By Bruce Mike
While I haven’t ridden a lot of miles this year I’ve spent a lot of time on my bikes. Much of this time has been in traffic. Something I’ve noticed while sitting at intersections and watching the world go by is there are not a lot of young people riding motorcycles. I do see quite a few scooter riders who are young. I think that has to do with my being close to a college campus, scooters are cheap, and you can park them anywhere.
My love of motorcycles started when I was very young and I was riding a street bike as soon as I could. I paid $500 for my first bike. A buck a cc. It was about five years old. That seemed to be common pricing for bikes back then. I spent about three years riding without a motorcycle endorsement but I was a bit of a scofflaw back then. I was in my late teens and there were a lot of other riders my age.
I know it’s not news that motorcycle sales in the U.S. are pretty stagnant and they have been for awhile. There are a lot of opinions about why this is. The number one being, that motorcycles are expensive and normally purchased with discretionary income. Most people in America see motorcycles as something we own for fun and not a primary form of transportation. Over the years mine have been both. The industry’s response to this is to build smaller displacement, less expensive bikes to lure young people to riding. While sales of smaller bikes are going up, I think it may be too little too late. I think the answer may be in how manufacturers are marketing these bikes.
Here’s my opinion. All these smaller bikes should have been on the market 10 years ago, right after motorcycle sales plummeted. They could have been advertised as fun and cheap which may have created interest for kids in their early teens. I think we’re at a point now where manufacturers need to market motorcycling, more than just motorcycles. We have an entire generation that are attached to their phones and the apps that are on them. They are consciously, and sometimes I think unconsciously, completely absorbed in their devices. This can’t be easily done on a bike. If everybody rode motorcycles there would be no distracted driving. I think bikes need to be marketed to these folks the way they used to be. As a way to be free from life’s attachments. Show them how great it is to be alone in your helmet and free of worldly distractions. Show them how practical a form of transportation they are.
I base this opinion on my own observations. There seems to be a real trend for retro things. I see it with cars, motorcycles, clothes and activities like board games and pinball machines. We have television programs about tiny houses and living off the grid. There seems to be a real movement for less stuff and more experiences. I like to hope that these trends are a precursor to our society maybe returning to simpler pleasures and simpler times.
A lot of the younger people I do see riding today are on vintage, smaller displacement, japanese and european motorcycles. If you’re going to sell retro looking bikes, which a lot of the new ones are, why not go retro with advertising.
It might be time to remind everyone. “You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda”.