea and possible solutions? Yet, I have little influence as the poor misguided crippled guy who just wanted to ride a motorcycle. It starts with a discussion, because you never know where the new ideas can come from. People with influence, like Robert, have a platform that folks like me do not have. I encourage use of that position to try and find the solutions. Want to sit on your hands and proselytize, completely your right. I wouldn’t be here right now if I had given up on my dream, listening to all those that said I was a fool and should accept my lot in life.

    • john burns
      • Starmag

        Well, I would say he referenced it for comparison.

        I know exactly why these guys and gals in the industry are losing their minds because I worked in sales for a long time. YOY sales are NEVER to go down, no matter the plagues, locusts, earthquakes, wars, etc. Unless the Fed unleashes the QE Kracken again(god I hope not), some sales managers are just going to have to eat some humble pie. 2000-2008 was financial madness.

        • john burns

          feels kinda like the same thing is happening in the stock market right now. I hope it lasts as long as the housing bubble, I’ll be able to retire. And you know that ain’t right.

    • Kevin Duke

      There’s positive signs in this chart, yes, but it doesn’t inform the future. Someone, anyone, please send us a chart which forecasts growth in the North American moto world. I don’t think one exists.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        The trend line is rising from 1992 to 2015 (ignoring the bubble from 1998 to 2009). The European manufacturers’ sales in the U.S. may be rising but they do not have as much impact on the overall sales. HD may be selling the new Milwaukee Eights but their price is so high that it doesn’t help the overall sales numbers. Small bikes that run up the sales numbers (as in previous years) are not as popular anymore both with manufacturers and riders. The Japanese manufacturers are shooting themselves in the foot by establishing a trend that keeps people from buying their new bikes in anticipation of buying them later at a discounted price. The new trend toward mid-size affordable bikes will help the sales numbers go up. Whether we need this discussion right now or not, it will help motorcycling expand, which will help us fend off forces that are out to eliminate us (safety czars, noise / emission controls, self-driving cars). Even though motorcyclists loathe scooters and mopeds, those are the ideal vehicles for city transportation. The more two-wheelers out there, the better off we’ll all be.

        • Kevin Duke

          Some great points here, but you state as fact some assumptions here. Japanese OEMs are offering smaller bikes, and Honda’s two best sellers are the Rebels and the Grom. Kawi has the Versys 300 and Z125. As the GAS panel observed, we don’t have a product problem, we have a desirability problem, and this is especially true with younger people. Still waiting on anyone’s reputable forecast for increased overall sales 5 years out….

          • DickRuble

            Forgive him. He thinks logic is for computer classes only.

          • Johnny Blue

            Ouch… do you keep tabs on everyone here? 😀

          • DickRuble

            “The best qualification of a prophet is to have a good memory. ”
            –Marquis of Halifax

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I said: “Logic is like going through a dark night with a narrow beam flashlight. You can’t see the pitfalls on both sides.” That’s exactly what computers do. How many times have GPSs dunked people in rivers because they can’t fathom the fact that the river can only be crossed when there is a ferry there. And that’s why humans always have to be in control, because they have both a left brain (logic) and a right brain (common sense).

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The Motorcycle Industry Council has a 3-year sales forecast available: “Business Advisory & Forecast: Quarterly report outlining general economic trends and 3-year sales forecast for motorcycles.”
            https://www.mic.org/#/statistics

      • Starmag

        There’s plenty of growth in that chart without the bubble years. It shows the motorcycle market doubling in 26 years. That seems like not only sane growth, but really good. The population of the US has not doubled in that time nor has the riding population. I don’t think the Earth or the US has doubled in size either. Sales managers – it’s never enough.Sorry, I don’t see the crisis, this seems a lot like sales manager sniveling. A lot of extra people were undoubtedly hired during the bubble and now don’t like it that sales have returned to a fine and growing mean. Not to surprising really that they are claiming the sky is falling, but it’s not. Even with the advent of the time and life sucking smartphone since about 2007.

      • Starmag

        It isn’t just motorcycles

        “Analysts predict 2018 will be another down year for industry

        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-17/automakers-put-on-a-show-in-detroit-as-policy-storms-loom-in-dc

    • Starmag

      From comments from the original article two months ago

      “john burns Chris Kallfelz • a day ago
      well, the chart backs up my thesis, which is really simply that the sky is
      NOT falling (probably) even if sales were down 3% in 2016 and maybe a
      bit more this year.”

      JB seems like a knowledgeable, long time insider. Maybe the marketers just need some valium.

  • Uncommon Sense

    1) Public views motorcycles as dangerous.
    2) Motorcycles in America at least are seen as recreational vehicles, not legitimate form of daily transportation.
    3) Motorcycles are a luxury good. With student loans and other costs on the rise, a lot of people think they can’t afford a bike
    4) Motorcycles are not easy to ride / learn. The lack of automatic options on desirable bikes makes it that much harder for people to learn to ride and continue to ride. Most people can barely drive manual cars and almost 95% of cars sold are automatic. Expecting new motorcyclist to learn to clutch/shift is ignoring this reality.

    The industry needs to focus on making bikes more accessible (auto transmissions), customization, and lobbying to ensure motorcyclist have advantages like lane splitting. People will learn to ride when they see that it is not only fun, but that there are real advantages to riding a scooter or motorcycle. Cities should be offering free street parking and encouraging filtering to alleviate traffic.

    I got back into riding after I bought a Vespa 300 when gas was costing me like $100/week to fill up my SUV. I loved it so much that within 3 months of buying the Vespa, I upgraded to a BMW c600. I wanted a motorcycle, but I loved not needing to shift in urban traffic on the BMW. My co-worker liked my BMW so much, he went out and bought one too.

    Now I’d like to get a bike with a bit more power, but a little frustrated with lack of auto options. My left wrist is kind of weak from an old BMX injury and constantly clutching would aggravate it but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it as few manufacturers seem to have anything remotely desirable with auto or even semi-auto options.

    • DickRuble

      Honda has a DCT (that’s automatic, by the way). There is an Aprilia with auto shift.. What do you need? An automatic Harley?

      • Uncommon Sense

        I’m not really a fan of Honda’s current product line and they really haven’t put the DCT on any desirable bikes imho. I think they are going in the right direction with the Goldwing though now. IF I were considering a bagger, I’d probably go with the GW just for the DCT even though I think I like the BMW k1600 better.

        Honestly, for me shifting really isn’t even an issue. It is the fact I need to clutch. If there were a semi-auto option where you didn’t need to clutch at a stop, it would be good enough for me. The up & down quickshifting that is found on higher end bikes now is getting close though…

        • Sayyed Bashir

          You should try the Rekluse auto clutch. I had it installed on my new 2018 KTM 500 EXC-F and loved it so much I got one for my 2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R. It is available for most bikes (including Harleys). You don’t need to use the clutch when stopped. Just twist the throttle and go. You only use the clutch for shifting. Even then, with power shifting you don’t need to use the clutch (just close the throttle and shift).

          • Uncommon Sense

            I started researching them. II had been giving consideration to a BMW S1000xr or the KTM Super Duke GT. I think the Rekluse works with the Super Duke, so that may very well be a deciding factor in my choice.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The Super Duke GT is an excellent choice. Ask Mr. Duke himself 🙂

        • Ken Gillett

          Honda’s DCT allows manual shifting by button. Or you can add a foot shift gear lever as an accessory option, still no clutch to have to use. Or of course use it fully automatic. Seems like it’s exactly what you want and they’re adding it to more and more bikes.

          You want a scooter? Try the new X-ADV. DCT and you can take it off road.

          I’d say the new Gold Wing is a far better option than the BMW K1600. Although the latter has more power, is that really important for such a bike. Do you actually need to go faster than you could on a GW? More power seems an irrelevance to me.

          • Uncommon Sense

            I prefer the look of the BMW over the GW. Both are nice bikes, but the new GW is starting to look more like something I’d ride. DCT with a foot shifter is exactly what I want. I just want it on something other than a Honda!

            If I could get say a GS1200 with DCT or a Multistrada with DCT, I’d run down to a dealer tomorrow and put a deposit.

          • Ken Gillett

            Why such a downer on Honda.

            Get a VFR1200X CrossTourer. That fabulous V4 makes it a better bike than either the GS or MS – and you can have DCT.

    • RyYYZ

      I’ll have to agree on the automatic transmission front – while I’m not particularly interested, it’s a steep learning curve for anyone just starting out with no experience with manual transmissions – although it’s really not that difficult to learn. This would suggest that companies need to look at putting automatics in their entry-level bikes. I guess the Honda 700 series (NC700*) could be considered entry level, given their modest power levels.

