The Advantages of Recruiting New Riders

Tim Buche, President of the MIC, says it’s time to pay it forward.

If you ride, you probably have vivid memories of how it all started. Maybe your favorite celebrity rode, you had a sibling who owned a streetbike during your formative years, or dirt biking was a family activity. In any case, you got hooked. And during all those years you were forced to wait until you reached licensing age, you studied motorcycle magazines or gawked at new models at consumer shows.

When it came time for you to take to the street, perhaps you learned the basics by having your brother teach you on his bike in a parking lot or, better yet, availed yourself of a formal riding course. And all these years later, your life has been immeasurably enriched by being part of this wonderful “club.” Although this enriching is not monetary, you can still pay it forward. In fact, it’s vitally important that you do.

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The motorcycle market has seen its ups and downs over the decades and is currently in the midst of a rebound from the recent economic downturn. Of course, there is still competition for discretionary spending from other forms of recreation, especially among millennials who are seeking a real multi-sensory experience but might have not yet discovered the joys of riding.

The sport demands a constant influx of new riders to stay vibrant. This influx creates a better business climate for dealerships, who can then carry more bikes, parts, and accessories and hire more employees; it encourages manufacturers to invest more in research, technology, and product development; and it results in a stream of cutting-edge models, completing this loop by attracting yet more new and returning riders of all ages.

There are other advantages to growing our ridership. More motorcyclists means more like-minded individuals to ride with and more advocates for the sport. And city planners may respond with better accommodation of motorcyclists’ needs, such as motorcycle-only parking and better roadway design and maintenance.

There’s a potential safety benefit too. Drivers tend to focus on larger and more prevalent threats to the exclusion of motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. More motorcycles on the road means a greater likelihood that car drivers will learn to expect and notice motorcyclists in their midst, lessening the risk of collision.

The feeling of riding—the exhilaration, the enthusiasm, the camaraderie—is contagious. We naturally want others to share in this wonderful activity. While we don’t want to exclude anybody from our global club—diversity of ridership is a wonderful and desirable thing—we want new members to get started the right way. We want each generation to be better, safer, and more competent riders. There are risks in any activity, but motorcycling’s risks can be managed. We can improve on some embarrassing statistics: 25 percent of all crash victims are unlicensed, 36 percent had alcohol in their system, and a whopping 51 percent of current riders have never taken a formal training course.

Have you benefited from being a motorcyclist? Now it’s your turn to pay it forward by mentoring new riders into the club, particularly by modeling good riding behavior and directing them to hands-on MSF RiderCourses. Help newcomers make smart choices, not only in bike and safety gear selection but in the wisdom of riding safely and sanely. Show them how to be ambassadors for the sport—not the kind of rider motorists consider to be a nuisance. By growing motorcycling, we help ourselves in many ways. Be part of a positive future.

Tim Buche is the president and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council (mic.org).