Summertime’s in full swing, which means highways are packed with the (unofficial) vehicles of the season: motorcycles.
To help celebrate motorcycle season and our recent motorcycle insurance launch in Wisconsin, here are 5 predictions to give you an idea of the mostly realistic (and only occasionally outlandish) motorcycle trends that could be on the horizon.
1. Women will soon top 10 percent membership in the AMA.
You probably already know — given just about every pop-culture representation of motorcycling ever — that the world of motorcycles has largely always been a boys’ club.
But that could all be changing. According to CBS News, the number of female riders in the U.S. is steadily increasing. Today, roughly 1 in every 10 motorcycle owners is a woman.
Women still comprise fewer than 10 percent of the American Motorcycling Association (AMA). But with improving motorcycle technology, broadening training opportunities, and increasing encouragement to ride, there’s no reason to think women won’t wheelie their way through that chrome ceiling very soon.
2. Indian motorcycles will return to glory.
Ask someone to name the most iconic motorcycle and you hear “Harley Davidson.” But ask someone else, someone older, and you just might hear another answer: “Indian.”
For the first half of the twentieth century, Indian was the Pepsi to Harley Davidson’s Coke — the only real competition for a market giant, one that (possibly) made a superior product. Indian motorcycles were known worldwide for their engineering excellence, sporting the first-ever electric starters and 4-cylinder engines.
Then the ‘50s happened, management changed hands, bikes stopped being made, bankruptcy ensued … these things happen. But now, Indian is back! Polaris has recently acquired the famous bike line, and behind the luster of the brand-new Thunder Stroke 111 engine (a bit bigger than Harley’s top motor, of course), they plan to make a splash. With its nostalgic appeal and 115 lb-ft of torque, I believe the new Indian will make a smooth arrival.
3. Your kids will learn to ride from your parents.
Motorcycling used to be a young person’s game. But from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, we saw a major shift in demographic-based motorcycle trends. The average age of motorcycle owners went from 27 to 41, and the percentage of riders over the age of 50 skyrocketed from 8 percent to 25 percent!
So, while you probably had high hopes for teaching your own kids how to ride their first chopper once they got old enough, it appears it’s going to be your parents — James Dean-style coif firmly Brylcreemed into place, aviator shades bifocaled for safety — who will have first dibs.
4. You’re about to enter a period of great prosperity.
To answer your question, yes, this is the time when I jump from measured, logical predictions on motorcycle trends to straight-up imitations of the last fortune cookie I opened. But it feels kinda good, right?
According to Popular Mechanics, the engine size on a new line of bikes may be an indicator of how strong a motorcycle company feels the market is. More moderate bikes might indicate a slowed economy, while powerful, excessive models might signal a financial boom.
Needless to say, if you buy into this vague, yet beautifully unproven theory, then the recent release of Honda’s sporty 471cc trio can only mean one thing: cash out your 401k for those cheekbone implants you’ve always wanted!* You’ve got money to burn, baby!**
*Don’t ever do this.
**No, you don’t.
5. Baggers will reign supreme (and the family road trip will go extinct).
Perhaps no style of motorcycle is hotter right now than baggers. Baggers are large, cruiser bikes that come from the factory with saddlebags installed. They’ve been a huge success because of their convenience (giving bikers unprecedented storage space) and adaptability (riders can customize saddlebags to fit their personality).
As for the second half of this prediction … well … who can resist trading in the family SUV for a much more fuel-efficient bagger? The chance to save money AND deafen your child’s cries of “Are we there yet?” with blistering 70-mph winds is too tough to pass up. I give it about 10 years before we’re all kick-starting our way to Grandma’s house.