Dangerous Thoughts About the Future of Motorcycles

How do we get today's young people interested in motorcycles?It’s easy to look right past it, but there’s more happening to the motorcycle business than a recession. The economy plays a part, no doubt, but there’s something else missing, … it's the excitement, that feeling of being on the cutting edge of a technology where big things are happening.

I’ve been fascinated by technology all of my life, not only with engines and machinery, but, as the years went by, electronics and computers, too. I often wonder, though, if computers had been available during my formative years, as they are to every child now, which technology would have won the competition for my attention?

We’re a product of our time, in my teens, personal computers were yet to appear, drag racers Don Garlits and Grumpy Jenkins were huge, Carroll Shelby began building his Cobras and the Triumph Bonneville and Harley Sportster were high performers. Popular songs on the radio were often about cars, motorcycles and racing. When the Beach Boys sang their Little Honda "climbed hills like a Matchless," the kids knew what they meant and a young guy wanted a girl, a car and a motorcycle and he wanted them all to go fast.

What does a young guy want today? A girl, an Xbox and an iPhone. Well, some things never change, but motorcycles? They fight for attention against an overwhelming sea of choices, bikes don't seem as necessary or cool as they once were and combined with a recession, an entire generation is passing the prime years of buying their first bike without ever learning how to ride or wanting to.

The increasing age of the average rider isn't just a problem for Harley, as many often claim, the shrinking attendance at races and industry events, may instead be the front edge of a demographic shift and technological change. The young don’t flock to the drag strips and race tracks, they don’t strive to emulate the big name racers, if they show up at all they are there to be entertained and it could as easily have been something else entirely. Staring at the screens of their phones, texting and talking, they don’t clamor to get close to pit crews feverishly preparing for the next race, instead they wander with friends, looking bored.

I had been thinking about this for a while when an article appeared a few months ago that addressed the same issue, taking a rather pessimistic view of things, asking, "Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?" That author seemed to think so, but I'm just not a pessimistic kinda guy, and oddly enough, the same things contributing to the lack of interest in motorcycles among the young could breathe new life into the industry, but it may require some fresh thinking.

Current motorcycle owners and riders may know what they like and want more of it, even though there's more than enough of "it" to keep them satisfied for years to come, but if you're going to attract the 18 year old, the physical excitement motorcycles are so good at providing isn't enough, you need to bring in the high tech.

The appearance of smartphone apps specifically designed for motorcycles could be one small step, but maybe the electric motorcycle is another. It doesn't matter if the baby boomers want them, they offer opportunities for tweaking and hacking tailor made for the hands on geek ready to get more performance from anything controlled by computer. The announcement last week that Honda is going electric motorcycle racing through tuning house Mugen, could payoff in this direction, attracting a younger enthusiast than another Superbike or MotoGP sponsorship.

The point is that anyone planning on staying in the motorcycle business long term, beyond the time when all of us boomers have taken our last ride, is going to have to find something to pull in more of the young, something that latches onto the rapidly evolving technology that already has their interest and combines it with two wheels, speed and the feeling of freedom motorcycles so readily provide. They can't ignore the market they already have, but the young don't respond to the same cues that brought many of us into dealerships years ago. I don't know exactly where this will lead or who will do it best, but it's going to take some out of the box thinking. If you hear any company digging in and saying we're doing it this way because we always have, that's not a good sign.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, because writing sometimes does not convey tone, I am NOT implying motorcycles are somehow over and done and I'm not, as one comment suggests, "feeling the weight of accumulating years." Anyone who has been around for a few years knows the only way to deal with any problem is to face it head on, define it, identify potential solutions and then implement the chosen solution. If that doesn't work, try something else. Not talking about it or hoping it will go away on its own is a recipe for disaster. This post was my attempt at defining the problem.

Perhaps the best thing is to ask you the question, what can we do, individually, or what can the motorcycle industry do to bring new young riders into motorcycling?

Comments

  1. Phill says

    Very well said and articulated. Great article!

    I definitely agree with your points, and while I’m not a baby boomer by any stretch of the imagination (I’m 26), I see your point.

    I would also add a thought, although it’s perhaps a result of your initial comments above, not another cause (lest we get into a chicken-egg debate, I’ll just proceed). Your blog has attracted me from the get go, because it’s one of the only sites that focus on the “fringe” of motorcycling. You don’t review the latest helmet, BNG’d new crotch rocket, or tech-gizmo’d-ducati. No, you go after the weird stuff, the unsafe stuff, the untested stuff. Let’s be honest, well over half of the bikes you cover will be lucky to run (well) for any amount of time. Yet we all LOVE it. I think it’s because the people featured here aren’t afraid to dream, and desk-jockey’s like myself can vicariously live out our passions behind a desk.
    Get to the point, Phill. Ok, Ok. Here’s the deal. Motorcycles now have become too “sanitary.” The race to the bottom of the invoice battle has led to a streamlined engineering/production process, resulting in just about every bike looking identical (my wife can’t tell the difference between my SV650 and the 1198 – two VERY different bikes). But she can tell a Buell (extinct – too expensive).

    Motorcycles used to be a “rebellion tool”. Now they’re just for the clean and sober tools to ride instead of their BMW 5 series. (disclaimer, I’m a pastor, so I probably am one of said tools myself, giving me the ability to call it out.) :-)

    Just some food for thought.

  2. Greybeard says

    Hate to say it Paul, but I think this is just a case of you feeling the weight of accumulating years.
    Advancing age has the effect of dulling our sense of wonderment and discovery and anticipation of the next nuance in our mechanical love affairs.
    The rush of adrenaline is gone replaced by the burn of acid reflux and the twinge of creaky knees.
    If it’s any consolation it starts to come back when we realize it’s not all on OUR shoulders and we can step back and enjoy.
    I don’t think the future of motorcycling is in as much jeopardy as perceived but is merely in a metamorphosis that we aren’t central to.

    Best advice is to lively up yerself and enjoy your vantage point!

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      You read this wrong, and I knew some readers would, though reading what I’ve written over the years should give you pause before thinking I’m getting down or dulled. I write about the tech of the industry and watch it evolve and love every bit of it, I seem to have a “positive” gene in my makeup, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that the young are doing a LOT of other things and not flocking to motorcycles as they once did.

      Things are changing, very fast, and it may be an incredible opportunity for some companies we haven’t heard of yet, I hope so, but when I hear folks blame the downturn in the industry on the recession, I think they’re missing something right in front of their faces.

      • Greybeard says

        Well….there’s so much more to do now!

        Thankfully a lot of that is demonstrated as actual, for real, home-based CAD/CNC and “under $20k” machine tools plus ready access to what was once black art, arcane skills.
        As a teen in the ’50’s I know I never heard of an English Wheel, now everyone’s got one and knows how to use it!

        As a result, when in the past have you seen a greater profusion of new builders? Everyone with a garage and access to the web is getting their art shown and we have to believe the major manufacturers are paying attention.

        I have every faith the young folks coming along will bring their OWN influences to the game specifically because they DO have more areas to draw inspiration from.

      • Leo Speedwagon says

        Went to Barcelona three weeks ago to visit the company I represent. No shortage of motorcycles and enthusiasts there – it shows in MotoGP and WSB etc. results and som eof the creative bikes they have built and will build. It’s part of their culture. The young ones need to get off their arses and discover the real world as oppposed to the virtual world they have retreated to. Perhaps this recession will be the spark required – youngsters are finding it pretty tough to get a job (I’m not holding my breath). I don’t think there ever was a motorcycle culture in the USA only when Marlon came along and Steve and Malcolm starred in a cool movie. It translates to what Americans build – overweight, chromed eye candy that hides your sagging libido. There are no competitive, cutting edge motorcycles built (in volume). We have been fed a diet of chopper projects on TV – boohoo. Eric Buell may have been one of a few who had an idea and the plug was pulled on that. Ducati and MV were owned by Americans – most of what happens is fuelled by bean counters being in charge, there is no spark of creativity in these people only a lust for profit. I’m sure some of you will shoot me down, but then I’m preaching to the converted here…

        • Harold says

          There have always been more European motorcycles ridden as daily drivers than in the US, possibly because gas costs 2 or 3 times as much there, and also because climate change is more widely viewed as fact there. The roads in Great Britain and the Continent are often more geared for bikes than cars. But Americans have participated heavily in bikes in their own way. In 1936, the new HD Knucklehead would hit 100 mph, and a Crocker would hit 110 or more. Vincent was way behind with the A Model, until after the war when the B Model appeared as if from heaven. The fact is, most American riders don’t ride overchromed barges, but there is a market for dressers and any other kind of bike. And nowadays, those barges handle pretty well, especially the US built Gold Wing and the Dyna Bagger.

          On any Sunday and Wild One, Easy Rider, and Great Escape all helped to spread the “disease”, but the capabilities of today’s Superbikes, which are worldwide, are almost beyond physics, and the same kind of comparison of the different eras isn’t valid. But how much difference is there between a 21 year old in 2012, picking up a new GSXR 1000, and a 22 yr old in 1947 who removed his EL Knucklehead’s fenders, bags, big seat and headlite, and muffler, besides the level of performance? It’s just a lot easier to ride a very fast bike, almost enough that it doesn’t matter. Almost.

  3. Ceolwulf says

    Excellent post!

    The electrics have some very strong selling points to get the younger crowd interested. In particular they have the same eco-friendly appeal as electric cars, and one must not discount the popularity of such sentiment. Combine that with serious performance and both the superego and id are happy!

  4. Randy says

    I suppose horse breeders and carriage makers had similar thoughts in 1910. The markets change and adjust.