      • Travis Donald Stanley

        The best thing we can do for the young folks is to go green!
        100mpg with a hybrid bike that is well below $10,000.
        How to:
        take the NCX and scale down the engine to 475cc and take the 22 liter frunk and put an electric motor with 15 horse power.
        Engine horse power is 47.
        Have 3.7 gallons of fuel.
        Top speed: 90mph
        Max range on battery in stop and go traffic: 25 miles
        Have a switch to flip to go back and forth from three modes, which are. All battery. All engine. Both .

  • jose

    In motorcycle circles we hear a lot about promoting motorcycles and the promotion of dirt bikes as an introductory vehicle to get more young people in two wheels. My son a sophomore in a major state university did not care about riding until he saw something practical that fit his lifestyle. I got him a used 50 cc scooter to move around in town and now he is a hard core advocate of two wheel transportation. Easy to move around in narrow congested streets, easy to park, cost close to nothing to operate, and a lot of fun. Not to say quite fashionable. The scooter is cranberry red. However, I do not see low powered or electric scooters been promoted as an introduction vehicle to motorcycling. Nor do I see advocacy groups working with cities and towns to help promote them as a means to reduce congestion in urban roads.

    • Gruf Rude

      +2. My sister (a physician in Hartford CT) loves her Honda scooter and a female friend here in WY can’t thank me enough for my recommendation of a Ruckus. Both women use them as low cost, FUN urban commuters. The industry needs to push cities toward scooter friendliness.

  • DickRuble

    Fake news, fake news…

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Dick, you are fighting a losing battle. The writing is on the wall.

      • DickRuble

        That’s why you don’t read any books? You do your reading on walls..

        • Tinwoods

          And yet HERE you are.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Hey, whether you think motorcycle sales are down or not, it is obvious that you are interested in motorcycles. Why not help promote the sport for the benefit of everyone?

          • DickRuble

            I am just stating that this is either misguided or a phony attempt as it doesn’t address the main drivers of motorcycle adoption. Falls in the category of “let’s do something” when one doesn’t understand the problem at hand.

          • DickRuble

            There’s no need to promote anything. The interests of Harley dealerships and riders and mine do not converge. I already wrote what I think of this “effort”. It’s self serving AND has exactly zero chances of impacting anything. Just like weaving ribbons out of your hair to combat terrorism.

  • Travis Donald Stanley

    Interesting stuff.
    I think a lot of this is spill over from HD not doing well lately.
    Another thing is stagnant wages over the last 20+ years. These $10,000 toys are too expensive.

    From Duke: “We need to inspire a sense of adventure on two wheels that appeals to the youngsters who might be tiring of living in the virtual world.”

    $4,499 Royal Enfield Himalayan coming out this Spring. Dealership network is growing in NORTH AMERICA monthly.
    $5,399 Versys X 300 non ABS
    $5,695 (including ABS) G310GS. BMW Motorrad just updated their site. Already in Canada.
    $6,199 CRF250L Rally ABS.

  • David Alfred Morris

    Kevin, thanks as always for your insights. IMHO the fundamental issue affecting the decline of motorcycle sales/profits in the U.S. are rooted in the cultural and economic shifts we’ve seen taking place since 2000. The sales of motorcycles in the early part of the New Millennium were pumped up by a desire to be ‘cool’, fueled by access to credit. The ‘weekend warrior’ was buying expensive machinery and accessories to match. Motorcycling’s myths and perceived glamour may still have appeal, but the reality is that motorcycling is incredibly difficult to master. “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” was relevant as a phrase for a time when roads were nowhere near as choked as they are now. I don’t worry if there are less people riding in America; in places like Asia, Africa, Latin America and India (and in some parts of Europe), people will still buy motorbikes as transportation alternatives. But in America, motorcycling is principally a personal statement, not a practical one. The motorcyclist creates his/her own art form, emblematic of committed individuality. If there are fewer motorcyclists, perhaps that’s not a bad thing – if the ones who participate are truly contributing to motorcycle culture. To wit, we can see an incredible variety of custom builders and apparel makers emerging around the world. Motorcycling isn’t dying – it’s evolving. And it will continue to do so, as long as there are those who get that visceral, even spiritual thrill that only two wheels can deliver. As Giacomo Agostini said to me years ago, “A car is transportation, but a motorcycle transports you.”

    • Kevin Duke

      Good points, Dave. However, when there’s a limited amount of money flowing around the industry as a result of fewer riders/buyers, we will all suffer, including the motojourno biz which is already suffering. I don’t think any of us want to use an “influencer’s” opinion of how a motorbike works, as opposed to motojournos who actually know their shit and will call out criticisms when they are deserved. And as our rider base diminishes, you can bet there’ll be legislative battles against us. I dearly hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised, before I pull my last breath, if streetbikes will be deemed too dangerous for public road use.

      • John A. Stockman

        I have the pleasure of knowing a few moto-journalists and your expression of the influencer’s opinion vs the writers who know their shit, is a great one. I hated the demise of my favorite print magazines. I grew up with the only way to follow motorcycles and racing them was through the pages of the US-based motorcycle magazines, and British mags and Cycle News in the US for great racing coverage. In a previous post I mentioned the safety-crats who loathe the idea of not being ensconced in a framework of safety with all manner of autonomous braking and steering systems. Many go around the world to promote their no-risk-at-all agenda. Go to European countries, southeast Asia, Australia, etc. and you’ll see many young people riding scooters and smaller displacement bikes. For those, it’s their first transportation, their first “freedom” to control where and when they go somewhere. That alone is quite powerful when your first experience with that type of freedom is on a small motorcycle. I have no answers, only my feelings on the matter. My unique experiences are not mainstream, nor popular. But I learned when I was young that popularity and quality are not mutually exclusive, and then had it hammered home during my career working for a local mom/pop old-school “stereo” store. Popular brands and popular opinions are not related to the best sound quality, yet those OEMs want you to believe it and will use many forms of marketing techno-yak-yak and unfounded claims. Claims that we debunked because we did our own testing (with the same equipment and methods that were the standard) and took things apart to determine the actual build quality. Hey, kinda like you guys do when you evaluate the bikes and accessories! Take away the hype and aesthetics, expose the true nature of it.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Unlike a stereo, motorcycle purchases are based on passion, how a motorcycle looks, feels and sounds, and how it makes you feel. Despite all the negative comments here about Harleys, the way it makes you feel is like no other bike. People love their bikes despite all their faults. A spec sheet will not guarantee that you will love the bike. It is not a utilitarian purchase.

      • Johnny Blue

        Well, if they’ll take me to jail for riding my bike on public roads, so be it…

    • hasty hughie

      David Alfred Morris, well said, well said. Sure the overall volume in the usa has dropped and that is alarming for the folks who are involved in the overall picture and OEMs whose sales are dropping. However, there are companies reporting higher sales and redefining successful products, markets and marketing. The suggestions in this article just seem lame. If it were economically feasible, maybe it would better to have coop bikes probably electric and/or affordable storage and insurance and see who has the passion that sustains to continue buying bikes. It seems that to put $$$ in the bank the big OEMs have to sell to riders with all sorts of reasons for riding, be it a season or a lifetime.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        It is also alarming to those of us who care about motorcycling.

  • Junker

    Are these the same people who came up with “New Coke” back in the day?

  • José Rodrigues

    Motorcycles should be promoted and marketed as cheap, efficient, fast transportation in America. Lane sharing should be allowed everywhere. I believe that’s it.

    I started motorcycling late in my life, mostly due to road rage while driving in heavy, congested traffic. A few months later, I found I was hooked, and soon traded my little 250 for something beefier, and started traveling by motorcycle (in my country, I can lane split, and did that since day one with my new bike)…

    When you promote riding as utilitarian, I believe that passion will follow (and who doesn’t get hooked, doesn’t have a heart IMO).

