What's the Deal With Millennials and Motorcycles?
I’m a millennial. There, I said it. I said the dreaded word that must not be spoken. I’ve opened up Pandora’s box, and, yeah I'm pretty sure some shit will come out of it. The title alone has now cornered me into a category with less than stellar associations. But let’s hope I haven’t ruined my chances of making a good first impression in that one word!
It's really no secret, the word ‘Millennial’ has taken on an entirely different meaning than its actual basic foundation. The real meaning behind the word is simply to categorize the group of people born in Generation Y (1981-1991) and Generation Z (1991-2001). But there are far more negative connotations related to the word, and I’ll let you fill in those blanks in your own mind. Be gentle.
Just hear me out. This article has everything to do with millennials, but for all the right reasons. I promise this is a conversation you’re going to be interested in hearing. So let’s set the pitchforks aside for a minute, relax, and let’s discuss a meaningful conversation that’s been circulating.
Why don’t millennials ride? Aren’t they interested in motorcycles?
There's just something wrong with them, right? The short answer? Yeah. Pretty much, lots of things actually.
These are the main points that are curating in the biking mill, going round-and-round without any real indication of an answer. But on the flip side of that, for my millennial readers, there’s equally as many questions that they ponder over:
Why should we ride? What could we possibly gain from riding a motorcycle? Do people honestly think I can afford that?
Endless questions on both sides of the equation, but no one is really putting themselves in the proper mindset to try to find an answer for them. So I’m going to jump on this bike and ride this road in search of some answers.
Why aren’t Millennials interested in motorcycles and the biking world?
This is a glaring issue, and probably the most prominent one. And if you did assume that millennials are broke (or money conscious, or whatever), you did so correctly. As you can image, most millennials in the traditional ‘millennial’ category are very recent college graduates. This typically comes with a hefty amount of student loans for those of us who were not in a position for our parents to contribute financially. The number of loans will vary widely, depending on the span of time spent getting the degree and whether it was at a public, state university or a private college. Regardless of the details, most of us are walking out with dollar signs breathing down our necks and some insanely high monthly payments to reach. We won’t get into the discussion of the cost of student loans, but rather the impact that amount can have on our everyday purchases (or lack thereof).
Most recent graduates are not lucky enough to be in a position where they can afford needs and luxuries. You typically only get to pick one of those things, and apparently, you need food and shelter to survive, so that takes priority. It’s often tough for millennials to justify shelling out a potential $6,000 when that money can go towards chipping away at their loan amount or contributing towards their savings or 401K. While $6,000 may not be that much money to a professionally and financially established 45-year-old, that’s a massive chunk of cash for those of us that have a hard time envisioning what we’d even do with that amount of money.
Graduating from college and entering the world that is ‘reality’ is a huge, rude awakening. You can think you have a perfect expectation of the reality of, well, reality, but that’s hardly ever the case. When bills pile up, and you’re trying to evenly distribute your small funds for the present and the future, unloading that amount of cash on something you ‘might’ want doesn’t seem feasible.
Where we live:
This is an obvious one because not all states and cities are created equal when it comes to bike adaptability. For instance, I’m far more likely to enjoy riding in the weaving hills of Tennessee, than I am to ride my bike in the ‘raining cats and dogs’ that is Seattle. But even so, most busy cities can be very far from rider friendly. Cities tend to have a highly over-crowded population level, and that directly equates to high traffic levels. Typically, the thought is that the more people there are on the road, the higher your chances of encountering danger. And while riding down the highway in a tank of protection should be the norm in some cities, bikers can find themselves in hazardous situations. Most of the time, bikers are hit because of no fault of their own.
College graduates typically flock to large cities in the hopes of increasing their numbers at a chance for a job. The more people, the more companies, the more job opportunities, the higher your chances of nailing one down. Even well into your late 20’s or early 30’s, many people continue to enjoy living in the busy bustle that is city life. To most people, trying to imagine the enjoyment of riding in a city (rather than fearing for your life) seems like an impossible task. Cities seem to be the perfect hub for opportunities, but not the ideal choice for biking. And cities, well...they look like a death trap of disaster for most bikers, so who can really blame them?
