Why do novice riders stop riding?

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If the ailing motorcycle industry around the world can answer the simple question of why do novice motorcycle riders stop riding, they might be able to salvage the industry.

There is no doubt that the motorcycle industry has hit the wall. Sales in Australia were down 9.3% across the board in 2017 while road bikes were down a massive 15.9%.

It’s a similar story in the US, while UK is down a whopping 18.5%.

A recent group of US motorcycle industry experts aptly titled “Give a Shift” says young people, women and ethnic communities are not being actively attracted to motorcycling.

The group blamed “big-bike snobs” and motorcycle companies that don’t make the right bikes at the right price.

The American group says the motorcycle industry and riders have to encourage new riders to get involved.

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However, a look at the statistics of licences and registrations in Australia tells a different story.

We sought stats from all sates, but only received replies from a few and they all had different methods of compiling figures.

What is evident from the stats provided is that we don’t have a problem attracting novice riders.

Learner numbers are increasing rapidly. The problem is they are not persisting with motorcycling.

For example, in NSW the drop-off rate from learner to P2 is a very worrying 63%.

Yes, more and more people are riding motorcycles, but Queensland also shows a similar drop-off trend.

In the 10 years to last year, learner numbers increased 41%, but open-licence riders increased only 12%.

And here is another interesting statistic; there are many more licensed riders out there than there are bikes.

In Queensland there are 690,654 licensed riders, but only 207,138 registered bikes.

Of course, there are a lot of off-road bikes that aren’t registered, but often those riders also don’t have a road licence.

And don’t forget some riders own several bikes, so it means there are even fewer licensed riders who continue to ride.

It seems strange to most of us passionate riders that anyone could experience motorcycling and not have it in their lives forever.

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So what are the problems?

  • Is the graduate licensing process too drawn out and expensive?
  • While there are many great learner bikes now on the market is there a lack of midsize bikes to step up to when they graduate to a full licence?
  • Are novice riders intimidated by the biker culture?
  • Are young people getting married, settling down and eschewing whimsical pastimes like riding?
  • Do young riders simply not have the time for such indulgent pastimes?
  • Are their fantasies of being the next Rossi, Dakar legend or outlaw bikie shattered by reality?
  • Have they found it is not quite the economic advantage they were led to believe with a lack of parking, free tolls, etc?

We don’t have the answers.

So we are asking you why new riders are giving the pastime away. Please leave your comments below.

73 Comments

  1. Part of it is also societal, that is we almost have a fatherless society my neighbors dad rode bikes, 2 of his boys ride bikes
    My dad rode bikes back in the day a BSA if I rember right then he got a company car.
    I ride motor bikes and I think it’s safe to say at least 1 of my boys will when they are old enuf

  2. Other reasons may include the difficulty in passing the Advanced RiderSafe Skills Assessment when you’re a mature novice who suffers from exam nerves. That, coupled with the cost of the Basic & Advanced Courses; the cost of the bike and proper safety clothing; the time commitment involved in practising everyday in order to perfect the slow speed skills in various car parks, only to fail multiple times at the assessment due to exam wobbles, could be enough to make novice riders become completely “over it”.

    If there was another method of proving competency, confidence, slow-riding ability, and safety in operating a motorcycle or motor scooter, besides the “Skills Assessment”, then perhaps more mature novices might be able & willing to continue riding.

  3. i was the open licensed rider for a younger family member and after they graduated to a larger cc bike i thought all was gling well and was quite surprised when told the bike was on the market but not so suprised when told the reasons from dealing with bad drivers to contend with, texting drivets not watching the road, bad road surfaces which all take away the excitement of riding.
    In reply to some commentets who say high seat heights are an issue…not do sure on that one as I am 5’1″ and ride a Bonneville and elswhere on this site is an article about the lowest seat heights. i scrolled for ages, down the long list of bikes, expecting the Triumph Bonneville to be in the top 10 lowest seat heights….maybe top 20?
    It was/is way way down the list amongst the mid-seat to high seat heights….but what really amazed me is just hiw many bikes have a much lower seat height than mine…mainly HD, Verago and Shadows.
    I feel it is a combination of things such as being out amongst drivers who just do not care about other road users and knowing many drivers are either drunk, on drugs or on their phones. For a new rider trying to master the art, navigate our crap roads, watch their speedo lest they go 1k above the limit and avoid potholes, animals, bird strikes, kids and the unexpected – it is just too much.
    Then they see posts online about a motorcyle crash, or watch bike crashes on u tube perhaps involving an experienced rider and they decide its not for them.
    There is one thing that could help…educate drivers when they go for their car license about those they shate the road with and the limitations of vehicles othervthan cars such as the braking distance if large trucks, their blind spots and the braking limitations if motorcycles in adverse conditions like wet weather. Most drivers who have no motorcycle experience have no idea white lines tar-snakes and railway tracks are slippery, manholes and potholes are bad news and cornering the wet takes skill and a slower approach but car drivers arent aware and therefore give no thought to the rider in front, behind or beside them. New riders are churning over in their mind information from their course day rides, tips from other riders and what they have read and trying to apply it while riding and maybe, for some it is mentally exhausting and not pleasurable?
    Even More adds on TV would help…esp that lane filtering is legal but of course the government wont because they have demonised motorbike riders with the Anti-Bikie laws so they can not then turn around and preach to drivers to be aware and respect the motorcyclist.

