MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Research Study Tries to Determine Why Millennials Are Not Buying Motorcycles

Apparently, posing hipsters on motorcycles hasn’t drawn enough young buyers.

We can all speculate why younger people are not buying motorcycles in sufficient quantities to assure the future health of this industry, but there seem to be very few, careful, scientific studies on the subject. An article posted on Barrons’ web site seems to have found one.

In the article, Barrons discusses a study by Bernstein Research on the subject. It appears they observed 5 reasons why millennials are buying fewer motorcycles, with the principal two reasons being college debt, and the fact that “millennials generally appear to be moving through traditional life stages later than previous generations.” They also cited decreased use of dirt bikes by youngsters, a form of “gateway drug” to motorcycle addiction.

Any way you look at it, the industry has a serious problem with its aging demographic. Give us your thoughts on the subject below.

187 Comments

  1. Kbar says:

    They are too busy shopping for a smart phones and skinny jeans. The concept of hard work at a young age is lost today.

  2. allworld says:

    Have they looked at where millennials live? Urban dealerships have for the most part disappeared. Out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps a different way bikes are sold would be helpful, instead of full dealerships have “authorized sales agents in store fronts and in shops like H & M, and Prymark…

    Local municipalities should offer more motorcycle parking only locations and of course lane splitting or motorcycle only lanes on expressways.

    There is no App for marketing at least not yet

  3. Provologna says:

    Re. the caption under the top most image: Wow, I’m shocked that image comprising a bearded rider, and his expression, denim uniform, and Ray Ban sunglasses has stopped working! /sarc off

    Cliché, much?

  4. Nate says:

    You’re making this way to hard. Millennials are not buying motorcycles because they are broke. They don’t have jobs and they are still living in mom’s basement at 35.

    • J. Paganel says:

      They are broke, and they are living in basements. However, they do have jobs, and often more than one.

      Things really are different now than they were 50 years ago.

  5. Bob K says:

    Lots of people here are stating that dirt bikes and mini-bikes are the gateway drug to motorcycling and that not having open land to ride them is the problem. I disagree. I consider the gateway drug to be the simple single speed coaster brake bicycle.
    .
    By the time I was 5 and got my first bicycle, it didn’t take long to figure out that this 2 wheeled contraption was my ticket to independence and freedom and I was no longer confined to a few square blocks around my home. I rode everywhere, including places so far away my parents would have beaten me black and blue for had they known at the time. I remember it clearly 45 years on. Once I discovered a world larger than a 1/4 mile radius of home, I was hooked on being an explorer for life.
    .
    Now, all those places can be discovered in the palm of your hand. There’s no need to go outside and break a sweat to travel a distance to see something. Kids today, simply aren’t into “play.” In a neighborhood of 1000+ houses, I can count the number of kids on bicycles on my hands and feet…and I’m missing all the toes on one foot. I see a total of 3 bicycles in the bike rack at the elementary school on the edge of my neighborhood. In the 70s, the 20 bike racks we had were overflowing with bikes.
    .
    They’re really not excited about modes of transport to go anywhere for any reason, much less for pleasure. Transportation is a necessary evil that they hope will some day disappear because it consumes time they’ll never get back. Doing it for pleasurable purposes is far from their mind.
    .
    There’s nothing the motorcycle industry can do to get the millenials into motorcycling. It starts at home… Gotta kick them out of the house and tell them to play and ride a pedal (non-assisted) bicycle. Otherwise, they’ll just sit in their rooms all day looking at porn on their phones and making the bald man cry.

    • Orbit398 says:

      Great write-up

      Agree

    • Auphliam says:

      Ding Ding Ding, We have a winner!

      Spot on commentary, sir

    • edk800f1 says:

      I was astounded to find out that a coworker’s young son wasn’t interested in a bicycle.
      I think that there’s even less interest in driving cars.

      • Fivespeed302 says:

        The only way I could get my nephew to ride his bicycle without training wheels was to bargain with him. The deal was that he had to ride his bicycle around the block twice and then I’d take him for a ride on my motorcycle. It works!

    • J. Paganel says:

      Are you serious?

      Bicycles are the modern urban obsession. If you live in the actual city, they are everywhere.

      Now, if you live in suburbia, they aren’t. That’s not because “there is no need to go outside”, it’s because there is nowhere to go. The ice cream shop isn’t a few blocks away, it’s in a strip mall that you have to reach via a highway.

      Plus, there is the matter of possibly having the cops called on you if you are a kid on a bike.

      You are complaining that they don’t want the freedom they can’t really have.

  6. Fj pilot says:

    I didn’t start riding until I turned 30 so the whole dirt bike route never applied to me. When I bought my first bike (used), I had already paid off my student debt, Already owned a house, and had a career. It just doesn’t work like that anymore. Housing market is screaming the blues too as millennials aren’t buying houses yet either. There seems to be more emphasis on immediate gratification with dining out, electronics, etc vs: learning a skill. Motorcycles are virtually the same price as they were when I entered into the market. Yamaha, Honda, and Kawasaki all have sub $10k bikes. I attend local motorcycle events that take place at a restaurant and they’re well attended. But the number of them attending a real motorcycle race weekend is just a small percentage.

  7. Fj pilot says:

    I didn’t start riding until I turned 30 so the whole dirt bike route never applied to me. When I bought my first bike (used), I had already paid off my student debt, Already owned a house, and had a career. It just doesn’t work like that anymore. Housing market is screaming the blues too as millennials aren’t buying houses yet either. There seems to be more emphasis on immediate gratification with dining out, electronics, etc vs: learning a skill. Motorcycles are virtually the same price as they were when I entered into the market. Yamaha, Honda, and Kawasaki all have sub $10k bikes. I attend local motorcycle events that take place at a restaurant and they’re well attended. But the number of them attending a real motorcycle race weekend is just a small percentage.

