There has been a great deal of conversation in the powersports industry lately. Bike sales are down, the average age of motorcyclists is getting older, and people are turning to other forms of recreation with their disposable dollars. It is affecting everyone in the business. From OEM and manufacturers to distributors and right down to the front line, the powersports dealer. All are struggling. There was even an article in the LA Times speaking about the dire straights of the industry.
No easy ride: Motorcycle industry is in deep trouble and needs help fast, panel agrees
What happened? Aren’t motorcycles cool any longer?
Many factors caused the decline in attracting new riders from the aging of the current demographics to the switch in the taste of younger generations. Financial issues also play a significant part as the credit crunch eliminated a large number of new buyers. But regardless of the reason, the good news is everyone agrees, and it is fixable. Motorcycles are still cool. We, as the motorcycle industry, need to pitch in and do our part.
OEM’s have changed the mix of bikes they are bringing to market. Each is bringing entry level bikes back into the marketing mix. Harley-Davidson has even publically stated an initiative to bring 2 million new motorcyclists into the sport by 2020. All of the OEM’s are building machines that are less complicated and less intimidating to new and returning riders. Racing organizations are taking time to nurture and bring in new, and beginner riders and dealers are making a concerted effort to make the new bike purchase less intimidating to new buyers.
But is all this enough, what can I do to help?
Well, glad you asked. AMA Hall of Fame member Scot Harden has put forth an initiative he calls Plus 1. It is a challenge for all current motorcyclist to bring in one new participant. Seems simple, right? He’s outlined ten things you can do.
1. Share your passion with others. Expose non-motorcycle friends to the sport by inviting them to your house to catch the Sunday game on TV. Entertain in your garage. Use your motorcycle(s) as props to promote discussion about motorcycles. Let them touch, feel, even sit on your bike. I would argue that every motorcyclist started a love affair with motorcycling after first sitting on someone else’s bike.
2. Attend an event. Invite your non-motorcyclist friends to a motorcycle show, race or rally. Take time to explain what is going on, introduce them to your motorcycling friends, and share the experience with them like you would anyone else.
3. Take a friend for a ride. It doesn’t have to be all day. Take them to lunch or for coffee. Let them experience the fun and enjoyment of riding.
4. Teach someone how to ride. I know this raises all sorts of issues, but many enthusiasts—like myself—have enough property and small-displacement bikes to teach people how to ride off-road. Get them over their initial fears. Show them it isn’t as complicated as it looks. Encourage them to take a rider-training course.
5. Invite your non-motorcycle friends for dinner and a movie. I suggest a motorcycle movie, such as “The World’s Fastest Indian,” the “Long Way Around,” “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “On Any Sunday” or “Take it to the Limit.” Anything to inspire them to want to give motorcycling a try.
6. Share the experience. Tell your co-workers about your latest motorcycle trip or adventure. Sure, they probably already know you’re a motorcyclist. But have you ever shared exactly what that means and how it enriches your life? This would work well in any other groups or associations you are already involved in.
7. Invite non-motorcycle friends to go camping with you and experience the outdoors. Find a place where you can all enjoy the surroundings and make sure you have your motorcycle available, as well. My first motorcycle riding experience took place on just such a trip.
8. Visit your local motorcycle dealer and invite your non-motorcycling buddy to tag along. Show off the great product offerings. Make the point that motorcycles exist in all shapes and sizes.
9. Target social media. Share pictures of yourself enjoying the sport. Share posts you come across that are inspiring and show just how much fun motorcycling is.
10. Reach out to millennials. For all you baby boomers out there, make an effort to reach out to your children’s friends and acquaintances. Show an interest in what they are doing. Ask them if they’ve ever thought of going riding. If you can, provide an opportunity for them to experience the sense of freedom, adventure and excitement that motorcycling offers.
So what do you think? Who is your Plus 1?
Read Scot’s entire article in the January 2018 issue of American Motorcyclist by following the link below.
Advocating For Motorcycling’s Future – Saving Our Passion, One New Rider At A Time