Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

Message
Author
User avatar
Grey Thumper
Legendary 1000
Legendary 1000
Posts: 1434
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:21 am
Real Name: Dino
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 9
My Motorcycle: 2004 BMW R1150Rockster, 2015 BMW R1200GS
Location: Manila, Philippines

Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#1 Unread post by Grey Thumper » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:37 am

Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?
By FREDERICK SEIDEL
Published: November 5, 2011


ARE motorcycles passé? Are they sort of over? I ask as a rider of two-wheel Italian beauties that go very fast, gracefully streamlined subsonic technology from the Ducati factory in Bologna. I own two sport bikes and two racers. I ride racing motorcycles on the street. One of my motorcycles is capable of nearly 200 miles an hour. I write prose about motorcycles. I write poems about motorcycles.

So I ask with some authority. Are motorcycles — even superb and lovely Italian motorcycles from the land of Donatello and Bertolucci — being replaced as love objects, as arm candy, by other more contemporary show-off desirables?

Electronic ones. Mostly made by Apple.

The iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, the 11-inch and 13-inch thin, light MacBook Air computers — these are the sleek gorgeousness young people go on about, have to have, and do have, in the millions. These machines, famous for the svelte dignity of their designs — and of course, far less expensive than a motorcycle — are a lens to see the world through and to do your work on. It’s their operating speeds that thrill. Young people cut a bella figura on their electronic devices.

Now, of course, it is not just the young who buy Apple products. I lay emphasis on the young, particularly young men, because they are the ones who might otherwise be buying motorcycles, and aren’t, at least not at all in the numbers they did before the economic downturn. The great recession was disastrous for motorcycle sales around the country, especially, it seems, for sport bikes, the ones that perform with brio but have no practical point to make. In other words, they are not bikes to tour on, they are not a comfortable way for you and a companion — wife or partner or friend — to travel to work or to a distant campground. You can do it, but it’s not ideal. Young riders were not buying motorcycles of any kind, and especially, it seems, not sport bikes.

Or, to say it another way, it’s as if the recession induced a coma in all the potential new motorcyclists, and in so many of the already experienced motorcyclists, from which they woke changed, changed utterly, and found themselves standing in line outside an Apple store, patiently waiting to buy the latest greatness.

They are buying a slice of what Apple does — and how it does it — and how it looks doing it. They are buying function but, just as important, they are buying glamour. The device enhances the buyer’s sense of self. It helps the person think and at the same time not think. Once, not so long ago, motorcycles did the same thing.

In a few days, at the International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Ducati will introduce a radically new sport bike called the Panigale, after Borgo Panigale, the neighborhood on the outskirts of Bologna where the Ducati factory is. The Ducati people are being secretive about how the Panigale will look and how it will perform. But there have been spy photos of the bike being tested on the Mugello circuit, with the former World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss aboard, and plenty of rumors and speculation about the tech specs.

We know this much. It will make brave hearts beat faster. It will weigh less than its predecessor. It will have a new sort of frame. It will have an ingenious new exhaust system. It will handle. It will be fast. It will be beautiful. How many Ducati followers — the Ducatisti — will have to have one? Some.

Oh, for the days — not so long ago — when a boy’s world would have fallen to its knees before a new Ducati design.

In Dallas, at Advanced Motorsports, his motorcycle dealership, Jeff Nash, a gentleman and one of the great Ducati racebike tuners in America, and a racer himself, deplores the passivity of the young who would rather be home with their iPads playing computer games than astride the red-meat lightning of an 1198 Superbike blazing down a Texas highway making that unmistakable growling deep Ducati sound. Mr. Nash would go further.

Better to be out in the air astride just about any motorcycle alive!
Interesting opinion piece. I can't say I disagree, although I actually don't care if electronics have replaced bikes as objects of desire. To each his (or her) own.
"If you ride like there's no tomorrow, there won't be."

User avatar
totalmotorcycle
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 29387
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2003 7:00 pm
Real Name: Mike
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 30
My Motorcycle: 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Contact:

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#2 Unread post by totalmotorcycle » Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:40 am

Very interesting opinion article. I don't really see how a sub-$400 Apple device really gives you the "mojo" a motorcycle would, nor the feeling of freedom or constant enjoyment. A 20 year old motorcycle would still make you feel awesome but a 20 year old Apple IIE? Not so much.