  8. oldjohn1951 says:

    I’ve read all the comments and many of the arguments made are valid; sad to say. I got started with motorcycling in the mid-1960s. Bikes were cheap, plentiful, sold in many places including department and hardware stores and even go-kart tracks and the days of motorcycle license endorsements had not yet arrived. The tables have turned 180 degrees in 50 years. I would love nothing more than wave a magic wand and make all the restrictive laws and the damn 1970s EPA requirements that killed the 2 strokes gone. It won’t happen. We are entering uncharted territory and new thinking is going to have to emerge. In the meantime, I’m going to keep riding and let others see that this old man isn’t going quietly into the night.

  9. kyle says:

    Quit beating around the bush. Millenials are wussies with a capital P. And I am 1986. Raised on dirt bikes. In college debt. In many life transitions. With a 2017 Triumph T100 currently owned by some bank.

  10. red says:

    as dirtbikes wane, seems to me mountain biking is coming on strong. I wonder if this trend may be cannibalizing mx/trail bikes and creating cyclists instead of motorcyclists. A lot cheaper to get into and plenty of free riding areas. Trailheads around these parts always fill up on nice weekends.

    There’s not a lot of places left to legally ride motorized offroad bikes around these parts. Have to load up and drive somewhere (in your truck/trailer = more $$) and none of those places are free, many require memberships. I don’t have dirtbikes anymore mainly for that reason. that plus I’m old and brittle.

  11. Scottie says:

    In NYC there are many children who never even learn to ride a bicycle, let alone get their drivers’ licenses. I guess it’s always been that way, but I could not wait to drive and always wanted a bike, but didn’t actually get one until I was in my 40s.

  12. Don M. says:

    I was introduced to m’cycling in the 60’s, with my older brother’s Sears-Allstate 90cc. Got a Honda 350 when I was 16, am now 63 and have owned 40+ bikes. Those who don’t ride, or even want to ride, are astounding to me! Riding is far more dangerous these days, with all the distracted drivers, but it’s all I REALLY care about, even after all these years. I’m addicted! Why isn’t everyone? I have no clue.But I feel sorry for them…….

  13. Neil says:

    1. Cell phones – gaming, Instagram etc
    2. Parents act like driving slaves for their kids so they don’t become heroin addicts
    3. Kids are brainwashed with tablets – I see it every day
    4. Kids don’t want to work – “I would never do “THAT” job. I’m going to be a Hip Hop star.
    5. Outside? What’s that? Ew, bugs! Ahhhh!

  14. Drake says:

    Dirtbikes – no place to ride anymore.
    Streetbikes – crowded roads full of giant cars with texting assholes behind the wheel.
    Money – yeah, that. I have a 20-something in by basement. Can’t get her out. My ex wifge has a 20-something in her spare room. Can’t get him out. Both employed 40 hours a week. Cannot afford even “cheap” rent. Both work at “good” employers who happen to pay squat.
    Screens – that, too. They care a LOT about screens.
    Etc – neither of my teenagers gave a crap about drivers licenses.
    WHO CARES if motorcycling dies? Maybe it’s a good thing. It will be here for US who love it, and not for THEM who do not. Seems perfect.

  15. Nick R says:

    Lots of valid reasons mentioned (and many not-so-valid). I’m a “millennial” so I’ll put my dollar on the barrel.

    Cost is a huge part, but not just in the purchase of the bike, gear, and maintenance/repairs. Speaking of repairs, you’d be surprised how many of us “too soft” kids can fix. After all, just like we probably programmed most of your VCRs and fixed your computers, we’re able to find the information and parts online necessary to do the job ourselves. We’re surprisingly good at home repairs, considering most of our parents were content to just hire out work.

    No, the cost I’m referring to (in addition to motorcycle-specific costs and things like college debt and expensive housing) is health care. A so-so lowside on one of the poorly-maintained roads could lead to a bankrupting hospital bill in the blink of an eye, in addition to the lost value of that craigslist bike. Most of us, already burdened with the aforementioned economic pressures, can’t afford that risk.

    Something else I haven’t seen mentioned is that we’re an increasingly health-conscious generation that has grown up seeing what a lack of diet and exercise does to an aging body. Motorcycling doesn’t have the other benefits that similar (in ours minds) pursuits, like bicycling or running, can provide.

    Don’t get me wrong- I love riding motorcycles. I even got into them relatively late in life (college) and that Ducati Monster 620 truly acted as a gateway into the hobby. But, just like everyone else, millennials are growing up and trying to afford housing, debt, and kids. I sold my last Ducati, an ’04 S4R that I really treasured, to help with the down payment on our first house, with a (now-born) daughter on the way. And I my wife and I still have all our bicycles.

  16. ScottB#43 says:

    It’s not just the Japanese Manufacturers ignoring the problem. Harley and Indian are as well! Can you imagine what would happen if these two American companies made entry level dirt bikes? It would definitely spark Dad, the Harley owner, to get his kid on a bike “like” his…

  17. Dirty Bob says:

    Millennials face a difficult time. The motorcycle industry has made most bike too costly to own. My local HD dealer charges 130 per hour for maintenance and worse the bike are computers, this limits any general maintenance. Motorcycles cost too much. Dealers are getting big money for the bikes with prep/delivery fees. There are no more 2 cycle 250cc for under $500.

