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Thread: Harley-Davidson's aging biker problem

  1. #16
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjbmw View Post
    This is great stuff.

    We should not look down on our scooter riding brethren either. Their use is exploding in Philly.
    Absolutely right.

    My observations about scooters went to the idea of birth to grave product planning. Many see scooters as an entry level to the larger world of motorcycling. The expectation is you buy a scooter and over time you will move up through the product lineup as desires and needs change. I think how this actually worked in the past is suspect but current studies show it is not necessarily happening now. Scooter riders are happily staying on their rides. We need to reach out across product niches and meet common needs.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  2. #17
    Registered User sit's Avatar
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    I think those that say a MC is not a commuter vehicle are missing the boat. They can both be a recreation vehicle/toy and a commuter vehicle. A coordinated approach by everyone in the MC industry and the transportation industry should be tried. The factories should make sure they have bikes to fit all sizes and uses and that can take luggage. Then promote that their bikes can be used for commuting. Combine this with the clothing manufacturers to convey to people that MC clothing is not just black leather any more and is warm and dry when need be. Get the city and state governments to recognized that MC's should be a part of their transportation plan. They have taken up the electric car mantra well enough with my city installing charging stations all over. Yet when I send them information about ride to work day, they blow it off and don't even respond, yet they have installed bicycle lanes, bicycle boxes and bicycle parking only (on street) all over the city. Parking garages seem to have figured it out by charging much much less for a monthly MC pass and then filling in all of those odd spaces as MC parking only. A number of our business towers are even installing locker room type spaces for the dam bicycle commuters to shower and change in. These facilities should also be used by MC riders if need be. Even some of the posts here show an attitude against commuting. Insurance for a bike most likely does not go up because you commute on it. And it is still enourmously cheaper than car insurance. I quite often have to dress professionally for work. I find my standard gear does not wrinkle it up and I can take off my overpants and jacket and no one knows I rode to work. I have even packed my dress clothes before and just changed at work. About the only time I don't ride to work is when I have to wear a full suit.

    I think advertising could change and help too. Look at the ads put out by the factories. Do they show the nice little couple on their honda going to play tennis or going to dinner? Or do they show the guy in black leather rocketing through a turn draggin his knee or in the middle of no where riding along? Maybe if they started showing their bikes as commuters and tout the insurance savings, the parking savings, the better MPG (for some bikes) and yes, even the green factor. Like scooter that seem to be very common in the city core, show the bike in the same setting but with more storage.

    Sorry for the rambling post. There are lots of HD bikes sitting in garages, but there are lots of crotch rockets sitting around too that don't go any where but the canyons on the weekends. To get more people on bikes, then I think they need to change the image to appeal to a wider part of society.
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  3. #18
    Dee G flymymbz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragtoplvr View Post
    Many of us happen to like the power and the acceleration of a liter class bike. I consider having a commuter bike, but the insurance cost alone would negate any savings, and there are no commuter class bikes save the SV650 and F650 with ABS and it is outside your class, and mine from the cost and upkeep point.

    Rod
    I like riding my liter class bikes as well, but I don't ride then very often. And you're right, there aren't a whole lot of choices when it comes to something smaller. We have a pair of 650GS's. We looked at the SV, but didn't really care for it. Friend of mine just bought one, he loves it. We recently picked up the Honda NT700 (non ABS). I remember sitting on one at the IMS show last year, and didn't think much of it. Now that I've ridden it, I think its a great bike. However, its a bit overpriced. Maintenance is like any other Honda bike, easy and cheap. Except for swapping out the rear tire. That's a chore.

    Insurance is optional on motorcycles here in WA, but I keep it on a couple of the bikes. I think I pay about 150 a year, same coverage as my car, for the Rebel, the Breva, and the R850R. Spouse has a couple of 'his' bikes covered, not sure how much he's paying. And if I head out of state on a bike that isn't covered, I just call my insurance guy and he adds it, then takes it back off when I get home.

    I just wish there was more of a selection. I really enjoy riding the smaller bikes.
    Too damn many bikes to list

  4. #19
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    The final mile: Governments deal with the larger infrastructure issues. Often the resistance to motorcycle commuting exists in the final mile, the link between the road and the building.

    The role of larger public policy is a key part of the discussion. Take the ÔÇÿpolicyÔÇÖ discussion down a notch and you get the heart of issues that so many forms of alternative transportation face. The policy decisions related to this are the province of architects, facility/property manager and business management decision makers. LetÔÇÖs look at parking once again.

    Property managers need to put concrete pads in parking lots and designate them as motorcycle only parking areas.

    Put them near the front door to encourage use.