    1. Great comments – thankyou. It made me think about my own experience and I realise I had to push through all those things you talk about. The love of riding was just so great nothing was going to stop me. I think that’s the key here: if you give it up it was never right for you. It’s a pastime for “diehards”. You can’t dabble in it. If you do it will inevitably bite you.

  4. As a rider from an ethnic background I can provide a simple answer that covers all the groups mentioned in the study. ie. why “young people, women and ethnic communities are not being actively attracted to motorcycling.” Its seat height.

    Imagine you are a young rider approximately 5 foot tall and weigh under 55kg. You’ve completed your Learners license and looking to buy your dream sports motorcycle. Which of the giant slaying bikes will fit your body frame? None!

    eg. Yamaha R6 has a seat heat of 33.5 inches. Target rider approximately 6 foot tall and rider weight 80kg.

    Shopping for a new bike is already frustrating for us. Its worse when you have no idea about bike models, have no research and having to deal with sales people who continually question your finances, youthful appearance, sincerity to buy. Then you finally get past the salesperson and select your first motorcycle to test ride, find its not suitable and sale person instinctively blames the rider instead of the motorcycle for the unsuitable match. Buyer walks away hating the new bike motorcycle buying experience.

    Compare that you a new car buying experience where every car will fit any person. You can be tall, short, skinny, fat. You can be in your first BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, etc which you saw advertised.

  5. My wife and I share a scooter – used for short rides in surrounding suburbs or a quick run for some groceries. We both take a train to the office and back (working in different locations with different working hours).

    A bike is not materially faster transport than a train with minimal savings if you factor in maintenance, financing and consumables for our situation.

    My wife did her Ls last year and was very keen on learning to ride until she realised how aggressive road users are (including other riders). She went on to get her Ps but now refuses to ride on public roads.

    So I’m thinking of switching to a few dirt bikes for us to pack onto a trailer and enjoy the great open outdoors where there’s no rush to get from A to B. Unless you’re hungry!!!

  6. I am the wife of a serious motorcyclist who has been riding all his life. Just before my 50th birthday I started the Qride course and continued with a one-on-one instructor to get a license. It took about a year altogether, and every second weekend I dropped my bike. The MC Guru husband got me a great learners bike, a Honda 400 super four (“those 250 cc bikes are dangerous, you will have a better one”) and he maticulously altered everything possible to make the seat low enough for me. Yet I still could not get my feet flat on the ground when I stopped. At 5 foot tall and weighing 52 kgs, I could barely turn it around in our garage, let alone manourvre it in the local shopping centes, Brisbane has lots of hills. There is no such thing as a flat road or a flat car park.

    The last straw was about a year after I got my license when I was finally getting confident riding around the country near our suburb. It wasn’t a car driver that scarred the bejeebers out of me, but a motorcycle-wheel sized dibbet in the recently-poured bitumen of a country road. My front wheel shot off at a 45 degree angle as I was accelerating up a hill from having pulled out from an intersection just before. I went into the barbed wire fence and came very close to garotting myself. Witnesses said I was travelling at about 25kph.

    I am perfectly happy to return to my pillion position behind a very competent rider. We have a comfy custom seat on his classic road bike and I drive my air conditioned sedan to work each day. I dont waste money repairing the car every second week.

    The price of riding gear is ridiculous.

  7. The key aspect of why people choose motorcycles is usually enjoyment. The economics of commuting are best with small bikes and scooters. I came across a 1978 AA UK report that sailed exactly that yesterday and it’s the same in Australian studies that look at choices today. The availability of parking is critical for commuting and even in Melbourne takes regular lobbying to keep alive. I’m struck by the resistance of MUARC etc to head up displays to reduce as one person here called pigeon neck (, yes I offered to do a fully tubers study with MUARC with the usual turndown of course-one must seriously question their criteria!)
    Novel ce riders must go ti us to get either of both economic/time gains or simple enjoyment to do to us riding. Otherwise riding and motorcycle ownership tends to stop

  8. Lack of industry support.
    Most learners stop riding when the kids arrive, Sunday riders sell the bike as soon as things get tight.
    Bikes are my usual transport, commuting & weekend fun. I’ve owned 11 bikes in 13 years, dealers have done well out of me especially when you add in servicing & gear.