  18. Mike says:

    A lot of people love those 5″ screens in their pockets. Let’s get some tech on the bike. Look at Audi’s MMI Digital Instrument Panel introduced on their TT sportscar. Let’s get some tech like this on the bike. That links via Bluetooth to their phones in their pockets. So the instrument panel can tap into phone apps like GPS and Maps. So I can say (on my bluetooth helmet), “Siri, find me a gas station” or “Siri, find me something to eat” and have directions on my screen.

  19. takehikes says:

    I have two sons that are sort of art of this issue, they are 31 and 33. they have no debt but they also even at this age have nothing. Not for lack of trying but its a tough sled these days. There is no money for a bike at any price pretty much. I also think the manufacturers (and us) abandoned affordable bikes. So many of us started on a Honda 160 moved up to a 350 and then oh my god maybe a 750. No one bought a used bike right away pretty much. When you did it wasn’t expensive nor super high performance. We also did all of our own maintenance and modifications. Much of that has been beat out of the market place. I rode all over America on both Honda 350 and 450’s. No one would think of doing that these days yet its what I had so we did it. Times change and the bike companies have chosen a path as have the so called millenials. All I know is in a few years down the road they will be able to buy damn big expensive bikes for pennies on the dollar from old farts that sunk big money in to their land yacht.

  20. A P says:

    So many comments and no one has hit on the most obvious deterrent… insurance cost. Used to be motorcycle insurance,especially for sub-500cc bikes, was a small fraction of car insurance. It’s one thing to pick up a used/fixer-upper bike cheap, but when yearly insurance premiums costs as much as, or more than, the bike itself?

    The core problem is that insurers are being allowed by gov’ts to separate the motorcycle risk pool from the passenger vehicle/light truck pool. The relatively small pool of motorcyclists are required to carry nearly all the risk (cost of claims) despite the Hurt and MAIDS reports both showing it is other vehicle drivers most often at fault.

    YES, insuring younger or less experienced riders will be greater risks, but not that much more than for cars. Bikes cause far less third-party costs, but that gets left out of the calculations. Bikers are just more vulnerable to injury than car drivers/passengers in similar incidents… bikers share this problem with pedestrians and bicyclists. So why does pedestrian and bicycle risk stay embedded in the car/light-truck pool and not motorcycles? The bicycle/pedestrian death/injury/cost rates are very similar to motorcycles. The answer: Because pedestrians and bicycles don’t meed license permits or insurance coverage.

    Imagine everyone over the age of 16 being required to take a pedestrian/bicyclist license test ,and bee insured every year or they get no payout if involved in a car collision while walking or bicycling…

    Motorcycles are easy to target, and cost insurance companies more per-incident than car/car incidents, EVEN WHEN THE CAR DRIVER IS AT FAULT.

    The other stuff about phones and video games is valid, but every driving-age youngster I’ve taken for a ride gets off thinking “I’d like one of these”. Then when I’m asked “how much”, the spark dies when I tell them that for the first 5 years they ride, they would pay multiple $1000’s per year to insure a beginner-cc bike. Forget even a 600cc sportbike, let alone a liter-plus cruiser or touring bike.

    Why the motorcycle manufacturers don’t use their collective clout to stop this obvious restriction of trade is a mystery to me. Autonomous cars will make this mess even worse.

  21. PN says:

    I’m sure college debt is a lot of the reason. The other is, probably, most of the public thinks riding a motorcycle is freaking dangerous. We hear it all the time. But fun never goes out of style. A third reason could be that for most people reality comes mediated nowadays through television or your phone. Lots of people don’t really experience actual life anymore, with its rough edges. That’s why I like to tour on a bike. You’re alive, you’re in the moment, and even if the weather is adverse, you’re not dead.

  22. rider33 says:

    there has been a lot of nashing of teeth on this in the moto-press. The reality is quite a few categories are experiencing similar ever-older problems, the under thirty set isn’t into golf as much, hasn’t been buying cars as often, or houses, or a lot of things. As I recall boomers didn’t exactly behave just like their parents either, each makes their own way. The gateway thing tho is real, odds are nearly every current rider started on something a lot smaller and a lot less expensive. Until recently, there were very few options in that regard. Until entry bikes are both affordable and aspirational odds are their way-to-tight money will be going to others places. Personally, I think ebikes may be they way in. Spend any time on a peddle assist bike with trottle over-ride and it’s not that far a leap to wonder what a bit more power might be like.

  23. Mark says:

    There are several reasons why younger kids are not buying bikes. Many of the reasons have already been stated. I think the cost of bikes is a large factor. If they are going to buy a form of transportation with any money they have it won’t be a bike. Bikes are mostly a toy.
    Another factor is the cell phone. Its hard to ride a bike and use the cell phone unless you get a bike that will accommodate the use of a cell phone but those bikes cost too much.
    I see my grand kids and they are just not interested that much in outdoor activities. They don’t seem to be that adventurous as we old geezers were. We didn’t have cell phones. I think the lack of cell phones helped us to be come more resourceful where as they can’t live with out their phones. I remember I couldn’t wait to go exploring on my bike. The feeling freedom can not be compared. Now the kids use their phones to explore.

    • Uffe says:

      Sad but true. I probably wouldn’t encourage my son to get a street bike either, since every time I’m out riding, I encounter countless idiot drivers in their cars and on their phones texting.

      By the way, why is the field to type comments black? I can barely see what I’m writing when using my iPhone.

  24. Rich says:

    I was raised in the 60’s and times were different – not better – just different. At about the age of 7, I had a bicycle and pretty much unlimited freedom – “Bye mom!” “Be home by dinner!” If you stayed at home, you were either bored or put to doing chores so my friends and I went everywhere and anywhere! And when I was able to save some $$, I had a minibike at 14 – why? Cause it exponentially expanded the sense of freedom and exploration my bicycle gave me! It continues today!

