I’ve heard a ton of people saying it, but is it really true? Are we motorcyclists really an aging population? Are we really a dying breed? Well I’ve done some research, and at the end of last year, there were 1.27 million bikes on the road in the UK. That’s more than there has been in over ten years (since 2009, actually).
I know, more bikes on the road doesn’t necessarily say a massive amount about the age of the average rider. You have to admit though, by the very nature of life itself, some of the bike owners back in 2009 will either be too old or too dead to own one now. So some of the 1.27 million today have got to be new ones. And if there are new ones, there has to be some young ones. Probably.
And not only are there more bikes on the road now, there are more people taking, and passing their test. Ok, that’s not strictly true, there are actually fewer. But you have to blame that on Covid-19. If you look at the numbers from 2018/19 (i.e. pre-covid), you’ll see 39,437 people passed their (Mod 2) bike test; that’s 6,193 more people than passed in 2009/10.
All those extra people passing their test can only be a good thing for motorcycling, and if you ask me, is certain to bring the average age of motorcycling down. Because that’s the worry with the aging population of motorcyclists, whether it’s a myth or not; the concern is that we’re a dying breed. And that soon, there will be none of us left.
But I don’t think we are, despite some of the statistics I have read. Because you have to be very careful with statistics. I recently read one that said something along the lines of ‘more than 50% of the UK’s motorcycles are owned by over 50 year olds’. The inference was that over 50% of motorcyclists were over 50 years old. But that’s nonsense really.
The reason so many of the bikes in the UK are owned by older people (usually men), is because a lot of older motorcyclists own more than one bike. Some older people have got a handful. But how many teenagers, do you know with a garage full of bikes? How many twenty-somethings? Not many, probably. But lots of them have got one, and that makes them just as much of a motorcyclist at the bloke with ten bikes; you can only ride one of them at a time.
Wherever I go, I’m seeing more and more younger people getting on bikes, and I think that’s great. I know there are some people out there that don’t like the idea of their kids riding bikes, which is a real shame, but hopefully that’s not going to slow down the trend. More bikes on the road means fewer cars, less gridlock and most importantly, more happiness. So come on kids, get yourself another paper-round and start saving for your first bike.