    • Starmag

      Here’s where “thinking” in the EU is going:

      “In the World Report, the World Health Organisation and World Bank have
      advised that care should be taken to avoid the adoption of policies
      which could encourage the growth of motorized two-wheeler traffic by
      giving advantages to motorized two-wheeler users.”
      https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowledge/vehicle/safety_design_needs/motorcycles_en

      • John A. Stockman

        Not the only organization that would love to see the end of motorcycling. The person that started Vision Zero, getting to where there are no deaths related to cars/trucks at all, are vehemently against something with no air bags, seat belts, emergency braking, etc. Anyone paying attention can see how fully autonomous vehicles are going to push out motorcycles. Yes, there are the technologies that use gyros for self balancing, opening the prospect for even autonomous motorcycles. But the risk of not being ensconced in a safety framework is still disgusting to the Vision Zero folks. I have introduced many people to the positive aspects of riding. Getting the right bike for your skill level, getting training, wearing your kit and practicing learned skills at least once a month in an empty parking lot. Those parking lots are everywhere; I used a local Kmart lot that was completely empty on Sunday mornings. I used a corner, far from the store, to set up some tennis balls cut in half, going through the exercises I learned from my grandfather and training courses I took. Points that Kevin brought up are true when it comes to younger folks not being attracted to riding like when I was growing up. I had my family who all rode, setting a good example of how not to be the expected & attention-getting bad-a$$ type, and present a positive aspect of riding. Me, I was hit by a horrible disability at a young age, which by the time I was 14, had destroyed my joint cartilage, fusing my entire spine and both hips, and severely affecting my range-of-motion in every other joint. Atrophied muscles ensued. But my dream of being able to somehow, some way, ride again, was always there. I didn’t know how I was going to do it considering what I was dealing with. I found a surgeon who was willing to do what turned out to be numerous joint replacement surgeries. Then the tortuous job of physical therapy, getting those muscles working again. I accomplished my dream and relished every mile, every bike, every experience I had. So many told me that it would end my life, so I should accept my lot and not pursue riding. But it came about that motorcycling saved my life, gave me purpose and a better self image because I accomplished something that almost everyone said was not possible, I was wasting resources and money. I try to get this personal message out there, maybe it’ll inspire someone, somewhere, to go after their own dream and possibly it could be a motorcycling dream. But, I still find too many who just aren’t interested. If I had done it all to play a ball sport or run a marathon, I would be labeled as courageous, with tremendous determination, an inspiration to many. Risk is all around, you will not eliminate it, no matter how much legislation and rules you apply to life. The message is that, yes, I could’ve died, but I’d rather shoot for the moon, miss and hit a mud puddle, than to do nothing because of the negativity around me telling me I was an idiot to attempt it.

        • Daninmontana12

          Very inspiring, John! Thank you!

        • rtwingman

          Way to go, John! I like your guts. I started dirt-track racing at 39 y/o. It’s very dangerous. I had a job, a home (which I owned), but I still took a chance, and don’t regret it one bit. People now days are just existing in their little bubble, with any risks removed.

    • kenneth_moore

      Motorcycling should also be marketed as a “green” transportation option. Most bikes are far more efficient than cars and trucks. Small bikes and scooters are even more so. Combine the mpg and low carbon output of a midsized bike with lane splitting and it’s pretty compelling. Or it would be, except that CUVs, SUVs, and trucks seem to be the only vehicles most Americans want to buy.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Most bikes I have average 40-44 mpg. A Toyota Prius gets 53-58 mpg. Not much of a “green” transportation option. Small bikes and scooters are OK for city riding, not the freeway. Lane splitting only in CA so far. Motorcycling will never be utilitarian in the U.S. because cars are cheaper, more efficient and more practical.

        • Clutchman11

          I don’t think a Prius is a good example here, considering that people who have one probably aren’t the main target for the “cheaper/greener” sales pitch. The people who are buying into the CUV/SUV craze but might be tempted to take the plunge though. And that demographic is way bigger than the Prius crowd.

          • DickRuble

            What’s your demographic target then? You mentioned Prius, now you’re saying it’s the wrong target. Escalade customers maybe? Downsizing to what? A $26K, 1850cc V-twin?

          • Clutchman11

            Not saying it is, but would make more sense to target someone in a single digit or low double digit mileage vehicle. Than to try to entice someone in a Prius to get on a vehicle that gets less mileage. I’m thinking more along the lines of people driving mid size vehicles who might be interested in getting beter mileage and traffic options.
            Someone driving an Escalade probably won’t even consider a smaller car an option, never mind a bike as mileage most probably wasn’t on their check list when buying their own vehicle.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Yup, a Ultra Glide as luxurious as the Escalade.

          • rtwingman

            Dick R…. There are not many 1850cc bikes, V-twin or otherwise. I bought a 900cc three-cylinder, liquid-cooled bike which will run at any highway speed you want, all day long. It sold for $10,995 when new. The talk is about how to get young people interested in buying/riding.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            So someone who is considering buying a SUV will buy a motorcycle instead? That makes no sense at all.

          • Ian Parkes

            I can conceive it’s possible. If they are just looking for cool transport for one, why not?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            They are looking for a SUV which is not a transport for one. The motorcycle can be in addition to the SUV, not instead of one. That doesn’t make any sense at all.

          • rtwingman

            It’s not about buying a motorcycle “instead”, as you say. Most every person who rides a motorcycle has one or more 4-wheeler’s. I have a newer mini-van and a 1993 Oldsmobile. This discussion is about how we get younger people riding motorcycles.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The commenter “Clutchman11” wanted to “tempt” someone who was considering buying a CUV/SUV to “take the plunge” and buy a motorcycle instead.

          • Clutchman11

            Now, I didn’t say that. All I said, or at least tried to, was that if you’re trying to sell motorcycles and motorcycling as a greener alternative it would make sense to target the (smaller) CUV/SUV buyers. As someone who’s in the market for an Escalade probably wouldn’t care less if his vehicle could get a mile or two higher mileage. In the same sense that someone running a Prius, won’t be buying a bike for it’s mileage. But someone on the fence looking for a vehicle that get’s better mileage than what they have (cue someone looking for a smaller CUV/SUV, even sedan), you might be able to tempt them with a frugal bike. Having said that, the bike in question would be more along the lines of a Honda NC700/750 series rather than something along the lines of GoldWing or BMW S1000RR.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            What you don’t understand is that the person who is looking for the CUV/SUV wants to carry his/her family, friends, children, coworkers, dogs etc. as well as groceries, shopping, home repair items such as sinks, cabinets, gardening supplies, etc. in the said CUV/SUV. None of that is possible on a motorcycle. It doesn’t make any sense.

          • Clutchman11

            See, that is what one of my frustrations is. Trying to talk about ideas with one tracks. You might want to consider that people might want to get that small CUV/SUV because their environment tells them they’re safer/better/whatever. You might want to consider that there are families with multiple cars, of which there might be multiple CUV, and shopping for another. You might even want to consider that there are people who actually would like to buy a motorcycle that is *not* (gasp! how could it be?!?) a Harley. That there are people who actually shop for a Triumph, Yamaha, KTM, what have you without aspiring to buy a Harley.
            In the same way exactly how many people do you see in a Prius/Civic/CUV/SUV that drive around daily with a full complement of passengers, luggage, garden supplies and what have you. Maybe, just maybe, people who already have a big SUV and are thinking of buying a smaller one because of better mileage, ease of parking, during their daily commute, might want to consider a bike, which allows them to go to work (where they do so alone, instead of with the whole family), filter through traffic (because they don’t have to take their garden, kitchen sink, cabinets and groceries to work everyday). Would that maybe make more sense?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I can see what you are saying, but it is extremely hard to get someone who doesn’t know anything about motorcycles to consider a motorcycle. Most people don’t like them, don’t think about them and are afraid of them. Good luck with that!

          • rtwingman

            Sayyed/ Churchman….I don’t know what can be done to get anyone -young or old- to try motorcycling. Like I mentioned earlier, I have 3 grandson’s , and none of them ride. Well, only one is old enough to street ride, but I don’t see any of them riding.
            American’s do not look at two wheels like Europeans or, say, people from Asia do. M/C’s will always be recreational to some extent.

          • Clutchman11

            Exactly. As you say, motorcycles are currently mostly recreational, but what if you could market them as an alternative mode of transport? I see that happening in Europe with the big scooters like the Suzuki Burgman, Yamaha T-Max, and now with the Honda NC series. What if something along the same lines could be done in the US? What if the millenials now buying cars because motorcycles have never been marketed at them, realize the advantages? Or at least aspects that could be advantages in comparison to cars they’d other wise gravitate to?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I think if you took your grandsons everywhere on your motorcycle, they would get interested. That’s how my son got interested. Went camping.

        • Ian Parkes

          Not sure why you need to compare cars with litre bikes or bigger. If you are promoting green transportation, a KLR is a much better example than bikes that get 40mpg. And learning the ropes on a much less intimidating bike, would make the first offroad sorties with a KTM much less scary.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The KLR 650 is not a ideal motorcycle for daily freeway commuting since its normal speed is 70 mph while traffic moves at 80-85 mph. Saving gas is a great thing but getting run over by a 18 wheeler is not.

