The motorcycle industry is in trouble and it’s all my fault. When I say “my,” I mean millennials. We get blamed for being lazy and entitled – and now for the decline of the motorcycle industry. Aging motorcyclists are going out faster than newer riders are coming in. Younger folks just don’t seem to be interested in motorcycling, they say. This has caused manufacturers to dump millions into not only marketing, but also research and development to create new motorcycles in order to save the motorcycle industry. They need to find some sort of solution.

But the truth of the matter is that we need to find some sort of solution. I am a motorcyclist and a millennial. The declining motorcycle industry isn’t just bad for OEMs, but without a change, we will start seeing how it’s bad for all of us.

The entire industry is now banding together to brainstorm on what we can do collectively to bring new motorcyclists into the fold. Industry insider Robert Pandya has introduced the Give a Shift initiative. Give a Shift began as “a roundtable with some industry leaders and bring in other new perspectives to discuss some issues, float some solutions and make the transcript and a summary report public to help those of us who care deeply about motorcycling,” according to Pandya’s LinkedIn article from October 26, 2017.

Save The Motorcycle Industry

Robert Pandya, giving a shift.

Many of my friends and colleagues attended the first Give a Shift meeting and have had positive things to say about it. The GAS initiative had its second group meeting last night, and those who were there were hopeful it can be a platform that breeds positive change for everyone involved in motorcycling. None of us want to see the day that manufacturers stop investing into the aforementioned marketing plans and R&D.

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Scot Harden has had a nearly 40-year career as one of the world’s top off-road racers and has compiled a set of records that few can match. Scot was also in attendance at the first Give a Shift meeting, and he suggested an easy, realistic way to get more people riding: Bring your buddies who don’t ride along with you. Simple as that.

Interview With Zero’s Scot Harden

This is a grass-roots idea that doesn’t take time and focus groups to confirm. A few friends of mine who started out as coworkers are the ones who introduced me to riding off-road. Since then, I can’t get enough of it.

“I’m advocating for a grassroots evangelism on a one-to-one basis across the nation, and I am labeling this initiative ‘”Plus 1.’” Harden says. “It really won’t take much. All we need to do is share our passion with our non-motorcycling friends.”

Harden then goes on to outline 10 easy ways each and every one of us can help contribute to the sport we love. Yes, even millennials.

Take a look at Harden’s article Advocating For Motorcycling’s Future from the January 2018 issue of American Motorcyclist in which he explains and outlines his ideas.

Have you brought any of your non-riding friends into the world of motorcycling? Tell us about it in the comments section and let’s broaden this conversation further than just between industry veterans and insiders.

  • jeff benson

    Put out some Goth and Emo style customs? Whatever they do apparently they have to have automatic trannys. (Can I still say “tranny” or is that prohibited now?) My daughter is the only Millenial I know who can use a manual transmission which her Stella has.

    • Sallie

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      • Jon Jones

        You’re ruining our little discussion here, doll.

  • Sentinel

    Motorcycles are to “icky” and “dangerous” for a generation of pansies. lol

    • Gruf Rude

      “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” got my generation riding (small, urban practical bikes put a lot of us on wheels). Not sure Pandya’s border-line crude “Give a Shift” is the messaging that will bring non-piratical new riders into the fold.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    The lead photo will certainly get the ATGATT nazis’ panties in a bunch.

    • Jason

      You need gear to sit on bikes?

      • Sayyed Bashir

        But you need gear to get there.

        • Junker

          Well, not the guys who trailer their hogs to the Saturday night pirate reenactments at my local HD dealer.

          Bras are apparently optional, too, although they should be a requirement for most of their old milk cows.

          • Sentinel

            lol

        • Jason

          No doubt stacked out of the shot.

  • Jon Jones

    This breaks my motorcycle-loving heart. Not so sure if things will get better here. At least the third-world and developing countries seem to be doing well, motorbike-wise.

    So very glad I’ve lived in some of the best times for motorcycling. I want to ride the awesome wave forever, but we know that all things must pass.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      Still riding the wave. I have older friends still riding at 75 and 80, so if I am equally fortunate I’ve got a decade or so to look forward too yet. Just hoping the industry stays healthy enough to support my habit.

      • Jon Jones

        That’s my concern.

    • Sentinel

      I really don’t expect motorcycling in general to be going away anytime soon. Overall sales are only really down from their peak boom numbers prior to the bubble bursting in 2008. But if you look at sales before the bubble, we’re right about where we were. This doom and gloom is all more of a hysteria than anything real. So be happy, and ride on my dear brothers and sisters!

      • Jon Jones

        I understand the figures you point out and agree with that. One of the biggest issue still is the crazy costs of running a dealership. We’ve lost a huge number of dealers the last ten years and more will follow. Some needed to go, but many good shops died with a whimper.

        The manufacturers bleed dealers dry in so many ways. Triumph lost a bunch of dealers more recently with ridiculous demands.Then the costs of running a business in states like California is insane and only worsens. Wages for downtrodden wrenches like me are stagnant, yet the complexity and demands of the job grows and grows.

        Customers have also become increasingly asshole-ish and beat us up on the prices of everything. Parts sales have plummeted due to web purchases. And the margins on bikes are usually a joke. You’ll often make less than $500 on an $18,000 sale.

        So forgive me, but from my standpoint in the trenches I’m not that optimistic at all for the future of our beloved sport.

        • Jason

          Buying a car or motorcycle at a dealership is a miserable experience different than any other purchase. Who wants to spend hours haggling over price? List a real price online and streamline the buying experience. It should take no more than an hour, preferably less.

          There is no reason to go to a dealer to buy parts when they can be delivered to your door for free. Plenty of dealers are more than willing to sell OEM parts online for a reasonable price.

          • Jon Jones

            I understand and agree.

            And at some point there will be only one dealer left, if that.

          • Jason

            OEM direct sales? Sign me up. Dealers add little to no value to retail sales. Their value is at the parts and service desk and many fail at that.

            The last time I took a motorcycle to a dealer was for a fuel connector recall on my BMW. It was fine when I took it in, leaked when I got it back. It took THREE trips (120 miles each) to get it right!

          • Jon Jones

            No doubt, many dealers and especially service departments suck.

            I’ve been fortunate and have worked at two very popular and competent shops for a total of thirty years. I wouldn’t work at anything less. I need to feel good about what I do and who I work for.

            OEM direct sounds good until service or warranty work is required, but maybe that’s where we’re headed nonetheless.

          • Jason

            I do the vast majority of mechanical work myself but I would much rather take my vehicle to a competent independent shop than a dealership. That is what I did for timing belts on my VW TDI. $800 vs $1300 at the dealer.

          • Jon Jones

            Good call. I’ll likely shift to working at a good independent shop in the near future. I’m a bit fed up with the lousy labor paid for warranty work and other demands of dealership wrenching.

          • Sentinel

            All very valid points of course. I myself however, do more often than not, call my orders in to the dealership, and then just go pick them up when they arrive. With smaller orders this coasts me no more than ordering online, and it also supports the local dealers and economy. As for dealers also selling parts online, I think that would become a bit more to manage then they’d most likely be willing or able to deal with on-top of all that’s required to run a dealership.

          • Jason

            Some dealers are getting with the times and beefing up their online presence. Other’s aren’t and slowly go out of business. The ones that make my life easier get my business. I don’t care if they are 1 mile away (my closest dealer) or 2500.

            I’ve only been the dealer 1 mile away twice. They didn’t have model I was interested in (5 non-abs bikes in stock but not one with abs) and they don’t sell parts online. Monday – Friday they are only open while I’m at work, and Saturdays I’m doing something fun not standing in line at the parts counter. How does a business expect to stay in business when they are only open when their customers are working?

