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Thread: Harley-Davidson's aging biker problem

  1. #31
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    You meet the nicest people on a Honda



    Honda entered the U.S. market in 1959 with the step through Honda 50 motorcycle and helped spur the dramatic growth of the U.S. motorcycle market, as it became the best-selling brand in America. The company's memorable advertising campaign, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda," changed American's perception of two-wheel transportation. Maybe it is time for Madison Avenue types to come up with something like this again.



    Or

    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

  2. #32
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macfly View Post
    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.
    Funny. I grew up in a family that had no one who was a motorcyclist. I got into motorcycling through some friends and coworkers. I commuted through LA traffic for more than a decade and thought it was by far the best way to get around.

    There are crazy drivers everywhere, and if you aren't on the lookout for them, regardless of your location and traffic density, then they will get you. Perhaps some of the safest riding is possible when the freeway is at a total standstill and you can split lanes.

    It's an odd thing -- most of my commuting was from the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of LA, into Santa Monica. That meant riding the I-405 freeway, 5 lanes wide in each direction and probably an hour and half commute in the evenings to go 35 miles. The freeway goes through the Sepulveda Pass and on the Valley side it makes a straight run down the side of the hills for 3 miles to the valley floor. Right at the bottom is an interchange with the US-101 freeway and there's also an exit to a main thoroughfaire. It is uncontrolled chaos going down that slope, with everyone delaying as long as they dare in the left lanes before diving into the right lanes to make an exit. You'll never be as alive as during those few minutes while trying to watch out for and drive for everyone else who is desparate to get home. The thing is, it was during that stretch of mayhem that often the solution to whatever programming problem I had left back at the office would pop into my head, completely unbidden. Very strange.
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  3. #33
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mika View Post
    that's malcolm smith riding the bike!

  4. #34
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Visian View Post
    that's malcolm smith riding the bike!
    I love that ad! Never seen it before.
    Dan

  5. #35
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    I think the aging of the biker is partly due to the urbanization of the country. When we were growing up 40-50 years ago, we didn't have 4 wheeled transportation available or electronic gizmos to keep us occupied. We worked on and rode two wheeled contraptions (motor or human powered) to get around and keep us occupied (there was not a lot of things to do). We had a place to work on them and a place to ride them. Now, kids live in apartments, condos and in developments with very small lots where there is no place to ride or work on anything. Many families have multiple cars to take the kids to many different activities that leaves them little time to do anything else. Any spare time is taken up with video games, social networks and other things that didn't exist when we were growing up.

    When kids are not exposed to things in their youth, they generally don't develop an interest later in life.

    Modern society also wants instant gratification. They don't have the patience to take a pile of parts and turn it into a useful object. I remember taking an old bicycle frame, a go-cart rear wheel, a 16" bicycle front wheel, a chainsaw motor and turning it into the fastest mini-bike you ever saw. It went great until the chain broke and almost cut my foot off. I also couldn't stop without brakes.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  6. #36
    Bluenoser
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    Quote Originally Posted by hlothery View Post
    I often ride to work. However, as I am in the patient care business, and that requires a certain professional presentation, I cannot ride on days when it is too hot (sweaty providers do not foster confidence in patients) or raining. Bikes are more viable as commuter vehicles in some areas, and for some jobs, than others.

    Being 61 now (WOW!), I am also starting to contemplate what bike will be my last. A strange and scary thought, quite frankly. I'm not a trike kind of guy. When I am finally too old to balance and make the split second decisions required to safely ride, I will stop. So I am definitely part of the above demographic.

    Dang it!

    BTW - I agree many bikes of all kinds sit in garages. I have a friend with a two year old K1200GT with 7K on the clock, while my year old Wing has 15K. It's not just HD.
    I believe I'm currently riding my last bike. A R1100R and I'm a young 62. The reason I bought it in the first place was to go to something lighter and more agile. It's a great all around bike and will haul 2 up or tour without problems in the power department.

