Asked why they ride motorcycles, riders will probably give different answers. Maybe commuting is easier or fuel economy is higher, which reduces stress and spares spending cash for other things, like an extra cappuccino. Some people ride because it’s fun, free, or ”cool.” Aside from just riding, there’s also off-roading, adventure riding, and racing. No matter the reason we ride, it’s clear that there are also dangers, within and without, that threaten the sport.
Motorcycle sales in North America have been stagnant over the last decade, while previous decades showed nearly-consistent increases. In Europe, though, motorcycle sales are rising. It seems that the stagnation in motorcycle sales may be linked to age – the average American rider is nearly 50 years old and has over 25 years behind the handlebars. Economy also seems to be a major factor, the average rider’s household income over $60K, some $20K over the average American household income.
There are at least a couple problems with this, and the motorcycle industry needs to learn to market itself to a wider audience and one with less disposable income. Many of today’s bikes are simply too expensive for the average American, and those that are affordable aren’t made for this generation of riders. At least in the United States, it seems that this and the next generation of riders simply aren’t aware they could be riders!
Improving marketing is one thing, but increasing awareness needs to take a special place if more riders are going to take to the streets, trails, and tracks in America. As with many sports, generating awareness starts at the top, that is, with those who are at the pinnacle of the sport. Skateboarding had its Tony Hawk, and NASCAR had its Dale Earnhardt Jr., just a couple of famous personages who helped to revitalize their sports.
AMA Hall of Famer Mark Blackwell, KTM President Jon Erik Burleson and Supercross Champion Jeff Emig are three such riders, with years of experience and success under their belts. They’ve come together, along with several industry backers, to establish the United States Motorcycle Coaching Association (USMCA) and push for growth in motorcycle lifestyle and sport. Considering that riding is inherently more dangerous, it seems logical that training would be of great importance to almost anyone considering it, which makes it even more worrying that good training is so difficult to find. The USMCA’s main goal will be to provide that training, by certifying coaches and encouraging exposure and growth in the sport.
First Annual Coaching Summit
The inaugural USMCA Coaching Summit took place in Texas, February 9 and 10, and will be followed up by regional events throughout the year. The goal of these is to gather and certify motorcycle coaches across the country and develop training programs for each style and level of riding. Off-road riding, on-road riding, and racing, from beginner to intermediate, will give riders, young and old, sporting or not, a leg up on getting their motorcycle endorsements, as well as give them the tools and legislation needed to ride safe in the years to come.