    I’ve been involved with another “hobby” for a long time – rock climbing – and I’ve seen it ebb and flow. Yeah, the younguns are a little preoccupied but a certain percentage escape their electronic hells to find out there is a world infinitely brighter, more detailed and compelling than what’s generated in a little box. Give young people some credit, they don’t need to be “pulled in” by making some tech variation of an inherently attractive activity.

    BTW, at times it has been extremely helpful to have one of my young climbing partners pull out their smart phones and …

  5. Hootie says

    Paul,
    I think you are too quick to pull out “video games” killed the motorcycle angle. I think there is some truth to that but I there is also PLENTY of competition from “new” adrenaline driven activities/hobbies like boarding (pick your fav: snow, wake, surf, skate, etc.), mountain biking, climbing etc, as well as the increase of traditional sports/activities that become a dominant focus of younger people’s lives. Often times there is insufficient room left in the lives of kids for motorcycles as a hobby and for transportation they pick cars or pedal bikes. Also, as a hobby, it’s an expensive one so that puts of many from the start. Sure, old cheap and often broken, bikes are out there for young riders but they don’t possess the knowledge, tools, or space to get things running. Probably the interest is not there from the start as the most common wrenching starting point, cars, have become so reliable that home tinkering has almost become a thing of the past, so few grow up around Dad in the garage fixing the car. Surprising how many kids don’t know the difference between a spanner wrench and a pair of pliers.

    I do agree tech has some influence but I think we tend think all kids under 25 spend 100% of their time on computers, but that is an over simplification. There is just so much stuff competing for time and attention. Additionally, parents are much less likely than in the past to allow their kids to ride a motorcycle, and if the parents (who generally control the fundage) are not game, then neither are the kids.

    • Cameron says

      I totally agree with your first bit. There is so much cheap exciting stuff for young people to do that motorcycles just arent exciting enough.
      I would have to disagree with your last bit. I wanted a motorcycle because my parents forbade it. Kids these days do not see motorcycles as a rebelious tool. Old guys that work in offices ride motorcycles. How rebellious is that!

  6. BigHank53 says

    A bit of this is economic, too: the job market is even more depressing for the very young. I read an article the other week that estimated that 75% of 2012’s college graduates are planning on moving back in with their parents, because they didn’t have jobs lined up. When you’re unemployed, it’s a heck of lot tougher to come up $7000 for a bike, safety gear, insurance, and the MSF course. (That’s buying everything new, of course, but tools, manuals, and the experience to know what to do with them isn’t free either.) In 1973 you could buy a Z1 for $1895 and have the highest-performing bike on the road. Now it’s a S1000 and you’d better have full leathers and a handy track if you ever want to take it out of second gear.

    Phones and video games have much lower barriers of entry. Facebook is free because the audience’s eyeballs is the product that’s being sold.

    • Hootie says

      Eh, maybe but look at Europe. In Spain unemployment is somthing crazy like 20% and unemployment for those younger than 30 is something like 40%, yet motorcycle’s are pretty common. If there was an interest, kids would find a way to get on a bike. The same kids living at home more often than not buy cars dont they?

      • Bluegrass says

        yes but I’d say that the majority of those bikes are far smaller capacity and cheaper than what is typically sold in the united states.

      • BigHank53 says

        Spain isn’t, for example, Colorado, where a motorcycle is useful for about four months out of the year. Also, car and fuel taxes tend to be a lot higher in Europe (insurance too!), while car ownership isn’t that much more expensive than a motorcycle in the US.

        I’m not trying to make this out to be some huge factor. But I think it is a factor.

  7. 'flyer says

    After cars tuned by Smokey Yunick and Nunzi Romano, the next thing I remember lusting after was a Honda Four powered go-cart.
    Now I spend my dream time pining for an App that will help me tune the low speed stumble out of my Ducati…
    Dinosaurs rule.

  8. Richard Gozinya says

    One of the big things is cost. The motorcycles available in the US are nearly all expensive, marketed to experienced riders. The young riders I see, fewer and fewer that they may be, who aren’t on racer reps (Usually military around here, if under 30), tend to either go with the small displacement dual sports, or they’ve got an old beater they’ve customized (Sportsters seem to be a pretty popular choice for that around here). Yet the manufacturers keep pushing the insanely expensive literbikes, cruisers and luxo-tourers, treating the less expensive offerings as an afterthought. They simply don’t care about bringing in new blood.

    There is also a cultural aspect, but in a lot of ways that ties in with the ever rising cost of entry. When motorcycles were very popular in the U.S. they weren’t expensive, they weren’t focused on a particular task, like a racer rep or cruiser, they were just motorcycles. Cheap, fast and fun. They were, by accident or design, perfect for the under 30 crowd. Now they’re a mid-life crisis accessory, or something dad (Or grandpa) plays with on the weekend.

    • coxster says

      I see the competitive/speed culture fueling this first-hand too. My daughter (21) can’t wait to get her first bike, and it has to be a GSXR600 minimum, which she will be extremely underqualified to ride. She spends time on the back of her beau’s, so she knows she wants it. She would’t be caught dead on a lame 250 or worse a Buell (like her Dad) so she’ll dream out loud without ever entering the market at a sane level. If only I still had my Yamaha Seca 400 . . .

  9. cycledave says

    The prospective future of motorcycling interest of the younger generations has also been in the corner of my mind for quit a few years. I have met so many people that cringe when I tell them about owning, riding, and collecting motorcycles. They usually tell me how dangerous it is to be out on the open road thinking I’ll be another statistic. Then they tell their kids that they’ll be disowned if they buy a bike thinking that face book and cars are safe! Fortunately, my dad grew up on bikes and started collecting so many years ago and passed the bug to me. He’s now 55 and I’m 34 continuing the motorcycle addiction. Yes, the future is bleak at the least, yet if we pass on our enjoyment of awesome motorcycles, the industry and thrill of riding can be saved.
    However, if honda engineers build some decent range into their electric bikes, I would definitely own one to continue the thrill! Oh, and bring back the 2 strokes!

  10. CM says

    Very rarely do I post. As someone who’s in their mid-twenties, I see two main reasons for this:

    1) Lack of available land to ride on. As a kid growing up, I had a dirtbike, I had land to ride on, and I had the desire to ride. But as the years go by, I find that the available off-road tracks are growing few and far between. And as we all know, that’s how most die-hard motorcyclists start – in the dirt at a young age.

    2) Cost. This is somewhat dependent on the lack of places to ride. Say your a 16 year old and you want to ride – typically that means loading the bike up, spending a decent ammount of cash, and only getting a weekend of riding in. Gone are the days of riding every night on the farm.

    Additionally, with the recession the young generation has been hit hard – a 200 dollar smart phone is much easier to attain than even a 1000 dollar jalopie.

  11. OMMAG says

    The issue is neither technology nor is it the economy. Cost is a relative matter because incomes in general are as much inflated as the motorcylces prices.

    The primary reason that motorcycling is not attracting young people as it once did has much to do with social trends.

    In addition to the changing outlook on bikes as a lifestyle activity there is a big problem with regulation.When the motorcycling boom in North America began it came on the heals of WWII … the act of driving a motorcycle was seen as an expression of individuality and the exercise of freedom. Riding a bike was liberating in ways that no other activity could provide … and it was simple to do.

    Licensing… insuring,and operating a bike before the rise of the safety nazis of the 1970s came along was simply a matter of a few pieces of paper…. Same for building a bike.
    Since then the bureaucratic hoops and the COST of complying with the government regulations have become an intrusive disincentive to getting involved with motorcycles.

    Today …. you HAVE to be well motivated to consider buying into the whole thing. If a person new to the sport makes it to the stage of being a regular rider and an enthusiast … then … maybe they will no longer consider the regulation… the insurance.

    In my view … the people who hated motorcycles and the idea of motorcycling have succeeded through political lobbying and paternalistic damagoguery in simply spoiling the the whole thing.

    For the record … I hate being told what is good for me … and I’m pretty sure lots of others do as well. In the USA you may feel this less than we do in Canada … but you are going to feel it more.

    • menormeh says

      Well OMMAG, I believe that you have hit it right on the head. The lobbyists like Nader always pushing “Safety At Any Cost” have swayed the youngsters and parents of today away from the sport. Kids today are growing up with bicycle helmets, elbow and knee pads, cell phones to check in with Mom, and video games on the “at home” screen. The bike generation grew up with skinned knees, the odd broken bone or concussion, garden raids or worse that got your butt whipped when caught, and Mom only thinking she knew where you were and what you were up to. But, on the up side, there are still a few youngsters out there that have the desire to live, not just survive. These will be the ones that carry the torch into the future.

  12. Dano says

    Flyer, I too have a lust/ desire for something exotic, a Honda 250 / 6 GP would be nice.

    Rich, the price of bikes is keeping me from making a purchase in haste. My wife can’t believe that she can buy a car for less than I can buy a motorcycle. I can’t justify the price either. I would never deny anyone profit from a sale but you have to wonder where the cost justification comes from.
    A new H.D. Dresser, $27K, BMW GTL $28K and that is at the dealer. Add sales tax, registration and insurance, your over $30K. I can’t afford it and I don’t see a young person doing it either.
    I hold out hope for the young in the area of rebuilding and riding bikes that have been left for dead. My son and his friends have fun with the older, slightly used but neglected bikes out there. I say that as I just finished ordering a few parts for my !968 Honda 350 CL w/ 7200 original miles. They are out there and still are fun to ride but not on or for a long haul.