    If you donÔÇÖt want to cover the motorcycle parking associate it with a bus shelter. This may be for bus users, pickup point for car passengers (moving them out of your lobby) while providing shelter form the elements it also can be a place to put on/take off gear.

    Are you building a new or remodeling an old employee coat room; plan for safe storage of helmets as part of the design process. Motorcyclists should ally with bicyclists. The lockers showers and other amenities they have secured in some buildings need to be available to all commuters.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

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    BMW is in a tight spot. They have "super sized" their bikes in weight and dimensions and added to the insult with terrible ergonomics at least for this boomer. Gggeegsh, what does the GS weigh now? Is it up to a full half ton yet? I can still easily swing my leg over my airheads even with luggage, A feat I wouldn't attempt with any current offering. OTOH they have to market these bikes to Gen X, Y and 00's who likely won't be able to ever afford them. Better BMW should put their efforts in an XBOX or Wii experience.. I can see it now. The computer simulated Alps go by on the wide TV screen while one holds the paddles and leans sided to side on a spring loaded simulater seat.......Varrrooomm Varrooom, "How do I switch to the Deals Gap level?"

  6. #21
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    I must say, this is a very enlightening and enjoyable discussion. It is being discussed in a much less enlightening and much more accusatory and confrontational way on another board I frequent (I'll let you guess). Thanks to everyone for the considerate and considered input.

  7. #22
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    I agree about the comments made about the younger population (30 and under) not being attracted to cycles, because of the societal and market changes which put thier focus on electronics, computers and activities which keep them in the house and inactive.

    Lets face it, to regulary ride a cycle means you expose yourself to wind, noise, dirt, bugs, rain, traffic, possible serious injury (however, so does a bathtub), cold/heat, etc, etc, etc. Many of us multi-decade riders have adjusted ourselves to the realms of overlooking the uncomfortable side of riding to enjoy the ride itself. Yet to us, riding is so much easier than it ever was before. Still, we have all met many people who would never inconvenience themselves to the extent required to ride day after day. I for one, love it all! I hope to be riding well into my 70's and beyond, come on medical technology and make 70 the new 50!! Yet, changes are needed to draw in that younger market aside from just making new bikes.

    In the past ten years, BMW has done a lot to expand their market. Who'd ever thought we'd see a real BMW dirt bike? Chain drive on a BMW sport bike?

    Kevin Greenwald said this, "Munich would also be wise to do whatever is needed (i.e. water-cooling) to retain the R1200 boxer engine in the face of European emission standards, as the RT's and GS's account for a huge slice of their annual sales." I have already seen an article about a new BMW flat twin water cooled engine, with the intake on top and exhaust out the bottom of each cylinder. It was featured in the latest issue of BMW Motorcycle magazine.

  8. #23
    MAYLETT
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    Most motorcycle riders, I suspect, start out riding earlier rather than later in life. When I was 14 or 15, we regarded a Trail 90 or 110 as a beginner bike, and thought we'd really moved up in the world if we got a 175 or, better still, a 350. Quite honestly, the bikes weren't all that well made, but they were still cool, we loved them and they started us down the road to being life-long riders.

    Now, however, what kid would be happy with a cheap 175cc Honda? The marketing of more and more expensive and faster bikes has certainly delivered higher profit margins to motorcycle companies, but it's done so at the expense of the desirable and affordable entry-level machines, which, over the long haul, results in fewer motorcycle riders.

    Small motorcycles are no longer cool, but scooters are, and as has been said by others here, scooter riders don't necessarily make the transition to full-blown motorcycles. Buying a socially acceptable (aka, cool) bike for a typical 16- to 25-year-old usually means dropping several thousand dollars on a crotch rocket that costs as much as a good used car. Given that rather daunting entry-level barrier, it makes it difficult to groom another generation of motorcycle riders for a life-long love of riding.

    In addition, motorcycle riding has become increasingly associated with the Harley mystique, and that whole image of black leather, doo rags, wallet chains and middle-aged beer guts just isn't something that most kids or young adults aspire to.

  9. #24
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mika View Post
    There is no denying that bikes are toys.
    I'll deny it.

    While I'm certain that the bike = toy equation holds for most, it doesn't hold for all. There are folks out there who use a bike as basic transportation. To those folks a bike is certainly not a toy.

    However, I agree that trying to convince the general public that bikes are not toys won't work. Another thing that won't work is trying to convince the public that bikes are somehow cheaper to operate than cars. At best I found it a wash when you added in the cost of helmets, gloves, rain gear, jackets and pants, etc. The savings in (usually) better gas mileage are quickly consumed in tire costs.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by marchyman View Post
    I'll deny it.

