Our Consumer Panel has turned in another set of responses to our latest survey, which covered the topic of motorcycles on a larger scale. That is, we wanted to ask general questions about the future of motorcycling, from a uniquely female perspective — all too often we are outnumbered and our opinions are drowned out by the chorus of male voices, and we wanted to change that.
First let’s discuss a question I’ve often asked myself, as a motorcycle industry professional: what is it about the U.S. that makes us so averse to the concept of motorcycles as transportation? The rest of the world doesn’t seem to have a problem with two-wheeled transportation…why don’t more Americans ride?
The most common answers from our panelists included:
Distracted/dangerous drivers – This was a biggie, with most of our respondents ranking it highly as a reason more Americans don’t ride. I’ve traveling and ridden in other countries in Europe and North Africa, and while distracted drivers are not a uniquely American problem, our love of big SUVs and wide, fast roads coupled with our apparent inability to put our phones down while we’re driving creates a dangerous environment for motorcyclists (and bicyclists and pedestrians).
So what’s the solution? Better driver training? Better motorcyclist training? Stiffer penalties for those caught texting while driving? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Poor road conditions – We tend to think of weather in general when considering impact on our ability to ride, but bad weather leads to other issues, namely potholes, frost heaves, tar snakes and other pavement irregularities. For those on four wheels, these are nuisance items at worst, but for motorcyclists they can be dangerous and even deadly.
The cost of motorcycle maintenance – Several panelists commented that having yet another vehicle to maintain put a damper on their enthusiasm for two-wheeled commuting.
The need to look professional – I personally understand this one: it’s tough to commute on a motorcycle (or bicycle) when you have to look sharp and professional once you get to where you’re going. If you are lucky enough to work in a place that has a changing/locker room and maybe even a shower — and you have the extra time required — well, like we said, you’re lucky.
You can’t carry much stuff on a motorcycle – So even if we waved a magic wand and suddenly everyone else on the road was attentive and considerate, our roads were all smooth and safe, we won the lottery and we never had to worry about helmet hair, there’s still one big pain about commuting on a motorcycle. You can’t carry much! And forget about picking up the kids from soccer practice on your way home from work.
So there you have it: why we (Americans) don’t treat motorcycles as transportation. The comment section below is open if anyone has anything to add or discuss, and we’re all ears!
The good news is, the future is bright! Of our panelists that have kids, 70% already have them on two wheels or said their kids have expressed interest in learning to ride. So maybe the next generation will figure all this out….
Lastly, we wanted to know: what do you think about electric motorcycles? 26% said no thank you, with 44% saying they’re at least interested in the idea. We are too! The biggest complaint we heard was regarding range — can’t argue with that, but we think battery technology is improving rapidly and who knows what the future might hold! Interestingly — and our male readers might want to take note — many of our respondents report that they enjoy tinkering with and maintaining their motorcycles, and they feel they would miss that with an electric bike.
Stay tuned for next month’s survey, which will return to the topic of apparel!