How should motorcycles adapt for aging riders? If you’ve been on the road since the 60’s or 70’s, you, ahem, … we, might begin looking for a few things on our bikes the twenty something rider wouldn’t think about.
There was an interesting article yesterday on how the automotive industry is changing as it recognizes the increasing number of older drivers. Brighter and larger gauges, bigger control knobs, wider seats and sturdier door hinges, along with many other changes are all finding their way into the newer cars. How does this idea translate to motorcycles?
During the average ride, think for a moment how many controls you operate without even having to think about it and certainly without having to look at them. Brakes, clutch, gearshift are all second nature. Except for the larger touring bikes we don’t get into things like the radio controls a driver might have to mess around with on the dash. Adjusting the heater and defroster? Nope. Power windows? Well there are some electrically adjustable windshields but you don’t really have to adjust them while you’re riding. I guess the point is that many auto controls don’t crossover to motorcycles at all.
The new GPS systems are both helpful and confusing at the same time. It’s new technology with no long practiced standard in place so you have to think your way through it, not a good thing while you’re riding.
Standard positioning for every control would seem a to be critical factor so a rider doesn’t have to look down and search for something, especially when those controls are small enough that looking for the horn indicator or high beam switch could take precious seconds. Of course, standard positioning is already required so newer or less frequent riders don’t have to keep looking for every button or switch, it’s just safety common sense. Another good bet? The emerging automatic transmissions are going to see big sales to boomers.
How about the overall design? There does seem to be more of the oversized scooter type of motorcycle showing up and the cruisers are probably popular because many older riders aren’t going to fold themselves over the latest GSXR or Ninja. Sitting more upright is most likely THE major design shift recognizing the older rider and it translates well since younger and newer riders might find you can still go fast without the superbike riding position. It always amazes the squids to see an older rider disappear in the distance 🙂 Ha!
Note: There were a lot of sensational articles recently written by obvious non riders who were seriously uninformed under the general heading of “older riders causing lots of accidents,” however they didn’t stop to think that replacing the word riders with drivers wouldn’t change anything. Increasing age causes changes in reaction time and ability to adjust to bright lights among other things, it’s not specific to motorcycles.
So what do you think? What changes should or are likely to take place?