  13. Fretka says

    Sorta reminds me of a song from King Crimson (on their mostly unlistenable album “Thrak”) written by Adrian Belew called “I’m a Dinosaur”.

    • Fretka says

      BTW……….. I live at the bottom of Palomar Mtn. so my views maybe somewhat skewed but here at least, there is no shortage of young blood riding their first bikes.
      Motorcycling’s attraction has always, in part, been because it was seen as a fringe activity. Hence cool. Too much popularity will remove that element. So damned if you do, damned if you don’t!
      I think the wheel will continue to turn and the sport will ebb and flow but flourish in the long run. No pun intended…..

  14. Roel says

    Sadly i have to agree that motorcycling is being endangered, albeit in a legal way, at least here in Holland.

    Driving a moped was legal after passing a written exam, but a few years ago a driving test was added (and two mandatory lessons minimum). Increasing the cost for a permit from 30 to 400 euro’s. This in combination with the change for the car licence age to 17 has effectively killed the need for mopeds. Wich is how i (and many of my friends) got in contact with motorcylces.

    Also the motorcylcle driving licence will go from a 3 exam process, in wich you had at wait until you are 20 to be allowed to drive full power, to a 4 exam process in wich you are at least 22 before you can ride full power. This combined with plans for M.O.T. and mandatory safety vests (those bright yellow things) all add to the treshold for people to start riding

    As far as the interest of the youth is concerned, i am not worried. The racing team at my University continous to attract 18 y.o. to use the latest technologies and materials to improve our bike.

    And the increasing availabilty of cnc-machining and 3d-printing will keep me busy for decades.

  15. says

    Great article and I totaally agree. I think the future of motorcycling is electric power. Unlike electric cars, with present technology you can build an electric bike that rivals the best gas powered ones and with much higher reliability and lower maintenance. “kids these days” want a clean, simple, cool looking, powerful electric bike that is integrated with their smart phones. Nobody is building that yet. Zero, Brammo et al are sort of getting close but they’re still trapped in the past. They’re bikes look just like gas powered bikes. Electric motors and batteries free up a lot of design constraints. I’m building an electric bike in my basement based on a 1978 CB750 ( bionic motorcycle.com ). I’m building a bike I want to ride. One that’s different from anything out there.

    • Cobalt says

      You’ll have a hard time finding a kid who could afford (or even want) one of those electric motorcycles. $8,000 for a ~42 mile range Enertia with the equivalent of a 150cc engine isn’t going to appeal to many young people. They could buy a gas scooter with the same performance equivalent (with virtually unlimited range) for about $1,200 new.

  16. B50 Jim says

    We “Dinosaurs” don’t fully understand the massive generational shift that has occurred since the dawn of the Internet Age. Before the Internet, we received our popular culture cues via the various mass media — magazines, TV and radio. The process basically had been the same since the middle 19th century, when widespread, inexpensive print media in the form of newspapers and magazines reached all levels of society. The 20th century added movies, radio and television, but the flow of popular culture remained the same — from the media to the consumer. We all received the same cues and information. Monday mornings we all could talk about the programs we watched over the weekend, be it Ed Sullivan or Bonanza; we all watched it. Enthusiast magazines like Cycle World and Cycle reached millions of subscribers, either through subscriptions, newsstand sales or passed along. We all read and understood the same information, and we all wanted the same products. Our opinions were influenced and sometimes shaped by “gatekeepers” who determined what information we would receive and “opinion leaders” who told us what they thought about the world in general the motorcycles in particular. We read their words and, because they were focused and highly informed, more often than not we agreed with them. We read stories about the Mods and Rockers, outlaw bikers, moms on Hondas, dirt-track racers, Triumph vs. BSA, and on and on. We saw advertisements for the various brands, decided what we liked and wanted, and formed our desires accordingly. We communicated with a small circle of friends and acquaintances, usually fewer than a dozen. Our cultural universe consisted of thousands of small individual worlds, all moving in the same general direction.

    With the coming of the Internet. That entire process has been inverted. Instead of receiving our information from a few large sources, we receive it from millions of individuals. The same technology that enables me to converse with Paul, Hawk, OMMAG, Carolynne, cycledave and a hundred others enables consumers all over the world to communicate directly with each other. The PC Generation that has grown up since the 1980s no longer forms its society based on information they receive from outside; they form their own society based on their ideas of what that society should look like. Social media has changed the entire world — someone attending a motorcycle show can tweet opinions to the globe in real time, and anyone can read those opinions and agree, disagree and act on it. Social media has vast influence, up to and including the power to overthrow governments.

    Back to motorcycles — the Social Media Generation decides what it wants by talking to itself. The industry must learn to inject itself into the conversation and make itself desirable to potential consumers, many of whom are more attuned to sitting at home with their notebooks or iphones. The challenge will be motivating them to ride, and ecycles might be the beginning of the answer. The e-generation understands electrons and might see fuel-powered vehicles as archaic. But I also remember Big Daddy Garlitts, John Glenn, ignition points and carburetors — I can’t get into the mind of a geek sitting at his PC in his basement. I truly don’t understand how he thinks. The manufacturers who do understand will do well; those who don’t will fade away.

    • Carolynne says

      B-50 Jim – Those of us who grew up in the middle of the internet age don’t understand it either. One thing though, the flow of information has influenced me quite alot. I am being exposed to things I would never have heard of otherwise. And through that I have began to ask questions of those around me, and I am quite surprised to discover I am actually surrounded by motorcycle fanatics. There are amazing machines in garages that I have walked by a thousand times, but until I knew to ask, I had no idea, and the questions usually have to be pretty specific before they start to really talk. It seems that these conversations that were at one time commonplace among neighbours and friends are no longer. We have become so isolated and suspicious of each other. I read about some people lamenting no kids visiting in thier shop, but on the other side of that, when teens go taking too close of a look at stuff many adults around first suspect they may be looking to steal. As adults I don’t know if we are nuturing our teenagers very well, especially the ones that don’t specifically belong to us.

  17. says

    My shop doors have been open to a busy street here in New Orleans for six years. In that time I have not had ONE young person wander in, curious, and scheming to get the old dude to help them get a ride, car or motorcycle.
    There is a Ferrari parked in the driveway, and usually a couple of motorcycles parked within eyeshot deeper into the shop, a clearly visible Bonneville racecar, all kinds of tools, and the constant noise of construction. Serious eyecandy by any metric, and a lure that I as a youth would find irresistible, and yet they walk right past, faces squarely planted in their telephones.
    The emotional impact is staggering for all of us who feel discarded by these kids, because the path to recapturing our own youth lies in them, reflected in their eyes. We relive a time when we were twelve and knew by heart the location of every cool car or motorcycle within a five mile radius of home, and the connection with a mentor that altered the trajectory of our lives. The cycle is broken, and we sit alone in the shop, the machines providing cold comfort because their true destiny remains unfulfilled. What is the purpose of all of the baggage that I carry if not to spark the imagination of the next generation and carry the truly American tradition of workshop craft in perpetuity?
    There is no concept of an heirloom anymore. As our mechanical culture is replaced by a digital one, consumerism, not craft, results in a deeply connected culture, with nothing to talk about.
    Who is to blame? I think that women have steered their sons in a remarkably pussified path of late. Convinced that there are child molesters on every corner, and that vehicles serve only as safety cocoons to deliver little Johnny to vetted pastimes where exposure to men and their loud and dangerous machines is highly unlikely. Women are, on the whole, remarkably incurious when it comes to mechanical things, and have very little reverence for the miracle that is the internal combustion engine. The art of transportation is not a topic of conversation for them. I have never met a woman who could tell me what the compression ratio on her vehicle was. Their vehicle serves them, an inverse to my passion where I find wonder and delight in the minutiae.
    How many kids ride their bicycles to school anymore? For me it was this mobility that thrust me into the world and into contact with a cast of unlikely characters that truly helped me define where my passions lay, and who I was to become as a man. The cycle is broken.
    Emotion and nurturing. Adventure and danger, the Yen and Yang that need and complete each other, and yet our women are forcing a highly socialized yen like path on boys who’s genetic impulses are at odds with female crafted society. Frought with angst and conflict, this paradigm manifests itself in truly unhealthy and dangerous ways.
    The cycle is broken, noble warrior culture is dead, adventure discarded, and the question becomes, outside of procreation, how do these young men self identify as male? Violence and the passive violence of video games appear to be the current answer. I must reject that solution. — JT

    • Paulinator says

      Some mothers…and fathers…don’t want to subject their kids to a random fate at the mercy other mothers…and fathers…who are texting and sipping designer late’ while pretending to shoulder-check. The way I see it, those little electronic devices have undermined all advances in road-safety over the last quarter-century and as a direct result, have begun to modify individuals’ choices when it comes to mode of transport.

    • db says

      JT, you are a philosopher. Interesting post and completely true based on my experience. Although I basically agree with your “pussification” claim, I also wonder how much of the disinterest in vehicles is due to the cost. Digital entertainment is cheap, cars and bikes are not. The sophistication of today’s bikes and cars has come at the expense of repairs and the ability of backyard mechanics to do those repairs.

      • OMMAG says

        The nurse nanny crowd … certainly have had an impact … not good for the future of any sort of activity that incures a risk factor.
        Thats a big part of what I am talking about social change.