    Today times are different – not better – just different. Kids have less freedom and more structure and much more entertainment (TV/cable, video games, computers, etc). The environment that allowed me to experience motorcycling is not here today. I’d wager if I grew up today I wouldn’t be a motorcyclist!

    Manufacturers have to target young adults and get them exposed. Scooters! – flood the market with scooters and maybe a spark will ignite a few millennials to ride!

  25. FreddyJ says:

    1) Younger generations are more about having experiences than accumulating stuff. I could see bike-sharing concepts like Twisted Road catching on, but…

    2) They don’t seem all that interested in driving themselves. I hear more and more kids turning 16 that aren’t chomping at the bit to get their license. If you don’t want to learn to drive a car, you probably won’t want to learn to ride a bike because…

    3) They have seen too many horror stories on social media. It’s one thing to hear about a tragic motorcycle crash, but it makes more of an impact to actually see the aftermath. Our culture is also less risky with a higher value on personal safety, which has been going on for decades now.

  26. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Just a few things I can think of:

    1) When I was 15 in 1981, there was actually a place I could ride my dirt bike (actually a 1972 Yamaha dual-purpose bike with the street-legal lighting and tires removed) on land practically bordering my family’s property.
    Extremely convenient.
    Also, nobody seemed to mind a kid riding his dirt bike as long as you didn’t violate common-sense rules (like riding across somebody’s front yard or farming lot they didn’t want any trespassers on).
    Today, that seems to have been reduced greatly, both in available land to ride on without getting shunned/arrested, and the acceptance of riding a dirt bike, where you are often looked at as if you are participating in something “harmful” to the Earth.

    2) A biggie:
    Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki, the makers of all of those relatively inexpensive dirt bikes – in the late 1960, all of the 1970s, and the first half of the 1980s – ALL have dropped the USA market like a hot potato and now concentrate their efforts on “emerging” markets overseas.
    NONE of the reps working for these companies in this country will talk about this without some real prodding, as if it’s some kind of dirty secret.
    It’s a no-brainer that the USA is no longer their main market.
    These neat and cool smaller-displacement bikes people may be going ga-ga for now?
    They’re not made for the USA (like they used to be), but made for other countries, instead, and we get the same thing with different plastic bodywork and decals.
    We get their stuff that’s been repackaged and we’re made to think it’s soooooooo cool.

    3) The editor of Dirt Bike magazine through it’s “Glory Days” of the early 1970s through the mid-1980s, Rick Sieman, wrote a book titled Monkey Butt, and this book came out after he’s gone through the peak years of dirt bikes in this country.
    In this book he makes it clear, after talks with AMA reps, that the then-powerful Japanese factories simply wished the USA dirt bike market would “dry-up and blow away” because it had become a bothersome nuisance to these manufacturers.
    Doubt you’ll hear a USA Honda or Yamaha rep say that.

    4) Inflation has gone through the roof.
    I remember when a motocross bike like the Honda CR250R and Yamaha YZ250 passed the $3,000 mark, and the magazines were printing concerns on how much higher could the pricing go before the “sport is ruined”.
    Well, today, that once-troublesome $3,000 price is now considered dirt-cheap.

    • Denis says:

      John, I think you are right on the money with point number 2. I often wonder why the Japanese manufacturers largely abandoned the small, street legal, dirt bike market. I recall how many of my friends and schoolmates from the late 60’s and early 70’s were able to afford these bikes and got a start that eventually led to a lifelong desire for bigger bikes. It just seemed like a natural progression. I notice now that 16 year old kids start out on machines that are very fast and powerful—too much at once! You have 600cc sport bikes that have performance that rivals 1000cc bikes of the past. I talked to a long time Honda dealer who recalls Moms coming in with fat check books and dropping big money on hyper-powered crotch rockets so Junior could have his first bike. He mentioned to me that he felt very uncomfortable about this and warned some of those kids that they may be biting off more than they could chew. Maybe the interest in motorcycle ownership could be revived if we go back to what I believed was a natural progression. But, then again, maybe I’m too old to understand how things work today.

  27. Debra Apple says:

    I got hooked, although i didn’t actually get my own bike until aged 30

  28. MGNorge says:

    Just thinking about housing in our area (Seattle) and how sky-high property has gotten. Just recently the median home value in Seattle has reached over $800k. That may be fine with those making BIG income but it’s leaving lots of folks behind. A result of that is multiple people, even families, living in homes just to afford them. Likewise, kids getting out of school with large debt hanging over their heads pray they land that sweet tech job or they’re SOL. Quite a bit different than in my day. Under the circumstances even if they had the motorcycling bug a bike may very well be a luxury they can’t make happen.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I live in Colorado along the front range. While not as bad as Seattle, housing is definitely a painful reality for people, especially those younger families in the greater Denver area. Even renting a decent house or apartment is pretty ridiculous. There just isn’t much left over from the paycheck.