    I recently finished the 3 Flags Classic 2010 on the bike and although not the ideal touring bike with more wind than you'd get on a faired bike, custom ear plugs take care of the wind noise and a good aftermarket seat takes care of the butt issues.

    I was at the median age for the 250 + riders on the classic and the brakedown of bikes was 109 Honda's ( mostly gold wings ), 48 BMW's & 47 Harleys. The rest where a smattering of the other makes. There were a few trikes & a spyder.

    I saw some riders ( my opinion not their's ) that were past their prime riding days and should have taken something else up.

    I'm a firm believer in ride what you want, just don't ask me to ride it but do realize when its time to move on. I've noticed that my balance and reflexes are not what they were when riding motorcyles at age 16. Yes I'm a smarter & more careful rider, have learned not to take chances & ride within my capabilities but accept that time marches on and we have to adapt. A trike is also not in my future.
    1971 R50/5 SWB with R75/6 drivetrain
    2013 DL650

  7. #37
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycleman2 View Post
    I believe I'm currently riding my last bike. A R1100R and I'm a young 62. The reason I bought it in the first place was to go to something lighter and more agile. It's a great all around bike and will haul 2 up or tour without problems in the power department.
    Don't be so sure. There are five or six of us here in the sticks that ride together on a regular basis. I'm 63 and am 4 or 5 years younger than the next youngest. Four of the five have purchased new or almost new motorcycles this year. Two of them are in their mid 70s and both bought new Jet-Skis this year. The best rider by far turns 75 in October and he rides a 2010 R1200GS. Virginia has a handicap plate for motorcycles so old/disabled riders can park near the door.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  8. #38
    Superkraut typ181r90's Avatar
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    I'm 26, ride my airhead all year round (except when there's snow and ice on the road, tried that once, not my thing) and it's mostly my daily driver, the exceptions being when I need cargo room or I'm going with the wife somewhere (she's pregnant). I can't speak for my generation as a whole but here's the top three answers from the young people around me that I talk to about why they don't want a motorcycle.

    1) The roads here in NJ are too dangerous and/or they know a classmate/friend/acquaintance that died on a bike. I can completely understand this and driving in the NY/NJ metropolitan area is mentally exhausting for alot of mc riders here, you either deal with it or you get a car. Alot of people tell me I'm crazy for riding and I tell them that I have to use my head like radar and constantly scan around me and react to traffic and most people don't want to deal with the risk. There's just too many idiots on the road that don't care and I personally know someone who was killed on his bike when he did nothing wrong

    2) No one wants to spend $3000+ on a bike when a car can do more for less, especially when your income isn't yet disposable. Entry level bikes may help, but don't forget the Germans stopped using motorcycles in WWII for the same reason the Americans quit riding Harleys, it became much cheaper to manufacture K??belwagens and Jeeps and they did a lot more - you can't drive around with 3 friends when you're the first with a license on a motorcycle (though in NJ you can't do that anyway at that age even if it's in a car nowadays)

    3) There aren't enough "destinations" where you can enjoy riding . There aren't any nice scenic routes in my immediate area, there is the shore and the appalachians, but immediately around me are just condos and strip malls


    There are some interesting characteristics about the young guys I know that do ride as well. These might not speak for my generation of riders, but this is how it is with the people I know

    For the most part everyone owns something vintage whether it be an old triumph, beemer, or a harley. The bikes are cheap, full of character (both good and bad), and you can work on them in the parking lot. My younger friends and coworkers couldn't get "new" Harleys from an economic standpoint and I don't think anyone really wants to. They're mid-life crisis bikes owned by wealthy men pretending to be something to they're not on the weekends - this is a common attitude of the younger bikers that I know, right or wrong. These same people (and they're quite a large group) at the same time make fun of me for owning a BMW because they see "old" guys on the highway with brand new RTs and GSs wearing neon clothing, blinking lights, and having every farkle under the sun attached to the bike. One co worker actually bought a new Buell, but only because the price was right and he needed something to ride until his old harley bobber is finished. Speaking for myself, I appreciate the simplicity, character, and ease of working on the old bikes and don't think I'd ever buy a new bike even if the price is right (I also own a VW thing, think simple).