Like the author, I can speak with authority on both motorcycles and computers (I had a computer business for over a decade starting in the 80's), and the one thing about computers vs bikes is how quickly electronics fall out of fashion and drop in value. Take the The iPhone 4S, the iPad 2... anyone think the iPhone 3G or the iPad is a "status symbol" anymore?

But I do think the author has a point about the "because they are the ones who might otherwise be buying motorcycles, and aren’t, at least not at all in the numbers they did before the economic downturn. The great recession was disastrous for motorcycle sales around the country" but my take on it is motorcycles cost more than an Apple iPad2, and in a recession it's hard to justify a more expensive purchase over a cheap alternative.

We are indeed seeing the return of the 90's motorcycle recession, but that isn't a bad thing, it cuts the "fat" from the market, and those who are out there riding do it because they love it, not because it's popular or a "status symbol". Not good for sales maybe, but good for the motorcycling community as a whole.

Mike
NEW 2021 Motorcycle Model Guides
2020 Motorcycle Model Guides
2019 Motorcycle Model Guides

Total Motorcycle is official Media/Press for Aprilia, Benelli, Beta, Bimota, BMW, Brammo, Buell, Can-Am, CCW, Ducati, EBR, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Husaberg, Hyosung, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, KYMCO, Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini, MV Agusta, Norton, Phantom, Piaggio, Polaris, Ridley, Roehr, Royal Enfield, Suzuki, Triumph, Ural, Vespa, Victory, Yamaha and Zero.

User avatar
flw
Site Supporter - Silver
Site Supporter - Silver
Posts: 899
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 10:16 pm
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 8
My Motorcycle: '98 Honda Goldwing GL1500se
Location: Rockford, Illinois U.S.

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#3 Unread post by flw » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:03 am

I guess I can see for some materialistic people that having the latest objects is the focus of their lives.

So Idevices, mamoth flat screen TV's with surround sound amoungst other itmes does displace money for a bike that was never a dream for them.

Having a bike has always been a dream of mine before I could drive and then till I could afford it with. Unless someone lives in a area where you can ride all year, it does require some justification. Also all things optional do go through cycles. How many of you have your own horse because they are fun to ride? Few I bet. Not practical and expensive for option purchase.

I use a horse above because I'd like one but cannot have it all.

Just my 2 cents.
Goldwing 1500se '98
VN500 LTD '07 Sold

User avatar
Johnj
Site Supporter - Platinum
Site Supporter - Platinum
Posts: 3806
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:34 pm
Real Name: Johnny Strabler
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 34
My Motorcycle: A Bolt of Lightning
Location: Kansas City KS

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#4 Unread post by Johnj » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:49 am

I like using my "smart" devices while I'm out riding my bike.
People say I'm stupid and apathetic. I don't know what that means, and I don't care.
Image
Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Wrider
Site Supporter - Gold
Site Supporter - Gold
Posts: 5285
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:46 pm
Real Name: Ryan
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 4
My Motorcycle: 2005 Kawasaki Z750S
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Contact:

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#5 Unread post by Wrider » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:50 am

I know at least amongst 20somethings motorcycles still outweigh electronic devices. I think the author may be getting the impression that the electronics are more desirable because more people have them. They're more affordable than a motorcycle, they won't crash and physically wound you, the worst you're gonna do is lose some information if they do crash.

I don't think they will ever replace motorcycles as objects of desire.
Have owned - 2001 Suzuki Volusia
Current bike - 2005 Kawasaki Z750S
MMI Graduation date January 9th, 2009. Factory Certifications in Suzuki and Yamaha

User avatar
High_Side
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 4522
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 8:05 pm
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 41
My Motorcycle: Multistrada, SuperDuke 990, Africa Twin
Location: Calgary AB, Can

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#6 Unread post by High_Side » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:41 pm

Grey Thumper wrote:
Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?
By FREDERICK SEIDEL
Published: November 5, 2011
They are buying function but, just as important, they are buying glamour. The device enhances the buyer’s sense of self. It helps the person think and at the same time not think. Once, not so long ago, motorcycles did the same thing.
"They" may be the "riders" who were propping up the motorcycle market but the core riders who will always ride will do so because they love to ride. We all get attracted to flash and blinky lights, but if you take all of that away, if I had to choose between a '70s communist 2-stroke crappy motorcycle or a new I-Pad, I'll take the bike every time. There are a lot of riders out there that will always ride - no matter what.