  29. Denis says:

    I’ve said it before—in order to be into motorcycles, you need three things: Money, Time, and Passion. Passion is the biggest and most important and part of it has to be born in you. As far back as I can remember, internal combustion engines have always fascinated me. When I was a small child, I was exposed to motorcycles every time I visited Grandma’s house. It was there that my younger uncles, who were still living at home, would be in the garage working on them. They rode British bikes—one of them had two Indians—and just the site of those handsome looking machines would fuel that inner passion. Later in life, it was all those lawn mower engine powered mini bikes that neighborhood kids fiddled with. Then there was the TV series “Then Came Bronson”. There was a Honda dealer not too far from home and when I would ride my bicycle there and go inside, the owner never chased me out. He would answer all my questions no matter how ignorant some of them may have sounded. I bought four motorcycles from him over the years—all of them new, All I ever wanted was a motorcycle of my own. Dad (who had no interest at all in motorcycles) let me own a motorcycle as long as I bought it with my own money and maintained it on my own and was old enough to have a motorcycling license. I now am the grandfather of a little grandson who is not quite 2 years old. When he was only 1, I showed him my old Honda CB750 and let him push the starter button and bring it to life. I then let him blip the throttle and instead of being frightened by it, he could not get enough. The look in his eyes and the excitement he had cannot be described! When I tried to remove his little hand from the throttle, he wouldn’t let go. How does a child so small show such a huge interest? It must be born in him. Why more kids today are not like that is a mystery to me. No Passion= No Drive= No Money= No Time= No Bike.

  30. ScottB #43 says:

    The way I see it is this isn’t caused by this generation, It started with my generation. I’m 55 years old and have 4 grown children. I tried getting them all involved with the sport since they were 10 years old. I’m a General Manager of a multi-line motorcycle dealership and I see the next younger generation looking for their first bike never having the chance to ride before now. When I was young, sure there were more places to ride and my parents didn’t worry about me going off by myself to have fun but they also took the time to let me experience the outdoors by camping and going places that I could ride my dirt bike. Like everything else in this world, constructive parenting is the key to raising a successful kid. Of my four kids, only two really wanted to get into the “bike” thing. The other two enjoyed going along and experimenting but never really thought it was that big a deal. However, those two kids have kids of their own and are teaching them how to ride things. Discretionary income is a huge issue because there are too many other things it can be used for but if we would have prioritized riding and spending time together outdoors our kids would be more interested in these vehicles. There is land out there to ride on and if we would have taken the time and money to do those things, there would be more interest in recreational vehicles such as motorcycles. The good thing is that it’s never too late to get it rolling again. As a dealer, I spend hours talking to parents when their kid drags them into the dealership. I explain the fun that our family has had being together and what it has taught my kids and grandkids about togetherness and responsibility. I think the manufacturers marketing should be re-directed to those values and really work with the dealers to promote the sport at the beginner level. They don’t spend a bunch of money on it because the margins aren’t there on the small dirt bikes but in the long run it’ll pay off because everyone gets older and the “seed” needs to be planted at an early age.

  31. Mr.Mike says:

    Having been riding since 1972 and later having raised two now adult male Millennials I have observed the following with them and their friends as reasons why they haven’t yet picked up the motorcycling bug:

    Kids live much more structured lives than before with parents dragging them from one weekend and after school activity to the next. Kid don’t have the time to get on a bike and go ramble through the woods like I did, and parents are certainly less inclined to let them go off and do dangerous unstructured activities such as dirt bike riding.

    Where I grew up we had four channels on rabbit ears. There were only so many times you could watch “Gilligan’s Island” re-runs before you had to find something else to do. Now there are lots and lots of distractions with nearly infinite opportunities for entertainment available.

    More kids seem to live in cities and suburbia now with less open land to get hooked on those first dirt bikes.

    Riding motorcycles hasn’t entered the popular culture as something that their peers are even doing. We need a Millennial version of “Then Came Bronson” for this age.

  32. Harold Klassen says:

    I think that the manufacturers have brought this on themselves. I’d love a dual sport single 650 under 400lbs. 6 speed, but the only ones available are 25-30 yrs. old! Yamaha doesn’t even have one, the new R. E. just a little too small. KLR, DR, XL, should’ve been brought up to modern times, FI, more road/dirt worthy, lighter, decent fuel range, etc. that would make them a lot more fun=more sales. Right now they cost 1500-2000 more than they should for what they are! I don’t see anything coming that really catches my interest. Kawi can bring out a turbo sport touring bike but won’t update the KLR, doesn’t make any sense, I don’t care about a turbo charged bike. By the time ktm & yamaha bring out their new dual sports I’ll probably have lost all interest, oh well!

    • Scott says:

      The topic of this article is “Why aren’t millennials becoming interested in motorcycles?”

      Not, “Why are so many disgruntled old guys so mad about everything?”

      We already know you’re mad. We know that the older people get, the more they pine for the good ol’ days. That’s not going to change. It doesn’t matter what the manufacturers produce, it’s never going to be good enough for some people. There’s ALWAYS going to be something wrong with whatever they make. If you want to keep making excuses for why you won’t buy any bike on the market, that’s not a manufacturer problem. That’s a you problem.

      The factories don’t care about that. They’ve already gotten everything they’ll ever get from you. Why waste their time and resources chasing unicorns? If they are going to stay in business, they have to figure out what will sell to the young people who will be their customers for the next several decades. And what will sell to them will almost certainly not appeal to you!

      Old people have to realize that whatever you have to choose from now is pretty much all you’re going to have to choose from going forward. If you can’t find something on the market – with literally hundreds of bike models to choose from – that you would enjoy riding, then maybe it’s time to throw in the towel…

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        And we already know you are mad at the disgruntled old guys. You risk becoming a broken record yourself.

        Discuss it, argue a point, or ignore it, but I think it is time to show a little class and lay off the insults. You have demonstrated that you are very capable of witty and entertaining commentary without having to stoop. Rise above. Or not… It’s the internet after all.

      • WSHart says:

        Scottie, lad…No one is “mad” about everything. Older people are just plain disgusted. We’ve seen what is possible by having lived it, both good and bad.

        Many, not all, of us can afford a new bike. But we put a value on what we’ve earned in life and how those earnings are to be spent. Earned. Not given, not entitled to but earned.