        • Sentinel

          Absolutely! I didn’t mean to oversimplify. Those are all very valid points. Not all is as it should be, but at the same time, I’d say not in a death-spiral either. I do see the responsible parties as being the manufacturers themselves first, and dealerships second. As for pissy customers, some have very legitimate reasons for being so. Believe me, I have my share of own personal horror stories dealing with them and their piss-poor service departments. I’ve always done most of my own wrenching, and while I used to take my bikes in for services when I was stretched for time and such, I won’t even do that anymore. And if a warranty item needs taken care of, I’ll either allow the dealership to do the work, provided I’m present and watching like a hawk while it’s being done, or I’ll just buy the part outright and eat the cost myself. In the end, the sales and customer relations part lies squarely on the dealerships. And all too often they have been a miserable experience and failure.

    • Born to Ride

      It is one of my big fears that I will outlive the motorcycle industry. However, The upward trend in sales these past couple years for Ducati and Triumph(my two favorite brands) has been encouraging.

  • Junker

    Motorcycles are expensive, impractical and dangerous. We can’t change the last two, but I have a feeling the first is where we went wrong in the US. We have this notion that a bike is worthless unless it has 200HP or it is a magnificent garage queen that cost more than most people have in their 401k. There are just not enough people who can afford either these days, certainly not millenials yet.

    • Johnny Blue

      I fail to see how a motorcycle is impractical. I ride mine daily and it shaves 30-40% of my commuting time. It’s probably more correct to say it’s impractical in your neck of the woods… And I don’t ride a 200HP beast. Only 150+… old, reliable and cheap 954 Fireblade.

      • Junker

        I dunno, the weather is pretty great around here for motorcycling. If weather were the only consideration, I guess you would be right. Some people don’t want to gear up every single time they go anywhere, might want to have more than one passenger, might need to carry home a giant TV, and on and on and on. Hard for a millennial to fit one in the budget when they basically need another vehicle go with it. I know some do it, but very few.

        • Jon Jones

          I know they’re very pricey and not for everyone, but “gearing up” got a helluva lot faster when I purchased an Aerostich.

    • Kevin Duke

      There’s a ton of great bikes that retail new for less than $8k and even less, and we test ’em all, so info about them is accessible to everyone. OEMs have been cranking out high-end bikes to serve a lucrative market, and we can’t ignore them either. Used bikes, of course, are even cheaper, so the too-expensive theory only makes sense to me when the cost of riding gear is included in the value equation.

      IMO, it’s the “impractical” part of your theory triad that is the area we’d have the best opportunity for change (bikes will always be dangerous). The commuting advantages of parking space and lane-sharing need to be exploited. Registration fees should be lowered to account for the negligible damage motorcycles inflict on roads. And rider training should somehow be made free of charge. Any smart ideas are welcome! Bring ’em on!

      • Mad4TheCrest

        Kevin, those ideas you presented in the last paragraph make good sense. For a start I’d like to see more cities in CA designate motorcycle-only spaces as does San Francisco. I’d also like to see bike registration fees drop to half that of cars (at least), or keep ’em the same but use half the money to find that free training.

      • Junker

        On the expensive side also add maintenance and insurance.

        Anyway, I think you are right that there are some nice advantages in certain situations. But the impracticality I describe below to Johnny Blue is a deal breaker for some, and there is no way around it.

      • Max Wellian

        Well, Harley dealers have lots of parties to keep their owners entertained. Of course that’s funded by their insane profit margins.
        One of my dealers has a riding group. The other offers monthly street rides that are open to the public. He also has adventure rides for those with bikes that can handle some off roading.
        I think both of those are great ways to make riding more of a social activity. We introverts may relish riding alone, but humans in general are not all happy doing things by themselves. Anyway, such extracurriculars are kinda rare among non-HD dealers.
        It could be argued that the social inclusion is a big part of HD’s success.

  • Starmag

    It’s sad that people have to be “talked into” motorcycling now. Smartphones are a curse.

    • Buzz

      Phones and Global Warming brainwashing. Why on Earth would you take up a hobby that requires killing the Planet?

      • Born to Ride

        I’m going with overpopulation on this one. Nowhere to learn how to ride the right way—in the dirt. I am fortunate enough to have a father who wanted to live on property and is a lifelong motorcyclist. Riding a motorcycle has been a near daily part of my life since I was 8-9 years old. Most kids growing up in suburbia or in a city have no place to ride and overly protective parents that keep them in the house. It’s unlikely that I would have the passion for riding that I do had I grown up in a Track house or an apartment.

  • Rob

    Most of the commentators here (as an example) are why motorcycling isn’t attractive to younger folks. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of far-right, gun loving, old, white dudes/dads? When they (old white dudes) all got into motorcycling there were women scrawled across magazine pages. Now, with the decline of print, it’s a lot easier to see who really rides, and in a lot of cases, it’s not great. The modern version of this will be showing co-ed groups at some scenic overlook on “an adventure ride”. Pander to what the audience finds interesting. Millennials love to “escape”. Get writing.

    • roma258

      You’re not wrong. There was a group of guys in my city that got together for Sunday rides and weekday BS sessions that kind of took me under their wing and “showed me the way”. They were/are mostly Euro-bike riders and non-comformists, and it’s a really welcoming, come as you are environment. We need more of that, not angry old guys bitching about millenials and their phones and instafaces, etc.

      • Rob

        I agree, that’s been very similar to my experience as well, so anyone that knows motorcycling through me is pretty positive about the hobby and views it through the same lens. Motorcyclists/motorcycling is a great activity that is very accepting once you get into it. I know nothing but good people through it, but from the outside, it brings up tons of cliched school-era sayings about “10% ruin it for everyone” or “needs attitude adjustment”, lol.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      Gun-loving, right wing dudes? In SoCal at least many of us are just the opppsite, but as long as we don’t bring up politics we get along just fine with our conservative brothers and sisters. Motorcycling is one of those passions that transcend other differences (except brand biases :)).

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Yeah, I can relate to that (brand biases).

    • Born to Ride

      Riding and “hanging out” are two very different motorcycle related habits. Some people like to talk about riding more than actually riding. Others like to get on the bikes and go somewhere. If you don’t wanna hang out with old dudes, then don’t. Owning and operating a motorcycle has little effect on that decision.

  • Brace Peters

    I believe that Rob, Roma and Junker nailed it

  • Brace Peters

    Totally agree with Rob, Roma and Junker. Millennials and their successors that I know are heavily oriented towards outdoor activities – many activities, not just one or two, and are in general far more inclusive than us angry Gen-Xrs. With this in mind, I expect the following is necessary to spark interest and participation in riding:
    1) Make people aware of the fun in urban and rural adventure, and the bike as a part of it – not the one and only focus. Show that riding can be an add-on activity to a busy schedule, an enhancement that compliments other activities or expands on existing interests. Motor companies have been at this for ages now. When I bought my truck last year (Taco), the brochure pdf showed more photos of people engaged in activities than the vehicle.
    2) Overcome the cliche’ images of riders as either ‘the pirate’ or the death-seeking speed addict. The idea of the rider as an individual, not someone who is buying an image and can select either the pirate or racer package, needs to be embraced. Isn’t that what we’re seeing with the interest in Retro and Adv? An alternate to these models? Along these lines, Roma258 nailed it with his description of his mashup of Sunday riders. Real people have different tastes and so will want different riding styles and looks. Change the image in peoples heads so that when they think ‘riders’ they think of a group of diverse riders – men and women (of different ages?) with cruisers, nakeds, adv’s and retros riding together – and get away from the notion of a crowd of neatly matched pirates or power rangers.
    3) Provide bikes that are easily accessible from a ride-ability and financial standpoint. Again, the target demographic is already doing many things and so likely has less time and money they are willing to dedicate to riding than previous groups. This means a wide range of bikes that are nearer to entry level in approach-ability (weight, power, riding position, ergos) and cost. I realize that there are tiny profits in these small bikes, but I struggle to imagine a 20-something or 30-ish year old with plans on a family dropping $13k for a Tiger, GS, or modestly appointed HD. Maybe the money is in maintenance and mod / custom parts.
    I’d be curious to see how recent bikes that are aimed in this direction fare: Thinking of the Duke 390, Versys 300, BMW-310 and Rebel 300/500.