User avatar
ceemes
Legendary 2000
Legendary 2000
Posts: 2152
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:35 pm
Real Name: a big secret
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 26
My Motorcycle: 1998 Triumph Trophy
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada, Sol 3, the Milky Way Galaxy, the Known Universe.

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#7 Unread post by ceemes » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:49 pm

High_Side wrote:
Grey Thumper wrote:
Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?
By FREDERICK SEIDEL
Published: November 5, 2011
They are buying function but, just as important, they are buying glamour. The device enhances the buyer’s sense of self. It helps the person think and at the same time not think. Once, not so long ago, motorcycles did the same thing.
"They" may be the "riders" who were propping up the motorcycle market but the core riders who will always ride will do so because they love to ride. We all get attracted to flash and blinky lights, but if you take all of that away, if I had to choose between a '70s communist 2-stroke crappy motorcycle or a new I-Pad, I'll take the bike every time. There are a lot of riders out there that will always ride - no matter what.
What he said, in spades. Fewer "status seeking" riders the better.
Always ask why.

Image

User avatar
dr_bar
Site Supporter - Diamond
Site Supporter - Diamond
Posts: 4531
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 10:37 am
Real Name: Doug
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 44
My Motorcycle: 2007 Yamaha Royal Star Venture
Location: Surrey BC, Canada

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#8 Unread post by dr_bar » Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:36 am

Like johnj said, I travel with my iPad, iPhone, laptop, whatever. Though I doubt any of them will give me the pleasure my bikes have. Sure I can google niagra falls, see all the pretty pictures, but the journey there and back on a bike would make the pictures so passé, especially when I can take my own pictures. I consider my electronics as just another tool in making my life enjoyable, connected, informed... I consider my bikes as a part of an incredible lifestyle that can't be copied in any way...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Four wheels move the body.
Two wheels move the soul!"

User avatar
mogster
Legendary 750
Legendary 750
Posts: 949
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:06 pm
Real Name: MOG
Sex: Female
Years Riding: 14
My Motorcycle: Speed Triple 1050 se '09
Location: Dorset, UK

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#9 Unread post by mogster » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:59 am

I agree that a downturn in economy will almost certainly affect the sales of motorcycles both new & used, & that this may well keep some weekend bikers off the road.

However, I think the apparent drop in numbers of young men trusting after a bike has wider social reasons. Is it not a sign of "the apathy of youth" where people expect "someone else" to sort things out. I know Iam generalising but there does seem to be a generation (certainly in UK) which expects everything to be given to them. The effort of learning then the sheer physicality of riding is probably too much effort!

To liken now to the 70's is a misnomer. The roads are busier, fuel prices are exhorbitant (UK), likewise insurance. The culture of hanging out at biker cafes has been superceded by alcopops & theme pubs. Even fashions have changed, girls probably don't lust after greasy bikers anymore but want a coiffured metrosexual with clean fingernails! :lol:

Like I said these are sweeping generalisations but maybe times have changed :?
MOG
:party:

The roar of her mighty TRIUMPH was heard throughout the land

Image

User avatar
vito
Regular
Regular
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:06 am
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 30
My Motorcycle: Triumph America

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#10 Unread post by vito » Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:14 am

I fail to see any connection whatsoever between owning new electronic gadgets and owning a motorcycle. The gadgets may be fun to use but how that relates to a motorcycle escapes me. The fact (if it is a fact) that some folks buy motorcycles, or used to buy one, merely because it was an "in" thing at the time could mean that such folks today do not do so, but so what? There are certainly plenty of folks who seem to be concerned with looking like riders than actually riding; just look at the bikes parked all day at local bars rather than being ridden on the roads. I love to ride my bike, and I get a kick out of the newest electronic gizmos but one has nothing to do with the other.

