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Why aren’t younger generations buying motorcycles?

Ever since Daimler invented the world’s first motorcycle, the Great, there has been a continuous rise in the community of motor enthusiasts. From races to off-road tracks and even stunts, the motorcycle market was booming. Each section of the hobby becomes its subculture of society to a point where I can’t help but wonder why the once-expanding world of motorcycles has been dying off recently. Today, we will look at some of the factors that I believe are contributing to the decline of the motorbike industry.

As each day passes, we see the progression of technology in the automotive world all around the globe. However, a familiar echo follows suit: the belief that motorcycles are slowly but surely drawing to an end. As a biker myself, whenever I hear this news, like many bikers who already are deeply in love with these gorgeous machines, I can’t help but feel a little sad. 

Reason 1: Safety

First and foremost, the most obvious reason that deserves to be stated. Even if you do not ride a bike, you may have heard from someone close to you about how dangerous they are. If you’re a keen enthusiast in the biking community or just getting into it – the chances are you’ll already know of someone who’s been involved in an accident. That’s because there is no denying that motorcycles are somewhat dangerous.  They are more dangerous. 

Whilst there was a dip in motorcycle accidents over the last few years, you’re still three times more likely to get involved in an accident than a car.  In the UK alone, motorcyclists make up a mere 1% of road users yet disproportionately account for 20% of ancient deaths and serious injuries.  It’s no coincidence that bikers often attract the nickname organ donors.

Two motorbikes driving in the nature

The obvious counterargument is that you can lower this statistic by taking more protective measures. These usually begin with the type of protective clothing you opt to buy and wear. But the reality is that although this may lessen the amount of damage caused by an accident, it doesn’t prevent biking from being inherently dangerous in itself. Unlike cars, we don’t have a steel cage surrounding us in the comfort of our seats and that too with our seatbelts on. 

couple of bikers in helmets riding motorcycle

But that’s not to say it’s not worth it. Riding a bike is a raw experience. But that’s the thing: riding a bike is unique because of all the risk and edgy feel you get from it. You can feel the wind pushing against you and all the vibrations as you and the machine ride together in complete sync. But for the younger generations coming to buy their first vehicle, unless they have a family member who rides themselves, it’s unlikely that they will have any experience of how amazing riding a bike is. Coupled with an echo chamber of people constantly telling you how dangerous riding is, it is a real deterrent to biking. 

Reason 2: Societal Standards

The second reason that bikers are in decline is down to what society deems to be successful. Cars, unlike bikes, have also become a status symbol in almost every sort of society out here. You don’t see someone flexing on their KTM like someone would flex their BMW car or a Mercedes C class. That is one of the major issues.

With the rise in social media came this new sense of ‘hassle culture’, and more and more people are sucked in with the idea of appearing successful rather than experiencing life. Society as a whole is becoming extremely ‘success-oriented’. And weirdly enough, bikes seem to fall outside the scope of what it means to have ‘made it’.  People have this notion that living a life life means large, expensive cars with blacked-out windows.

The younger generations are easily captivated by the idea of success, more so than ever. The idea of exotic cars such as Lamborghinis, Audis, Tesla and Porsches has become a life dream. 

Reason 4: TV and the Media

My last point feeds well into my next one, social media coverage of motorcycles. Now, believe it or not, TV also has a major role in helping people lose interest in bikes. Top-ranked motoring shows rarely talk about any bikes. They are all so fixated on cars that the bikes’ magnificence is completely overlooked. 

Because these kinds of shows gained a very reputable spotlight, it’s rare to find a programme that showcases bikes. Don’t get me wrong, the available car shows are an amazing source of entertainment, but the reality is these kinds of shows get prioritised over motorbiking shows.