  18. marc pondick says

    my first motorcyle ride was on the back of a friends moped, then he got a yamaha from his dad we rode that thing everywhere after school, then CARS came along and forget bikes, more girls,friends,and beer fit in a 500$ p.o.s than on any bike. no really cars will always out sell bikes to the youth market, the media has destroyed the image of biking super faast bikes and the related video , u tube and mass media demonizing the sport, every time you turn on the tube some dumb ass has produced a show that is stupid(O.C.C) biker build off and the like, just turned on the tube to see a discovery channel show on the triumph rocket 3 but yet the word stugis was used over and over what the heck does stugis have to do with triumph???? look at the motorcycle idles we have now adays the dumb ass red neck idiots they put on t.v should be hanged. they do a diservice to the industry Jesse james(right name after all) the tuttles(what ever) billy lane (drove drunk and killed a bike rider) duh! and a couple more running bars and shops out in no man lands, whana be 1%ers looking like lemmings in negative(all black uniform), i had to close my shop after 18 months due to the lack of work, new bikes are to good, u dont have to work on them near as much and when u do they are so tech laden only the factory trained mech can make heads or tails of it, some times. lets face it motorcyling is a life style, (harley sells more lifestyles than anybody) oh bikes too. i ask how many people who responded to this blog really ride, really ride everyday 1 a week 2 a month when their friends call and say lets go to stugis or hooters which ever is closer. i mean geez the local dealerships are run by people who drive cars not bikes check it out next time u go to your local dealer look in the employe parking lot u would be suprised. or not. why do we need a ride to work day ride everyday i do 34,000 miles on a 05 and i work 6 days a week, rarely tour just ride. winter spring summer fall be real

  19. JSmith says

    Just to give you folks some hope, I’m 18, don’t have a car, just my one and only love: my bike. I ride every free minute on it, to and from university, every weekend and go on long trips. I don’t have a smartphone, I never had an xbox or a playstaystion or a game boy. so there is hope :)

    However it has to be said I take all my trips on my own, I have not a single friend that has a motorbike, and am regarded as slightly crazy. And this is in the mechanical engineering faculty. The ones you’d expect to be most in love with this stuff. To be fair, they do like cars more, but motorcycles are the outsiders. Out of the 3000 students studying mechanical engineering at my university, only 6 ride motorbikes, only 3 of them, including myself, are under 21.

    The image that’s given in general to ICE is just ruining the industry in my opinion. If among your friends you are the petrol head, this means you also agree to whale hunting, deforestation and that global warming is a hoax, at least to their eyes.

    This simply isn’t true, and I love the environment probably more than the guy next to me, but hey, I am also self aware enough to know that my 250cc four stroke enduro isn’t killing any poor seals. Its the coal, oil and gas burning for industrial and energy purposes that does most the damage and the entire chemical industry that produces huge pollution.

    I’m all for change in the method of transportation. I like EVs (but hate batteries) but its all about the image that is conveyed to cars and bikes in the process that is harming the industry in general.

    And to the kids obsessed with their iphones? blame their parents! thats what I think. I never had any of those things, yet I’m better with the computer than your average gamer in terms of productive stuff (programming, excel and so on). Yet when I have a free hour and its sunny I’m out riding, if its raining, I’m donwstairs cleaning my bike and lubing my chain :)

  20. Partsfather says

    Thankyou for an interesting article. I don’t know if the situation is any different in other areas, but here in Ontario, Canada, the cost of insurance remains the biggest single roadblock to young riders getting involved with motorcycling.
    A good example would be Honda’s new CBR250. Honda has said that it was their hope that this bike would appeal particularly to new riders and they’ve done a wonderful job. However, if you are a new rider and under 25 years of age, and if you need ‘full coverage’ insurance, as you would if you finance any part of your approx. $5K purchase, then it will cost you roughly $3500.00 per year, every year, until you turn 25 and gain some experience, to insure your new pride and joy. That is, if you can get insurance at all. With insurance costs like that, it’s no wonder young folks are finding other ways to spend their time and their $.

    • Grey says

      I cannot agree with you more, and if anything I’m the prime “anti” example of this article, because the author clearly has a teen bias and didn’t get thier actual opinion. I live in Brampton, Ontario, I’m twenty years old and I started getting into motorcycles at fifteen but I never considered buying one because I knew it was impossible.
      (I’d like to point out the real tech boom effected the generation directly after me, the 1993’s and on in Canada at least. They are the most conceited bunch of techno dorks I’ve ever seen, and would rather talk about how awesome thier parents stuff is rather then learn about it, or what’s really out there)

      Yes, the largest roadblock for me is insurance. Not only because I live in the city with the highest insurance rate in the country, but insurance in general is ridiculous. An entry level bike with an M or M2 license will cost me around 4-5k a year, some companies go by the age of license and others by my age. Seems they can’t find an agreeable measure unit either. So I’m literally buying a new motorcycle every year in insurance that doesn’t actually cover anything.

      But buying a new bike? Don’t make me laugh. I’d buy a used car before paying 6k for a bike I can’t drive all year. My only real option is buying a well maintained standard bike under 250cc like a 1980’s cb and making a cafe racer, then putting my mom as the primary driver on insurance. I’m not kidding, it’s my only option to “legally” drive.
      (Just to put this in perspective, I’m in school, paying loans, and working part-time. The max I can make is 12-13k a year, so buying a vehicle and paying for school is LITERALLY impossible. So it’s one or the other. And since we live in canada, I can only afford one vehicle, so it has to be a car. If i wasn’t in school it would be car or bike, not both. So I lose again)

      All I ever hear about is how all the companies are trying to appeal to “young riders” when the only ones who can afford it are thier parents, which is what I always see. Middle aged new riders on 250’s with thier kids on new matching bikes, or twenty-something idiots on 600’s with fake insurance hanging out in timmies lots.

      It frustrates me to no end knowing I’m one of the few “young” bike fanatics left in canada and I’ll never get the chance to live it until I’m middle aged. I get to spend my time on youtube and mcn to get my fix.

      • Carolynne says

        Grey – It was very interesting to read your perspective. Thanks for sharing that.

        I have to admit, as a mother of a couple of teenaged boys, I am not all that keen on allowing my kids to take off on a motorbike, as much as I enjoy them myself. As was posted above, there are so many speeding and distracted drivers it’s a frightening thought to have your kids out there so vulnerable. If they really wanted to go, I would probably let them, but my fingernails would most likely be chewed down to my knuckles before they got back.

        • Grey says

          Be glad you’re a mother in the technological age. My dad has told me many stories about going out and getting yelled at when he came back because he was gone “too long”. His mom thought being out late meant you were dead on the side of the road somewhere because you were racing Mad Max style.
          Now all you have to do is see if your texting go through.

  21. todd says

    I disagree a bit. I don’t think the younger generations are very interested in the techno-gadget bikes very much. Think of the VFR1200 and the Multistrada, those two bikes are right at the top of the techno-ladder yet they are not selling very well and their core rider demographic has grey hair.

    What is selling to younger riders? Think small, simple, archetypical. Small CBR250s, Ninja 250s, scooters, dirt bikes, cafe racers, and bobbers. I don’t think it’s just the low cost that makes them attractive to young / new riders. It’s the simplicity, the approachability, and the disposability that appeals to them.

    I got into bikes when I was young because I was influenced by adults I knew that rode. My dad, my grandfather, a few of my uncles, my aunt, and my step father all exposed me to motorcycles in one way or another at a young age. It was not because Honda or Yamaha offered a certain model (though I was smitten by the SRX-6).

    -todd

  22. davk says

    I aggee if the maker of bike keep going like there are here in usa / canada the age of bikes may be over. The bikes keep getting higher in price. They keep adding cc when really whom needs to go beyond 65 MPH. You can’t even get a cheap general purpose bike. In in Mexico when your can get the honda 150cc cargo for 1500.00 bucks. In places like india , china most people will not even buy a bike that doesn’t get 125 MPG. Here your hard pressed to find anything that get more then 55MPG. If your car gets better MPG whats the point of a bike other then a toy? Often geat bikes never even make over here because honda , yamaha etc don’t bother bringing them in. When it’s all said and done USA and Canada is just a small market compared to the rest of the world.

  23. Carolynne says

    JT is that you in the picture on your webpage? If so, you are hardly an old geezer. I would consider you one of the youngsters upon which the future is pinned. Either that or your are remarkably well preserved! (and not too hard on the eyes either)

  24. db says

    Oldsters (like me) like to sneer at the kids on 150hp crotch rockets (as they used to be called) and call them squids. But they are just kids on expensive toys that we would have loved to own years ago. If some crazy uncle bought it! I think that the main issue is that motorcycles have become too complex and expensive. I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on a bike now and I certainly had zero chance of spending it when I bought my first well used Triumph back in 1971.

    For the low budget fixup guys: lots of plastic on the repli-racers make them hard to fix after a smashup – although the street fighter scene is a good answer for inventive mechanics. High school shop classes are not offered anymore so if you don’t grow up in a home with tools, forget it. The simple world of greasers is fading away as computers take over. Does fuel injection suck? Well no, it is way better than carburation in most situations. But it is way more complicated. Things are changing but not lost.

  25. GenWaylaid says

    “electric motorcycles … offer opportunities for tweaking and hacking tailor made for the hands on geek”

    I went to MIT and live in Silicon Valley and know quite a few of the type of “geek” you’re referencing here, and let me tell you they are so rare that they would make a very poor basis for a market. There’s a world of difference in knowledge and skill between using an electronic device and hacking one. Being able to write your own code for your computer or smartphone is probably not much more common than being able to repair your own car.

    Hackability doesn’t sell. The iPhone is a deliberately hacker-unfriendly platform and yet is massively popular. If you want to follow its model, focus on flexibility, simplicity, and ease of use. Electric vehicles do have some natural advantages in these areas thanks to far lower maintenance requirements.