    Everyday motorcycling is getting harder though. Inconvenient, no good parks, costs for rego & tolls are going up. People I work with don’t see motorcycle commuting as any more convenient or cheaper so they’re not interested in starting, & several have stopped riding to work. Sometimes I wonder myself.

    1. When the propaganda is at an all time high against Motorcycles in Germany one does not actually have to wonder why fewer people are riding. First off, Incorrect headlines which love to imply the motorcyclist as being the rowdy, not matter what happens. FE writing that a Hollywood star Crashed is 100 some odd HP Bike. Indeed he did, at 0 MPH at a stop sign. A car hit a motorcycle while overtaking a truck. The headline was Motorcycle speeds into car. All over Germany people are getting away with the complaint that all Motorcycles create too much noise and the streets are being closed only to motorcycles in a discriminant manner. With trolls in the forums the community is being split up. Besides that the Parking situation is outlawing Motorcycles and discriminating them in Bavarian Cities. Giving them Parking Citations while Scooters, Vespas, and Bicycles are being allowed to fill up Motorcycle Parking areas, the Authorities such as in Regensburg do nothing about it. However when there is no Parking space left over for a motorcycle they will be more than happy to slap you with a 15€ or 20€ Parking ticket. Going on with the discrimination against Motorcycle riders another idiotic Tire law has been passed discriminating against Adventure Motorcycle riders. No more knobbies are allowed on the bikes. Going on the newspapers love to report about the aggressive off road riders who illegally ride on forest trails. Why? They are forced to because only the fewest trails are not privately owned and the owners are scared that they will be held responsible if something happens, or because it is in a Natural Reserve, and besides that what is a dirty motorcycle doing in our Green Nature. Because thees anti Groups scream louder than all pro Motorcycle groups it is no wonder why we have no lobby. As Motorcycles are not registered by the sensors of the Automated cars, It would be far better that they are off of the road. Make no mistake that the politicians in all countries are looking to get the motorcycles off of the road in the next twenty years. Electrical Bikes are to replace the motorcycle, and even those will no longer be driven by the rider, but by some computer. Besides that the law considers motorcycles as hobby vehicles, and not as regular methods of transportation. Besides that you can not text, FB, etc on a bike, while in cars you can. Not legally, but no one really cares about that. Besides there is an illusion that you can not transport anything on a bike, because you do not have a trunk. Not just that it is too cold, too wet, and too dangerous. As to the new riders who actually squired their license, just look at the fraction of women. The bikes are too big. Shorter women have great big problems with the motorcycles being produced these days. Against all manufacturers willing to realize it, the seats are either to high, or when you find a low one the seat is too wide. My girlfriend was to get the big license, but after her Drivers ed Teacher put her on a CBR 1000 and she toppled at traffic lights, she decided to get the little license on a soft chopper. She does not wish to ride on a soft chopper. So she stopped riding after achieving her license. She is scared to try out a bike or two because she is scared that something might happen if she does not get her feet down properly. Yes there are women who are 5 ft. nothing and ride, like Jocelin Snow who ride bikes which are actually too big for their size. These are exceptional riders who have been riding for a while. Starting at 50+ there is a little bit of reservation. Besides that look at the community. Sorry folks, but when i read in a forum that someone is proud that they hit 40,000 km with their bike and they get dissed by riders, because they ride that in a year, and have been for twenty or more years, is it a wonder why folks are not enthusiastic? Oh I almost forgot. In Germany MC Colors have been outlawed. No matter what MC. They are the big bad outlaw gangsters, who only sell drugs fight and shoot people. (At least that is what the public thinks, because that is what the papers say. MC = Rockers= Mobsters or worse.) So please tell me again that in a country which has 4.9 Million Motorcycles registered which is 10% of the population between 18 and 65 Is so emphatically against motorcycle riders? Did I forget to mention it is just outright PC to be against the big bad biker. Car drivers in Forums find it is acceptable to hit the brakes for no reason when a Motorcyclist is behind you. It is acceptable to run the motorcycle out of the lane, on the Autobahn, and last but not least was suggested in a tuner forum that one should always turn on their windshield washers when a motorcycle is behind you. Although illegal, it is acceptable to park and block in the motorcycles at the local mall if you are only going to the postal office. Fact is that with all of the daily Chicanery most Automobile drivers would react absolutely aggressive if you would treat them the same way, and there is a big percentile of automobile drivers who do react aggressively against motorcycle drivers. With all of these things happening, not only in Germany which has a big motorcycle percentage, is it a wonder why the number of riders is going down? I love to ride, and no matter what or where as long as I get my leg over the seat, I will ride. No matter what the weather is, no matter how much stigma is against the riders, I will ride. Why? This is the last little bit of freedom which big brother allows us, and I will not let that be taken away from me. Keep your heads up and your wheels down, and never stop riding. Rolf

  9. Bureaucratic harrassment
    designed to make everyday motorcycle transport unsafe/inconvenient.

    PARKING
    Brisbane City Council is trying to push motorcycles out of the city, you can’t get a bike park during the week.