    • Jason

      I agree that the millenials I know (At 40 I’m technically one too) have lots of outdoor activities. I think that is part of the problem. They are already riding bikes (road or mountain, or this time of year fat bikes in snow) They hike, backpack, camp, rock-climb, snowboard etc. They already have expensive and time consuming hobbies that require them to pack up and drive someplace to do them. They don’t need or want another expensive hobby that they need to go someplace and spend the day to enjoy. This is why motorcycles need to be practical transportation as well as fun weekend toys.

      That means motorcycles need to work for commuting in the cities where millenials and most of the US population lives. (50% of the US population live in cities of more than 1 million and traffic starts to back-up at about 300K people) That means lane-sharing needs to be legal.
      Today is most of the country riding a bike takes longer than driving. You have to put the gear on, then sit in gridlocked traffic with the cars, and then take the gear off. Why would a non-rider do that instead of just driving the car they already have? Why spend thousands of dollars to sit in traffic on a motorcycle? Now if riding a bike cut 20 – 30 minutes off your commute everyday that equation looks a lot more appealing.

      Off-Road riding also needs attention. Today, most of the population can’t just hop on the mini-bike and ride road, fields, and trails around their house. (If the stories are to believed that is how most of the boomers learned to ride) Off-road riding requires loading a truck and trailer then driving outside of the city to a ORV riding area or motorcross track. That is a huge commitment in time and money unless the parents already ride. However, many of the parents interested in off-road riding converted from motorcycles to ATVS and then to UTVs and their children follow suite. Fixing this requires more riding opportunities IN cities and urban areas. That means electric bikes to take care of the noise issue. Lots of places have go-cart tracks in urban areas. There is not reason something similar couldn’t be done with electric bikes.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        Agree with everything except you being a millennial. You’re a tail-end Gen-X’er or early Gen-Y’er with your formative years in the 90’s, without any doubt.

        • Jason

          Gen Y is just another name for Millennials. That said, I am between generations and different sources call me either a late Gen X’er or early Millennial. I’ve seen Millennials start as early as 1976 and as late as 1884. The generations as I commonly see them:

          1946-1964 Baby Boomer
          1965-1977 Gen X
          1978-2000 Millennial / Gen Y
          2001-???? Gen Z

          In reality I’m a blend of both Gen X and Millennial. I remember a time without computers, learned to type on a typewriter, and didn’t have a cell phone until I was 25. However, I like my media to be digital and would much rather take a trip than buy some more junk to fill my house. My goal is to retire at 45 and slow travel the world not buy a Porsche and McMansion.

          I like the sub-generation label Oregon Trail Generation. (1977 – 1983) I remember playing Oregon Trail on the Apple IIe at school after finishing my drafting classes (on a drafting board).

          • Max Wellian

            I thought a millennial was someone raised after 2000. At 40, you were well into your 20s at the turn of the millennium.

          • Born to Ride

            Yeah I thought the upper end of millenials were in their early 30s nowadays.

          • Jason

            Millennial: a person born in the 1980s or 1990s —usually plural

            https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/millennial

      • Kevin Duke

        Excellent post, thanks!

  • Ellie Green

    Triumph, KTM, BMW are all up this year. Unless you consider HDMC to be “The Industry,” it really doesn’t need saving. Sales in Asia are strong, and even Europe (down 1.6%) are not too bad. If you actually go to those countries, there are VAST numbers of young riders there. Guess what? They have smartphones too! Shocking, I know.

    Millenials don’t have a motorcycle problem. America does. If you want three things you can do to increase ridership in the US that isn’t a touchy-feely pile of garbage that every rider on earth already does, here’s my list:

    1. Advocate for universal health coverage. Fear of injury isn’t a problem with riders, fear of living the rest of your life in a debt trap is. And if that car driver next to you had the same insurance supplier, maybe he would think twice about casually running your bike over.

    2. Advocate for better public transportation. Snow is a thing. Who wants to deal with both a car and a bike when your employer only expects you to have only one of those two things to be able to get to work. It is much easier to say yes to a bike in a city that has other functioning options for getting around.

    3. Do more training, and encourage it in others. Advocate for more stringent licensing requirements and stiffer penalties for dirty or permit riding. Riding a bike is hard. It needs to be percieved that way. Things like lane splitting will come easy when the rest of the populace sees us as formally trained experts and not lawless squids.

    Are you seeing a theme here AMA? Like maybe tractor riding diplodocuses aren’t your only constituency? There is a completely sane and reasonable place for motorcycles to be – on city streets where congestion is choking us to death, not in some dentist’s garage. Who is fighting for us? Not Maggie, off on her farm.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      Of your 3 points, only the third – training, is something we can expect to affect in the near term, because it’s mostly under our control as a motorcycling community. Still all 3 are clear-eyed and valid (at least in spirit if not methodology) and should be pursued.

      • Angela

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    • roma258

      Great post. I would add lane splitting and moto parking. Lane splitting/filtering makes bikes a much more viable choice on both choked city streets and choked highways getting you to and fro. Moto parking gives you somewhere to park when you get there, that doesn’t treat your 400 pound 2 wheeled vehicle the same as a 3,500 pound sedan or 5,000 pound truck.

      • Rita

        Go-o-gle is paying 97$ pe-r- hour,with wee-k-ly payouts.You can also ava-i-l this.O-n tuesday I got a brand new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this l-a-st four weeks..wi-t-h-out any doubt it’s the most-c-o-mfortable job I have ever done .. It sou-n-ds unbelievab-l-e but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it!sw672d:↛↛↛ http://GoogleOnlineEasyEnergyWorkFromHome/online/easytasks ♥u♥♥♥r♥d♥♥♥s♥♥♥h♥♥d♥m♥d♥i♥♥y♥♥♥h♥♥♥o♥♥♥c♥x♥l♥u♥m♥♥h♥♥♥y♥♥a♥♥♥n♥y♥♥n♥♥t♥♥♥w:::::!kx631u:lweiya

        • Brace Peters

          did anyone ever tell you that you look just like Irma? It’s uncanny.

    • Born to Ride

      I just had to buy my own health insurance for the first time(Turned 26 last year). And I had to choose a plan that is double the price of my peers because the likelihood that I’m going to need an outpatient surgery for a broken leg or collarbone is massively higher. That does indeed suck, but the problem is with the healthcare industry, not the health insurance industry. The prices for medical care and pharmaceuticals is several orders of magnitude higher here than it is in the vast majority of the developed world. Shifting that burden of expense to the tax payer doesn’t help make healthcare affordable, it just means that if you’re broke, everyone else is picking up your tab. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if that tab wasn’t so astronomical. Legislators need to do something about regulating the industry and what hospitals can charge patients in exchange for better protection for doctors against malpractice under the law. Until that happens, it won’t matter if we have universal or individual healthcare coverage, it’s never going to be affordable.

      • roma258

        You just need to look at how other countries keep the costs down. Primarily because either the single-payer government provided health insurance has massive negotiating leverage, or because there are strict cost regulations. Also most pay for outcomes, not for individual services, which reduces incentive to over-load on unnecessary procedures. Malpractice insurance is pretty low on the chart of cost drivers.

        • DickRuble

          There is some truth to what you write, though you seem to be biased by a UK experience. Other countries (Norway, Sweden, France, Germany) also have good or better healthcare. One common trait between these countries: their doctors are not multimillionaires and there is no cap on the number of doctors that can be trained. Doctors are trained at government’s expenses and are paid like teachers are.

          • roma258

            Yeah, bottom line is that lots of parties are getting very rich from the status quo, and the cuts in spending would have to come from somewhere.