    • Wave says

      This is very true. If anything, I would say that programming or “hacking” knowledge is even rarer than mechanical skills. The majority of young people don’t want to delve into the inner workings of things, they just want it to work and to look shiny. In this respect, modern motor vehicles are ideally suited to the market.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      My suggestion there was just that, a suggestion, you’re obviously far better situated to judge whether it would work. The hackability factor was my thought that it might attract a new generation, though the actual ability to repair and modify the internal combustion engine wasn’t all that widespread, either. So I guess we’re still looking for the hook, and if it isn’t in the thing itself, the motorcycle, then it has to come from the surrounding culture which may prove to be even more difficult.

      • GenWaylaid says

        Well, the one place I have seen twenty-somethings getting deeply, mechanically involved with motorcycles is with mopeds.

        Mopeds have the advantages of cheapness and simplicity. They’re exempt from insurance and most registration, most repairs can be done with simple tools, and the parts are all light enough to remove by hand.

        Keeping them running and modifying them to be capable of a respectable speed (technically in violation of the law) are a constant struggle that force one to learn most of the mechanical skills required by a full-size motorcycle. That difficulty, a desire to share tools, and the fact that no one else on the road travels at a comparable speed seem to encourage a sense of community among moped riders.

        Unfortunately, it’s not clear how long the supply of unmolested abandoned thirty-year-old mopeds will hold out. Also, those old two strokes are about as environmentally friendly as a tire fire, so it takes a certain type of antisocial attitude to ride one.

        I would suggest an electric moped with easily-defeatable limiters, except no one would buy it because the budget of this target market can be measured in cases of Pabst.

  26. tasche says

    Motorcycles are a part of the ANSWER to the recession!

    Not making enough money to maintain and feed your car? Get a cheap motorcycle! Get around for a month on what you used to only get you by for a week. The kids are slowly shifting from the ‘ME’ mindset where they had to have flashy stuff to represent who they are to a mindset that is more about community and its greater implications, which allowed 4 door sports cars to exist and really boom over the last 10 years. Eventually the thumper and smaller displacement bikes will start to come back, and electric bikes will take over. It has happened before, and it is starting to happen again right now, it is just taking a bit longer than it should because of the massive drive from advertising to own the Ferrari of two wheels to get groceries and so the ladies will notice you (because what you drive must be all they care about, or else what would the marketing companies exist for).

    Point being – as a piece of practical transportation – they can be great – but they are not being marketed that way at all. Its all high-roller-lifestyle messaging, and that is what is driving two wheels right off a cliff.

  27. Wave says

    I’m a young die-hard petrolhead and absolutely love my cars, but I don’t have a bike license. I have had the desire to learn to ride for quite a while, but my mother would go absolutely nuts if I did! She is very concerned about the safety aspect of motorcycling and describes all motorcyclists as ‘temporary Australians’. Having seen a lot of complete idiots weaving in and out of traffic riding litrebikes in shorts and singlets, I would have to agree. I have seen some of the carnage on the roads which results from bikes being knocked over by cars. Just last year, I drove past the scene of a fatal crash where a bike had been side-swiped by a merging car.

    I’m not trying to say that my life is ruled by fear, but rather that I am trying to take sensible risks. I love to drive old cars, which are much more dangerous than new cars but at least they are significantly safer than bikes. I’ve experienced a fairly major crash in a VW Beetle, and let me tell you that if I had been on a bike at the time then I would be dead! However, I have recently bought myself a Suzuki TS185 trail bike so that I can learn to ride safely in paddocks and off road. I love the two-stroke sound and the smell! I can’t wait to take it out for the first ride. Before I do I have to put new wheel bearings in the back wheel hub and re-lace it onto a new rim. I’ve got a pretty good understanding of maintaining and rebuilding old cars, but I’m looking forward to the new experience of dealing with bikes.

    As far as other young people go, in my area the Chinese pit-bike craze took over about five years ago and all of the neighbourhood kids were hooning around illegally on cheap poorly-made mini bikes. I don’t know anyone who has graduated from pit bikes to a motorbike license, they all grow up and buy their first car instead. One of the pit-bike hoons, who used to live in my street, has now bought a used motocross bike and invited me to come out for a ride sometime on my Suzuki. I’m sure that I won’t be able to keep up with him, but it will be good fun anyway!

  28. Wave says

    Oops, I’ve just realised that the Chinese pit-bike craze was more like 10 years ago now! Wow, that makes me feel old.

  29. KC says

    Interesting article. I’m well past my teen years by many decades. When shopping for a new motorcycle I was stunned by how few dealers were left, how far they were from my home and the limited selection. There were lots of motorcycles – that were nearly identical. They were all big, expensive, over the top motorcycles and none were good for my primary use – urban riding. Big, expensive, over the top, also equals big, expensive, insurance and usually lousy fuel economy.

    When I first started riding decades ago our group of riders ranged from 400cc to 650cc. None were expensive, all were easy on fuel, and we traveled all over the place on these motorcycles. None looked like plastic toys.

    These days that’s scooters, not motorcycles. But where are the good, solid, all around standard motorcycles? Japan is certainly not sending them here to the states. What were getting is plastic coated toys and “lifestyle accessories”. I’m well past the age of dress-up and make believe. I don’t want to play “racer” or “outlaw”. I want to ride, to commute, to have a vehicle for daily use.

    What’s hurting motorcycling is the motorcycles themselves. Make an affordable, logical, sensible, economical motorcycle and market it that way. We’ll create our own fantasies.

  30. '37 Indian says

    I’m 60, never had kids, but I do have 2 nieces and 4 nephews. They all know Uncle Rick has a motorcycle (I currently have 5), but never, NOT ONCE, have any of them asked anything about it, wanted to go for a ride when offered, or shown any interest at all. The younger ones are glued to their Legos and Star Wars characters, the older ones to their cell phones and iPods. It bothered me for a while, but I gave up and got over it. When I was a kid, if anyone showed up at our house on a motorcycle, I would be outside IN A SECOND asking questions about it and would jump at the chance of a ride. At 15 1/2, my first vehicle was a used Yamaha, not because I couldn’t afford a car, I wanted a bike.
    The weather’s been unseasonably warm this winter, and I’m going out riding tomorrow, just for the fun of it. May do the 75 mile loop around Lake Tahoe. Can’t do THAT with an iPhone. They don’t know what they’re missing.

  31. Doby says

    Interesting ideas. But i ride with a lot of people under 30. I am also expozed to lots of young people who have aspirations to ride. None of them have been clamoring for electric motorcycles. In fact they are almost all longing for a vintage bike that they can acford. My first new bike was $1100. That represented about a month’s pay and it was affordable. New motorcycles in the US now take 3 to 6 months pay for young people to buy. It is simple. Sell afckrdable bikes that young people want and they will buy them. US race attendance isn’t a good barometer. Sales are. If sales are down because lf economics, price, or lack of imaginative design — then it is up to tbe builders to do l
    something about it. That may be Kymco or Hyosung or someone else other than Honda or Kawasaki et al.

    Honda, Kawasaki, et all. Stop using wknd tunnels and clmputers to design same old bodywork and make tbem affordable.

      • Rus says

        It was recorded by the Hondells. Their name was made up for the song, as they were only a studio group. . The Beach Boys turned it down, tho many thought it was done by them because it sounds like them.

  32. Micky says

    I’m 17 now but I bought my first motorcycle when I was 16, three of my friends also bought there bikes at 15-16, and we all bought them for the same reasons, the thrill and the enjoyment of riding.
    My generation may be addicted to smart phones and doof doof music, but believe it or not, here in New Zealand alot of boys ride dirt bikes, especially on farms and the coasts.
    For me and my friends we all agree on one thing though, to obtain a bike in New Zealand is way harder than getting a car, for a start to get your bike licence is harder than a car licence, then buying a bike that isn’t f***ed is a whole new mission in itself. The public come down hard on bikers in New Zealand and our ‘culture’ and society puts pressure on my generation to NOT buy a bike.

  33. Sick Cylinder says

    Motorcycle sales were at their peak in the UK in the ’70’s at the time of Barry Sheene winning his GP titles.

    What can I think of that has happened since to dent riding so much (in the UK):

    1. Insurance used to be cheap and it covered you on any bike up to a certain cc.
    2. The motorcycle test was easy and cheap.
    3. The number of cars on the road was only a fraction of todays number.

    The first two changes are real barriers to getting started on a bike.

    The third change makes it considerably more dangerous and less pleasurable when you do get one.

  34. Hawk says

    Reading these (mostly excellent) responses reminds me of many years back when I was probably flapping on about something or other.

    An old biker friend turned to me an quietly said, “Son, just remember that 95% of us are above average.”

  35. Jon says

    I’ve my iPhone and PS3, but neither compare to the visceral experience of going 140mph+. In fact, I’ve noticed I really suck at any game involving motorcycles because my brain is hardwired for riding (counter steer, leanin in, where I balance my feet on the pegs, ect) instead of twiddling my thumbs.
    Unfortunately, I have seen an idiot trying to text as he piloted a Harley down the interstate, so I understand why the electronic age can be a bit much…

  36. AlwaysOnTwo says

    @Paul Crowe et al
    Every last one of you has hit a minor point, and missed the reeaally big one.

    The Bubble.

    It does not matter whether you are discussing cars, guns, boats or any other recreational toy. At some point there is the beginning of awareness, then cultism, then main stream attraction (this is where the OEMs step in and get venture capital) and eventually….saturation of the marketplace.

