If the ailing motorcycle industry around the world can answer the simple question of why do novice motorcycle riders stop riding, they might be able to salvage the industry.
There is no doubt that the motorcycle industry has hit the wall. Sales in Australia were down 9.3% across the board in 2017 while road bikes were down a massive 15.9%.
It’s a similar story in the US, while UK is down a whopping 18.5%.
A recent group of US motorcycle industry experts aptly titled “Give a Shift” says young people, women and ethnic communities are not being actively attracted to motorcycling.
The group blamed “big-bike snobs” and motorcycle companies that don’t make the right bikes at the right price.
The American group says the motorcycle industry and riders have to encourage new riders to get involved.
Novice riders not continuing
However, a look at the statistics of licences and registrations in Australia tells a different story.
We sought stats from all sates, but only received replies from a few and they all had different methods of compiling figures.
What is evident from the stats provided is that we don’t have a problem attracting novice riders.
Learner numbers are increasing rapidly. The problem is they are not persisting with motorcycling.
For example, in NSW the drop-off rate from learner to P2 is a very worrying 63%.
Yes, more and more people are riding motorcycles, but Queensland also shows a similar drop-off trend.
In the 10 years to last year, learner numbers increased 41%, but open-licence riders increased only 12%.
And here is another interesting statistic; there are many more licensed riders out there than there are bikes.
In Queensland there are 690,654 licensed riders, but only 207,138 registered bikes.
Of course, there are a lot of off-road bikes that aren’t registered, but often those riders also don’t have a road licence.
And don’t forget some riders own several bikes, so it means there are even fewer licensed riders who continue to ride.
It seems strange to most of us passionate riders that anyone could experience motorcycling and not have it in their lives forever.
So what are the problems?
- Is the graduate licensing process too drawn out and expensive?
- While there are many great learner bikes now on the market is there a lack of midsize bikes to step up to when they graduate to a full licence?
- Are novice riders intimidated by the biker culture?
- Are young people getting married, settling down and eschewing whimsical pastimes like riding?
- Do young riders simply not have the time for such indulgent pastimes?
- Are their fantasies of being the next Rossi, Dakar legend or outlaw bikie shattered by reality?
- Have they found it is not quite the economic advantage they were led to believe with a lack of parking, free tolls, etc?
We don’t have the answers.
So we are asking you why new riders are giving the pastime away. Please leave your comments below.