    Furthermore alot of guys are turned off by the computer control of modern machinery; even though alot of you guys think we'd rather be on facebook or wii than riding. In fact, to get philosophical, I think there's so much of that in our lives that we'd rather go back to mechanical and analog stuff. In fact I think this book hits the nail on the head. I get pissed with my 07 VW Rabbit's traction control and find myself turning it off when it snows or is very slippery (it thinks it knows better than you) as well as the computerized throttle control and ecu even. Give me something I can work on instead of a technician with a laptop

    Fear still even plays a big part in riding with the guys that own motorcycles. Alot of guys won't go long distances or take their bikes out on a regular basis because of fear of idiot drivers on the highway just taking them out. Again, this might be more of an NJ problem than let's say the rural areas of the country.


    I think motorcycle manufacturers really need to take a good look at why people who don't ride aren't riding and at the same time really try to get some insight as to what the younger riders are riding and why. Alot of problems can't be fixed, but many can
    // 1975 BMW R90/6 (cafe'd) // 1957 BMW R60 (in pieces) // 1967 Aermacchi/H-D Sprint 250 SS (custom special) // 1973 VW Type 181 Custom SOLD )

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  9. #39
    Rpbump USN RET CPO Rpbump's Avatar
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    At 68 year years of age I enjoy riding my mc's now more than when I first started in 1968. Last month I traveled from Jax,FL to Shady Cove,OR to pick up a Bushtect railer and then returned home. Many of my friends thought I was crazy to travel cross country on a mc. My reply is that if I do not travel via two wheels now, I probably never will. Many older riders were busy raising a family and then paying for a college education for the kids. MC's were a expense that could not be justified. Now that the kids are gone we can afford to indulge some of our dreams and for many of us the American v-twin, early Hondas, or classic English twins were the bikes that stood out in our memories. I knew of the BMW opposed twin but never had the chance to ride one until the late 70's. The 500cc airhead with earles forks was a memorable machine and one of the reasons I bought a R1200CLC 2 1/2 years ago. I had a 2001 HD Sportster prior to buying the Beemer and now have a HD FSXTI Softtail for riding around town especially in hot/humid weather. The BMW and HD are very different bikes but both bring a smile to my face and provide me with the freedom, challange and enjoyment of riding. I have not had the chance to ride a modern hack but have ridden the Spyder and plan on having one or the other when I can no longer ride on two wheels.
    Ride Safe

  10. #40
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    I guess IÔÇÖm in the minority. I liked it more when I started riding and the activity, it was not a sport then, was not main stream. Your dentist and doctor sure did not ride.

    If bike sales are down and continue to decline, I kind of like that. If motorcycling is no longer the ÔÇ£in thingÔÇØ that works for me. I hope the next generations find things to do other than and riding and the activity will go back to the ones who always have and always will love it.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rad View Post
    I guess IÔÇÖm in the minority. I liked it more when I started riding and the activity, it was not a sport then, was not main stream. Your dentist and doctor sure did not ride.

    If bike sales are down and continue to decline, I kind of like that. If motorcycling is no longer the ÔÇ£in thingÔÇØ that works for me. I hope the next generations find things to do other than and riding and the activity will go back to the ones who always have and always will love it.
    If you prefer to play video games please do so. Supply and demand only helps the consumer, at least in the short run. I wouldn't mind purchasing my next bike at a bargin price because everyone is doing something else.

  12. #42
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
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    To last three messages

    Typ181R90 - it seems most posters are 50 or older. (I'm 63.) That probably will not change in the near future, but us old codgers are very interested in hearing from people like you. The fact that you and your friends, who are likely very comfortable and competent with all the new technology that us old guys try to use and swear at, like OLD bikes really is news! I think you are saying that in this largely digital world, you want some mechanical stuff you can actually understand and fix. My bet is that while you use the computer and all the other digital stuff far more efficiently than most of us older people, you really don't understand it. Airheads are understandable.