    We’ve hit that mark of saturation. Never again will there be a marketplace of 100 percent uninitiated buyers craving a two-wheeled vehicle. Never again will there be a marketplace of distinctly different machines that aren’t cloned or copied like each other ad infinitum. Never again will there be a chance to garner that untapped marketplace of a totally unique and affordable/desirable machine. And the marketplace for a buyer that must upgrade to the newest model year just doesn’t exist in motorcycles as it does in automobiles that are driven out of necessity for work and personal needs until the odometer trips 100K and “must” be replaced for either reasons of obsolescence or neighborhood peer pressure.

    Whether or not the rider is 14 or 65, that virgin marketplace has already been tapped. Now it’s just a race for the emerging buyers coming of age, and that is logically and factually a smaller market.

    • Eddie says

      I agree.

      Rather than trying to convince young people to buy an existing product (the motorcycle), bike manufacturers have to find out what they want and provide it. This is how you create new markets rather than grow existing ones.

      If they can do that, then the barriers like price and insurance and parents will all be counter-balanced by the need that has been fulfilled.

      e.g. The smartphone apps provides something that can be messed with casually for small blocks of spare time. Young people use a spare 15-20 minutes to play a game or social network. That feature is integrate with something they already carry – the phone. It makes sense to pay extra for a smartphone and a few more bucks on apps because they may use it even more often than they make calls.

      On the other hand, the electric bike is just stepping into the same market as the bike. It may be the next wave of bike but it is still nothing more than the thing it replaced.

  37. Tin Man 2 says

    I see it as a contest for the attention of the over stimulated youth. It is much easier to live in a “electronic”world than to actaully DO something in the real world. So many now live vicariously via electronics that there is a lack of respect for the real thing. As a side note, how long before the”virtual”girl friend app shows up?? You want to see a culture shift, this will be a big one!! Half of the most popular Female celebs are plastic allready. Maybe the Sunspots will put us back to the “real” world, before the race becomes extinct. LOL.

  38. Ed says

    Well as a 27 year old I don’t know that I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I mean I have a lot of folks around my age bracket (of which I am going to say is 21-30) that are huge into motorcycles and are building customs whether they be harley or cb750s or hopping up their GSXR750.

    I think there are two main issues and they both has something to do with economics. Before a kid has a job their parents usually provide what they need and in some cases what they want. A parent (like mine) would NEVER in their wildest dreams allow me to have a motorcycle. So if I couldn’t afford my own bike I wasn’t going to get one as a gift and to a greater extent my family lived in the suburbs so it was hard for me, even if I could at the time find a place to ride. This would be different if I lived by a track.

    And even when I did get a job at 13 and had “money” at 16 to buy a bike I couldn’t because I lived with my parents. So that meant I had to wait until college to buy my first bike and I worked my way up to the sportbike I have now. (don’t lump me in with a certain crowd, I had a harley chopper before the GSXR)

    So really the way I see it if we really want to expand the motorcycle riding public you have to start the kids off young, get them riding 50cc dirt bikes and encourage parents to ride which will then get their kids interested as well. And the most important thing is venue. Riding on the street is dangerous and scares a lot of people away from riding a motorcycle, give people a venue that they can learn in a more controlled atmosphere and they are able to get the rudimentary skills they need to be safe and have fun when they finally hit the road. And for the love of god you have to teach people that bikes aren’t death machines. And that maybe just maybe a 185mph at the flick of the wrist sportbike is not a good beginner bike.

  39. Ed says

    a little edit,

    I think a lot of people in my age group have the same issue whether its “I lived in the suburbs” or “I didn’t have any place to ride”. I remember being chased out of commuter lots just trying to learn how to ride my dirt bike in college. I think this is an issue and really hurts the natural evolution of our “sport” whether on dirt or on road.

    The other issue which I don’t know if its been brought up is insurance. A sportbike premium for someone who is single and under 25 for a 600cc bike is something ridiculous like $500 a month (geico and progressive). So naturally they aren’t going to be able to afford this. However as a rider I now know after riding for 6-7 years that I could have bought a late 80s early 90s power cruiser type bike and been fine but a kid walking off the street into a dealership isn’t going to know that.

  40. Chief says

    I don’t know if it qualifies as part of the same phenomenon you address, but it strikes me as though the antique and classic motorcycle clubs are having a similar challenge in recruiting younger members. If this trend continues (along with the one described here), will there even be such a thing as organized groups gathering to pay homage to “old iron” (or “old composites,” as will be the case eventually). Of course I’m biased, but I’m hard-pressed to understand anyone not recognizing the unbridled thrill of riding—but especially the young!

    I consider myself a thoughtful and observant person, but I have to admit I’d never thought about just how central of place fast motorcycles and fast cars played in music from the 50’s through 70’s in contrast to their virtual disappearance today. Thanks for pointing it out!

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      The music was a huge influence on young minds, to the point where songs were written at the request of car companies to help sell cars, “Little GTO” for instance. But just think, Little Deuce Coupe, Shes Real Fine my 409, Little Honda, Hot Rod Lincoln, Leader of the Pack, Dead Man’s Curve, Little Old Lady from Pasadena and lots more. People today forget how much a part of the culture it was. It was a very different time.

  41. Erik says

    I’m 27 and I just got my first bike, a buell blast, last year. What was holding me up from doing it sooner?

    1. The cost. Where I live, Chicago, a bike isn’t year round transportation. I wanted to be financially responsible, so I paid off my car first. Until recently, I didn’t have the funds available for a bike, and I don’t purchase toys on credit.

    2. Lack of exposure. My parents pushed me away from activities like cars, bikes, racing, etc… because they were on an all out push towards things that they felt had a “future” for me. Such as AP classes, orchestra, piano lessons, and other over achiever type pursuits. It took me a while to get off that track and back to things I enjoyed. Also, the “pussification” comment was also true for me. My mom wouldn’t even let me play paintball, because a friend of mine received a welt from it and she didn’t want me to get hurt.

    At my job, about half of the young people are into motorcycles. I don’t think it is an issue of young people preferring phones and facebook. I think you just have to look in the right groups of young people to find interest. Among young engineers, motorcycles and powersports in general are def. a big deal.

  42. akaaccount says

    Don’t worry, fossil fuel prices will continue to rise. In a few years, the only kind of ICE in a vehicle that can be sustainably bought and maintained will be in a motorcycle. At the same time, battery technology will suck at first, so anybody who wants to go fast will need an electric bike. Bikes might be lost on my generation, but I’m betting the next one will come to appreciate them.

  43. says

    I think this subject is a huge ball of twine that isn’t very easy to untangle. But skimming through the comments, there seems to be a fair amount of relevant information and reasons. (Maybe Kneeslider should sell this thread off to a company for some market data mining lol) So my 2 cents.

    For a first timer looking to buy a first bike it is incredibly mentally difficult to get into. A car, pretty much anybody can go out and test drive to their hearts content. Plus everyone knows someone that drives and can ask them how they like their car. (Same even with XBox/Playstation/IPhone etc)
    With a motorcycle that is not an option. So you are now looking to go out and spend a chunk of money on something you have no idea how it is going to ride. If you are lucky you can at least sit on it first. And that starts into the money question. Buy used, save money, but be buying potentially someone’s mechanical nightmare? Or spend more, and buy new? And still you have no idea how “good” it will be for you.
    Even if it is used, and the seller is upfront about what might be wrong with it, if you are like most and rather removed from the mechanical, all you know is that it is now more cost and you can’t fix it, which means now finding a motorcycle mechanic. And your experience with that is probably with ripping through car mechanic after car mechanic to find one you trust.

    Then I think it falls into more or less 2 camps. People who want the latest greatest fastest bestest, and those that want something they think is “cool.” The latest greatest crowd is forever going to be turning up something faster and bester, and as they do they are going to keep seeing the price go up higher. Which means putting off the purchase just a bit longer. And the “cool” group is probably going to cycle around month after month after month once they have decided to commit, as they try to find a better deal and more opinions.

    (Even if someone takes a riding class and passes, would you let someone fresh out of a class test ride a 200mph bike? Even they know they might be breaking and buying it.)

    I usually always get asked 1 of 2 questions about my bike first from those that are “thinking” of getting a first bike. It is usually either about the HP/MPH or the MPG. And that first one is tough, even for those not looking to set the next interstate speed record. All over the net (and car sales stickers even) it is horsepower, horsepower, horsepower. So to hear a bike is 65hp, but you just spent an hour watching “ghost rider” and turbo hayabusas or reading on forums of brag of brag of 1000+cc bikes with hundreds of hp, you can be left thinking that 65 is going do nothing at all but get you laughed at.

    Electronically topic wise, the more electrics the more it starts to intimidate the first timer that has some mechanical knownledge. They know they can fix some minor stuff, but not a circuit board. Personally I love things right now, there is just a good mix of a bit of everything. Cutting edge computer controls, electric bikes, and still plenty of carbs around as well.

    Anyway…I think this my two cents has gone into 3 or 4 cents so I’ll just leave it at this. But this is an interesting topic.

  44. bkowal says

    I am in my mid 40’s have two teen age daughters and have been riding for over 30 years. At first glance I agree with the article, but upon deeper examination, its really not true. Kids are kids.

    I tried getting my girls involved in the sport and they have absolutely no interest in it. I recently taught my youngest how to drive, and at times I had a hard time believing she is my daughter. She is a very good driver, but only sees driving as a way to get around. There is no love of motorsport. When I was her age, I loved driving, going fast and doing stupid (and fun) things in cars. Both my wife and I love cars and motorcycles, but for some reason none of this has rubbed off on my girls. BTW they are typical girls. They text their friends, play the odd video game but in no way are they over-the-top with technology; they have many interests.

