[dropcap]M[/dropcap]otorcycles in America are a luxury, certainly not a mode of transportation, right? I have heard it a million times and probably even said it myself once or twice. But hold your horses – the world is about to change. Millennials are coming of age and starting to control an increasing amount of the economy. These 18-34-year-olds prefer cities to suburbs and subways to driveways.
This social generation has ignited a new movement known as “walkable urban development.” Did you know 62% of today’s millennials prefer “mixed-use” communities such as those found in urban centers? They are less likely to own cars, they put a premium on being green and when they break away they want real in-your-face experiences. Sounds to me like motorcycles fit the bill perfectly.
Let’s consider a motorcycle’s attributes for a young urbanite. Space is a premium in the city, motorcycles take up less space: you can fit four motorcycles in the space of one car. You can walk or take public transportation in the city, but what about when you want to get away for a weekend for that real experience? The moment you mount your motorcycle your adventure has started, not to mention the exuberant feeling of the wind in your face.
A motorcycle matches perfectly to the lifestyle that so many young achievers are attracted to. A motorcycle is inexpensive to own and maintain. A motorcycle has a minimal carbon footprint. We are all aware of the popularity of scooters in urban settings, but some manufacturers have already recognized this expanding trend and have started making smaller more agile and more affordable motorcycles.
Further support for this movement comes from a new type of motorcycle co-op. Motorcycle co-ops in the city such as The Shed in Milwaukee are not new but they are focused on buddies that have been riding and building together for years. Co-ops like the up and coming Standard Motorcycle Co. in Orlando provide the same type of camaraderie and the ability to get help with your motorcycle project, but they also provide a place for new or potential riders to socialize. They are more focused on that custom scene we keep hearing about. There are no prejudices based on brand loyalty, engine displacement or style preference.
The fact that many millennials don’t even own an automobile opens the door for motorcycle ownership. Motorcycle ownership is so much more than transportation but it is a great way to transport yourself around. Millennials don’t have the need for excess that the boomers fostered. They are more centered on utilization, value and changing the world to a better place. While motorcycles will not be regarded the same way they are in Europe and Asia when it comes to transportation, the millennials seem to have a definite place for them in their daily lives.
Motorcycles are safer than they have ever been with advancements in ABS brakes, better suspensions, traction control, advanced tire design and so much more. The gear is better and programs like the MIC’s Gear Up and Ride continue to encourage the use of helmets, gloves, apparel and boots. The training programs available today are excellent and readily available.
As a young man there were times when I only had a motorcycle for transportation. What is different now is this thing called social media and a socio-economic preference that supports the movement back to urban life. The word will spread like wildfire just how perfect motorcycles are for getting around in those crowded streets. I can see it now; where motorcycles were once banned, they will now be the only vehicles allowed and as the populations of cities grow they will just have to ban cars within the city limits.
Bob Kay is the V-Twin Director of AIMExpo/MIC Events. He’s been involved in the motorcycle industry for more than four decades and is a third generation Harley rider, although he did start out in a Honda shop and did some short track and road racing in his younger days. More recently he has helped produce custom bike shows, including the AIMExpo Championship of the Americas.