        • Goose

          Having personal and the experience of friends in this and other countries I couldn’t agree more. A friend broke her leg in New Zealand, from the ambulance ride through the X-rays to being cast and released it was $500 and that because she wasn’t a local.

          My mother had an incident that required a short ambulance ride. The ride ALONE was several thousand dollars. There were tens of thousands of dollars more in bills when she got to the hospital.

          The US system is geared for nothing but making the rich richer. If people get better it is only due to the hard work of the doctors and nurses.

          • MyName

            I cut my finger up and needed stiches a few years ago. The ER charged my over $100 for a couple sheets of gauze… the same sterile gauze I could get a Walgreen’s for maybe $2.

      • Jon Jones

        Infuriatingly true. Even with (shitty) insurance, a mishap at the local MX track cost me about 10K out-of-pocket. The medical bills were rife with errors and dubious, insane charges. I decided to live with a screwed-up knee rather than continue getting fleeced.

        • Born to Ride

          Yeah that’s exactly what I’m hoping to avoid. I like a policy that clearly defines in dollar amounts what each of my Copays are. That percentage based crap is extortion waiting to happen. I’ll pay an extra 100$ a month for the peace of mind that I’m never going to be buried in medical debt.

      • Martin Buck

        Health insurance is exactly the problem. Other countries don’t have the insurance industry dictating who can and who cannot receive health care. Removing the insurance industry would vastly reduce costs and eliminate waste. Countries with national health care provide this for far less money. The insurance industry is a vampire sucking blood from the economy. It is an instrument of the wealthy for increasing their own wealth and creating misery for millions. They now have so much capital they are virtually an empire within the USA, and can pay for lobbyists to create legislation favorable to themselves, and defeat all attempts at a sane health policy. So many people in the US health system receive kickbacks and payments from the health insurance industry, that it can only be perceived as a corrupt system. USA IS a shithole country, from a healthcare perspective. And you only have yourselves to blame, voting in the idiot legislators who only vote the way they are told. A nationalised healthcare system is NOT communism, it is a sane and workable system that applies in most of the civilized world.

        • Born to Ride

          Lol, thanks for the well learned and non-biased response to a multifaceted issue. You’ve offered me wonderful enlightened information and not just dogmatic talking points from the singular perspective of an outsider who understands little of our culture and social welfare systems. Bravo!

        • TonyCarlos

          What you say is true, but only one political party is proposing fixes that would actually make the system better.
          And it’s not the one currently in power.

          • achates 349

            My oh MY, you need a lesson in the the Way the Real World Works. You have much to learn, Cricket…

        • achates 349

          Cost/Quality/Access

          Pick any two…

    • john burns

      Excellent overlooked point. Another key that dare not speak its name, would be to quit electing people to office who want to give even more of the country’s wealth to those who already have way more than enough.

      • khc

        The problem is the excessive amount of money needed to run a political campaign, making politicians, i.e., the rule-makers, beholden to their wealthiest donors. One political party, in particular, has been very clever in turning a word used to describe a more fair system of wealth distribution – socialism – into a dirty word in the U.S. (where capitalism has run amuck). ‘Haven’t heard any talk of “campaign finance reform” in quite a while.

      • Obdurate Verity

        LOL- I worry more of politicians that take my money and give it to folks through entitlement programs that they do not deserve. Political skepticism goes both ways. When I give to charity I prefer it goes to them directly not through Uncle Sugar’s vote getting schemes.

        • Frud

          Interesting how both of your comments exemplify the political divide in the country. I think both if you should try to look at things from the other person’s view. There’s got to be a middle ground where people who really need help get it while ensuring people don’t take advantage of the system. Politicians do a great job of dividing us by convincing us that there’s no middle ground and the other side are either lazy and entitled or stupid and greedy. Truth is most people aren’t any of those things.

      • Tom M. Batchelor

        Mr.Burns, who do you think employs the vast majority of people? Wealthy folks, either in medium to large privately held companies or, corporations. So if I’m understanding you correctly, you want to reduce the wealth of those who employ and therefore, the hiring and payroll potential of employers? How’s that going to give younger folks the cash to get into motorcycling?

        How about fewer Art History majors in colleges and more technical oriented education? There’s a lot of money to be made as a welder, machinist, even mechanic. And a lot less educational debt than a degree few can do anything with to make a buck. Employers are scrambling for filling technically challenging positions and the labor pool is shrinking because so many folks who graduated college can identify a Rembrandt, but have no idea how to read a tape measure.

        • TonyCarlos

          What you are ignoring, Mr. Batchelor, is that most new companies, the start-ups that we need for the future of this country, are NOT launched by the wealthy. And these are the companies, that with some luck, will be hiring the employees in the years to come.
          You are also spouting the rightwing bogus talking point about how giving more to the wealthy will improve employment in this country. It won’t. Companies grow and hire because their products and/or services have found a market and consumers want more. Not because their CEO got a tax break. Legit companies that see the need for growth can fund it with readily available borrowed funds, currently near record low rates. Handing them millions in reduced tax rates and deductions simply makes the corporations more profitable than they already are (at record levels), it does nothing to make them hire.

          • achates 349

            You’re completely wrong, one wonders where you got those ideas, Saul Alinsky? Heaven Help the Republic.

          • TonyCarlos

            The economic principle you are defending has already been tried. It was labeled trickle down economics. Even GHW Bush knew it was voodoo economics.
            It failed then. It will again.

          • Stephen Stephens

            Trickle down did not fail. It brought us out of the Jimmy Carter days when Interest was at 23%. You are full of shit.

          • achates 349

            Thank you Stephen, Carlos is probably too young to remember what went on way back then. No doubt spending too much time listening to red-diaper college professors…

          • Mark Lehnert

            Why does it always turn into class warfare? Stay on topic and leave the socioeconomics and political issues out of it. Jeez…

          • Joe Smith

            It actually has everything to do with socioeconomic issues. More people don’t have the money to buy new motorcycles, even if they wanted to.

          • Mark Lehnert

            What I mean is that its not peculiar to the MC business. People find money for what they want whether it’s a meal out or a $1000 smart phone. Priorities. My point was to lower the entry level costs and size expectations. It seems that no one offers a S90 type starter bike, just $4000-$7000 250cc+ “starters.”

      • achates 349

        Or to people who are unwilling to carry their own weight.

      • Time To Fish

        Thats such BS…Who the hell says they “have enough”. Who are you to set that bench mark? Such an ignorant and childish comment.

    • Obdurate Verity

      I had to Google “Diplodocus”… I thought it was a new word for leather clad happy pirates.

    • Michael Link

      so this isn’t about getting more riders…it’s about insulting people who actually ride…

    • Fabien Sicart

      You have good points, specially Health Care. I was just checking and sales in Canada are growing for 6 years in a row.

    • 安藤龍

      Japan has literally all three of these things, but this market is suffering from the same problem of a lack of budding motorcyclists. This is due to a bunch of things, but the money involved is foremost.

      It’s far cheaper to take public transportation (in the rain, snow, etc.), it’s available everywhere, and owning a motorcycle is expensive here (taxes, parking, gear, biannual inspection if 400cc+, etc.) so “why bother” ends up winning. Getting a license through a school is also expensive (1000 bucks and up), but you can get a license at 16 here for up to 400cc (I sure as hell didn’t have that money at 16).

      The industry is trying to do something about it with incentives for day-trip touring discounts for the expensive highway tolls but nothing is really looking up for young people wanting to ride. Plenty of old guys around in the mountains on Ducatis in full leather getups or Harley’s at rest stops on the highway though…

      Remember this? The struggle is real.
      http://fortune.com/2016/10/05/honda-yamaha-scooters/

    • MJS

      Universal Health Coverage will not effect sales. I have never heard “I cannot ride a motorcycle because I might get hurt and end up in debt”. This may be your thoughts, and very unique thoughts, but I feel that has no impact. Is that what your work place insurance, motorcycle insurance, and insurance on the other driver are for? Not just for replacing the bike. Your lead in is great regarding revamping the medical industry and their ridiculous costs.

