The real reason the motorcycle industry is doomed? Us, the moron motorcyclists!

I’m sure you didn’t, but did any of you actually bother to read the ‘Give A Shift’ piece we commented on the other day?

Of course you didn’t, you were too busy looking for a video of someone ‘lane-splitting’ at full pelt on an S1000RR, because that’s more your level.

Well, the gist of it was that the motorcycle industry is screwed because it, “…has failed to attract the new riders that would have been the current lifeblood of motorcycling; women, minorities and millennials have all been overlooked by an industry that focuses too tightly on the dwindling, aging baby boomer market and their disposable income by selling top-of-the-range bikes whilst almost actively ignoring the needs and desires of any new – and often lower purchase price-orientated – riders.”

The piece goes on, “Dealers still often do not know how to sell to women, couples, families and non-traditional customers… Being enchanted by motorcycling can quickly be dulled by a poor, confusing or dismissive dealership experience.”

Now, I couldn’t agree more.

I remember having just ripped up my L-plates, wandering into a bike dealer looking for a first big bike to ride to work and back on, and walking out without one.


“The last two bikes I’ve ended up buying from a dealer will be the last!”

Why? Because the spikey-haired-shirt-and-tie-pack wearing salesperson knew as much about bikes and how to sell them – and what was right for a new rider, as my mother who was,  along with my father and I, completely ignored by the sales team in the dealership two doors down as well. We walked out of there empty handed too.

If you’re a salesperson and that picture doesn’t say to you, “We’re about to sign a huge HP deal on a bike and full kit for our darling son” then you need to take a long hard look at yourself.

Fast-forward 17 years and it’s no different. The last two bikes I’ve ended up buying from a dealer will be the last; the complete lack of knowledge, enthusiasm, interest, understanding and absence of anything nearing customer service or proper bike preparation have left me with such a sour taste that I’ll be taking my chances with the cards in the corner shop window from now on.

So yes, I can fully understand why the blame is placed squarely on the industry. This is how the article on the independent report ended,

Ultimately however it’s up to the current crop of industry professionals and manufacturers to step out of the comfort of their increasing shares of rapidly dwindling market and to up – and change – their games.”

But I think it gives them too much credit. Mainstream manufacturers and their marketing teams can no more shape and guide the market as I can levitate, all they have the capacity to do is react and who do they react to? Us, the current crop of motorycle morons.

“A whole industry can’t and won’t survive on you and your middle-aged, overweight mates bolting on another £100 a month to your PCP deal”

It’s us current riders that shape the market, we’re the ones that spout the inane pile of garbage that they take in and react to. We sit there and take in the resulting bin juice that comes back at us from their adverts. We brainlessly file into their showrooms and sign for the latest, pointless, updated-for-this-season bike. It’s us… With our late-1960s-British-bike-industry bigger and faster is better attitude. And it’s slowly choking us.

Get it? Of course you don’t because you – the lifeblood of the motorcycle industry within the US and Europe – have already moved on to the next video of that guy getting his knee down on his GSX-R1000.

So here it is in layman’s terms: a whole industry can’t and won’t survive on you and your middle-aged, overweight mates bolting on another £100 a month to your PCP deal for next year’s 3kg-lighter-and-now-with-a-moto-gp-slipper-clutch sportsbike, that you hook up to an optimiser in your garage for six months of the year.

Neither will the ‘I want the latest big adventure sports bike because one day I’m going to ride the Himalayas’ brigade save it. I’ve got news for you, you won’t. You’re too unfit, you don’t have the time, and you wouldn’t like the food.

To be fair, that’s not your fault. That’s the marketing men selling you an unrealistic, unachievable fantasy version of yourself and your life. Your only part in that is being too stupid to see through it.

Yes, what this industry desperately needs is young riders, female riders, car drivers and rail commuters to be buying bikes and it needs cheaper, smaller-capacity, more acceptable and accessible bikes for them to buy.

What this industry needs is for motorcycles to stop being be an overpriced, exclusive luxury item, but to become (like in less developed countries) a means of transportation for workers, families, the less wealthy.

But for that to happen what the industry needs is for you, and all of us – with our obsession for cc’s; our massive overestimation of how well we can ride; our fantasy about how we absolutely do need a 1200cc adventure bike for our next overland trip; our need to clad yourself in the most expensive kit; our being impressed at the aforementioned video of someone ‘lane-splitting’ at full pelt on an S1000RR – and our overweight mates to get out of the way, ‘get into’ something else and to encourage other people to come in and take up the mantle.

It’s us mere morons that are the real reason the motorcycle industry is doomed. Without having to focus on us, they would have to change.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    GPR Camp

    October 2, 2018 at 18:28

    At lot of blame can be placed at the door of the Manufacturers. Why? Because marketing can shape the mindset. Which is pretty easy to see these days. Small Penis Syndrome abounds—just look at most riders out there on their compensators.

    This whole idea that if you aren’t on a liter bike that you aren’t a man is the propaganda that’s been fed to the populace for decades. Pretty much ever since Honda willfully killed the biker boom by attacking the two stroke. There is plenty of evidence to be found for anyone willing to look for it. Sure the naysayers will blame video games and cell phones, but those are nothing more than red herrings.

    Here we are three decades later, and there are no young people coming up to fill the gaps as riders age out. This is the fault of the Manufacturers—mostly Honda for killing off the little bikes, and aggressively marketing their expensive liter bikes.

    The press too needs to take their share of it, because they have been right there with the liter bike shoot outs gracing the covers. Maybe there’s a token midsize bike article, but even in the dirt now the glory is all about the 1290cc bikes. Do you really need a liter in the dirt?

    As for the riders, sure they bought into the Honda nightmare, so some blame can be laid at their feet. But in this SuperSize lifestyle most riders can’t stand up to the peer pressure of having to buy a liter bike. Should we call them pussies? Yeah we probably should because that’s the exact reason they bought a liter bike—they were afraid of being called a pussy. Well those pussies should have been shown why they needed to buy a 50cc bike in the first place.

    Who should have set them on the proper path? The Manufacturers, the Press, and the people that ride. If we are going to turn this industry around then that’s exactly what has to happen. But don’t expect it. I can already hear the pussies complaining that you can’t ride a fifty anywhere. Well they are wrong.

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