Discomfort associated with biking and a lack of knowledge:
There’s no trying to slice it any other way-riding a motorcycle seems like a very, very daunting activity to those that don’t have any experience with it. To many people, it looks like riding a fine line between ‘rationality’ and ‘this can’t possibly be a good idea.’ That fear isn’t necessarily entirely misplaced, because motorcycles are dangerous, especially when they’re being manned by someone who does not have enough knowledge and practice of driving them.
Riding can seem like a weird concept to a majority of people, especially millennials. Most might see it as too risky of an activity to be okay with, but a lot of those emotions are drawn from the reality that there’s a severe lack of knowledge involved. If you didn’t grow up in a family that enjoyed riding and the culture involved with it, it might seem like a very foreign idea to most people. You have to consider it from their side-just look at a bike. It has no seatbelt, virtually no windows to act as a barrier, and you feel very exposed to all of the elements around you. It isn’t exactly the ideal model of ‘security.’ It seems like dancing with danger, and that’s not something that many millennials are interested in partaking in. But, just as with most things, knowledge of a topic can really go a long way, and motorcycle knowledge is no exception to that idea.
They struggle to see the benefits that come with riding:
Think of it like this: you’re telling me to spend $6,000 on a machine that looks like it screams danger, try and drive it around in my overly crowded city, and not be terrified for my life? WHY?
That’s the general census and thought that most millennials have. It’s not that we don’t think it’s an exciting idea or something to consider, it’s just that many of us struggle to see the benefits that could come out of it. Instead of seeing those potential benefits, we see what I illustrated above, which just seems like more work and loss of money than it’s worth.
Because we have such limited knowledge and lack of experience on the topic, even being told the positives typically isn’t enough. For a person to feel firm about any particular subject, they usually have experience or memories to lead them to that state of mind. But if someone has no prior experience with riding a motorcycle, they almost see it as something beyond comprehension.
Beyond that, we can’t obviously see the positives, because the negatives just seems so prominent. Again, it typically comes down to the money to buy our first bike. Unless we’re promised that a highway to gold is going to come with buying a motorcycle, tossing the money towards it just seems like way more of a loss. It’s scary to think of that money just up and disappearing-especially when we might not have much of it to begin with, and we’re even more terrified of the idea of getting on a machine that can tend to look like a danger magnet.
However, from this insight, we can conclude that a primary reason as to why millennials don’t ride are either because it seems too expensive, or a lack of knowledge of the culture. But when you start to supply answers to those questions, having a bike actually isn’t this ‘out-of-reach’ vision that they assume it is. Let’s jump onto the flip side of the coin.
Why should millennials ride motorcycles?
I know, I know, buying a motorcycle can seem like an investment that you can’t wrap your mind around. I understand what you’re thinking, Millennials-$6,000? That’s money I can spend elsewhere. But just as cars come in a variety of costs and specs, the same thing can be said for motorcycles. Not every motorcycle you can buy is going to demand that amount of money. In fact, a large selection of them is much lower than the above-mentioned price.
Let us consider the standard cost of a car and compare that with the value of a bike. According to Kelley Blue Book, for a 2011 Toyota Camry, you could be spending anywhere from $8,000-$10,000, depending on the condition and miles on the car. But right now on RumbleOn, you can get a 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 for $4,995. That could be a potential saving amount of $3,000 to $5,000, and as a millennial, that’s a lot of money that can be saved and spent elsewhere. If you live in a state that doesn’t have too much of a wishy-washy weather temperament or live a bit more on the outskirts of a city, then buying the bike is actually the more cost-effective choice. You could contribute that saved $5,000 to those pesky student loans that keep rolling into the conversation. Not only that, but come on, you’re going to look a heck of a lot cooler atop a Kawasaki than cruising around in somewhat of a ‘cookie cutter’ Camry.
Those savings don’t even consider what you could be saving on gas. When it comes to just raw miles per gallon alone, most motorcycles will rank supreme in gas savings. A wide selection of motorcycles can easily achieve 60 MPG, while Hybrid cars will top out at 50 PMG. Did we mention the cheapest Hybrid option has a starting price of $20,000? I don’t think we need to explain which deal is better. At the end of the day, motorcycles are way more cost effective than many are lead to believe. Plus, the one thing that isn’t up for debate is that they’re far more enjoyable to ride.
