It seems you can’t look at a news source or social media without hearing about some new thing the young people are ruining because they spend too much time with their phones. Harley-Davidson new bike sales seem to be off by another 10% every year, and nearly every motorcycle expert says riders are aging out of bikes, and new riders are hard to find. Flying in the face of that doom and gloom though is a new survey from the people behind the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows and their Discover The Ride initiative.
This year, at motorcycle shows in seven major cities as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Auto Show, Discover the ride introduced a large number of people who have never ridden to the fun of motorcycles. They say the secret if to hook your customers young, and the electric assist balance bikes were hooking kids as young as three years old. Teens and adults also had nonthreatening e-bike options thanks to Yamaha, to introduce them to how much fun riding was when you didn’t have to pedal so hard. Zero also brought their full blown, freeway legal electric motorcycles to the party, though they were specially programmed to limit speed and power.
Admittedly the sample is biased, but when surveyed after taking part, more than 80% indicated they are now interested in riding a motorcycle!
More than 6,800 people took part in the demo rides that were part of Discover the ride, 47% of them women and girls, and 2,300 of them children on balance bikes. Those kids helped to make up the 64% that were under the age of 35 years old. In all 81% of those surveyed who did not currently own a motorcycle or have a motorcycle license indicated they are interested in getting licensed to ride a motorcycle.
Some industry trends would already indicate that young people are interested in certain types of motorized two-wheel travel. Witness the popularity of rental electric scooters and e-bikes in every major city, which Harley-Davidson has already indicated they want a piece of. The Honda Grom, and other smaller lower powered, inexpensive bikes like the have proven extremely popular, even as big bike sales have fallen. Classic 1970s and 80s small bore bikes continue their popularity, even as prices continue to rise. Lower powered, less intimidating version of full sized, full price bikes, like the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 and Indian Scout Sixty are popular despite not being much less than their more powerful brethren.
Young people may not be buying Electra Glides, despite Harley-Davidson’s best efforts to make the bike modern, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to ride. Just like the Baby Boomers when they were teenagers buying Vespas and Honda 50cc Cubs, young people are following their own path, and who knows, maybe it will lead to Gold Wings and v-twin baggers eventually too.
If you are learning to ride or considering your first bike, and you are also interested in learning to work on it too, our Clymer manuals and a few tools are all you need to get started. Our Rebel/Nighthawk 250cc manual has just been updated and now includes 1978-2016, or if you prefer a Cub, Passport, Trail 70, or Trail 90 our 1965-1999 Honda single manual is a perennial best seller. Our sister company, Haynes manuals, recently released manuals for the inexpensive Royal Enfield 500 modern classic from India, the Honda Grom, and the latest in the Triumph new Bonneville family.