    While I'm certain that the bike = toy equation holds for most, it doesn't hold for all. There are folks out there who use a bike as basic transportation. To those folks a bike is certainly not a toy.

    However, I agree that trying to convince the general public that bikes are not toys won't work. Another thing that won't work is trying to convince the public that bikes are somehow cheaper to operate than cars. At best I found it a wash when you added in the cost of helmets, gloves, rain gear, jackets and pants, etc. The savings in (usually) better gas mileage are quickly consumed in tire costs.
    Deny it all you will

    Keep in mind I am a daily rider not a mileage hound. I can not miles/year with the average rider in the MOA mileage contest yet measure days in saddle and I will leave most of them behind. Why am I a daily rider? Because it is fun and a fun way to commute on a regular basis. My transportation tool is a toy and my toy is a transportation tool. Works nicely for me.

    The economics on an individaul basis may or may not work. I tend to believe when looking at individual riders you are right the best to hope for may be a wash when you include more than gas mileage.

    The economic argument works better when you look at motorcycles as a part of a larger transportation system. If we can do a better job doing that we may be able to get some of the systemic obsticales to ridership taken care of.
    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  11. #26
    macfly
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    I'll throw my hat into this one...

    I grew up in a motorcycling family, so getting onto a bike was simply part of family life. In town my father and brother used theirs as commuters and during holidays we'd all tour together. However that was back in England.

    I would not consider using a bike here in LA for daily transport because of the appalling lack of awareness and road craft shown by 99% of the drivers here. I actually stopped riding for over a decade after three friends were killed one summer, all killed by the idiocy of 'at fault' motorists.

    I'm back on a bike again after a dozen year break, but I just use it for Sunday morning rides with friends, and the occasional trip up the coast to Laguna Seca and the Quail event on the back roads where there aren't any cars to speak of.

    Honestly I could not imagine anything more foolhardy than using a bike as transport in LA, when I see so many crazy accidents caused by absolute idiocy on such a regular basis. I really don't think that the average motorist here will ever be as bike aware as they are in Europe where so many have been on scooters and mopeds, (it is all you drive 15-17 in many countries) and they likely also have many friends who ride. Here most people (thus motorists) don't even know someone who has a bike, thus we are a tiny minority and 'they' have no real awareness of us, in life or on the road.

  12. #27
    Registered User 58058D's Avatar
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    I'm w/ Mika

    I subscribe to Mika's point of view. I formerly commuted 100miles per day for ten years. Now 400 miles in one day, once a week (to Sac and back). Facilities make the difference. Peds/bicyclists/motorcyclists all have to be included as part of the overall transportation equation. We have a really big push for multimodal systems, but motorcycles are not always considered in that (as a Caltrans engineer I do my part of educating when I am consulted on a project). I feel lucky to have had covered parking facilities for the past 15 years within a block of my office in Sac.
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  13. #28
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    Mr. Greenwald hit the nail right on the head. Right now it's money keeping young riders out of the sport. The economy is bad for everyone, but it's harder on young people.
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  14. #29
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    Motorcycles

    Great ideas posted thus far.
    I believe that riding is "FUN"! We must sell the feeling of freedom and the enjoyment factor we have. I own a Motorcycle not for any economical purpose, but for the fun/freedom factor. We ride places we do not need to go because we simply enjoy riding. When I talk to people that do not own a bike I tell them how much fun it is and how I enjoy it. I tell them remember back in the 60's when people just used to go for a ride in their car because it was fun, well it is even more fun on a bike.

    I wish BMW would make minor changes to include more low-maintenance shaft drive bikes on their smaller displacements. The "GS" line could really benefit from the removal of chains. I do not believe BMW can build bikes at costs as low as some other manufacturers and trying to sell a bike on an economic platform would be better suited other manufacturers like "Royal Enfield" for example. When I ask someone which of the (3) would you give up first (1) service, (2) Quality, (3) Price Most everyone will pay more for something better and that's what we have. The BMW Name and Logo command a great deal of respect and are seen by many as the best quality. I ride my bike with a great deal of pride and will continue to buy BMW as long as they continue to have superior machines. In conclusion riding is fun sell that!

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjbmw View Post
    This is great stuff.

    In Philly, the PPA now has M/C only parking on certain Philly streets.

    We should not look down on our scooter riding brethren either. Their use is exploding in Philly.


    2 wheels beats 4 for education and perception purposes...
    Scooters are how the world travels. Modern scooters are pretty freakin cool. Check out the Yamaha TMAX 500 or the Suzuki Burgman 400. I am trying to get my wife to ride and the 3 wheeled MP3 is where I'm trying to steer her eye. It would be a great grocery getter but I cannot justify another garage baby for myself.

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