Handles traffic with ease. Plus, parking galore:
Traffic. The word strikes anxiety in the heart of all who hear it. But in all seriousness, traffic is an everyday part of life that we’d give anything to eliminate. It forces you to wake up far earlier than necessary to get to work on time, and it leaves you trailing slowly down the highway after work, when all you really want to do is be at home, on the couch, eating your fill. And us millennials? Let’s be honest, we’re still trying to perfect the art of patience. Instant gratification and all that. Traffic can force your mood to take a complete 180, and it’s never a fun time. But motorcycles don’t seem to have the same traffic issues as cars do, and when they’re really stuck just as bad as everyone else, at least they get to say that traffic is a little easier to deal with.
Motorcycles are better for traffic, for a variety of reasons. They take up less space on the road and have the ability to weave in between cars, so it helps to lower the congestion any given path might have. If lane splitting evolves into a reality, that also will have an impact on the traffic level. But beyond just traffic, bikes also help in other predictable ways, such as parking. How many times have you be riding in the city in your car, spy a perfect parking spot right on the side of the road, only to realize that traffic is too congested to perform a parallel park, or for me, you just lack the skills in that division? Parking a bike into that spot is a cinch, which means you won’t have to second guess those skills. In regards to that, many cities are now creating a wide variety of ‘motorcycle only’ parking spots on the sides of streets and within parking garages, and those are much easier to compete for than traditional spots, as they aren’t as many bikes on the road.
The community and social interactions:
There’s a whole vast, diverse community associated with the world and culture of biking. Much like you’d meet new people and establish friends at the dog park you take your dog to, or the gym that you frequent, you’ll meet so many different people to develop relationships with through biking! There’s almost always motorcycle shows or rallies going on to visit with a group of people, all to drool over some new, shiny bikes.
There’s continuously groups that you can meet up with when utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, to just ride with strangers and get to know each other. But beyond just that, riding opens the doors to a culture that’s really hard to seek otherwise. You’ll have people who ride for the sake of practicality, people who ride because they just love their bike or people who ride because they’re in love with the culture. The amount of young riders is increasing, which means a whole new culture just waiting to be found.
And that variety of individuals is sure to open up the potential for some great, long-term friendships. As a millennial, this is one of the times in your life when you’re able to be the most spontaneous, and that’s a feeling that the motorcycle culture thrives on.
The sense of freedom:
Many of you may feel a bit surrounded by stress. You’re stressed about finding the right career path and making the most out of your professional development, stressed about what way you see your future going toward, stressed about making sure you have the right friendships and relationships in your life, and stressed about finances. Any escape from that stress, no matter how small it may seem, is a good thing, right? Well, there’s very few feelings of freedom than what a motorcycle can give you, especially as a young biker.
There really is no feeling than the one you get when you decide just to pick up and go on your bike. You might not even have a logical idea of what the destination may be, but the point is that you don’t have to have a destination in mind. You don’t have to overthink it. When life’s stresses seem to be breathing down your neck, it’s not the destination that matters, but the actual ride. It’s about feeling the wind pushing against you and seemly to offer an odd sense of security. It’s about biking out into the unknown and relishing in that idea, rather than being afraid of it. It’s about finding a road with no one else on it, riding at your own pace, surrounded by whatever beauty is around you, and knowing that your problems are much smaller than what you believed. It’s about feeling something more than just the components of your life.
And above everything else, it’s about getting away from it all, weaving down the roads, and letting that ride remind yourself that you do have control of your life. And that’s a fantastic feeling that not much else can give you.
So while millennials are somewhat justified in some of their initial thoughts and worries behind motorcycles, every concern has a logical answer as to why that concern isn’t full-proof. When you buy the right bike for you, learn as much as you can about the safety and culture, and acknowledge the benefits that it can offer you, it doesn’t seem like such a wrong decision to make any more. But when it comes to the seasoned professionals of riding, paying mindful attention of being open and helpful to millennial riders will go a long way. When these potential riders feel welcomed into the culture, we’ve already controlled one of the beasts turning away younger riders.
Helicopter parenting can ruin us. Life’s too short to be frightened or worried about things that you don’t have to be intimidated by, especially if that mindset could be preventing you from making the best purchase of your life. If we don’t accept the challenge, we won’t know if it could be the right choice. And let’s be honest, fellow millennials, if there’s one thing we aren’t afraid of, it’s adventure.
Comment down below to let us know if we’ve shaped your mindset differently! If you’re a seasoned rider, let us know if you ever had any of those initial worries, too!
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