      Better Public Transportation will have no effect. You may live in a big city and this may have an effect on your purchasing. But for all of us outside the cities our employers could care less how we arrive. Just that we arrive and do so on time.

      More training is always good. But that would not sell bikes. Just make those operating them safer handlers. The public no longer sees the biking industry like it did in the 50s and 60s. So many of us older people are riders and have been for years. Riding a bike is not hard. I know kids 6, 7, and 8 years old riding mini bikes and small cc bikes that do fine.

      But I do appreciate your thoughts and those are ideas I never would have thought of. It makes a person think.

    • Rightwheel

      1. As a lifelong rider, I can tell you that I am much less worried about the debt that a crash might incur and far more worried about getting dead or permanently maimed. I have excellent health coverage, but that does not make me careless of getting hurt.
      2. What? Employers want you at work on time. They absolutely do not care how you manage it. For most people, a bike is a secondary mode of transportation they own for the fun of it.
      3. So we’re going to encourage new riders to enter the sport by making it more difficult to do? Riding a bike is NOT hard. Kids three years old learn to do it. I mean, please. If you want to discourage the perception of lawless squids, discourage lawless squids. Stop treating stunting on public highways as heroic. Stop promoting the bikes with lurid wheelies and pavement-streaking slides on magazine covers. Down vote idiot video antics posted up on FB et. al. Scold the fools who do it.

  • Gruf Rude

    “…an easy, realistic way to get more people riding. Bring your buddies who don’t ride along with you. Easy as that.”

    Really? ATGATT, anyone? ‘Just hop on the back of my CRF250L and I’ll show you the woods’? ‘Climb aboard my Tuono and we’ll check out Topanga Canyon’?

    I’m having a tough time seeing myself in this “Easy” scenario.

    • Kevin Duke

      Easy doesn’t mean without some effort…

      • Gruf Rude

        It might be ‘easy’ for a bike magazine staffer or a Honda dealer to have spare sets of protective gear and helmets to properly outfit the ‘buddies’ for that evangelical ride in the canyons, but speaking for myself, the concept is a non-starter.

        • Mad4TheCrest

          I was thinking the same. I don’t know if a pillion ride is the way to grab a new rider anyway. Someplace safe to ‘play’ on a small unimposing bike a few times with fellow budding enthusiasts is the way to being in newbies.

          • Gruf Rude

            Exactly. So now “Easy” is a garage with tiddler dirt bikes, extra protective gear, a truck/trailer and a safe play area within reasonable driving range. “Easy” for someone in the Industry; for the rest of us, not so much.

          • Kevin Duke

            The point is to expose non-riders to moto things as much as possible. That might be as simple as showing them your bike and sharing why you love it. Or invite them along in your car when you go to a shop to buy a tire or a helmet. Or bring them to a motorcycle show, even if you have to take a car. Many people today aren’t exposed to motorcycles, so for the future health of our sport, we need to find ways to keep motorbikes in the minds of non-riders. Good suggestions will be much more constructive for our benefits than tearing down ideas that are possible partial solutions. I want more people riding motorcycles, however that can happen, otherwise we run the risk of being legislated out of existence due to safety concerns. If you have great ideas for how to bring in more new riders, we’d love to hear them!

          • Craig Hoffman

            A major roadblock is that bikes have clutches. No big deal to a motorcyclist, a big positive even, but when you say the word “clutch” to most young people, they run away.

            Was looking at cheap cars for my 20 year old daughter, found a Honda CRV that was perfect in every way, but it was a 5 speed. My kid could not be cajoled into even thinking about learning to drive a stick. Crazy stuff, but true.

            Scooters might be an avenue for younger riders though. Start on a scooter, which of course can be anything from a tiny city 50cc to a super model capable of highway cross country travel, get used to riding on two wheels, get hooked and have a desire to explore riding bikes. Scooters are cool. I don’t have one and don’t have room in my garage shop for one (3 dirt and two big street bikes stuffed in there) but I would like to have one.

            The real way in is parents. A riding friend has a 4 year old, the kid is already tearing it up on his electric Ocet bike, and recently won a tiny tot BMX race against older kids. He is gonna be the next Travis Pastrana 🙂

          • Jason

            In 2016 93% of cars were sold with automatic transmissions. If motorcycle manufacturers want to stay relevant they need to make motorcycles with automatic transmissions. Yes, many current motorcyclists will laugh at them (and this is a problem). However, automatics aren’t for current riders, they are for the 99% of the population that doesn’t ride a motorcycle. To expand the industry the industry needs to adapt and change with the times.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I think they also don’t like the way motorcycles look: all exposed engine, transmission, exhaust, shocks, etc. They look very technical, industrial and too complicated. Cars learned a long time ago to hide all the complexity. Scooters fill the bill by hiding everything. Just sit on it and go. The Honda Super Cub was also a step in that direction. For some people that is all the motorcycling they want to deal with.

          • Junker

            Hmm, interesting point. I never thought of the mechanicals as something that could turn people away, but I think you may be right…

          • Kevin Duke

            Time for another PC800 Pacific Coast…?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Yes, the PC800 hides all the complexity but is big and imposing:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4cae948309254c3b3b91f5b4805bb2df06272764cef282e91b3f755709922a58.jpg

            Or the NM4 which has a low seat height and looks like a scooter:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/105473eb6c4a0d21458660f6cba00f2e52b212e36706cb9d8e4392037ff3be46.jpg

            I wonder why its not selling? The motorcycle crowd doesn’t like it and the non-motorcycle crowd doesn’t know about it.

          • Brace Peters

            Interesting data re:93%. Anyone have info on how well Honda autos are selling?

          • Craig Hoffman

            Agree. The difficulty is cost – DCT type systems are expensive. Maybe we will see bikes with big scooter power trains in them. Hard core riders would scoff of course, but that would work.

          • Kevin Duke

            Unfo, that didn’t seem to help sales of Aprilia’s Mana…

          • JAORE

            Good point, I’ll bop right down to my Aprilia dealer and…. Oh wait, there are ZERO in my state.

  • Craig Hoffman

    The future of motorcyling faces two significant challenges:

    1) Lack of off road opportunities for kids in most parts of the country.

    When I was a kid living in Ohio, I could literally ride right out of my back yard. There were power lines to follow, and an whole network of trails. All that is shut down now. Going to an MX track is not the same, a kid has to be able to just get on the bike and go, unsupervised, which leads me to my 2nd point:

    2) The advent of “helicopter parenting”

    Blessed to have the freewheeling childhood I had, and sad for kids now. Parents did not “hover” over their kids back then, kids were to be seen and not heard, the parents were primary and lived their lives, the kids were secondary.

    Now it is common for parents to have their fingers in every aspect of their kid’s lives, to plan their play dates from birth, worry incessantly about what college they will get into when many young people would be far better served putting their hands on mechanical things.

    There is a dire shortage of skilled workers in the US. For example, I was at a body shop the other day, and the owner is drowning in business told me he literally can’t keep up with the business or find people to do the work. He had a bunch of smashed Teslas, and not enough help to fix them.

    Motorcycles from an early age can be a training ground for all things mechanical, but
    sheltered “trophy kids” with fully planned lives are not future motorcycle riders. It is the rare “body shop kid” who will be. That kid will always have a good paying job, and a better life than most of the college bound kids too.

    It is funny, I have a friend from a very wealthy family, doctors, lawyers, the whole bit. She was a Sr. Accountant for a large corporation and was the least wealthy. The one in the family who has the most money? Well that would be her brother who has his own asphalt business 🙂

    In the end, motorcycling is not for everybody, and perhaps we don’t want it to be. It will be smaller in the future, and that is fine. Only the committed and cool people who know what they are doing will ride – kinda works for me…

    • Jon Jones

      A masterpiece of a post, Craig.