    Royal Brisbane Hospital forces bikes to park in the sun
    (safety hazard – corrodes brake systems, lights, plastic controls, plus theft hazard)
    when heaps of safe, convenient bike parking available.
    Hospitals shouldn’t create hazards.

    All buildings in city have basement car parking for tenants. Anyone working in that building should be able to park a motorcycle there for free.

    BCC & RBH have major, unsolvable car parking problems.
    Brisbane City is an unsolvable traffic problem.
    Motorcycle transport is an easy, cost-free way to reduce it.

    ROAD RULES
    Filtering
    Qld upped the penalties for filtering

    Speed limits.
    Bikes should be allowed 20kph above car speed limits.
    Well-known that slowing bikes down so they are forced to mix with cars is dangerous.

    Don’t ask Don’t get.

  10. Might be due to the fact that they, like, can’t check Facebook or Snapchat on a bike very easy.
    And like, replying to SMS and emails is just like so hard like on a bike, I know right?
    They like, cant pick their mates up on a bike right, and it is just so hard to take a chick home with only one helmet. (yes two but I don’t have a dirty mind).
    Ha, that reminds me, I did once pick up a sheila many years ago and tried to take her home. Unfortunately, she said she was on her menstrual cycle and could not go. I promptly said, “that’s ok, I’m on my honda so I can race you”!
    But seriously, here is me thinking that the reason people ride is for the pure enjoyment and freedom it gives us.
    Leave your troubles behind and experience a week away with the mates a couple of times a year to regain some sanity in this mixed up world.
    My ride to work and back was a bonus ride.
    Nothing inconvenient about Riding, that is why we do it. (except the heat, I hate the heat).
    A bit of a contemptuous reply I know but that is the freedom of speech in this country. As is the freedom to ride in this country. Some newbies just don’t get it.

  11. For me, it has been the fact that it wasn’t the economical advantage I had hoped. I currently own and ride a bike, but I have had significant gaps where I have needed to sell my bike for financial reasons, as it is too indulgent to have both a car and bike; or I have put on weight so couldn’t fit my gear and couldn’t justify buying more. Its everything about riding that is expensive, the bike itself, registration, the gear (you need to have a set of gear for all weather occasions, and riding types – i.e casual ride versus full leathers )…you don’t even get free tolls anymore, and the advantage of parking anywhere seems to be getting taken away from us. But one of the other obstacles I find – is non rider attitudes towards riders, I think the general public seem to have a negative attitude towards motorcyclists, which I have to be inflicted with at any social occasion I go to…it gets exhausting having to always justify why I ride, and it makes me concerned about being exposed to aggressive behaviour on the road where I am more vulnerable. I wish TAC or Vic roads, or whichever government organisation is responsible for this, would take more time to educate non riders how motorcyclists actually benefit them by filtering and parking on footpaths etc. Riders should also be better educated to not be so aggressive also, as that doesn’t help the cause.

    1. Jill, I am sorry to hear of your experience. My experience as a tour guide in New Zealand has been pretty much the exact opposite. We have many women riders on tours, and people from all walks of life. From Judges and pilots, NASA scientists to garbage collectors, and even royalty. The King of Jordan and his entourage have toured New Zealand by motorcycle. So any member of the public approaching a motorcyclist never knows the background of the rider. He or she could be royalty. The general public that we meet all the time are usually fascinated by the idea of motorcycle touring. I can relate many stories along those lines.

      As for having to justify why you ride. The answer is always; If I have to explain, you will not understand..”

      1. Thanks Peter. I guess those who are attracted to travel NZ would be naturally more adventurous! I do need to establish a good topic stopping one liner!

    2. Unfortunately Jill the powers to be don’t want us to ride. They see us as a cost to the general taxpayer and thats the reason things are not made easy for us.

      Your 100% correct that motorcycle ownership isn’t a cheap alternative form of transport especially when one does a lot of Km’s each year, however I wouldnt give it up for quids.

      I gave up long ago trying to explain to non riders the joy of motorcycling and only mingle with like minded people as a non rider will never get it.

      Jill don’t give away your passion for riding as we only get one very short shot in this world so enjoy what you do and don’t be discouraged.