This issue doesn’t end with automotive shows either; another big example is any celebrity. You rarely see any celebrities with motorcycles. If you quickly scroll through any celebrity’s social media, you’ll see it littered with photos of cars and private holidays. Even in music videos, the use of a bike is almost non-existent.  You will see brightly coloured Lamborghinis, Ferraris and other exotic cars everywhere. The younger generations also seem to look up to these artists, copying them as they go. So, it makes sense that including this as a valid reason does justify the fact that people are straying away from motorcycles.

Reason 5: Urbanisation

Another key reason behind the decreasing interest is urbanisation. It may be a good thing, or it may be a bad thing. But it is clear that the side effects of to urbanisation means younger generation prefers to use public transport rather than anything else. 

Not only is it efficient, but it is also very cost-effective. Buying a ticket can take you anywhere with little cash. Doing so means you don’t have to worry about traffic lights, accidents, or congestion charges; there’s nothing. This option is very reliable for students and perfect for commuting everywhere. For younger generations, it seems very pointless to buy a bike or even a car, for that matter. Coupled with the rise in hustle culture, younger people spend more and more time staying late and less time enjoying the times that make them happy. So why would they consider buying a vehicle that they neither need nor have the time to enjoy?

Reason 6: Cost of living

Another major issue is the cost of riding a bike in the first place. To ride bikes, you must first obtain a licence. In the UK, that means you first need to obtain a CBT, and with many businesses failing in recent years, the cost of a CBT has almost doubled.  After a CBT, you have the costs of lessons and tests almost three times the cost of learning to drive a car. You’re now looking at a minimum payment of £1,500 to get on the road. And that’s before you even buy a motorcycle and the correct gear. On top of that, due to the rate of having an accident, the insurance is quite expensive for your first year of riding!

With the already crippling cost of living and the lack of jobs in the economy, unless you’re working for a delivery app, many people are finding it harder and harder to justify this kind of expense on a hobby.

Reason 7: Reputation of Bikers

Unfortunately, there is a misdirected perception of bikers throughout the world, and this drastically affects the market, particularly when it comes to younger riders. Many people don’t like bikes due to the perception of the people who ride them.

Now, obviously, not everyone but gang members, but unfortunately, gang members so affect the bike industry. Look around you, in the movies, music videos and real life. Think about the stereotypical ideas portrayed in media; you have the American outlaw on his chopper or the Katana weirdly drug lord on a sports bike soaring across Tokyo. 

Boy with mask with teenagers gang

Outside of movies and music videos, there are issues in real life, too. You have a multitude of criminals illegally riding mopeds and low-cost bikes across fields, outrunning the police, and getting involved in drug deals. The newspapers are full of stories.

Bonafide riders are doing a lot of continuous work raising money for charity to help repair the damage created by criminals. It’s a shame that a few bad eggs have tarnished the reputation of many wonderful people with good hearts. However, the issue still stands: Bicycles have gained an undeserved reputation and are generally looked down upon by people, especially millennials.  

Will it always be like this?

Getting caught up in the negativity surrounding the biking community and the decline in sales can be easy. However, that’s not to say it’s going to diminish entirely. I think it’s going to become the opposite. 

Whilst bike sales are declining, electric bike sales are seeing a huge rise. The lines between electric bicycles and electric push-bikes are becoming more and more blurred as each year goes by. We’re seeing a huge rise in the younger generation wanting electric bikes, and sales are starting to soar.  

Whilst it’s sad and devastating to see things you grew up with slowly being undermined and forgotten over time. However, I don’t think that’s the case for bikes. I think the industry is simply evolving. Bikes are such beautiful machinery, and there’s still hope for people like me who become very connected to them. It might be the case that bikes will look radically different in the next decade, but this happens all the time. It’s the reason bikes were invented in the first place and the reason we don’t still ride horses. 


Saffy Sprocket
Saffy Sprockethttps://www.SaffySprocket.com
Alongside her ever-growing coffee addiction, Saffron is well versed in the art of waffle and text jargon. She can often be found behind the screen of a computer grumbling about the youth of today.

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