    When I look back at how I was when I was her age, all my friends were into the cars/bikes etc., so I figured that was the cool/normal thing. Truth was it really wasn’t, it was just the gang I hung around with. So where are the piston heads today? They are out there. I have met a few of them while working on the bike in the driveway. One young guy was ecstatic when I offered to help change the forks seals on his WR400. Both his buddy and him show up and give me a case of beer each for the help that I would have gladly done for free. I would argue that you will see MORE interest in motorcycles as social media connects people of similar interests. It used to be that a valid excuse for not getting a bike was that there was no one to ride with. Today, I can go and get a ride at any time with sport bikes, dual sports, dirtbikes or the cruiser crowd just by hitting the relevant website. I have also met some very enthusiastic younger riders on some of my rides as well as many crusty old farts like myself. The interest is out there.

    But, I would have to agree with the insurance industry killing bike sales and interest. In the quest for higher profits, bike manufactures continually increase the cost of entry into the sport. Want a street bike? Gotta have a least a 600cc crotch rocket! Want a dirt bike? Gotta have a $9000 KTM race bike! Wanna ride to the bar? Gotta have a 700lb rolling piece of chrome that cost over $20,000. And of course with those expensive bikes comes expensive insurance.

    • Hootie says

      “Want a street bike? Gotta have a least a 600cc crotch rocket! Want a dirt bike? Gotta have a $9000 KTM race bike! Wanna ride to the bar? Gotta have a 700lb rolling piece of chrome that cost over $20,000. And of course with those expensive bikes comes expensive insurance.”

      Not the last one. Cruisers are really cheap to insure – even the $20,000 versions. A Sportster can be insured for $175 a year with full coverage and purchsed for under $10K.

  45. theoldman says

    I know the exact thing that is going to bring this generation to motorcycles….it $10 a gallon gasoline….

  46. jay says

    The real culprits are…..us.
    parents these days are so over the top overprotective of their kids, not to mention gadgets being great “babysitters” (for the record. my kid, age 10, rides)
    I often kick my kid off the gadget and out to the real world, but as far as I can tell, there’s not many like us, at least around here.

  47. Chris says

    Interesting article Paul. But I did some quick Googling and well, I’ll just leave this here for ya.

    IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 13, 2009 – Despite the economy, U.S. sales of new motorcycles in 2008 still topped the one-million mark, and did so for the sixth straight year. That beats the longest run of million-plus sales ever recorded by the Motorcycle Industry Council, during the five years from 1970 to 1974.

    Via Motorcycle Industry Council.

    • JSH says

      2008 was a great year for motorcycle sales but in 2009 they fell off a cliff and haven’t recovered. In 2009 sales dropped 50%. It was so bad that Suzuki didn’t import any street bikes in 2010 because the had so many left over 2009 models in showrooms and warehouses.

  48. shaft says

    Things have changed, no doubt about it.
    That was my question too, what would happen if I was exposed to in my early age to all this communications technologies, where my interests would be?
    On the big plus note, internet enabled me to acquire all the possible information I need for everything I want – machining, casting, to see what other people are doing, howto’s on everything. All of this was unimaginable just few years ago! It goes for any interests one might have – all knowledge of this world is at your fingertips. Despite everything laid out in front of us, only few will be able to learn and use it effectively. Just like books before. But, I guess the percentage will be much higher then ever before.
    For the future of motorcycling the danger, IMHO, comes from taxing, insurance and regulations that are effectively filtering out youngsters from entering. Then again we have the manufacturers making bikes for people that can afford expensive toys. You have to borrow money to buy toys, which in turn is another story why you have to borrow money for everything and be slave for life.
    People are striking back by creating new movements like cafe racers or streetfighters effectively bypassing all the traps, lowering the bar for entering motorcycling world and at the same time creating something they really want.

  49. david says

    My take is similar, i have a brood of teenagers who want exactly as you said: An xmox, a phone and a girlfriend. But i have to say that’s only half the problem. The other half of the problem rests squarely on that of the motorcycle industry itself, which has cut it’s own legs off, through greed.

    The days of finding on old scrap, and rebuilding it cheaply are gone. Those i do see riding clearly have had newish bikes bought for them by their folks, admirable. But, services and repairs are handles by the dealer, at a premium. Parts are ludicrously expensive for what they are, with the dealer markups being outrageous, and the service even worse. I recall being quoted more by a scrapyard for a part then the dealer, although the scrap dealer had one, whereas the agent required 3 weeks delivery from japan, for a footrest for a bike that was still being sold new.

    Even those like me who enjoy mechanicals find it extremely difficult to get parts, and if you can, well you pay more than they’re worth (to the bike). They justify high prioces in all manner of ways, but the truth is that the industry is fighting against your principles of home maintenance.

    Profits, pure and simple. And yes, they’re killing the backyard mechanic-rider.

  50. Tom says

    When you pass a kid on a little scooter – i.e., the motorcycle they can afford – do you give ‘em ‘the wave’?

    I know from personal experience 49 out of 50 of you don’t.

    So I don’t believe any of you care if kids ride or not.

  51. Paul says

    Young folks these days are obsessed with social inclusion. That is why phones are so addictive. If you can constantly chit-chat about nothing with your friends from school, why do you need anything else to distract you from that?

    The advance of technology has made the phone, the internet, the computer, and video game, so much less expensive and yet, it bring the world to your fingertips.

    In the 60’s, you won the hottest girl in town by riding a badass bike. She thought you were sexy because you were a rebel.

    These days, we’re not so easily amused. Our women aren’t swayed by our awesome motorcycle or car, they want us to have social prowess. It’s not about what you ride, its about who you know. If you can shake hands with business leaders while wearing Chuck Taylors, women will flock to you. You’ve got be socially, politically and environmentally engaged.

    I ride bicycle more than any form of transportation. I probably cover more miles on my bicycle in a year than in my car or motorcycle combined. I am happy that bicycles are popular, as they ease the congestion when I want to ride motorcycle.

    What I’ve seen is that no longer are machines seen only as a style or accessory, but they are seen most for what they are…transportation.

    The motorcycle industry needs to get away from the “sexiness” of design, and focus more on cheap, affordable, practical forms of transportation. After that, its only a matter of time before the consumer will want more.

  52. adam white says

    …leave the keys in the ignition. (facetious answer to your last question about how to attract more young people to motorcycling) And in truth, is mostly inspired by the many young scooter riders who whizz passed me on the inside lane on the way to work everyday. The truth is that big bikes are being legislated out of reach of anyone still capable of calling themselves young and the two wheeled, fashionable plat du jour is 50cc, small wheeled and inherently unstable from my limited experience. If legislators and insurers complete the process of erosion at the top of the m/c tree, Darwinian evolution will erode all takers at the lower end leaving a central bubble of opportunity – but Im not sure for who..

  53. Scotduke says

    I’ve two sons and the younger one is interested in motorcycling while the elder isn’t. Since I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was in my early 20s, there’s no way I could stop him, or would want to. My wife’s not so keen. There’s a place nearby where kids can ride on motocross bikes and I’ll be booking him a session this year and we’ll take things from there. If he’s going to ride it’ll be as well if he does the stupid stuff off-road.

    In the UK, young drivers get hit really hard on inusrance. It’s another reason why the numbers of younger people passing either their car or motorcyle licence is falling in the UK.

  54. Byrd says

    In my book, the problem with motorcycles, is shared with cars. I grew up riding and hot-rodding. Kids today will never understand the satisfaction of setting valve lash and finding a couple more horsepower. They just order a box and plug it into a computer. No grease left, no more grease balls. There is satisfaction in taking something crude, and getting more out of it. Jay Leno seems to get it. But at this rate, the future of motorcycles, is going to be tied to the future of cars, and the future of cars will eliminate the driver very very soon. What then? Will we be left to assume responsibility for every mishap? Or simply outlawed as self-operators? I suppose people faced the same dilemma when the car began to replace the horse. I am not a horse person, but I know something was lost there, and like me, people of their time, anticipated, and mourned the loss. There is a small puddle of oil underneath my chopper on the basement floor. I know where the problem is and how to fix it. I must admit that so long as it’s not excessive, it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me, because it’s within my ability to control, without paying someone a hundred bucks an hour to replace an O-ring. The machine presents challenges, and were it not so, I doubt I would feel much passion for it. In my book, that’s what’s dying. Machines we could interface directly with, have become nothing but disposable appliances. This isn’t about anyone being right or wrong, it’s just about perspective during an age. Yes, as a matter of fact, my beard is gray. Now get the hell out of my yard.

  55. Ramadancer says

    Great “stirring” article and commentary.
    How ’bout the Sears Catalog, when for several years, an Allstate Cruiseair (can’t remember how to spell it, really a cheap version of a Vespa 125) could be purchased for $299.00 US.
    A bit later, the great Honda 305 Superhawk was advertised at $699.00 US. Triumph 650’s were a bit over $1000.00
    My ’64 Honda Benly 150 was purchased used for $415.00, like new, at a dealership.
    It’s doubtful I made as much as a dollar per hour then. Threw a lot of newspapers as a 14 year old, and younger. How may kids do paper routes today? How many of us would let our kids?
    Yes…”The Times They Are A Changing”..