        • rtwingman

          Sayyed…As K Moore said, American’s mostly want bigger, less efficient vehicle’s than the Prius. Today, I saw a small hybrid on display at a mall. It was small, gas mileage shown on the sticker was under 30 mpg. That’s not near 53-58 mpg. I drove my moms 1993 Olds 98′ to Florida twice and ‘averaged 24.5-26.5 mpg. As to being cheaper? That little car had a sticker price of over 26k on the window. There are damn few m/c’s with a price anywhere that.
          Yes, I’ll give you that when it rains or it’s cold, the four-wheeler is attractive. Four wheeler’s are needed when hauling things,multiple people, and in cold winter climate’s.
          However, with today’s excellent m/c clothing options and things like heated grips, you can stay warm and dry on a m/c.
          The cultural change, where kids are not playing outdoors, and are spending too much time on computer’s, is a major factor.
          I have no answer how to direct the younger generation towards motorcycling. I have 3 grandson’s, and none of them seem to be interested. I can say that American’s attitudes towards m/c’s is generally negative. With the hooligan, street-riding antic’s we see, who could blame people who have never experienced riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.
          I’ve been asked many times in over 40 years of riding….”aren’t those ‘things’ dangerous.” What can you say to someone who has no clue?

      • Clutchman11

        Agree with you there. If you can sell bikes as a green(er) option a lot of people who were tempted by a Prius for example.

        • DickRuble

          A Prius mileage is 58 city/ 53 hway, and it carries four people in comfort. What motorcycle do you see competing with that?

          • Clutchman11

            How often do you see a Prius with more than just the driver, let alone four people in it? If you continue with that logic, everyone should drive around in a Greyhound bus, ‘cos even with it’s dismal mileage, divide that by 60 people, not to bad then right?

          • Ian Parkes

            Do you own a car Dick? Did buying that that prevent you from buying a bike, or a scooter, and riding them in preference to the car on many occasions? If you don’t own a car as well as a bike you’d be in the minority. Not sure why you think others have to choose one or the other.

          • rtwingman

            Ian….Agreed – I don’t know of any of my m/c riding friends who do not own a car/pick-up/ van/, etc. We’re trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding in the m/c sales market and how to get young people riding.

          • rtwingman

            Problem with your theory is that I mostly see 1 or maybe two people (at most) in any car. I can guarantee the Prius will not get 53-58 mpg if there’s 4 adults inside.

      • DickRuble

        A car (Honda Civic) with four passengers is four times as efficient as a 1000cc motorcycle carrying only the rider. Have you wondered why the mileage of a Honda Civic with a 1600cc engine is better than most 1000cc motorcycles? The maintenance cost per mile is also less than half that of a motorcycle.

        • José Rodrigues

          We are talking about very different types of motorcycles. The small ones (300 cc and below) are much cheaper to buy and maintain than a car, and perfectly adequate for daily commuting. Larger motorcycles are indeed “toys” for grown-ups, and I agree that they are way more expensive to own than a car.

          Small motorcycles don’t have the coverage that larger ones get (and calling a 750cc bike “little” – I’m looking at you, MO! – doesn’t help in the least). Aspects such as efficiency, comfort, cost of maintenance (brake pads, oil changes, transmissions, mirrors and lights in case of unintended encounter with the asphalt) are not given nearly enough importance by the American press, nor, FWIW, by the manufacturers’ marketing departments.

          I don’t live in the U.S., but I’d bet good money that motorcycles and motorcycling is not covered in the general press, except perhaps for the occasional crash.

          This means that motorcycles will keep being recreational vehicles, out of the radar of low-income youths.

          DickRuble, your first idea for a standard for comparing costs is a 1000cc motorcycle; I think a 300cc scooter didn’t occur to you, am I right? If so, it just underlines my point, that in the U.S. motorcycles worth talking about are the large, powerful ones, not the utilitarian commuters.

          • DickRuble

            I own a Vespa 150 lx and I win 99.9% of the bets. In the USA the majority of motorcycle owners don’t know or can’t be bothered to change the oil on their motorcycles. Your assumptions hold in your country.

          • José Rodrigues

            Point taken, thanks. In my country (Brazil), motorcycles are seen as transportation, not so much scooters, but 125 to 160 “standards”. Honda CG holds more than 80% of the market here. Maintainance is cheap as dirt; an oil change for such a motorcycle costs the equivalent of 15 to 20 US$. Ambulance and hospital costs are socialized by the government (not that public hospitals here are any good), so everyone pays anyway. Different realities, different cultures.

            As of the bet, is it common to see articles about motorcycle and motorcycling in the general press? Printed news, TV news?

          • DickRuble

            You can see occasional articles in newspapers. Probably proportional to the adoption of motorcycles with respect to automobiles, that is in small amounts.

        • Born to Ride

          Motorcycles have the same service intervals as cars for the most part. Oil is twice as expensive but you use a quart or two less, and most bikes can use a cross referenced car filter. Oil changes are about the same price if you do it yourself. 80% of the commuters in California highway traffic are solo drivers. On average, cars get about 25mpg vs about 40 for bikes. If you’re gonna compare a hybrid Civic to a bike, it would be more fair to compare it to a Versys or a Ninja 300, which get 50-60 mpg. I’m not going to argue that cars have the potential to be far more efficient with car pooling and small displacement hybrid engines, but that isn’t the reality out on the road.

        • kenneth_moore

          Assuming your argument about a Honda Civic being 4X more efficient with 4 passengers is correct, allow me to point out that you’ll rarely see more than 1 passenger in most cars, let alone 4. I’ll also point out again that passenger cars like Civics are a shrinking minority segment because people are buying pickup trucks, SUVs, and CUVs, not fuel-efficient sedans. And lastly, the classic liter sport bike may be inefficient, but who would ride one of those to work every day anyway? The m/c commuters I know ride bikes like a VStrom 650, that get well over 50 mpg and cost much less to insure than a car,

        • rtwingman

          Once again, Dick….the topic is ‘how to get more young people into riding motorcycles’. It’s not about how many times more efficient a particular vehicle is than a motorcycle. Anyway, a Honda Civic with 4 fully grown adults may not get more mileage than my 3-cylinder Triumph. Put another person on the back of my bike and the advantage of the Civic would be cut in half, right?

          • DickRuble

            To get young people into riding, in a significant proportion, it would have to be a viable mode of transportation. Majority of young graduates or kids hitting the workforce have to pay for their first transportation, loans, lodging, etc.. As a mode of transportation, the bike competes with the cheapest car out there. As a toy, it’s attractive only to the affluent ones. Clear enough?

  • Roy

    I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 40 years…..Long distance touring mostly. I have many, many friends my age (65) and younger that have given up motorcycle riding on the street because of Cell Phone Texting! Every single time I go for a ride in the last few years I have an “incident” where some idiot is texting or dialing while driving. We have lost two friends due to cell phones in the past two years. Inattentive driving is another cause for lower ridership.

    • Tinwoods

      Yep. During my first twenty-plus years of riding, I never had a crash that spilled a single drop of blood–all simple slide-outs and all my fault. But since the proliferation of cellphones, I’ve been in a handful of somewhat horrific crashes, and all at the hands of a driver distracted by his/her phone. I’ve gone from being a Pied Piper of motorcycling, to being that guy who tells young people in LA who ask me about riding, “If you don’t already know how to ride a motorcycle, don’t learn here.” I hate being that guy, but I am also nailed by at least one distracted driver every single day.

    • Gruf Rude

      My wife was an enthusiastic rider who worked her way up from a tiny city bike to a multi-cylinder highway-capable moto of her own and was a wonderful pillion on a number of cross-country rides.
      She hung up her helmet 7 years ago and won’t get on a motorcycle because of cell phone texters.
      No crude “Give a Shift” campaign is going to bring her back.

  • Danny H

    As a kid I rode my bicycle until I was
    exhausted around Staten Island , i also on occasion would ride over the Bayonne bridge and find an adventure in New Jersey. At 45 years old I want to ride a motorcycle so bad and once again feel the freedom I had when riding my bike. Unfortunately as we age our coordination seems to decline , during motorcycle lessons that I have taken I found it very cumbersome to shift gears and also pay attention to the road , I keep reading about electric motorcycles but unfortunately they are way too expensive right now , but I would love to join the world of motorcycling soon.

    • DickRuble

      Start with a scooter. You can get a good Vespa for about $2K. Take an MSF course. Once you’re proficient using the scooter, think about upgrading.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Dick, you must have gotten off on the right side of the bed today. I can’t believe it.

    • Bryan Murray

      Don’t give up…I’m 57. Got back into motorcycles 4 years ago after 35 years away. And I’m still a bicycle commuter too since 1980. I credit all those years of cycling in the city traffic for far better awareness on the motorcycle.

  • Adam N.

    The problem is that kids don’t have any money. Entry level positions pay nothing now. Wealth is skewing older and older. Parents with young kids or young people coming of age just don’t have the money for a complex and expensive hobby like motorcycling. There are other problems like cellphones and video games, but categorically, if you’re 50 or younger you’re just poorer than you would have been in the past. People cannot adopt motorcycling during the narrow window that they need to. If someone hasn’t thrown a leg over by the time they’re 20 the chance they ever will goes off a cliff.