User avatar
jstark47
Site Supporter - Silver
Site Supporter - Silver
Posts: 3520
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2006 8:58 pm
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 14
My Motorcycle: '12 Tiger 800, '03 Trophy 1200
Location: Lumberton, NJ

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#11 Unread post by jstark47 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:56 pm

vito wrote:I love to ride my bike, and I get a kick out of the newest electronic gizmos but one has nothing to do with the other.
But that's because you're probably around my age (born 1956) and from the generation that actually did things, not just looked at pictures on the 'net. You and I look at these gizmos as cool toys and useful tools, but nothing more. Some of the teens and 20-somethings let their digital devices define life for them - anything that they can't see on a digital display isn't "real". I swear some of them would shrivel up and die if you confiscated their smart phones - they wouldn't know how to act!
2003 Triumph Trophy 1200
2009 BMW F650GS (wife's)
2012 Triumph Tiger 800
2018 Yamaha XT250 (wife's)
2013 Kawasaki KLX250S

User avatar
vito
Regular
Regular
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:06 am
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 30
My Motorcycle: Triumph America

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#12 Unread post by vito » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:01 pm

You may be right about younger folks. This past summer, as I have done for the last 12 years, I rented a large house on a large lake in South Central US for a week, and invited my 5 grown children, their spouses and their children to come. These family vacations are great, especially by giving my grandchildren a chance to be with their cousins from all across the USA. One afternoon, with perfect weather, I entered the "family room" to ask which grandkids wanted to join me for fun in the lake right outside the house. Eight of my nine grandkids were in the room. Seven out of eight were fully engaged in their electronic devices, whether smart phones, Ipods, Nintendo DX, or whatever and were not interested in the lake (which is why we picked this location!). Only one was without an electronic device, and that's because he is only 2 and playing with Matchbox cars on the floor! Sitting lakeside with a good book is not a bad way to spend vacation time, but sitting in the house with gadgets in the middle of a summer day is crazy. The only saving grace was when I offered to rent a couple of watercraft for the grandkids (and kids) to ride, they put down their electronics and got excited. Some of my kids and grandkids love to play electronic racing games, with cars or motorcycles, but I can't imagine why someone would prefer that to doing the real thing themselves.

User avatar
Grey Thumper
Legendary 1000
Legendary 1000
Posts: 1434
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:21 am
Real Name: Dino
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 9
My Motorcycle: 2004 BMW R1150Rockster, 2015 BMW R1200GS
Location: Manila, Philippines

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#13 Unread post by Grey Thumper » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:17 pm

I agree with many of the previous posters who think that there's no connection between gadgets as objects of desire and the decline of motorcycles. I think they're just two social trends that are evolving somewhat simultaneously. In fact, it can be argued that the decline of bikes as "cool objects" among a mainstream audience has been going on since the 70's (with occasional rises in popularity since then in either the 80s, 90s, or 00s, depending on what country you're from).

In many ways, it's a lot more intimidating to get into bikes now. We're living in an age of more traffic, less competent drivers, and more in-car distractions (and those electronic gadgets are mainly to blame). It's a sweeping generalization, but we also tend to be more risk-averse these days, and also have a less developed sense of personal responsibility.

On the brighter side, we've got more access to professional instruction, a lot more reliable information (lots more books about riding out there, not to mention advice from more experienced riders through sites like this one), much more effective protective gear, and better, more reliable bikes. For those who do decide to start riding, it's a veritable golden age.
Last edited by Grey Thumper on Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If you ride like there's no tomorrow, there won't be."

pchast
Site Supporter - Silver
Site Supporter - Silver
Posts: 504
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:04 pm
Real Name: Pete
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 9
My Motorcycle: 1980 Suzuki GS550L, 2019 Zero DSR
Location: Athens, NY

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#14 Unread post by pchast » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:18 pm

+1
2019 Zero DSR, 1980 Suzuki GS550L

User avatar
madjak30
Legendary 500
Legendary 500
Posts: 563
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:29 pm
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 3
My Motorcycle: 2006 Yamaha MT-01
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#15 Unread post by madjak30 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:10 am

I think the original story is wrong...their not more desireable, they're just more accessible. If you went up to a group of 20 something males with the latest iGadget and a bike and asked which one is cooler...I don't think many would choose the iGadget...