  12. Mark,
    It seems that if the motorcycle industry (manufacturers and retailers) want a viable industry, they need to spend more on marketing and look at targeting their marketing at gaining market share. Currently the adds (only in bike magazines – haven’t seen one in news media in decades), seem to focus on established riders.

    The industry then needs to foster and sponsor rider training to keep the novices going. I’ve participated in two rider training courses (one locally and one at St Ives in Sydney) and they were brilliant for building up my confidence, but they were not cheap.

    You never stop learning. I was quite cautious when I got my L’s at 54, because as a member of the RFS having attended a few MVA’s (Motor Vehicle Accidents) I knew the consequences. Certainly, didn’t help my nerves when I dropped my brand new Ninja 650 at an intersection when I stopped on my way home form the dealership. (Got oggies after that).

    I used my nervousness to focus on my learning and practicing of skills where I rode the back streets and local roads for 2 months, practicing turning, corners, stops etc., before I ventured out with friends who took me on a 250km country ride.

    Every day I rode I couldn’t wait to get back on, but it was my determination that drove me (no pun intended) to get back on my bike and be better.

    I May have progressed faster if there were clubs or industry sponsored groups who focused on learners and helped others get beyond those first few nervous experiences.
    My partner wants to ride and I’m keen for her to join me, but know that she will need experienced help and my encouragement and it would be so much better if the industry focused on building their market and focused on building on novices to experienced riders.

    The focus for learners and novices should be akin to collision avoidance and advanced driver courses (I’ve done those as well) that teach you what to look for and how to set yourself up to be safer and avoid potential accidents and drum into you the 3 second rule!

    Industry needs to participate in this training and making them more affordable and available (not once a year 600km away) will help.
    Personally I’d love to see 30% of the population on motorbikes as they commute to work, go out to visit friends and just out on a weekend. But until the industry gets off its collective butts and sponsors rider training, education and awareness and then markets the joy of motorcycling (or the Zen) this is just a dream.

    At the very least the industry can lobby governments to make it legal to actually use bus lanes in every state, allow parking on footpaths (i.e. Melbourne) and get more bike parking into the cities.
    Its a bit hard expecting people to stay committed to riding when $$ do matter and no point riding to work if you have no where to park or have to pay for parking and worse if two bikes have to pay the full amount for that one car spot!

    1. How about the bike industry pull its head out and open dealerships on Sundays? That would make them much more accessible, as well as creating more jobs.

  13. Riding a bike takes ore skill and more roadcraft than a car so hence more effort. Therefore some people dont want to do that and do not feel any achievement in continually mastering that art.
    I dont dig the HD set but Harleys were marketed way back by having clubs and social events , I think many riders feel isolated and alone and therefore give up .Riding is for most a secondary event from their daily activities and while there are many clubs the many I have looked at never seem to suit me , so may be those whom fret over motorcycle popularity need to look at developing more social interactive facilities.
    When I was 63 I bought a 250Hyosung and began riding after a break of 45 years I now have as well anF3 675 and am lucky enough to have a 130km ride daily to work (round trip) and I became 18 again . But taking the GF is not always what she wants when you are 18 so I can see why other things get in the way . If the government would legislate I would probably marry my bike , but when I was 20 I found two legs was better than two wheels.

  14. Novice riders ????? What is a novice rider anyway ? We are always learning, To me though a novice rider is someone who hasn’t experienced ,near death experiences and survived’ Some decided that it is just too dangerous ( and it is ) and never ride again, The place to learn ot ride a bike is NOT on the road, The courses are no where near as detailed as they should be , It should be compulsory to complete accredited ;real; training courses, around a small track for at least a full day ( these courses exist) , Learning how to enter exit corners etc and off course emergency brake, What happens in real life is that the guy on the big bike tells the guy on the little bike how to ride,,(Even assuming that he knows there is no real training) ,I think that returned riders are certainly at risk I think that it would be almost impossible or someone over 50 to ride for the first time and pick up the idea,I think that most riders rode in their 20;s and at least know how a bike works, Education teh Qld Govt treat us like crap, all our regos,,they should be educating drivers about bikes our poor visibility filtering , giving us space on the road, They shoud be penalised for not giving us a metre each side of the white line on double roads so we can crawl through without restriction, They should be made to see that riding a bike is an advantage in traffic, maybe they might buy a bike as well.. In Qld we lose 3 poits for incorrect filtering/ splitting,, The motorists should also lose 3 points for not allowing us to do this ,Back to novices , if the public was more aware of bikes the roads wouldn’t be so dangerous and maybe with extra professional training novices wouldn’t get into as much trouble , Learning to ride takes a lot of practice, patience , dedication and some stupidity ! Getting a license should be a longer process,to increase road awareness,, Also groups tend not to cater for novices so they end up riding beyond their capabilities, get a fright and never ride again , Some people just CANT ride and shouldn’t be ion the road Time for support from all sides, trainers, even accredited buddies (for a point of referral perhaps) not a fully licenced trainer but someone who has been trained to give advice, (volunteer role maybe on the road) Education to both riders and motorists,,, A gradual build up of general respect for bike riders, most of who are great everyday people,,