    • john burns

      thank you for pointing out the elephant in the room.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        If someone really wanted to ride, there are tons of bikes on Craig’s List for next to nothing.

        • DickRuble

          But that won’t save the motorcycle industry, which according to some needs resuscitating.

    • DickRuble

      There are other factors, but you point out one of the more important ones.

      • Commenter_X

        Of course later in the thread you argue they should not be introduced before age 18…

      • Norbert Schroeder

        In the northern climates you only ride 6 months of the year, this also slows down interest.

    • Commenter_X

      It’s not just that though – if it’s not legal to ride anywhere, even for people who *do* have money, we will nevertheless be unable to introduce our kids to it. I would be buying my kid a bike tomorrow if taking him riding didn’t involve hours of driving to get to a place where it’s lawful. Environmental extremism (and this is coming from a guy who bicycles recyclables home from work) resulting in it being effectively all but illegal to introduce a child to a motorcycle is the beginning of the end of motorcycling. Combine that with movement toward single payer healthcare in which taking health risks can now be outlawed (we forced our coverage on you and now we’re covering the costs of your care so we must also be allowed to ban any activities that raise those costs) and our great or great-great grandkids seem pretty unlikely to have motorcycles.

      • Adam N.

        Sprawl, much more than “environmental extremism” are the problem. I ride a KTM 300 off road and my problem isn’t “environmental extremism” it’s houses. All the places I rode as a kid are housing tracts, not wildlife refuges. The no trespassing signs are from landowners. Better roads and cars let people live further away from urban centers. You have to travel pretty far before you can ride a dirt bike, and it’s because of homeowners, not environmentalists. Many of them are hunkered down pretend rural Tractor Supply shoppers.

        • Commenter_X

          Not at all the same where I am. We have tons of parkland and public open space, but almost zero of it permits motorized recreation, and environmental extremists work relentlessly to eliminate what last vestiges remain. Even the mountain bike community has a huge problem with folks campaigning against permitting cycling access to trails, and some of the mountain bikers themselves are just as bad, campaigning against electric assist bikes being allowed to use what few trails there are, etc. I have hundreds of miles of off road trails near me but can’t ride any of it, I have to spend a long time in the car to get anywhere I could actually take my son riding, and as a result, he will not benefit from the fun I had as a kid (which is exactly what a lot of people, like Mr. Ruble, want), and likely won’t ever learn to ride either.

          • rtwingman

            X….I have followed the Enviro-Extremist’s tactic’s for 30 years. Their powerful and very well-funded lobbying has closed many, many riding area’s. Even logging roads out west ,which are on maps ,have been attacked. Adam N is correct, in that the problem with a lack of next-gen riders is multi-faceted.

      • Daninmontana12

        Not so sure about the “single payer” argument; Canada and the progressive European nations that all have ‘National’ healthcare haven’t had a corresponding drop in motorcycling for that same reason. I’m quite certain there’s many factors that are of higher pertinence (sp?)

        • Commenter_X

          I agree – it’s much more about access to riding areas than anything else at this stage. But if you haven’t heard people arguing that seat belt laws, and then helmet laws, and more recently banning trans fats (and NY trying to ban large sodas) are justifiable because of shared health care cost, you haven’t been listening. Once we agree that the government can force us to accept it as the decision maker on what we’re allowed to do based on our own health risks, it would be completely unsurprising for it to end up deciding motorcycles are not a reasonable risk, and poof, no more riding. Esp. once the transition to autonomous cars arrives in full force.

    • DL Nielsen

      Most young people who go to college come out with tens of thousands of student-loan debt, too. I’m sure that’s a factor as well.

      • Adam N.

        Right, so you have the problem of people possibly having a good job but being wracked with debt or no earning potential at all. Also, housing costs relative to income have gone up, again. The problem is structural in nature. Calling it a perception problem sells it way short.

    • jeff benson

      We couldn’t afford cars either in the 60s so we bought Honda90s and Yamaha80s. Such bikes might sell to millenials. Scooters do. Your argument is backwards. The manufacturers need to market affordable bikes for young people, not whine about political/economic problems.

    • rtwingman

      I generally agree that the longer a person waits or the older a person is, then they are not likely to ever ride a m/c. I don’t agree with the your money argument, though. There are tons of perfectly good, reliable ‘used’ two-wheeler’s out there. The fact that there are not enough younger people coming into the m/c ranks dictates that down demand will mean low prices.

  • Commenter_X

    I ride a street bike and wanted to get my son on a dirt bike like I had when I was a child but it’s all but impossible – when I was a kid I could ride in my own neighborhood but even though my community has tons of open space, there is ZERO of it available for motorized recreation, I have to drive over an hour to get to one place where it’s actually lawful to ride an off-road vehicle. (And law enforcement vigorously pursues anyone who tries riding in unpermitted areas or riding a bike without the right permit while robberies and murders go unsolved…)

    If I can’t teach my boy to ride until he’s 18, I’m afraid this ship has likely already sailed.

    • DickRuble

      Leave the kid alone. If he’s interested he’ll pick it up in due time. 18 is the right age as it is the legal age to ride the motorcycle on the road. The vast majority of riders in the world, in countries where motorcycles are means of transportation, not toys, learn after age 18.

      • Johnny Blue

        Now I disagree… It’s not about making the kid a rider no matter what, but exposing him to riding. If he likes it he will stick with it. We are much better at doing the things we learn as kids. I learned English, for instance, as an adult. I’ll never speak, or write like a native speaker. The same with riding. I was 30 when I rode the first time. I’ll never ride as well as someone who got started on a mini dirt bike at the age of 5.
        I have two small kids. I’d like to introduce them to motorcycling. I have no easy options to do that and I don’t think it’s fair.

        • DickRuble

          If you ride, they see you riding. That’s all they need. They will ask if they want to experience it. I picked up motorcycling when I could afford it. I am proficient at it. That’s good enough to enjoy it. My parents would have never dreamed of buying me a motorcycle. And that’s fair.

          • Johnny Blue

            Yes you are right. The smaller one, at the age of 4, is already making plans to steal my bike when he’ll grow up. So funny!!
            And my daughter, at 6 yo has been a passenger on my bike for almost one year until we moved her to a closer school.
            I also started when I could afford it. And I’m also proficient. I even had my track bike for a few years. But I will never ride like those who started as very young kids. I realize I ‘lost’ this opportunity and I would like it very much for them no to.

          • Commenter_X

            My kid has asked, repeatedly, it’s not like I’m forcing it on him. (And,while we’re at it, leave him alone? Who do you think you are telling me to leave my own kid alone? Such self righteousness is astonishing.)

            A substantial proportion of adult riders in the U.S. learned to ride small bikes when we were kids, off road, and while it seems you are opposed to off road recreation, it is not going to be good for the motorcycle industry if that opportunity to introduce motorcycling at a young age evaporates. It’s also one less source of fun outdoor family recreation as opposed to kids sitting inside on their smartphones.

          • DickRuble

            Ok, don’t leave him alone. Shove it down his throat for what I care on those vast expanses of pristine land that should be made available to you and your progeny.

          • Commenter_X

            And now the truth comes out. Heaven forbid that public lands be usable for anything other than what *you* think is ok, the same self righteousness that leads you to presume to tell other people how to raise their kids, along with the stupidity to assume anyone would need or want to force it on their kid… People like you are why our great grandchildren will no longer have the option to ride at all.

          • Tinwoods

            My two-cents: I’ve been an avid daily street rider (commuter, canyons, track days) for 35 years, but I’m not a big fan of ripping up pristine nature and creatures’ habitats just for kicks.

          • Commenter_X

            Ah, so you like to pollute the atmosphere and destroy our pristine air and creatures’ air quality and the peace and quiet of their habitats for fun then? There are a lot of people who are not big fans of that either. Guess they should ban it!

            Sounds like you (i) have little if any actual experience of trail riding and have accepted a false narrative about it without question and/or (ii) might deserve it when other people who are not big fans of burning fuel, speeding, track days, or motorcycles ban them.

            The quickness of people to accept & advocate government taking freedoms from others is sad indeed.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            The OHV funding in CA has now been made permanent. There are several OHV parks here. Also plenty of Forest Service roads and trails for dirt bikes. The empty spaces around railroad right of ways also provide plenty of opportunity. To have easier access to dirt riding one needs to live out of the city.

    • Tinwoods

      Although I had a couple of homemade minibikes as a pre-teen, I learned to ride a proper motorcycle at 19 and have been a daily rider pretty much ever since. And I just turned 55. I don’t think it’s ever too late. But as with everything else, your kid is either going to be into riding, or he’s not.