Women tend to notice a guy getting off a bike and in a good way...do you think a woman thinks the same way about a guy in a coffee shop with his iThingy??

It's just that a few hundred gets you the iGadget, but you need to have a few thousand or a bank that likes you to get a bike...

Later.
-=-= Remember, if you're not having fun you're doing it wrong!! =-=-

User avatar
TechTMW
Legendary 2000
Legendary 2000
Posts: 2045
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:43 pm
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 10
My Motorcycle: 2005 BMW R1200GS
Location: Alexandria VA

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#16 Unread post by TechTMW » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:05 am

The era of the motorcycle will be over when the last motorcyclist is run down by some teenaged twit sexting while driving. :rubberchicken:
“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
- Soren Kierkegaard (19th century Danish philosopher)

User avatar
dablade
Elite
Elite
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:15 am
Real Name: Perry Crowell
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 30
My Motorcycle: 2005 Yamaha FJR 1300, 2004 GL1800 ABS
Location: Palm Harbor, Florida, USA

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#17 Unread post by dablade » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:29 am

The thing I await with the most desire on my days off is to ride. The available technology has only improved my riding experiences.
Posted from my iPad.........:)

T-Bird
Rookie
Rookie
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:52 pm
Real Name: Ernest Wankowski
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 40
My Motorcycle: 2010 Triumph Thunderbird

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#18 Unread post by T-Bird » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:07 pm

Great comments from everyone and good thoughts to ponder on. For my two cents, if you are buying a motorcycle based on the bling factor, you are missing the whole point of riding. There are not many places you are going to get to go 200 mph on your bike but I know thousands of enjoyable miles you can travel at 60 - 70 mph (or a little more). I don't need computers, spent many years working with them. My cell phone only makes and receives phone calls, that's all I need it to do. My bike provides enjoyment, thrills, and much needed therapy. Haven't found an electronic device that can do all that.

User avatar
madjak30
Legendary 500
Legendary 500
Posts: 563
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:29 pm
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 3
My Motorcycle: 2006 Yamaha MT-01
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#19 Unread post by madjak30 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:32 am

I make use of all of it...winter is cold and crappy...electronics help get through to the next riding season...during riding season the electronics are used to share the pictures and videos that I have taken during the rides, and to connect with friends that I don't even really know...

The era of the motorcycle isn't over, it has just changed with the times...digital cameras, motorcycle forums, YouTube, Facebook, blogging...it's all part of it for me...

Later.
-=-= Remember, if you're not having fun you're doing it wrong!! =-=-

Marvin
Elite
Elite
Posts: 173
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:54 am
Real Name: Bart
Sex: Male
Years Riding: 8
My Motorcycle: 2009 Yamaha TMAX, 2005 Yamaha FZ6

Re: Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?

#20 Unread post by Marvin » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:08 am

The problem with most motorcycle owners-riders is they own and ride one for the wrong reasons, you ride it to impress other people! Yea,, you do! In the past I admit I was guily of that too. Now I ride one for the sheer passion and the love to ride, I love the control, the wind in my face, the peace, when i get pissed off I go for a ride to calm me down, it keeps me sane! You guys are wasting your time impressing other people just because you can ride and handle a big bike and know how to clutch, I can take any bike you ride and make you look bad by riding it better than you. I have been riding for a long time and I have owned every type of motorcycle out there! Now i ride a scooter cause I love riding it, not because I can't handle a big powerfull heavy cruiser, but that big powerfull cruiser doesn't thrill me anymore, my scooter can go just as fast and can take the tight curves better,, I don't care what you think of me and my scooter, I ride that scooter to impress ME! Not You! So go ahead and act like a tough guy cause you are the man cause you ride a heavy cruiser, to me you are the loser cause the only way you can impress other people is by owning the big popular big bike, so if you feel you're a nobody without one then thats your problem.
2009 Yamaha TMAX
2008 Suzuki King Quad 750AXI
2011 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DC Trd Sport, 6 sp manual

Post Reply