        It would seem that a great many younger people make pathetic excuses while older ones give solid reasons.

        Maturity is not caused by the passage of years but rather by what is learned during a lifetime. Your words show that you’ve chosen to be bitter, not better.

        Throw in the towel? Please. You throw it in. Adults will use it to wipe the sweat from our brow after a days hard work.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The problem is that people keep on buying DRs and KLRs anyway. There just hasn’t been much incentive for Suzuki or Kawasaki or Honda to update their offerings or for Yamaha to even enter that market.

      KTM, Husqvarna and Beta make the dual sport bikes you describe. They are pricey and specialized, which may or may not quite fit the bill for many current dual sport thumper fans, but they are amazing machines.

  33. bike rider says:

    Four things will keep my grandsons from riding – places to ride, safety, role models, and escaping poverty.

    When I was a 10-14 year old, we had places to ride in or on the edges of small towns in Minnesota. Minibikes, dirtbikes, home-made contraptions – we rode them all in the yard or on fields and woods near our town. That’s rare today. Safety becomes foremost in our minds the older we get, and frankly I don’t want my grandsons limping and aching for a lifetime because I got them into biking. Role models aren’t all around they way it was I was a kid; there was always a handful of cool high school guys riding, or tough guys in their 20s and 30s cruising or tearing around and basically signaling to the deeper part of my brain stem that, “That’s how I can be cool.” And finally without an expensive college degree, and now beyond a four-year degree (and the lack of high paying construction jobs) it’s tough to escape poverty. All money needs to go to pay for an education, with little left over for non-essentials like a motorcycle.

    So in closing, Kids on the edge of town, hell-bent on imitating other bikers, risking injury, getting it into their blood and embedding into the deepest regions of their brains, and finally having their college tuition covered, WILL get into biking.

    • FreddyJ says:

      I’m not sure I agree that there are a “lack of high-paying construction jobs”. I have heard from numerous sources that any kind of skilled trade (plumber, electrician, machinist, welder, etc.) is in VERY high demand. We are encouraging our oldest to consider vocational training in high school because there is such a demand for practical skills and less demand for a traditional 4-year degree. If you’re going into engineering, accounting, medical school, sure. But my BS in BS (communications) wouldn’t be very marketable today.

      • bmidd says:

        We can’t find good young workers that want to work in the electrical field, mainly because it involves work. You have to put in your time to learn your trade, there is no instant gratification, therefore there is no interest from young people. Not being an ageist, just telling the truth.

  34. Sam says:

    As Clint Eastwood described them, “pussies”!!!

  35. relic says:

    CL is full of used bikes for the same reason used car lots are full: the high cost of parts. A head gasket was over 100 $ ten years ago. Carb rebuild kits $250 for one carb.

  36. gt08 says:

    Many comment about going on craiglist for used bike.
    In fact here in Montréal, Canada. Dealer dont even put use bike on floor.
    They put it in container to go in the middle East. They do more money this way.
    They think newcommer will buy brand new bike the first time. Bike they can’t even tried before the buy…???
    No wonder why dealer are disapering one after one. Giving place to 1 or 2 megadeadealer that keep price high. Continuing to kill the sport.
    Insurance is prohibitive. Why Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki, Yam and the other, don’t insure the bike they sell. Give me insurrance for 2 or 3 first years. Help people going back on bike.
    Dealer association could partener to sell insurance for bike.
    Yerterday i was at one mega dealer on north shore of Montréal.
    Was suppose to be fun. Fact that i get out sad. And sure i will not buy there.

  37. Stan Gale says:

    While still in diapers saw a motorcycle for the first time. It was parked but I instantly knew what it was and how it meant joy and FREEDOM. Anything with wheels was of intense interest. Bicycled everywhere including a newspaper route and earned a 100.00 used Honda C110 when 14-15 years old. (Didn’t even think to get parent’s “permission”.)
    “On any Sunday” came out. Steve McQueen/Malcolm Smith etc. We had motorcycle heroes!
    The manufacturers were building entry level bikes that were fun and affordable.
    50 years later, it’s an R1 and YZ250F. The 250F on the MX tracks keeps me perfectly young and always proselytizing.
    We need the manufacturers to position motorcycles as something exciting, sexy, and safe to do with proper training.
    And there’s got to be a huge push for real training so people can truly be skilled riders. (I was an idiot who got away on testosterone and reflexes for years before Keith Code taught me REALLY how to ride.)
    The manufacturers need to hire young good-looking guys and gals and do public relation campaigns specifically to capture youth interest and cultivate it.
    They need to do events and do demos/give training.
    They need to have promotional sweepstakes so you can win a Rebel or R3, etc.
    Social media showing younger people having big fun on bikes.
    We won’t get all of the youngsters to look up from their phones – but the ones that really want to enjoy life to the fullest will bite.

  38. Pacer says:

    PS4 vs ZX-6. Whatcha ya gonna do. They didn’t go outside as kids.

  39. Dino says:

    I wonder about the electronic influence on the young-uns. So much virtual reality, they get enough “thrill” and don’t feel the need for cycles or fast cars or anything else thrilling in real life. I am old enough that i had only reality to play in, and would rather ride my bike than do anything “virtual “

  40. CrazyJoe says:

    There’s to BS in motorcycling. On one end of the spectrum you have the sports rider who does yoga stretches before he rides. Stands to reason he also hates the diabetic overweight Harley rider who asks is the guy on the R1 with the yoga pants a girl. You see its a viscious circle or cycle and they don’t want to be a holes like their elders.

  41. Scott says:

    Slow day at Fox News? Breitbart offline? All someone has to do now is write “triggered” and I’ll have BINGO!