  15. The novice evolves into either a commuter, or a recreational rider. The first takes the cost of their transport seriously, while the rec- rider incorporates the expense as part of their lifestyle. So the commuters come and go; the recrrators often get older, and they too leave the open road. The cost of CTP for 1000cc+ and high-grade petrol adversely affects many motorcycle owners.
    The (over) diligence of law enforcement in relation to momentary acceleration, a nice-note muffler, or a bit of just-too-much-fun on the open road has become a real cause for concern for the long-term experienced rider. Checking behind bushes and constant speedo checks to avoid those costly Demerits can really take the fun out of recreation. A pleasant social coffee and BS sharing often becomes info giving and gathering of where IS the HWP (?).
    There are probably as many reasons as there are motorbike choices for the decline in licence holders. But there seems to be a big age gap of the newly married/young parents staying on the risky roads. But then maybe that ‘risk’ is what keeps the others there

  16. Been riding over 900cc and currently 1250CC road sports tourers since not long after Color TV came to Au.
    What scares me now when going for a ride is the drivers using Mobiles phones, talking calls, texting or using the google map App whilst driving. The drivers using their Bluetooth devices and suction cap tiny Nav units on the windscreen.
    Its scares me now at the lack of attention and respect on the road and plays on my mind when I ride. and I’m 59.
    Maybe Novice riders see this too.
    We never used to get road rage for lane filtering in days gone by, now you do.

    1. Totally agree Garry, I’m 65 and have been riding since 17. I have never before felt so vulnerable on the road. And it is all because of the lack of attention of modern drivers too busy on the phone. Try as we might to minimize the risk involved in our rides, the danger to us from inattentive drives is beyond our control. I am thinking of selling the bike.

  17. Mark, a late response and after 44 years of riding I don’t feel qualified to speak on behalf of the young but I hope that the industry is doing some empirical research on the issue (eg the US “Give a Shift” research). I do think it’s multi faceted, and many valid comments have been made, however I’d suspect other significant contributers are the relative cheapness of good cars, the paucity of simple, cheap but stylish “fun” bikes (note the demographic of the current cafe racer/brat/tracker movement) and alternative online attractions to provide “excitement”. I really hope it can be turned around.

  18. I’m a mature rider and commute 5 days /week all year round. 15 months just coming off my P plates.
    Before this I bicycle commuted: the best preparation and hardening up for moto I can think of.
    I’m going to just call people getting soft, risk averse, increase perceived threats.
    From a selfish perspective it means I get to choose some great cheap low km newish bikes.

  19. The low Apprentice wage Youth market that was the backbone of Motorcycling via dirt bikes then graduating to road bikes is one issue. There is nowhere to legally ride a dirt bike in Suburbia like the old days.
    Council Rangers and Police have the creek beds and bushland covered; with Neighbours ever ready to dob in the trail bike kid having a spin after school or work.
    Every youngster wants a 4WD for the weekend pleasure outing as per the TV ads. No trailbike will be found in the back. I only see the Honda, Yam, Suzuki TV ad’s appear during Moto GP or when a Supersport round is on SBS.
    Talk about preaching to the converted, and that’s the problem, all the ad money is spent on old existing Motorcyclists.

    I got my first bike, a Suzuki TS125 in 1974. The 4 inch square weekly newspaper ad from Mayfair’s Suzuki in the bottom right hand corner suggesting riding a bike to work was better option than waiting at the bus stop did it for me.
    With the Youth market of 20 – 30, a lot have no desire for car ownership either. Their new take on wheels is Cycling in Lycia parks. Safe as houses, Publicly ‘clean and respectable’, and ‘Healthy’. Boy and Girl riding with the friends and all is great with the world.
    What Mum would want their Son to be a leather clad Motorcyclist and have to wait for the Police phone call that her Son is now dead? Mums Fear is very powerful.

    As others said earlier, P plate licences have only 4 points and we all know that a point or 3 is very easily lost on a bike. Lose all 4 in the one episode for 6 months for giving it the berries, and why not sell the bike to cut the losses from the $$$ fine. Q.E.D.

  20. The rigmarole and cost of pre-learners courses, then learners courses, puts people off. It used to be easy, i.e. get a learners permit, ride enough to get your licence, then ride, ride, ride, and get experience on the bike. No-one has the time to do all the courses now and the cost is prohibited.

