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Demographic Shift: Bikers Are Coming

April 28, 2017
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A love affair was born when I bought my first motorcycle in my early twenties. Not having much interest in maintenance at the time, I rode that into the ground. Shortly after that I bought a Harley and took to the lifestyle and the image 100%. My hobby has taken a backseat to other things in the last 4 years, like kids. But I still get out when I can, even if it’s just to run across town. It’s easy to dismiss someone as a weekend warrior but that’s what most of us are, unless you are retired or wear a 1% patch on your chest.Not too long ago I was riding with my old man, a buddy and assorted other desperadoes on a day run out to one of your favorite spots called Poopy’s.“Get sh*t faced at Poopy’s”. Brilliant.[caption id="attachment_11294" align="aligncenter" width="960"]

Making a run[/caption]Three of us were standing there hammering down beers, listening to the same dusty, classic rock that every biker bar plays. There must be a “biker bar handbook” somewhere that lists 1970s to late 80s as the preferred music of this demographic. It is all you will hear at most biker bars until someone heroically commandeers the jukebox.Thinking out loud I asked, “Where do all the young riders hang out? This place is a sea of grey hair and leather butts.”I went on with my thought, "This place needs to start adjusting now to the coming change. The demographic of riders is going to change drastically in about 5 years when the boomers start deciding that they don’t want to ride anymore, or can’t ride anymore.”My buddy jumped in with; “That fact is not lost on the Harley. Have you noticed that they are trying to freshen up their marketing? And lower the prices of their bikes and make them look cooler? The days of boomers plopping down 35 G’s for a sled are coming to an end”.

As long as I have been riding and seen so many runs, gatherings, rallies, and bars there has been one constant;I am always among the youngest people there.Granted, the flirty bartenders are always younger than me and there might be the odd twenty-something that rolls up on a crotch-rocket, but at every bar, rally, or show I am among the youngest group of riders. The baby-boomers and their ilk dominate the biker scene and have for a while, so everything is tailored to their needs and wallets.The economy of the world changed a few years ago. It may well have changed forever and, by extension, the world of motorcycles is changing as well. People are becoming more conscious of how they are spending their money. The market for over accessorized, over engineered, overpriced motorcycles is shrinking along with its aging customer base. The Boomers will not be able to support this industry much longer as they retire and start slowing down. The sad truth is that they will no longer be physically able to ride a motorcycle at some point in their lives. They may be able to handle a trike easily enough, but starting at $34k they are expensive.Now is the time for motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson and Indian (Polaris) to look at who is behind the Boomers and focus their energies on the younger riders coming up. We thank all the old timers that laid the road before us and we will wait our turn, but not forever.

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