      • Commenter_X

        But if you’d never been allowed the minibikes, would you ever have learned as an adult? You have no idea, and to suggest that whether people can learn to ride as kids will have no influence on whether they ride as adults seems pretty out of touch with human nature. Know many adults who learned how to swim, or ride a bike after not learning as kids? There’s a reason you don’t.

        It’s interesting to me to hear responses defending this state of affairs, seemingly glad that kids won’t be able to learn to ride anymore. Makes me sad, personally, as well as convinced that motorcycling is not long for this world.

  • Starmag

    There’s tons of comments on here about wanting automatic transmissions. Manual transmissions never stopped anyone from becoming a motorcyclist in the past, why now? Has society become more dependent/incompetent? Manufacturers haven’t been able to give away automatics in the past. (Honda 750A 400A etc.) If you want an automatic, scooters of various sizes have been around a long time.

    • DickRuble

      “Has society become more dependent/incompetent?” Yes/yes to be facetious. Not really, to be a bit more serious. In another posting I argued that motorcycle adoption in the US has outpaced population growth over the past 30 years. What the industry desires now is increased adoption. Consider that there is a given percentage of the population that is naturally “apt” at motorcycle riding (risk friendly, coordinated, physically strong enough, etc..). That percentage is already likely accounted for. They have already adopted the motorcycle fad. Now what’s wanted is the people outside of that pool to take up the hobby. Problem is what’s left is more risk averse, or less naturally inclined to do so. Hence the need to lower the barrier to entry.

      • Johnny Blue

        I totally agree…

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Hey, finally something sensible from DickRuble. Who knew 🙂

      • Ian Parkes

        I personally don’t think we’re a sitting at a ‘fixed, given’ or irreducible number of riders now or previously. Or that those that could take it up have to see it as a hobby. Adjust the ground rules, (e,g, allowing lane-splitting as is common in countries where bikes are more popular), and above all change the image and desireability, either for reasons of practicality or image and the numbers will grow. Quite agree leather and loutishness is beyond tired.

    • Uncommon Sense

      Manual transmission also never stopped anyone from driving cars either… but now 95% of cars are sold with auto transmissions. Clearly auto transmissions are preferred even in high performance sports cars. Auto manufacturers can’t seem to give away manuals despite protestations from car gear heads claiming otherwise.

      I’d argue that motorcycle companies have never really offered a DESIRABLE auto bike. A bike with all the character we expect, but without the hassle of needing to shift.

      In the US, motorcycling is more or less a recreational activity. Some people don’t mind investing the time learning and becoming proficient. However, we are in different times now. There is a lot competition for both dollars and time. The easier you make it for someone to hop on a bike and go, the more likely they are willing to try it out. This helps grow the market.

      Motorcycling reminds me of other niche hobbies where the purist have dictated product choices to the detriment of growth of the entire market by expecting everyone to be as hardcore or willing to invest time/energy to participate.

      I remember when personal computing was largely underground until companies started making them so you didn’t need to be a programmer to know how to work one. I raced RC cars and companies would make these complicated kits and finally they figured out some people didn’t want to spend 10-20 hours building a kit from scratch and started offering Ready to Race kits for newbies that didn’t require building.

      • Starmag

        Automatics were the vast majority of cars in the 70’s also when Honda couldn’t give away automatics. At the time the cb750A was offered the cb750 was considered a very desirable bike. No DCT bike outsells it’s manual counterpart today. Used sports cars always sell for much more than their automatic counterparts. Aprilia Mana 850 Automatics seem fairly desirable but have done the opposite of flying out of showrooms and are subject to terrible depreciation despite the fact that they are from the 95% automatic current era.

        • Uncommon Sense

          If I’m not mistaken, the DCT Africa Twin is outselling the manual. I could be wrong, but swore I read that somewhere.

          Again, I’d argue they really haven’t offered a truly mainstream desirable bike.

          I view it kind of like electric car adoption. Manufacturers kept making these lame econobox electric cars and no one was really buying them. Tesla comes along with something that not only looks like a normal car, but also blows the doors off a gas car performance wise and now all of a sudden electric cars are cool and people want them.

          It wasn’t that people didn’t want electric cars, they didn’t want electric cars that don’t perform or look like a gas car.

          • Starmag

            Here’s a really great all- arounder automatic that can’t be given away for 40% off. Don’t tell me it’s not modern or desirable. Go get it or a Burgman and be happy. Everybody in the business knows that wishful comments on blogs usually don’t turn into sales.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Real motorcyclists don’t like automatics. They want to be able to control when and how the motorcycle shifts. That is the whole fun of motorcycling. Otherwise just drive the car. For others as you said there are scooters, mopeds and DCT. I think it is hard to make a automatic that shifts exactly when you want to. I know you can override the shifting but if you are going to be doing that all the time, why even get a automatic?

          • Uncommon Sense

            “Real motorcyclists don’t like automatics. They want to be able to control when and how the motorcycle shifts. That is the whole fun of motorcycling.”

            This is a prime example of what I mean when I said the purist dictating product features for the masses at the detriment of industry growth. So the only “real” motorcyclists are those who like to shift?

            I used to hear these same kind of sentiments from car guys complaining about automatic transmissions in cars and now you can barely buy a high performance sports car with a stick. Autos are fine for Ferrari’s but it is a mortal sin for a rolling overweight barcalounger with handling like a school bus called a Harley to be an automatic.

            Believe me, I get it. I understand there is something visceral about shifting and being connected to the machine. When I had a sports car I used to love to bang off the redline rowing the gears just right. However, the reality is that was like 5% of my actual driving. Same thing with motorcycles to me…

            I’m at a point where I prefer to enjoy the ride, the scenery, etc. I’m beyond the whole playing Street Rossi thing. However, I still want a bike a with stupid power on tap when I need it. I still want a bike that is aesthetically pleasing. The only thing I don’t want is to have to be bothered with shifting when I am putzing around Chicago in urban traffic 95% of the time.

    • Fiend4Mojitos

      Starmag, one more possible explanation; society has become lazy.

  • Old MOron

    Well, I’m a little late to the party, but I want to add my 2¢.

    GAS: We have a categorical desirability problem, not a product problem

    I wish to address the product problem first. If it’s true that we do not have a product problem, then it has only recently become so. The OEM are only recently developing small, fun bikes again, eg, Honda’s new Rebels, Kawi’s 300 cc bikes, Beemer’s G310, and KTM’s 390.

    Consider the Duke’s analysis: “It’s not at all uncommon for young adults to lack licenses to drive cars, and if cars are seen as too much hassle, it’s an awfully big upcharge to get anyone committed to the extra costs and risks involved with motorcycling.”

    And as JB has mentioned elsewhere, young people don’t make as much money as previous generations did.

    What we’re finally getting are smaller, fun, affordable bikes to attract new riders. That brings us to the desirability problem.

    We won’t attract new riders with the same old bad-boy image. Maybe that worked for a while, but Rebel Without a Cause was a long time ago. Today’s bad boys don’t ride motorcycles. They prowl social media. No, really.

    Yesterday’s bad boys rode bikes, dressed in leather, were anti-social and intimidating… and somehow they were perceived as cool. People wanted to emulate them. Today’s bad boys are still anti-social and intimidating, but they don’t get this way by riding bikes. They snark on social media. And guess what: people still emulate them. Just look on any forum. There’s always some dickhead trying to be negative while thinking he’s clever. And as soon as one guy starts it, others frequently pile on.

    Kevin Duke: We need to inspire a sense of adventure on two wheels that appeals to the youngsters who might be tiring of living in the virtual world.

    Exactly. The virtual world is full of bullies. Kids are killing themselves, for God’s sake. People are tired of it. Bring back the nicest people. Make it a fun adventure.

    GAS: Mothers and female ridership increase is critical

    I agree! Somehow, it makes a difference. My mom rode, not a lot, but she rode. There was never any doubt that I would ride. Then there’s my wife’s kids.

    My wife has two boys from her first marriage. Her ex-husband rode a bike. But you know what, her boys didn’t start riding until she started riding. I don’t now why, but when Mom rides, it makes a difference. I don’t think anyone is claiming that boys and girls will ride only if Mother rides, but it helps. It just does.

  • John B.

    I am glad smart and well-informed people are thinking about how to solve this issue since I have no solutions to offer. The issues listed in this article are substantial and not easily solved. Perhaps, we are in motorcycling’s waning days in the US.

    I suppose when automobiles were invented people who loved riding horses lamented what would be lost when cars replaced horses. The companionship between man and beast, the physical challenges of riding fast, the brilliant sunsets viewed from horseback, and so on.