      Funny, a customer my age purchased a ’79 RM125 like yours at the first shop I worked at as a partsman. We hit it off and rode together constantly. He nailed a rock and wasted his front wheel on one outing. That was the first wheel I learned to lace and true, just like your post discusses.

      Good times.

    • Born to Ride

      Further up the comment chain I basically made the same argument to Buzz. I agree with you on all points. I had so much more freedom than most kids do these days. I grew up in the country right outside of suburbia, I have miles and miles of hills and trails around my house and I had the opportunity to explore the crap out of them on my XR100. As long as I was home by dark, stayed off the roads, and called Home if I was going to a friends house, I could ride my dirt bike pretty much anywhere and as much as I wanted. I don’t know that I would be the passionate motorcyclist that I am today without that childhood experience.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Amen, my brother from a different mother 🙂

    • Alaskan18724

      Still plenty of off-road opportunities in much of the country!

  • SRMark

    make something worth buying

    • Kevin Duke

      What exactly do you suggest? I don’t think there’s never been a time in which there’s been more great choices in motorcycles.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        I think there’s been times with clearer distinctions between the merely ok and the great than we have now. Maybe the side effect of everything being so capable is nothing truly stands out, giving the impression of fewer great choices when the opppsite is true?

      • SRMark

        I will buy maybe one more new bike in my ilfetime. It’s not up to me to make suggestions. But millennials seem to like Honda CB350s. Why not offer something that looks like one of those. Yamaha seems to be trying, but their stuff is a jumbled mess. Maybe a 350 version of the Enfield Interceptor might strike a chord. Maybe there enough used bikes to go around. Hard to say. Glad I’m not in motorcycle sales.

      • Jason

        Motorcycles with automatic transmissions.

        How about the Honda Rebel 500 or CBR500 with the OPTION of DCT and ABS? Right now the NC700X is the cheapest bike with an automatic transmission. Great all-around commuter bike but a bit large for a first bike.

        • Sentinel

          The Honda DCT has major and serious issues which after all these years have still not been positively addressed and remedied. In particular on the new Africa twin it has been a disaster like no other. Regardless, I don’t think turning motorcycles into glorified scooters is the answer either.

          • Vaughan

            I’d suggest automatic transmissions would sell. It would open up potentially a whole lot of new riders; look how few people can or be bothered with a manual transmission in their cars.

          • Sentinel

            That may be the case, but until a solid and reliable one is introduced, and it saturates the market to some degree, we’ll never know for sure.

          • c w

            The view that auto trans bikes are glorified scooters might be part of the problem.

          • Sentinel

            The “Honda NC700X” surely isn’t doing them any favors in that regard…

      • Sentinel

        I’d go so far as to argue there are actually “too many”, and that the market has become over-segmented and specialized as a result; not a “good” thing.

        • Born to Ride

          There are still plenty of really good all rounders. Vstroms, Versys, SuperSport, SV650, CB500s. It’s just we don’t lust after these bikes.

          • Sentinel

            Very true. I especially like the V-Stroms and CB500X in this regard. I was very disappointed to find that Suzuki chose to remove the dual helmet locks and ample underseat storage space from the latest incarnation of the SV650. That was a definite move in the wrong direction. However, depending on your definition here, I’d say that Supersports don’t really fit in with the others mentioned.

          • Born to Ride

            I meant specifically THE Supersport. As in the new Ducati all rounder sport bike. I included it to add a premium bike to the list.

          • Sentinel

            I really like that bike, but not the maintenance headaches and cost. That alone pulls it right out of the running.

          • Born to Ride

            18k mile valve adjustments aren’t bad. It would probably be a 1000-1200$ service though. I’m not sure how expensive that same service is on something equivalent in Japanese.

          • Sentinel

            For Japanese bikes, from what I’ve seen, it averages around $150. But beyond paying someone else to do (botch) the job, myself and many other longtime riders do this service ourselves, which costs no more than $30 or so. Another problem in this regard with Ducati is their Desmodromic valve train. Comparatively few riders can or want to service it, and the specialty tools, instructions, and materials required are way too much than many will want to deal with.

          • Born to Ride

            You are disseminating inaccurate information. There is no way that a valve adjustment at a dealership on any shim and bucket bike is 150$. They charge 2-300$ for a goddamn oil change(first service). They wanted 600$ for that job on my Triumph at the Yamaha/Triumph dealer in San Diego. In contrast, a valve adjustment for an air cooled Ducati by the “professionals” would have cost me 400-450$. Thankfully, adjusting the valves on a 2 valve desmo engine is easy as pie(no than pulling cams or making 16 separate measurements) and requires zero special tools. The 4 valve engines, I have been told, require twice as much work and a specialty cam holding tool like the vast majority of twin cam engines do to replace timing belts. It isn’t a job that I would personally like to undertake, but given my faith in others skills is probably right on par with yours, I would probably do it myself if it wouldn’t void my warranty.

    • TronSheridan

      There are plenty of bikes “worth buying.” As riders we’ve never lived in a time with more selection of great bikes.

  • Alaskan18724

    1. Give your kids motorcycles and teach ‘em to ride. Kids that don’t like motorcycles are mostly kids who haven’t been around motorcycles.

    2. Ride well and responsibly. If you are obnoxious, or, worse, dangerous, you’ll turn off your entire circle. Make people want to ride. Make people say, “That looks Police fun. I want to do that!”

    • Born to Ride

      I do not personally know any street riders my age or younger that didn’t grow up riding dirt bikes in the desert or in the hills around where they live. Period.

    • Gruf Rude

      That is what I did, and when the realities of child-rearing arrived for my Millennial, the motorcycles got sold.

      • Alaskan18724

        I did the same thing. My eldest is now 28, and still completely hooked on motorcycling. He’s not married, and trades around frequently for the latest and greatest.

        • Alaskan18724

          Most of the time, he has more motorcycles than I do. He thinks they’re better ones, but we have to Indian wrestle over that….

        • Born to Ride

          Latest and greatest bike, or woman? Lol

          • Alaskan18724

            So you know him?

          • Born to Ride

            Heh, Sounds like a man after mine own heart.

    • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes
      • Alaskan18724

        Indeed, it does not. As we used to say in the Air Force, a thousand “attaboys” are wiped out by one good “Oh, Sh*t!” More civilly, as night follows day, news outlets can be relied to pick up horror stories. Now and again they’ll pick up some humanitarian effort by riders as a feature story, but, they’ll also “tell you ’bout the plane crash, with a gleam in her eye.”

    • Joe DeBiasi

      Yay

  • Warren W. Weiss

    Millennials aren’t buying cars like we used to, either. I guess their transportation and recreational needs are just different.

  • Sentinel

    I really don’t expect motorcycling in general to be going away anytime soon. Overall sales are only really down from their peak boom numbers prior to the bubble bursting in 2008. But if you look at sales before the bubble, we’re right about where we were. This doom and gloom is all more of a hysteria than anything real. So be happy, and ride on my dear brothers and sisters! 🙂

  • Old MOron

    I taught a friend from work how to ride. She went on to get her moto license. There are two teenagers at my local coffee shop who’ve seen me on my bike and who have expressed an interest. I’ll get them on bikes, too, if I can!

    • Born to Ride

      Spread the gospel!

    • Obdurate Verity

      Offered to buy a motorcycle for my two oldest kids, took them both to MSA safety course (they passed) and they turned me down…Only my youngest 12 year old daughter has shown any real interest. One out of three is not bad I guess.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Make sure their parents agree with you, otherwise if something happens, you will be held responsible.