    RAD - I grant that I may be living on another planet, but I believe people should get training and try out activities that attract them. Backpacking, fishing, hunting, cycling, motorcycling, gardening, playing clarinet and saxophone... I've done them all. Some have stuck with me. Some haven't. While I no longer take backpacking trips, that in no way devalues that period in my life. My wife and I took the MSF course at the same time. Riding stuck with me and it didn't with her. The pleasure/fear balance was there for both of us and it weighted in different directions. Neither of us jumped into motorcycling because it was the "In thing.."

    GREGT1 - If motorcycle riding does become very unpopular, yes you will be able to buy great bikes for next to nothing. The bad news is that they become illeal. We want a lot of riders out there so we are not legislated off the road.
    Doug
    1992 K100RS

  13. #43
    IBA #44567 Ken F's Avatar
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    GreyGT1- While reading your post this thought came to me;
    With less motorcycles on the road, cage drivers are going to become less attentive to looking for them. Remember when there weren't many bikes on the road and how many more accidents there were because of that fact?

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  14. #44
    dhgeyer
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    A Few Thoughts

    A few random thoughts with no particular point.

    1. We have three drivers in our household, and own three Priuses: 2004 with about 90,000 miles, 2007 with 50,000, and 2009 with about 25,000. We have had zero trouble with any of them. They each get a year round average of about 50 mpg, and due to tire costs and service intervals are certainly no more expensive to operate than my BMW R1200R. During the warm (normal riding) months the Prii get 55 to 60 mpg depending on conditions. The Beemer gets 40 to 55 depending on conditions, and wants premium. I know it'll run on regular or midgrade, but I can feel the difference, and feed it what it's made for. Point is, there's no way I can justify that bike as a way to save money. The Beemer, plus needed accessories, didn't even cost all that much less to buy than a Prius, at least not when you consider that we buy all our vehicles for cash and keep them for a long long time.

    2. I also have a Suzuki GZ250, which runs on regular at anywhere from 75 to 85 mpg, and is cheaper in every respect, from oil to tires to insurance to registration. That certainly is a cheaper alternative, even to the Prii. And it cost very little to buy.

    3. My daughter has had her MC license for 6 years. She is 22, so she got it young. Every year she says she's going to ride more, and gets into it for a few weeks, then stops riding. It's just so much more convenient for her to take the car, and she's not that into the bike to make the extra effort. She has a lot going on in her life, isn't all that organized sometimes, and is usually in a hurry when she leaves the house. In 6 years, I doubt she's done 2000 miles. So the Prius is a lot more practical for her as transportation. When she does ride, she loves it, but it doesn't seem to take many miles for her to get her annual "fix". It's not that she's an electronic couch potato - anything but. She's just busy. Just one data point there.

    4. I haven't seen anything in any of the above posts that indicates a full awareness of how much trouble the USA may be in economically. I have fears that we could be a third world country in a shockingly short period of time. Parts of this country already are. I'm not a survivalist by nature, but I am very concerned. Much of the World rides small motorcycles and scooters because that's all they can afford. I am not saying that this will be the case here soon, but I am saying that it could be.

    5. Whether or not my dire fears come to pass, I think it's pretty inevitable that there are equalizing forces in the Global Economy that will cause life here to be less affluent materially than it is, and life elsewhere to be more so. As this happens, indeed, already is happening, the US market will have less influence on what bikes get designed and produced. After a while we might indeed start seeing some more of those less expensive, lighter, mid sized bikes here, simply because (a) that's what will be being made, and (b) that's what we will want and need.

    6. I am 64. In January I bought a new R1200R. I have the gear to set it up for touring, or for around town joyriding, making the transition in just a few minutes. I do not expect to ever buy another motorcycle, and I do expect to ride for at least several more years. Just one data point.

  15. #45
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Pass the mustard and UP THE REVOLUTION!

    St. Paul Pioneer Press , Minneapolis Star Tribune

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