    We cannot stop progress, and invariably progress causes us to lose things we enjoy. I really enjoy driving a car with a manual transmission and a powerful engine, before 911, I enjoyed travel, I enjoyed not being in constant contact via smartphone. Those days are gone, and so too may be using motorcycles for everyday transportation.

    Millennials are not going to change. I also doubt women are going to flock to motorcycles and save the day, but I will leave that analysis to the experts.

  • Fiend4Mojitos

    I’m 64 and have been riding since I was 16. To me it seems the majority of motorcycle manufacturers ( at least the Asian ones) are building a sizable amount of bikes such as ‘rice rockets’ and naked bikes that are appealing to a shrinking audience. A majority of riders in their 40s – 60s aren’t likely looking for these styles of rides (although my mid life crisis bike was a ZZR1200 8 years ago).
    Every 250, 350, 500 or 750 cc bike doesn’t have to have have to have a full fiberglass fairing, clip ons and a rear fender eliminator. Try building some attractive bikes again. With chrome.

    • DickRuble

      Fiberglass fairing? So “passayh”. Try carbon fiber fairing, carbon wheels, and carbon frame. Try to keep up with the times..

      • Fiend4Mojitos

        Dick, I think you’re missing my point. The fairings could be made from carbon fiber, Kevlar or G.E. Lexan (am I keeping up now?). It’s not the material used, it’s the style and shape the material is made into I’m questioning.
        By the way, it’s spelled passe’.

        • DickRuble

          Touchay

          • Fiend4Mojitos

            Dick, this is the last one. I promise:
            It’s touche’

          • DickRuble

            Monsieur, vous ^etes un savant.

          • Fiend4Mojitos

            Moi? Non.
            Ride safe, brother.

          • Tinwoods

            Hilarious, Fiend! Thank you for that.

    • Sayyed Bashir
    • Johnny Blue

      You had a late midlife crisis… 🙂

      • Fiend4Mojitos

        Yes, 10 years ago but better late than never.
        I found religion on that bike several times but what a ride!

  • Alan Loo

    The motorcycle industry has brought this on to itself. Not bringing in all motorcycles available, promoting motorcycling as a hobby as opposed to a transportation option. Not stocking motorcycles or parts, making service more expensive than a automobile. Not listening to customers, pooh poohing all new motorcyles experiments and entry level motorcycles.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      They only bring the motorcycles they think will sell. Motorcycling for most people in the U.S. is a hobby, not just transportation, otherwise cars are more economical and practical. They are coming out with more 250cc, 300cc, 400cc and 500c models.

  • Ray

    New sales are down…but what about the used market? Or does that market
    not matter as far as ‘industry experts’ are concerned?

    I’ve been riding off and on for the past 25 years and have never bought a new bike. There are new riders out there but I bet they’re not interested in wasting a bunch of cash on something they are going to drop. I really like the new Honda Rebel 500
    but am willing to wait a few years until someone decides they want to get rid of their “beginner” bike.

    Because yeah, an engine that can get you to a ton in under 12 seconds is a “beginner” rig (*shakes head).

    The MC industry is reaping the results of constantly promoting big, bigger, biggest until you have guys wondering if a 500cc bike can get them to the speed limit. And what exactly does a new bike offer that is worth the asking price when you can check CL and get just as much bike for a third of the price?

    I have zero pity for the industry’s state of economic affairs. Riders want bikes, but not at the prices they are offering.

    Regarding millennials:
    My 17 year old son wanted to ride, his mom said no. I asked her whether she wanted to guide him towards riding something sensible as a beginner or have him become street pizza at 24 when he can afford a liter bike that is way beyond his capabilities?

    He’s currently tooling around in a used TW200 because he can afford to own it at his age and he was by far the youngest member of his motorcycle safety foundation
    class.

    And guess what else happened? My 16 year old daughter wants to
    learn to ride also and she will when she passes the MSF course. In the
    meantime, I bought a used Honda Twinstar, fixed it up so that it’s ready and waiting for her when she has her license. Total cost was under $700. It’s a cool, quirky looking bike that’s as capable on the back roads now as when it was new. Only thing to really compensate for is drying out drum brakes on the go if they get wet.

    In the meantime, son and I are planning on taking the TDub and the Twinstar on the eastern part of the TransAmerica Trail this summer.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Different kind of bikes for different kinds of people and different kinds of riding. You are talking off-road and some highway riding for which a 500cc bike is OK. For touring at freeway speeds it is not. No one goes just the speed limit on freeways. In CA if you can’t go over 80 mph, you are going to be run over by a tractor-trailer. With bigger bikes you also want to get all the amenities you can get because you are going to spend many hours on it in every kind of weather. Manufacturers are only making what people want to buy. They make all kinds of bikes for all kinds of people and all kinds of riding. You only have to buy what you like.

      • RyYYZ

        A 500cc bike like the old Ninja/EX 500, or the current Honda 500 twins, have more than enough power to cruise at freeway speeds. Heck, the old Ninja had about as much power as a 1200 Sportster, in a much lighter package.

  • kenneth_moore

    Mr. Duke, several of your comments about young people were dead-on as far as my son goes. He didn’t get his D/L until he was 17; two years after he was eligible. He’s 19 and in college now, and he still doesn’t own a car, which he could easily afford. I taught him to ride a neighbor’s Ninja 250, which he did pretty well. But that was the end of it, he never wanted his own bike.

    You’re also right about virtual presence. One of my key motivations for getting a car was to go see my friends. He does that online most of the time, through a variety of services like text, Reddit, Skype, FB, etc.

    He’ll finally get a car this summer when he moves off-campus. But to him a car is as interesting as a refrigerator. And even though he loved riding with me growing up, I doubt he’ll ever buy a motorcyle.

    • Kevin Duke

      Well, you gave him the best chance from your smart encouragements. Some people just aren’t meant for being a motorcyclist. There just seems to be more of them lately…

  • DL Nielsen

    It seems to me that ever since 9/11, “safe” is what everybody wants. As a culture, we seem to be turning to less risk and everything has to be safe. (Unless you drive and own a cellphone.) Life is not safe nor is it ever risk free but we’re afraid to live.

  • Don Silvernail

    I keep hearing how self-driving cars will be so wonderful. Why, think of the lives it will save! This borders on brainwashing. If people just fall into step repeating this nonsense motorcycles are doomed. There aren’t going to be any self-driving bikes so the ultra-dangerous, old-tech bikes we currently ride will be legislated off the roads in an instant and relegated to tracks and museums.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You could still ride in the dirt. Better start now. I think initially self-driving cars will have their own lanes, just like carpool lanes today. Most self-driving cars will be in the city so the highways will still be available for motorcycles.

  • Steve Kraft

    Avid rider > 50 years / Auto Industry experience > 40 years in US and International Markets. Suggest we consider global MC Industry facts & trends to discover the marketing / segment opportunities we might transfer to the US. Start with focus on cultures where the MC is “every-day” embedded (not hobby). Enhance Safety focus & add Incentives on Equipment and Apparel. Embrace EV’s e.g. smaller basic utility MC’s (many already available as electrics and in service outside the USA.) Encourage & support OEM “trunk shows” with test drives and (defensive MC) training. Engage a nationwide MC industry council on communications and lobbying. Add & promote MC Driver Training courses at high schools and college campuses. Expand cross-sell initiatives (just attended the Chicago Boat Show … filled with boats, equipment, RV’s, etc. …. and not one 2-wheeler to be seen – with or without pedals!). Chicago MC Show coming up will attract only our shrinking customer base. Glad to help!

    • Kevin Duke

      Thanks for offering good suggestions!

  • Dale

    I think it would help the sales of Japanese bikes at least, if the dealers would allow test rides or demos. That is why I am balking. I can only get test rides in Houston at least on Triumphs, Bmws, and Harleys.

  • James Norwood

    It’s interesting seeing how this has become a forum for just a few people, with others chiming in from time to time and often being “corrected” by the dominant voices. I got hooked at age 25 riding on the back of a friend’s Ducati 750 SS in Germany when I needed to get somewhere. I guess my daughter got hooked when I used to take her to school on my FJ1200. My son never got hooked. I never took him anywhere by bike. A factor? I don’t know. The one suggestion I read in this thread that really struck a chord with me was the idea of taking user friendly bikes to non-bike shows. Car shows, boat shows, camping shows. Those cars displayed in malls – why not bikes? With bike shops having to purchase their stock outright, I think there is a disincentive for them to risk their stock in a mall or send their personnel to a non bike event. I think the manufacturers would need to step and help with the expense of doing it. I also think they should try it.