  • BDan75

    If you want to see the future, look at general aviation (small private aircraft). We’ve been fighting this for a long time, with little or no success that I’m aware of. Sales a tiny fraction of what they once were, prices sky-high, average pilot nearing 60, and no new blood coming in. (If you think the barriers to entry with bikes are high, try airplanes.)

    No, it’s not going away entirely….and who knows what technology might do…but if things continue like this it’ll eventually be a very small group of dedicated, rich hobbyists. I suspect motorcycles are headed for roughly the same place.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Trends are hard to turn around because they are based on a changing reality. Driving, riding and flying are left over from the do-it-yourself era. Now we are in the era of letting someone else do the driving and flying while we engage in the more fruitful pursuit of chasing down business or pleasure (games, news, reading articles like this one). For many people owning a car, motorcycle or airplane is a expensive and unnecessary hassle.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Sadly upvoted. My wife hates driving and can’t wait for self-driving cars. Commuting on a motorcycle here in Silicon Valley is not fun (although time-saving), because nobody is paying attention to driving. It’s even worse in San Francisco, people intentionally squeeze you out when you’re splitting lanes or they’re looking at their phone. It’s exciting but in all the wrong ways.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          If you look badass and are on a badass motorcycle, people will get out of your way.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            On 6th and Howard, headed to the Bay Bridge, a loud pipe will get you a squeeze out. Cars are the bigger badasses out there.

  • TronSheridan

    Millennials can barely drive cars, or are barely interested in them. The think 5 years from now robot cars will whisk them anywhere they want so they never have to stop looking at their phones (might happen in 50 years). And you think they might be remotely interested in motorcycles? Nope.

    Also, parents and media think EVERYTHING is dangerous. So let’s avoid everything that is challenging and scary (either physically or intellectually).

    • Sayyed Bashir

      “might happen in 50 years”. With Uber and Lyft it is a reality now. Book the ride and pay for it on your smartphone. Get in the car without taking your eyes off the phone. Then get out of the car with your eyes still on the phone, without having seen anything of the outside world. Who needs to drive a car, much less a motorcycle?

    • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

      There’s always some outraged mom out there who lost a kid to motorcycling. I remember this one mother who decided that hang gliding should be illegal because her son crashed and died. That campaign fizzled out quickly. There are no old, bold pilots.

  • Alaskan18724

    1. Bring the Monkey!
    2. Make a 300 Monkey.

  • Angela

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  • Mahatma

    I personally would like for the motorcycles to go back to basics.It’s like every bike out there has gone down the transformer-look road.

    • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

      I think my F650 turns into a robot after I put it away at night. It looks like it should turn into something!

  • c w

    Get more people on bicycles as transportation from a young age.

    When they need to start going farther, they might see adding a motor to that experience as viable.

    Develop viable motorcycle/scooter share programs.

    Dealers and financiers should look into moving into a one-bill-per-month-covers-all model like Volvo is starting for its cars. I surmise that part of the reluctance to purchase has to do with a perception of the various things one has to remember to pay for (expensive/complicated). Having insurance, maint., note, etc. all covered in one monthly bill might be attractive to a newer generation.

    AND social media/networking simply cannot be ignored. A much as we current riders might want to the ride to be about separation from the noise of internet, the Networked Generation is going to respond to that connection. What if mfgs started selling bikes with helmets with BT connections (again – one less thing to buy separately)? A few companies are already connecting dashboards. How about including GPS radios so bikes have built-in navigation? It doesn’t have to be total face/twit/gram immersion; just similar to a user experience they are already used to (thus: “connected”).

  • Rick Papa-san Shaw

    Want to save motorcycling in America. Start offering “Riders Ed” in addition to “Drivers Ed” in high school. If manufacturers want new customers, offer free or low cost classes. Teach new potential customers how to ride as early as possible.

    One of the main obstacles I had to getting a bike was finding a way/place to learn how to ride. I didn’t have any friends that ride and professional classes were too expensive and out of my area. If H-D hadn’t offered a free riding class for veterans, I might never have gotten my license or my bike. At 50, I now that I ride, I wished I could have started sooner.

    I’ve talked to a lot of people while riding who said they would love to ride but don’t know how or where to learn. The local community college offer classes cheap but I wouldn’t recommend them to taller or heavier people as they use really small 250cc bikes. Safe but difficult if you don’t fit a certain body size.

    People don’t just start driving a car, they learn first then they buy. The motorcycle industry is so intent on SALES to current customers that they are ignoring the real problem, getting NEW customers. The second half the problem is a potential customer coming up with the money to buy a bike. The first half is getting those riding skills into the people who are even mildly interested.

  • Alex Bub

    I own an MSF dirt bike school and over the last 17 years have brought a few thousand new riders into the sport. We teach from 6 years old to the oldest male being 72 and the oldest female 66. Many students are convinced to take the schools from rider friends, some its in their bucket list. The last 5 years our schools have been close to 50% male and 50% female. That has been a great surprise! Many go on to get a street bike permit.

    If current riders could convince friends to go to a beginners school and take it themselves as a refresher it would help bring more riders into the sport. Give a friend a gift certificate for a class, that also works. We have hosted three bachelor parties over the years where the groom is a rider and he is tasking his wedding party to become riders. Great fun and leave the drinking to an afterwards event. We have even hosted a few reunion type all girls school. Think about using a dirt bike school as an event for your church group (we have done three of those) or even an event for your ATV or street oriented club. Expand your riding experiences to include learning traction control on dirt surfaces.

    It’s very cool to be riding the trails or even on the street and have former students come up and tell stories about their experiences. Some include the Trans American Trail, the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail, Dual Sport rides they have taken part in, visiting ghost towns on Adventure Bikes in Colorado, even trips to Vietnam for 5 day off-road tours. Awesome and very rewarding as an instructor to hear about their adventures and a tinge of jealousy of not being with them.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Good job! We need more people like you in the motorcycle industry.

    • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

      I always recommend riding classes when people express interest in motorcycling.
      They often provide small bikes for noobs, who want to try before they buy.
      I didn’t learn that way, there were no organized classes so I started in a parking lot and then expanded onto surface streets. I don’t recommend it these days, not when good programs are available.

  • Steve Clark

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/092b2cbfc9de8c509cf43a397e8e913e5a3c5132dc6d2535a8244c12f44b8f24.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2cf0ad6d8ae8b23b54ceaa6490f8bc35e85835600507872183476d56db666055.jpg

    I started to ride in 1980 at 22, one day I was looking at a new truck across from a Suzuki dealer, I didn’t buy a truck, I kept my four year old 1976 Chevy truck. I bought a 1980 Suzuki GS550-4, it was a two wheel formula one to me. I took the written test then went to the riding part, waited an hour when somebody came out of the DMV and said you passed the instructor quit last week.38 years, five bikes two grown boys I still ride,gave my younger son a 96 Honda VT1100C2 he would not touch it so I ride it and an 82 Honda GS500I.Bikes don’t need to get flasher and cost more,the ones I have had worked and some are now antiques I bought new but still work.Bring back bikes like this with FI and ABS,I would buy one.

  • kurt

    If more people who owned motorcycles rode them , it would stimulate new riders.

  • Malcolm Turncoat

    Don’t ride a bike if you can’t afford healthcare, its that simple. You will have an accident one day when you get injured.

