Boomers Go "Hog Wild"

Comments Off on Boomers Go "Hog Wild"
Boomers Go "Hog Wild"

In a typical Sunday afternoon this autumn in the upper Midwest, you’ll find the highway crowded with “gangs” of motorcyclists. But few of these motorcyclists fit the stereotype of the motorcycle riders of the ‘50s and ’60s, who were typically young, rebellious, and poorly groomed. Today’s bikers are older, wealthier, and more likely to be investment bankers than bouncers.

They’re also more likely to be women than in the past. One in every 12 motorcycle owners today is a woman, according to the motorcycle industry. The Associated Press1 reports that Harley-Davidson now sells 30,000 motorcycles a year to women, up from just 600 in 1986.

That’s one reason Harley-Davidson, the iconic brand of American motorcycles, is enjoying record sales. However, it’s not just Harley that’s benefiting: Other motorcycles are also selling well, with more than 1 million bikes sold in 2006.

According to the latest available sales figures from the Motorcycle Industry Council, Honda controls 24 percent of the overall motorcycle market, followed by Harley-Davidson and Buell at 22.6 percent, Yamaha at 15.9 percent, Suzuki at 11.9, and Kawasaki at 9.1 percent.2

The new breed of bikers, as shown in the recent movie Wild Hogs, likes to ride machines that can cost as much as $30,000, so they tend to be well-educated, with high-paying jobs. Often, they’ve put off riding while focusing on their careers and raising their children. Now, instead of confronting an empty nest, they’re hitting the open road.

A survey by the national non-profit Motorcycle Safety Foundation found that people who have stopped riding and then started again do so after an average layoff of 13 years. The study revealed that 29 percent of those who returned to motorcycling were in their 40s, 37 percent were in their 50s, and 18 percent were in their 60s or older.

According to motorcycle industry analyst Donald Brown, the Baby Boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — are fueling the sales of motorcycles. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2006 backs up his assertion. The percentage of motorcycles owned by people over the age of 40 has increased from 21 percent in 1985 to 53 percent today. And the number of bikes owned by those over 50 has gone up from 10 percent in 1990 to more than 25 percent today.

As Brown told the St. Petersburg Times,3 Boomer riders prefer the larger, slower motorcycles known as “cruisers” and “touring bikes,” instead of the high-speed sport motorcycles that appeal to younger riders...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund