Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit commercial businesses hard, the motorcycle industry had been suffering a significant decline. As financial analysts took a closer look into this phenomenon, they discovered one of the primary reasons for the dip in motorcycle sales. The interest in motorcycles among millennials was minimal.
In recent years, several studies have been conducted, in an attempt to discover why millennials aren’t interested in riding motorcycles.
Cost Plays a Major Factor
In the past, motorcycles were viewed as an inexpensive form of transportation, offering riders an option they could pay for with little financing. That’s no longer an option with the rising costs of the materials needed to construct the bikes. The cost of a motorcycle is still relatively low compared to buying another vehicle. However, most people won’t be able to afford one without taking out a small loan.
The need for financing leads to the second reason for fewer millennial motorcyclists and that’s the accumulation of debt. The average millennial is paying almost double the amount in student debt as their Generation X counterparts. These increased loan costs result in millennials paying an extra $130 or more in loan payments each month, which could otherwise be spent on a monthly motorcycle loan payment.
Transportation Options Abound
Another reason few millennials aren’t interested in buying motorcycles is that there are better transportation options available. Buying a bike means keeping it insured and dealing with the legalities involved in proving negligence in motorcycle accidents. Even beyond those concerns, there’s the price of fuel and upkeep. That’s a large amount of responsibility that also comes at the cost of burning fuel that contributes to ecological problems.
Alternatively, millennials can carpool, take public transportation, or use ride-sharing apps to limit the size of their carbon footprint. Relying on these services also helps them avoid the legal and financial responsibilities associated with owning a motorcycle.
Changing Personal Needs
Millennials spend more time planning for their futures than previous generations, and those plans can affect the types of vehicles they’re willing to finance. If they do buy a motorcycle, it’s more than likely to be used as a recreational vehicle and not something they would rely on for everyday transportation.
Millennials with an interest in starting a family or those with pets will want something that can accommodate multiple passengers. When they run errands or go shopping, they will also need space for the groceries and other purchases they make throughout their day. Many millennials are more focused on practicality when buying a new vehicle, so motorcycles rarely make the list.
Marketing Hasn’t Changed
Despite the changes our society has made in recent decades, the motorcycle industry hasn’t adapted to change as successfully as other industries. In general, dealers and manufacturers still focus campaigns almost solely on single men, neglecting the diverse range of consumers who might otherwise be interested in their products.
This failure in advertising creates an image of the typical motorcyclist that may alienate consumers in other demographics who will feel that riding a motorcycle will challenge their self-image. Creating more inclusive advertisements may help entice millennials to dismiss preconceptions and consider buying a motorcycle in place of a larger vehicle.
Unless trends change in the coming years, it seems unlikely that motorcycle dealers will have much luck in attracting millennials to their products. That may change with Generation Z, but it’s still several years before that age group is old enough to ride motorcycles. In the meantime, dealers and manufacturers may have to focus more on Generation X as the last age group young enough to ride and stable enough to buy motorcycles.