  42. WSHart says:

    Motorcycling is no longer affordable, ergo it is no longer available to be even remotely desirable.

    This has been stated before but that makes it no less true. Tires cost far more than a car’s and last only a few thousand miles. And again when compared to cars, motorcycle service is outrageous in both cost and frequency needed.

    Who wants to ride when doing so brings you closer, sooner to having to get new tires and/or a service minor or (GASP!) major? And insurance is just as usurious but that is likely due to people in the past riding like they own the roads and the rest of the world are merely back-markers. The present pays for the past and unless it corrects those impressions it is highly likely anything will get better.

    Of course the badass Ton-Up laddies here will decry all of this but they’re just being juvenile typists. For motorcycling to “survive” it needs to change. Anyone can “change”. What this industry needs is the same thing we all need. Change for the better.

    Too many that come here and pound their keyboards are all about the bitter. They hated the success of Harley and now applaud HD’s sales slump. This article points out the hard truth that the slump is industry wide.

    Oh yes. For those that feel otherwise might I remind you of Victory’s sales success with this parody of same? It’s not hard to be up 100% in yearly sales when last year you only sold one bike.

    Make it affordable in every way. It doesn’t have to be the fastest around a track or down the road. It doesn’t have to be the most bitchin’ in looks. It doesn’t’ have to do anything other than make it’s owner satisfied. You know. Happy.

    Not being able to afford something after you acquire it is guaranteed to give you buyer’s remorse.

    And I guaranty buyer’s remorse will spread like the plague and keep others away from doing that to themselves.

    • Pacer says:

      Go on craigslist. It most certainly is affordable. All disciplines. Maintenance is not out of control, bikes are better than ever. Also, liability insurance alone won’t break the bank.

      • WSHart says:

        I’ve seen Craigslist and no, motorcycling is not affordable to the masses.

        More thoughts regarding the decline of sales:

        It ain’t a “sport”, it’s more a pastime or a hobby. Racing is far from a “sport” but it is a skill set. For the greater part it doesn’t require anything remotely resembling athleticism. It can be cool to watch and cheer on the participants and motocross/supercross are perhaps the most strenuous of these and I will grant that many riders train in an athletic manner to ready themselves for racing, but riding in general is not a sporting event. If so, perhaps Goldwingers form the Sumo faction of said “sport”?

        People today are occupied with being unoccupied. I went to dinner last night and here is what I witnessed:

        People not talking while waiting for their food to arrive. All of them were on their stupid phones like flies on a cow patty. Years ago conversation would flourish until the arrival of the food and then…silence. Albeit silence interspersed with a bit of talk. Now, just silence. The silence of the spams, if you will. Morons.

        The content in making a motorcycle is nowhere near that of what goes into making an automobile. Yes, there are economies of scale to keep in mind, but that in no way justifies or even rationalizes what bikes cost today.

        As Harley goes, so too will other marques follow. I would sooner buy a new car for the same or less than spend $30,000 on a new touring rig. $20,000 for an adventure tourer? Bah! That is patently absurd. Can I afford that? Yes, but why would I want to? Ego? Need? Want? Whatever.

        If the manufacturers want motorcycling to be popular again, then it must be affordable to the masses, not the asses. And those jackasses come in a variety of makes and models. And no. Lane splitting for everyone ain’t the answer. Here in California the lanes are turgid (look it up kiddies) with buttwipes on two wheels, revving their motors and threatening people if they don’t get “out of their way”. The CHP is rife with retards too lazy to do anything about this so, they work to make it legal so they don’t have to do anything about it.

        The answer isn’t in legalizing idiocy, but in making something viable by making it an affordable alternative. I know several younger people who do not even have a car driver’s license. They don’t want the headache of that cost to their way of life right now. Some have said that a small/midsize scooter for around town use might be nice but that they would have to see what the real cost of it would be and how it would impact their way of life.

  43. dave says:

    Many great points here. Taking a step back tho, it’s NOT just motorcycling that’s been dwindling. I have 7, 9, and 11 YOs and I can’t believe they aren’t more excited to doo cool stuff with dad (or anyone). Dirtbikes? Meh. Powerboating? Meh. Paintball, BMX, Skateboarding, Remote control cars, etc. They’re just not into what we were into. Times and interests change. 2 generations before US, no one really thought about dirt bikes, motorcycles, etc. We just hit the peak. It’s not that my kids don’t like these things, they’re just not that into it. So many other options, including and especially, digital anything. This is gonna be a long battle for me to get them into the great outdoors, but I’m gonna keep pushing.

  44. Miles says:

    Reading through the comments here, I understand why young people don’t want to ride bikes. You guys are a bunch of “get off my lawn” old cranks. Your attitudes make motorcycling seem uncool. Why would any 20 something want to engage in an activity where he might run into someone like you?

    Anyways, here are two other reasons.

    1. Money: 20 somethings have a more difficult job market, housing costs are more expensive, and student debt is higher than previous generations. Many have seen their parents’ wealth get wiped out in a single market downturn. Having grown up with, and experienced their own economic insecurity, they are reluctant to invest thousands of dollars into a hobby. Also, insurance costs for young men are astronomical.

    2. Laws and convenience: Why are there motorcycles and scooters all over Europe and Asia? It’s easier and cheaper than a car. To focus on just one law: How many states allow lanesplitting? It’s still just one. How many riders are motorcycle only, where a motorcycle is your only form of transportation? Unless you live downtown in a big California city, it’s more convenient and in many cases cheaper to own a car. The motorcycle is a luxury, not a necessity. Yet American motorcycle advocacy groups waste most of their time fighting helmet laws and noise restrictions.