  56. Bjorn says

    I’m not sure about the U.S. and Canada, but in Australia you only need 3rd party personal insurance or 3rd party personal and property to be on the road. If you are paying a replacement bikes worth of insurance each year, why not bank it and upgrade every 2 years; betting you wont crash.
    My first bike cost me $1000 at 19 years of age and I only put the mandatory 3rd party insurance on it and rode the wheels off it. I lived out of home and didn’t care what my parents thought, choosing excitement over year round dryness. It’s 2 stroke engine provided a gentle entry into the world of mechanics with it’s limited number of moving parts. Bring back the 2 stroke! I’m sure young riders want the same thing now that they always have; cheap speed.

  57. says

    I have been watching this happen for 40 years, and it has been happening slowly for both cars and motorcycles. The vehicles have slowly undertaken a technological transformation which has detached them from the owners/operators, and they became “appliances”.
    It started in the US in 1968, when the first pollution controls appeared. This was the beginning of the era where technology that was unnecessary for the vehicle’s operation entered the scene. Prior to this time, it was almost universal that people maintained their own vehicles, and this provided the attachment/bond between man/machine. As the technology increased, and plumbing was introduced that seemed to have no purpose other than to complicate the machine, the people began to take their vehicles to dealers to maintain. Too many things on it that were beyond their understanding, and gov’t laws about putting them in jail if they removed those things. Regulations. That was the first big blow. Then, with the advent of more complex electronics and then computers, the consumer had no chance to maintain his own vehicle, and it was “all dealer maintenance” after that.
    No more connection between man and machine. It became a conveyance. An appliance to be bought and used. No more becoming part of the machine. It was a microwave oven on wheels.

    And that’s basically it, in a nutshell.

    I created a parts company to sell hi-po parts to to bike enthusiasts, for their own installation and rebuilds. I expected to sell parts. But, I found out that very few people can actually even work on a simple vintage single-cylinder engine. They want me to do the rebuilds for them because they don’t know how. they don’t know how carbs work. They don’t know about timing. They pretty much don’t know anything at all about engines.
    In my youth, this would have been unheard-of to not be able to tune or rebuild an engine. Everybody knew this stuff. It was common knowledge.
    Now, practically nobody knows it.

    Why?
    Because they have been separated from their machines by technology.
    The very technology that was promoted as “improvement”(which in many cases it was), also became the wedge that separated the person from the machine, and the bond was broken.

    This is why there is a resurgence in desire for vintage machinery. The bond is there that can be re-kindled, and the man and machine can become “one” again, and all is well with the world.

    It’s impossible to go back, because the gov’t won’t let you. You can never get a vehicle on the market today that is simple like the old days. It’s simply been leglislated out of existence. It’s gone.

    Go vintage. The past is the future.

    • Paulinator says

      You NAILED it.

      There’s an old Brit bike (in boxes) in the garage with my son’s name on it (got it when he was a baby). He’s showing interest in it, so we’ll be getting into it pretty soon – he’s 15 now. I’m going to show him the internal workings of a motorcycle. I hope he can teach me some basic programming language in trade.

  58. Kevin says

    I think the two biggest issues have been missed here. I am a 22 year old, die hard motorcyclist. Instead of laying the blame on video games, we should look at the motorcycle industry.

    First, what do they produce? More and more, the companies are neutering bikes. They are BORING. Everything is a cookie cutter with the same stats. They are too focused on cutting every millisecond off lap times (which is completely irrelevant to everyone) and don’t spend any time making a differentiated bike. They aren’t trying to make different and exciting bikes. They are neutering bikes with all these electronic aids. They are eliminating the skill needed to ride a bike. What is the fun then? If a video game is more challenging than riding a 180hp motorcycle, I don’t blame kids for playing games. Going electric will seal the deal on neutering bikes and I won’t ever buy one. The most boring form of motorcycles ever.

    Second, you mention that the young people don’t hang out in the pits, but what has happened in these sports in the last 10 years is the riders have given less attention to the fans. They don’t hang out with fans, they do their mandatory hour signing with little care, then leave. When that is their attitude, why would we car to hang out in the pits?

    • Budd says

      I am 26 and would just like to point out that the problem isn’t nesesarily that new bikes are being “neutered” it’s that young people our age have no interested in riding motorcycles with less than premium performance. I mean seriously new bikes don’t need to be any faster for the street. The speed limit’s haven’t changed, and the street isn’t a race track. Even in racing people learn more on the smaller older bikes for less money and come out ahead when they move up to bikes more “current” . My thought is that we need to generate more interest in vintage bikes for young people. They need to understand how much fun and classy an old bsa, norton, cb, cl, xt…etc can be. I think they are less likely to make the leap to a motorcycle when entry level bikes are still in the 4k and up market. Get people in their garage with an old cl305 and learn how to make the thing tick. The end result will be a bigger smile for less money spent. As a former ducati tech. I say go Vintage.

      • Kevin says

        Yes, I agree with much of what you said. Like I was trying to say before, manufacturers are too focused on making bikes shave a tenth of a second off a lap time. What we need is FUN bikes, not fast bikes. These electronics that make a bike faster remove the rider-bike interaction. You loose the feeling and necessary skill to master the bike. This fun is lost for a slight performance increase. I would much rather have a 100hp bike that weighs 320lbs. Something that I can rip through turns, wheelie, maybe even slide.

  59. says

    Okay, so I’ll describe the reasoning behind why I’m doing what I’m doing with the Royal Enfield Bullet 500, with the vintage type engine. Because it ties in with this subject perfectly.

    By a strange twist of fate, the India factory for Royal Enfield remained open after RE-UK went out of business, and you could still buy the Bullet in essentially 1954 production trim with turn signals and stuff added. It was a vintage big single that you could buy brand new up until 2008. It was dog slow, and not too reliable, but it still had that vintage appeal.

    So, I did what any red blooded American would do… I hotrodded it. And then I made kit parts for others to do it.

    It’s perfect for doing what others have described above, after hotrodding it. It can do “the Ton”(100mph+), it accelerates briskly, handles nimbly, can cruise the highway, gets 70+mpg on the highway, is reliable, and kickstarts easily.
    The really cool part is that you can use the whole rpm range of the engine, and it gives such an exhilarating feeling to wind the bike out like that and power it into curves, and do the whole thing that people like about riding bikes. But it’s at a scaled-down speed that keeps it all under 100mph, and most of it under the 75mph max speed limits, and it’s even a helluva good time under 55mph. You feel like Mike Hailwood.

    Plus, you get to ride an iconic vintage Brit big single, which is reminiscent of the Golden Days of Motorcycling, and you can build it and hot-rod it yourself, and become “one with the machine”, and master it from tip to tail, and it is YOUR machine.
    And it’s fairly inexpensive to do, as these things go. Not dirt cheap, but still quite reasonable. The basic Bullet 500 platform is not expensive in used condition that can be a good starting point for this activity.

    I just decided to use the Bullet platform to create a time machine that could take people back to 1955, and give them a hotrodding experience with it that they could do themselves, and let them see what we all experienced back in those times with our own hot-rods. And have it be in a cost range that is affordable, and a performance range that is fully use-able on today’s roads and highways, with exciting performance similar to a street-tuned Gold Star or Manx, but with better manners around town. So you can ride it to the store if you want, or putter around the lake, or storm your nearest twisties in the canyons.

    Bringing the man/machine bond back with all the blood, sweat, tears, and joy that come with it. That’s what makes it real.
    And that’s why I do it.

  60. c says

    This is a watershed time where I’m not sure if I can get excited about electronic traction control even though I was raised on faster and lighter for the last twenty plus years.

    The recession created a reset button where you don’t need a
    $15000 superbike to be cool, half of that sum and time in the garage could get your cafe or bobber onto Bike Exif.

    Cafe racers don’t have a place for women to sit- but this could be that in the internet age porn never says no or it could be that more women are riding their own bikes.

    Things are not all bad -shows like the Tuetuls grate the nerves but they’ve introduced countless people to the notion to pick up a wrench and do something to their $500 cx500 with it. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a mess or maybe it’ll transcend its’ loathsome origins. At least people are being creative.

    Look for silver linings, fill out your organ donor card and help
    out a new rider when you can.

  61. colin baugh says

    It’s all about insurance costs to a large degree when I was a young lad with my first job I could afford a good bike and an old car and some sort of social life from my meagre apprentices wages.
    Sadly no more if a youngster even has a job he will depend on the Bank of Mom and Dad to help them out with things like insurance.

  62. Mike says

    Hi Paul I couldn’t agree more there has been change over all….But..I see the name brand bikes with big price tags and the boutiques they sell them in… but I also see bobber bikes homebuilt using older power plants and a ton of ingenuity..This tells me the spirit of invention is still out there,but one thing that still gives me a bit of a thrill and at 54 there aint much ,lotsa laughs is when your’e riding down a great road no traffic and bikes coming the other way and people wave…I’m thankful to be involved in a sport that has enamoured me for 40 years.. I don’t care what you ride…just love to see everyone out there…happy…my son is 15 now. We went to the Vancouver motorcycle show a few years back the Yamaha crew appeared out of nowhere and asked my boy if he wanted to try riding..big smile ,enthusiastic nodding,next thing you know he was geared up and piloting a little 50 around a track,when we were leaving they gave him a goodie bag he was thrilled .been riding ever since 4th generation …yeah man I love it..thanks

  63. james page says

    Sorry but unless yer an “plastic sandal” wearer electric bikes will never catch on. The main reason people take to motorcycling is the internal combustion engine because they have “soul”. An electric vehicle can never have “soul”, nothing compares to the feeling of a fire breathing, vibrating,gas smelling, i.c.engine. The nanny state will put an end to biking for sure, i really feel for the younger generation, how could we leave such a legacy behind for them? No way will i be forced to ride an electric bike, thats the day when i park up my bobber and hang up my leathers for good.