  21. At age of 48 and fairly new to riding on the road (dirt bikes most of my life? Its just not worth the risk of getting killed or worse, lose a leg or similar…..I lasted 2 years, thankfully I come out unscathed

    Dazz

  22. I’ll give you my perspective as a 57 year old novice. Yep, didn’t get my LAMS licence until 57 (having never ridden bikes in my life) and am now just shy of my first 12 months in the saddle. I’m about to go for my full licence in a month. Have I been tempted to give it away? No. I love it like you wouldn’t believe. BUT I have been shocked at the amount of work involved to become a good rider. In the 11 months I’ve had my licence I’ve clocked up 20,000km. And that’s mostly just town. I go out pretty much every day and every day I also practice my slow speed manoeuvres and emergency stops. I’m learning, learning, learning. It’s a huge commitment BUT I LOVE IT. And that I think is the difference. It either grabs you or it doesn’t. It either scares you or it thrills you. There doesn’t seem to be much in between from what I can see. If novices give up, perhaps it’s for the best. It might their subconscious telling them it isn’t for them. My 2c anyway…

    1. Ditto Grayden, I’ve only been in the saddle for 5yrs and I’m now 55 and have just covered shy of 100,000km and I can’t imagine not riding.

      Like you I just LOVE it

    1. I partially agree with Matt Johnston.
      The authorities have always been against motorcyclists and it is difficult not to feel victimised.
      I’m 62 and the constant speedo-gazing and pidgeon-necking I feel I have to do to try to avoid being pulled over is wearing thin.
      I believe rider training should be much more comprehensive (not to mention driving training) as a way of keeping accidents to a minimum. Constant policing of seasoned, experienced riders who may exceed the speed limits to get out of the way of erratic drivers, or even just changing up a gear (as happened to me recently) can be very disheartening.

  23. I think time has a lot to do with it. Young couples are that busy workng to pay their home loans that they just dont find the time for their riding. You only have to look at how many bikes that are for sale have minimal klm’s on them. Many bikes that I see for sale are a couple of years old but only have low milage and I think that new riders buy bikes with the intantion of riding on weekends but never find the time and end up selling their bike because they rarely ride them.

  24. Hi Mark,
    I must be the exception to the rule, I learnt to ride at 54!. I bought a cheap second hand GPX250 (93,000km on the clock (and its now almost at 99,500!) paid $600 to fix it up (had been dropped) and registered. I did some of the work myself (cosmetic) and rode it for my final tests.
    After a couple of months as a learner I braved it to by a Ninja 650 Lams and I loved it I still have it on my full licence. It has enough power and I can tour if I want. In fact over Xmas I did about tours (on my own) around Yass region and had a blast just riding! And no I didn’t speed – there is no need its about the journey – not getting somewhere DEAD on time.

    What am I getting at – there seems to be a few themes above I’d like to address:

    Price was a factor sure – GPX cost me very little and I can sell it for pretty much what its cost me – maybe few $$ less but hey $200 or so wont kill me and over 3 years its nothing. The Ninja was on special (previous year model) and I paid just of $10,000 fully registered with panniers.

    Storage – If that’s your concern buy Panniers that you can lock. I go to the shops and have room to lock up my helmet and jacket. Then there’s space for the groceries. Sure you aren’t going to go to Bunning’s and do all your reno shoppig with your bike, its a bike not a bloody taxi or truck!

    Heat (and Cold or rain) – Buy good gear. I have three jackets. One leather for Autumn and Spring, one mesh for summer and one full jacket for winter. Oh I live in Canberra and yes I ride in winter even when its well below Zero (-5 for those that need to know). Paid for heated grips installed by a local motorcycle shop in Yass. Yes rain is a pain but I purchased a decent set of pants and rain jacket at the local Work gear shop – they work! (Getting back to price again)
    Don’t tell me that’s excessive how many people have summer and winter clothes – bike is no different.

    Traffic and Intimidation – Sure there is traffic and having ridden in Sydney form Cronulla to Palm beach Canberra traffic is simple, but it wasn’t scary or dangerous. Give yourself 3 seconds gap and you have room to see and judge the idiots. Canberra has the worse drivers by far (I’ve driven in all states and plenty of overseas locations) and I found wearing a flouro jacket gets me seen better. Oh and Police even give me a thumbs up or wave when I ride past (Yep even NSW Highway patrol have).

    Never experienced intimidation form other riders just waves and thumbs up. A good friend I ride with (when I can) has taught me to ride my own ride and appreciate the freedom. Expect the unexpected and Might is right – if its bigger than you it can kill you so slow down and give way (even if your in the right). Again Better of Safe than DEAD on time.

    I appreciate my rides hate missing out on riding (and I ride most days to work) don’t have to pay for parking and find my driving has improved outa sight.