  • di0genes

    “I believe kids today are disinclined to be uncomfortable, like being cold and wet/dirty on a motorbike, preferring to interact with peers via social networks in the comfort of their homes.”
    Well I am in my 60’s and I don’t like being cold wet and dirty either and never did, strangely, this disinclination to be cold wet and dirty is not just found in humans, I have seen the same preferences in neighborhood dogs, cats, squirrels, even tiny little sparrows, worms, on the other hand, seem to like it.
    As far as the kids go, the real problem is not that they prefer the comfort of their homes, it is that their homes are too comfortable. In my day we all lived in small houses with large families, I had to ride my bike to get away from my idiot brothers and my parents who were always giving me shit about one thing or another that I had done or more likely not done.
    So there’s the real problem, today’s kids have their own rooms their own TV, computer, cell phone, etc., they did not buy those things themselves… It’s on you mom and dad.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Move the kids to the dog house. That’ll get them riding.

  • Bryan Murray

    My observation…seems to very few if any responses here from the very people that the industry is trying to attract. Moving on, from that where I live we have some of the highest downtown parking rates in N. America. Let’s get the cities to offer free parking for bikes. I’d say that would get some attention. I go to work both by bicycle and motorcycle (Vstar 1300). Secure indoor bicycle storage is free, street parking for the Vstar is $8 per day. My usage ratio per week is 4:1 in favor of the bicycle. Make motorcycle parking free and that would change. Next thought…the manufacturers should offer one day long free demo days. Low powered smaller bikes of course with a prompt eviction policy for idiots. But I remember how hooked I was after day one of my course even after being into it for $1000 or so for the course and some gear. Just let anyone (ladies only days, older folks too!) come out for the day and get a taste with competent instruction.

  • DaveMarsha Timmerman

    I think that an issue we don’t give credence to is the cost of insurance for new riders, upwards of $3000 per year… this becomes a very rich kid game, especially for a millennial crowd that really shows no care or worry about getting and keeping a job that pays well.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      It depends on the kind of bike they buy. A Honda Rebel 250 or 500 will have much less liability than a Ninja 1000.

    • Born to Ride

      Maybe don’t buy a superbike for your first ride then? I paid 240$ a year for my then 5 year old SV650 when I first started riding in 2009.

  • DanV

    1. The cost of insuring (new riders especially) is prohibitive in some areas. Suggestion: manufacturers create their own insurance company to enable more reasonable premiums for new bike purchases. 2. Product cost is escalating in lock-step with content; I can’t afford the next new bike I would like to purchase, even though it has a host of features I don’t want or need. Suggestion: Manufacturers should adopt selling practices like the auto industry and offer “strippers” as a base model product and let customers add the options they like. 3. The activity of riding a motorcycle has an image problem with too many liabilities including “unsafe” and being portrayed as socially outcast (no thanks to Hollywood for that) among others. Suggestion: Market more aggressively in social media platforms where new rider candidates spend their time.

    Unfortunately, it’s no longer enough to produce a stellar product.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Go to any car dealership and try to find a stripped down base model. You will find none, because no one buys a stripped down base model. They have cars with the basic features everyone wants. Same with bikes. What are the features on a bike you don’t want? There is so much choice in the market, it is hard to fathom someone can’t find a bike to buy.

  • jeff benson

    In much of the US a bike is only useable around half of the year or a bit more due to winter conditions. So a bike has to be made attractively and cheaply enough for a car driver to think parking his car outside of winter is worth his while.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      A car driver is only going to ride a motorcycle if he likes motorcycling, not because a bike is attractive and cheap. It is an added expense and hassle.

  • BryanB_Raleigh

    I’m going to take a sentence you wrote here and change it for a broader approach.

    We need to inspire a sense of adventure that appeals to the youngsters who might be tiring of living in the virtual world.

    It seems like with most things outdoorsy or risk inclined, that we are fighting an uphill battle with most of today’s youth. To limit this statement to just motorcycles or hiking or racing is shortsighted. I think many of us are inclined to be involved or interested in some way to other facets of being outside and enjoying something, and as a whole we should come together to help eachother out. I understand this may not be the best train of thought for this specific group, but like you said in this piece, how are we to introduce people to motorcycles when they don’t even want to learn to drive a car. Perhaps just focusing more on that thought will help come up with better ideas more specific to this group and their mission.

  • Ian Parkes

    I get the impression the day after you get your bike licence in the US a dealer will happily sell you litre-plus crotch rocket, and staying alive is very much an optional extra. That sounds like the opposite of what the safety bubble generation wants.

    Here in NZ, you are restricted to approved learner bikes when starting out on the road. The range of bikes tops out at 650cc for bigger-framed individuals. Some are torquey and fast but all avoid a savage power delivery. And there are govt subsidised skills courses (pay $50 for a $300 course). You can choose one a year from the range and most insurance companies will refund the $50 for you anyway. Twisty roads feature billboards warning motorists to look for motorbikes, or tips for riders such as ‘look where you want to go’. The overall impression is that motorcycling is seen as valid for normal people, not just for human hand grenades.

    I also think the image Vespa and Lambretta profited from for generations – that’s it’s cool urban fun for guys and girls – has a lot of mileage in it, and fits in with the green message. It would appeal to people that think 4X4s are ridiculous. Apparently in LA that’s not many but it must be some.

    Not sure why several comments on this thread are bringing litre bikes into the discussion. There’s no surer way to scare most people off.

    • Kevin Duke

      Great post, thanks!

  • James Edward Zeiser

    The solution to this problem is simple. Do you know why I ride? My Father rides, still, at age 91. He taught me and four of my siblings. I involved my daughter, stepson and my late wife. They all received bike licenses. You said it above. Fewer children ride bicycles, the entry drug to motorcycles. Baby Boomers were too busy making money to buy Harley’s to ride bikes with their kids. You want to shift the dynamic, get motorcyclists to get involved with their kids. Riding bicycles with them or putting them on the back will kick start more two wheeled involvement.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    I see some reason for hope. I see more young men and women into motorcycling here in SoCal the past couple of years. Many are riding lower powered, lower cost but still cool Guzzi V7s and Triumph parallel twins. A ton are on FZ-7s. This is a positive change, although I could gripe about the general lack of skills seen in these newbies. Some of these kids are likely using their bikes for at least a part of their commuting, but most importantly they are having fun and are likely to recommend riding to others or just lead by example.

    Unlike those of us who went from pedal bikes onto motorcycles as soon as we got learners permits for the personal freedom it gave to us, new riders today will be brought into biking by their friends at a later age and as a group activity for the most part. We need to encourage that attitude at every opportunity.

  • Randy Knapp

    I think you all are forgetting about what it takes to ride a motorcycle compared to riding in a car. We have to dress differently and not be concerned if a spot of bird poop or mud gets on us. The current video game generation would never leave the couch or chair if they did not have to pee or poop. Why would they want to suffer the discomfort associated with riding a motorcycle. The only way to get more riders is for those of us that are parents is for us to shut off the video games and grab the kids and drag them outside into the mud and elements. Yes I ride but not like in my youth back then I might only lose three weeks to snow and ice. My sister rode up to shortly before her death. I had her twins boy and girl on bikes just before they turned four. I loaned one of my bikes to him once his Z50A no longer fit. At 14 he was on a CL350 of mine……I put a rebuilt engine into that Z50 A 7 years ago for his first born..Now he has two boys of his own 10 and 3 and they go dirt riding with their dad

  • Don

    Motorcycle manufacturers and especially the motorcycling press have all but abandoned the entry level bikes that draw young, potential, riders. How is a 16 year old going to afford a 600cc sport bike and survive if they manage to get one? OK, I am older, have been riding for 50 years, and was very lucky to have started on a used Ducati 250. If you are not drawing in new riders with entry bikes they will never mature to riders purchasing high end bikes. IMHO

    • Kevin Duke

      I take offense at the blame on the motorcycle press. We’ve tested every small bike available in America. And we’ve published several article that espouse the joys of riding smaller bikes.

    • kenneth_moore

      This critique is hard to understand. There’s been a remarkable increase in the number and variety of 500 cc and smaller bikes available. And there’s been a steady stream of articles and reviews about them on MO and every other m/c journal I read. I can’t think of a time when a new rider had more choices and variety in rides ranging from high-end KTM 390s to inexpensive Japanese (and Chinese) 250’s.

  • Bill Oakes

    Where are the motorcycles on any TV series? Where are the on/off road bikes that could go anywhere? John Ponch bike cops???
    Where is the Advertising on TV? You meet the nicest people on a Honda. Why is no one promoting this?
    Now it seems an entry level bike is 10 second 600!!

  • Jeff S.

    Cars are not cheaper to maintain or cost of operation. The real issue is the way people drive and the speed limit. Driving 70+ on the highway is a joke. You get a semi driving 75 will push you to the gutter. Peoples driving habits are the main reason I see on the highways as stupid ass people! No enforcement anywhere, this is the main problem in Wisconsin. Why do people have to drive that fast?