  45. Blackcayman says:

    Motorcycles were not allowed in my house growing up.

    I was the kid in the car looking longingly out the window fascinated with motorcycles. Two weeks after my 18th birthday I was an owner…a low miles 1980 Honda Nighthawk 450 (in 1982) bought for 1250 dollars.

    Since then I’ve always had a street bike. I’ve had plenty of other power-sports machines, like snowmobiles, PWC and ATVs. Motorcycles are the best IMHO because they can also get you were you are going.

    I’m probably a rare case of a 1st generation motorcyclist.

    With all the cheap entry level Asian MCs and scooters, there are plenty of entry points into the joy of two-wheeled fun (Groms are Cool). No doubt “MANY” Millenials have been captured by electronic gadgets and social media. If you doubt it, try getting one to drop FB for a couple of months…….

    Regarding Student Debt…the real question we should be asking is “What forces were at play, that allowed the price of higher education to balloon so much faster that everything else?………… “”””The average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items.””””……….

    It certainly wasn’t FreeMarketism

  46. LordBeal says:

    Sam nailed it (as far as motorcycles go, his understanding of being shot for no good reason not so much). Honda needs very much to re-introduce “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” along with appropriately priced and sized two wheelers. The Rebel 500 and 300 are outstanding, but Honda also needs to bring back the Passport (C-70) with a 110 sized engine, or even make it electric. They have one in Japan, bring it here!

  47. MikeG says:

    Bullet points:

    — Motocross bikes cost $7000+ and big bucks to rebuild (thanks to the AMA allowing 4-strokes to be twice the size of 2-strokes, killing our beloved sport for anyone but the privileged)

    — Even in our huge country, corporations and developers have dictated how land gets used and squeezed more development out of every acre. Goodbye Saddleback, goodbye Riverside, goodbye Carlsbad, and goodbye to all the great places to ride we used to be able to drive our mini-trucks to after work for some quick laps 🙁 Dirt bike riding and racing requires huge commitment and/or huge MONEY.

    — SUVs! Urban assault vehicles are amazing machines…safe, fast, comfy…and the bane of most new street riders. Very intimidating.

    — Every time I’m in Europe, I notice that motorcycling is quite healthy there (don’t know the actual stats) so I imagine they have more motorcycle-friendly statutes. One look at the lane splitting debate here tells me we’ve lost our chance to be a motorcycle embracing culture. There’s this pervasive nanny state do-gooder mentality in the USA (spread across BOTH political ideologies, so don’t start) that really steers us away from being inclusive to motorcycles and allowing riders to exploit their unique benefits (parking ease and lane-splitting being two.)

    • Dave says:

      A 450cc 4-stroke is not “twice the size” as a 250cc 2-stroke (even if it were 225cc). It fires 1/2 the times for the same number of revolutions at the crank. In simple terms, that means a 250 2T should be able to process more fuel than a 450T per minute. In reality, the 450 4T makes more power on less fuel. 4-strokes are superior engines. Case in point- a current 250f is faster on track than a 250 2T used to be. A 450 is faster than a 500 2T used to be (and vastly easier to ride).

      KTM still sells 2-strokes. Are they 30-40% cheaper than their 4-strokes?

  48. skybullet says:

    It isn’t the money it’s priorities. Craigslist is full of bikes that are affordable for anyone who frequents Starbucks. When I was about 6 years old I had a burning desire for a Cushman. At age 11 I paid cash for a cardboard box of parts that was supposed to be a Whizzer. It never ran but a year later I bought a clapped out 200cc Villers that did. Too bad kids and young adults are missing the euphoria of a motorcycle. I raced off road for many years and just completed a 2000 mile trip on a state of the art sport touring bike, the euphoria is still there. Like everything in life, if you don’t think you can, you will never find out.

  49. Grover says:

    Nobody had to push me or my friends (born in the late 1950’s) to get into motorcycles. It was a desire we had before we were age 10 and we were going to feed it no matter the cost. Lack of money, danger, warnings from loved ones and even death could not stop us once we were old enough to aquire a motorcycle. Funny thing, we’re all still alive and kicking after spending a lifetime riding in So. Cal. Even if Millenials stop buying bikes there will always be the secondary market full of low mileage bikes just waiting to be snapped up by enthusiastic riders. It might sound cold, but I don’t care if Millenials ride or not. A bigger concern is the impact of autonomous vehicles on our “privilege” to ride.

  50. Rapier says:

    I knew when I waded into the comments the #1 reason sited would be that the kids are too damn soft today. This is a complaint that has been heard for 100,000 years, give or take, since fire was controlled, or was it when animal skin were first used and clothes were invented. I can hear the grunts now, ‘why back in my day….’ well you can fill in the rest. It’s nonsense.

    • Butch says:

      Yep,

      I can remember my dad saying the same thing when I was a kid.
      I’m 68 now and saying pretty much saying the same damn thing he said.
      My 4 year old grandson could use an electric impact driver by the time he was 2.
      I intend to pass my mechanical knowledge of motorcycles and everything mechanical I can, as long as I can.

      • Rapier says:

        I’m 66. It occurred to me when I was young that older people who got into the whole ‘the younger generation has gone to hell’ thing had something in them I didn’t like.

        Over the years it has become clear to me that “thing” can be summed up in one word, resentment. I’ve also seen that more and more peoples lives seem to be consumed with resentment. One branch of which is ‘those young people are *&%#!. Which invariably is joined by long lists of others who they think are bad. Even our churches are now filled with resentment.

        I can’t be bothered with those who enter this doom loop. Resent yourselves away.

Add a Comment