Motorcycles used to be cool. They still are, but their popularity comes and goes over time. Back in the ’90s, motorcycles were cool again and people were tripping over themselves to get a bike. Harley Davidson was especially popular during this period, and people often had to put down a deposit and get on a waiting list just to buy a new Harley. The Motor Company couldn’t, or wouldn’t, put out enough motorcycles to satisfy the demand. Surprisingly, as prices rose, the list of prospective buyers increased.
You no longer had to own a motorcycle to be one of the cool kids, you just had to be on the waiting list.
Guys at work would talk all day about their pickup date. They were excited and couldn’t wait until the day they got their bike and were fully in the cool club. The only problem when the big day came to pick up the bike was many of these guys had hardly ridden before. Some trailered it home or got a friend to ride it. Others would pick it up themselves and have an unsteady ride home. Nothing shatters the illusion of a cool biker quite like watching a middle-aged new rider wobbling around the dealer’s parking lot with the confidence of a 4-year-old kid who just took the training wheels off their bicycle.
But hey, we all had to start somewhere. Unlike most riders who started off as kids with a mini-bike or a dirt bike, potential riders were inspired by watching Orange County Choppers or whatever biker build-off series was popular on TV at the time. Instead of getting a smaller, used motorcycle to learn to ride, new riders where now jumping straight onto big cruisers or sport bikes. It wasn’t just riders jumping on the bandwagon. New custom motorcycle companies were springing up all over the place. Big Dog, California Motorcycle Company, Boss Hoss, Orange County Choppers, and West Coast Choppers were just a few of the new companies that sprang up to take advantage of the renewed interest in motorcycles.
So, what happened? Why is there less interest in motorcycles today than in the past?
Many will point to the “aging out” of riders. Older riders are abandoning their longtime hobby because of declining physical abilities. Younger generations don’t have the same interest in motorcycles as their parents and grandparents. They have many more things to occupy their time, and motorcycles take a back seat to other forms of entertainment. It’s also a matter of cost. Bikes, even used ones, are expensive. They are generally cheaper than cars, but most of us can’t have a bike as our only means of transportation. It’s a secondary vehicle that can only be ridden part time, unless you’re one of the lucky folks who live where the weather is conducive to year-round riding.
But don’t get the wrong idea. Just because motorcycles aren’t as popular as they were in the past, they are still cool. Fads come and go, and sometimes come around again. New riders are still joining the ranks. They may have a different idea about what’s cool, not dress up like pirates, and may not be willing to put down money to be on a waiting list to buy a bike, but interest in bikes is still there. It may not be what it once was, but riding is still cool. Remember, being cool isn’t about doing what everyone else is doing, it’s about doing your own thing and not caring what others do or think. If you’re trying to be cool, you’re not!