  • JWaller

    One thing we can all do to help grow the sport of motorcycling, is refrain from being a dick. I recently had a sport bike rider tailgating me when I was with the wife on a grocery shopping trip (so my day was bad enough already). I was driving the speed limit, but could not get over to allow him to pass as there were no shoulders but stepped curbs on both sides of the lane. When it split into two lanes, I immediately got over into the right lane so he could pass me on the left. He revved up and quickly passed by very loudly, being sure to give me the middle finger as he sped away. What a great ambassador he was. I also recently saw a youtube video of some guy saying he wouldn’t ride with any other rider who would wear a particular brand of cheap motorcycle gear. The guy in the video was riding a Ducati Diavel, so he is obviously someone who is blessed with more money than others. And while the particular brand he was dogging is known to make budget gear to a price point, it might be the very best gear some can afford. And isn’t that better than no gear at all? It might be hard or impossible for some to invest in Dianese gear, particularly when they are just starting out. This particular budget brand, I pointed out in a comment on the video, was used by one of the Motorcycle.com riders on a couple dual-sport/ADV reviews you guys did. The d-bag said y’all were probably being paid by the company to wear that gear. To that, I responded that if the gear was such a death trap, a professional motorcycle journalist would point that out and would not risk his or her life wearing it. My logic probably fell on dear ears.

    I make every opportunity I can to be a good ambassador or motorcycle evangelist, if you will. I ride just about every day, in all sorts of weather. I recently rode to work in the snow in my Ural. I rode into work on the day Hurricane Harvey’s outer bands hit. I just make sure to dress accordingly. I am a school teacher, so I get to influence the next generation of potential riders. I’ve taught a few former students how to ride. I’ve gone riding with my former students and rebuked the ones who were doing things to bring discredit upon the motorcycling community. When I’m out riding, I make a point to smile as often as possible, which just comes naturally because I enjoy it so much. No “cruiser-face” here. I take the time to answer questions people inevitably have, particularly when I’m riding my Ural. I carry additional gear in my Ural’s sidecar so that I can give willing folks an impromptu ride. I probably tip better at restaurants whenever I’m out riding because the ride puts me in such a positive head-space that I’m at my happiest and most generous.

    I got to ride and spend some time with Pandya last spring at an event he hosted for sidecar enthusiasts. He was a very nice fellow and put on a good event. He was riding a very cool tricked out Indian sidecar rig. He didn’t look down his nose at those of us on relatively cheap and simple rigs. I think he, like most of the rest of us, were mostly impressed by one Frankenstein rig one of the fellows was riding. It was a rolling work in progress made of parts the guy could source. Part Ural, part Dnepr, part BMW, part Chang Jiang, part Steib, 100% unique and awesome.

    The best thing we can all do to save the motorcycle industry is strive to be better people. All the rest will follow.

  • octodad

    It will be an Asian manufactured electric that captures the market. Under 6k, no shifting, light weight, sporty as hell…seen the new Cub?…battery fits quite nicely

  • MJS

    A kayaking store used to hold demo days down at the local river launch site.
    Put the people in a boat and they will want to buy one!

    I feel getting a dealer or two together and set up a demo day with a handful of their small CC bikes at a neutral site in an area with a big parking lot and a large field so tip overs won’t be so damaging.
    Could teach some quick biking tips and offer free hot dogs and sodas.
    Explain riding gear and how it helps you.
    Go to a dealer today and ask to demo a bike and they laugh in your face.
    Buy it – then you can ride it.

    FREE sells!!

  • TonyCarlos

    If we hope to draw more riders from the non-riding general public, we may want to consider how we are seen by them. We annoy and deafen them by equipping our bike with illegal exhausts, scare them by stunt riding on public roads, and reaffirm their opinions by driving up highway accident/death rates.
    A little self-policing would go a long way.

    • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

      I get 70 mpg with my F650. Imagine my surprise, after a 120 mile trip, I only needed to put $6 in my tank! Also, we can park anywhere. Better than a car unless you need to haul things!

    • RyYYZ

      And most of the folks doing that stuff couldn’t give a shit about what effect they have on the image of motorcycling.

  • RichardInSB

    Hi,
    Look, I don’t keep up with the motorcycle industry because they don’t care about me. I’m 57 and bought two motorcycles in 25 years: a honda 500 shadow starter bike, used in 1991 and a 1995 Honda VFR 750 I bought used in 1997. Hey just in cased you missed it: 1997 1997 1997 1997 1997. That’s the last time I bought a bike because they have not made a new bike for me since 1997 1997 1997 1997! They fussed with the VFR, took out the simple things I actually use EVERY SINGLE RIDE like the helmet lock and the rest of the manufacturers left that segment entirely. IF IF IF I wanted something new and sporty I got super aggressive low bar which HURTS my wrists (can I get a awe screw you old man?) and a clutch I can’t throw because of my arthritis. Sure sure if I look hard enough and I buy all the right aftermarket accessories I guess I can have a nice new ride. But guess what I do instead? Screw you Honda, I’ll just ride that 1995 VFR until one of us dies and that’s it. Need I go on? Oh YES! I should go on? Well how about the OTHER HALF OF THE POPULATION? GIRLS? Who they don’t care about. I got a 54 yo Latina GF who LOVES motorcycles. LOVES riding. She’s 5’1 and can’t find a sport bike low enough without a $300 lower kit (that does NOT work all the way). If you’re taking notes she would like a 600cc sport bike moderate bar height, 26 INCHES max seat height, short throw clutch for her small hands, a good size storage bag in the back (not the tank bag because her short torso can’t see over a tall tank bag) because she’s got girl shit to haul around like all girls Everywhere. And where is this bike???????? Nowhere!!!! So I’m back at you, Mr. Author We Give a Shift but do they?

  • Stephen Gates

    You are missing the obvious reason Millennials are not buying new bikes:

    It is basic economics, they can’t. They have been in the workforce long enough to be a professional, however, unlike previous generations they are still renting, and working two jobs and still living paycheck to paycheck.

    If they are donating plasma to buy their kids shoes, they are not going to buy a new motorcycle. Many of them are opting out of children because the are concerned about the cost.

    The best thing a person can do to keep motorcycling alive is to support liveable wages, education, and infrastructure.

  • Ellis Tomago

    Younger folks are just not interested in being bent over and shafted by insurance companies. Or maybe they are but can just not afford it, what with student loans and whatnot.

  • BTRDAYZ

    If you want more people to try Motorcycles, you have to make riding SAFER. Bikes are an expensive risk. New bikes have been produced that address the cost, but how about:

    – More HOV lanes where bikers can ride in, safety segmented from other traffic and their associated lane changes?

    – Intelligent Vehicle To Vehicle (V2V) communications and proximately sensors? It would be nice if a motorcycle announced its presence as it approached a busy intersection, with a driver about to make a left turn in front of the biker. Or the bike annoucing to the rider that a vehicle has encroached within a certain radius of the bike.

    – Better highway/street maintenance. Potholes and debrie are road hazards that can be deadly to a biker. Fill potholes faster and have debrie removed faster.

    – Mandatory MSF courses with new licences. And make that cost free (covered by a small increase on the bike’s registration renewals.

    – Incenticize with free bike parking in metro areas. Riding a gas efficient scooter from Brooklyn to Manhattan, via a safe HOV lane and discounted bridge/tunnel tolls for bikes, and arriving to a free parking space would cut down on congestion, pollution and fuel consumption. The money saved might benefit the economy as people use the savings to take in a movie or dinner at a restaurant.

    – Increase the displacement of scooters that can be ridden without earning a motorcycle license from 50cc to 150cc.

  • Joe Smith

    Make the MSF safety course much less expensive and advertise it on TV. I didn’t know anything about countersteering until I took it, then it all made sense and made me want more.

    Get MotoGP, and other road racing, on free TV, good place to advertise your fun new MSF safety course.

    Product placement, and not just those driven in anger, although those Ducati’s in the Matrix were cool.

    And finally you can’t buy a motorcycle when you don’t have any extra money. Good luck on that one. We do things for the top 2% first and everyone else is catch as catch can.

  • Charon Styx River

    We are motorcycle enthusiasts and have been for 30+ years and when we talk to our friends they all say the same thing…too many distracted drivers on the road today. You can be proactive and watch out for these people but they are everywhere. It is getting down right dangerous to be on the roads today. This won’t stop us…we are die hards but it has stopped a lot of our rider friends. We are die hards but we don’t want to DIE HARD!