    SO I guess it s just the marketing of how good and fun Bikes can be that is the key.

  25. What is interesting is the increase in numbers pf people taking organised motorcycle tours. New tour companies are popping up and the long established ones are doing record business. And its not cheap, a two week foreign tour for two people can easily cost $A15000 or more. But still they come – in droves. And from literally all over the world. The internet has opened this door.
    But most are over 40, very few younger riders.
    I think many would agree that interest and pride in driving/riding well, has dropped dramatically in recent years. I suspect that many kids now grow up with electronic distractions, and motorcycles just don’t come on to their radar.

  26. I have been riding for around 10 years with a club after returning to riding at the age of 50. In the past year I have been seriously considering quitting riding mainly due to the amount of Sydney traffic which can be quite draining before and after a medium or longer day ride (mid-week) particularly on a hot day. The only thing preventing me doing so is my strong level of attachment to the group I ride with. I would very much miss the comraderee on overnight and extended rides.
    One other factor is that while I feel I am a highly competent rider, there is always that thought in the back of my mind that my luck is not going to last forever especially with the increasing number of morons on the road.

  27. REASONS WHY PEOPLE GIVE UP ON MOTORCYCLES :
    1. The industry is full of price gouging arseholes
    2. The cost of ownership is equal to or more than a car (service/parts etc..)
    3. Rego and insurance is not much lower
    4. Motorcycles are generally impractical (try doing your weekly shop)
    5. Motorcycle in Australia are recreational toys and when people find it hard to make ends meet the bike goes first.

  28. I think people just give up. They get one bad scare and think. Stuff this. Also you can be a bad driver in a car and stumble through life having minor bingles and accidents. If you do that on a bike. It hurts.

  29. A big problem for many women especially is juggling young children with going out riding, can’t and wouldn’t take small peoples on road bikes!

  30. Hi Mark. Good question. The problem, in my view, is one of commitment. Riding requires commitment to enjoy the reward. However, society has been largely deluded into valuing commitment only in relation to wealth and status. The young (and increasingly older people) are resistant to commitment disconnected from wealth and status. That, in my view, is the problem with the essence of modern society. Not much joy for hope for increasing commitment to Motorcycling.

  31. I am a late bloomer My health will be the only thing that stops me now. Road conditions don’t bother me. I ride to the conditions! Adventure is the key. I have friends who ride but if I didn’t I’d still ride. Bloody amazing thing to do. Keeps ya young. Keeps ya alive.

  32. There are many reasons why novices stop riding, but reality catches up with them all in most of those circumstances. Motorycycling at the end of the day isn’t a rational decision. A car can stop rain hitting you, will not fall over, is able to put stuff inside it, and it can ferry people around. Those who have stopped come to this realisation.

    The only way to keep novice riders is to at least make it attractive as an alternative to cars or public transport, not just as mere luxury items. Also start introducing at an early age, once hooked they’ll want to experience the more unrestricted bikes. I do think the new additional off-road learner permit testing stuff is ridiculous, as the Q-Ride RE course did all of that anyway, but each to their own.

  33. All of the above comments are really valid. From another perspective, as a mature rider I am more into commuting, occasionally touring or coffees with mates. The issue I had was finding a mid priced motorcycle that would allow me to ride two up with my wife and do the occasional multi day tour with mates. The big issue we had was a motorcycle with a suitable size pillion seat for the “more mature ” pillion. Most were far to small and uncomfortable for anyone but a late teen size.
    Motorcycle that had a near suitable pillion seat were in the luxury or limousine ( BMW, Goldwing, Victory) range and way outside my price range. Maybe manufacturers need to go back to smaller size tourers like Yamaha’s XJ range and the British 60’s & 70’s machines.

      1. I’m with you on thoes ridiculous pillion seats, not only are they too small, but they also stick you up high. Makes for a high centre of gravity and you have to climb up onto the seat. It’s styling over functionality.

  34. In my case it was discovering the ladies…. I could only afford one mode of transport and the girls wanted four wheels and a roof..
    I got better…

  35. I have known a couple of younger people who have excitedly shared with me their stories of finally getting their bike licence and proudly talking about their new ride. I have always enthusiastically offered my company whenever they want to go out, promising short rides, long rides, twisty rides (like most of us I have routes for all occasions), discussed gear with them, spoken about the bikes available and tried to give some tips where I can. It seems to always end the same way. For the first few months of their licence they talk about building up some experience then we will head out for a ride. First weekend with the bike they tell me about the “long” ride they took. The next week they go on a shorter ride which “was a blast”. But then they miss a week as they didn’t really have much time “but definitely keen to get out”. The following weeks they get out every now and then, but “other stuff is coming up”. Eventually they haven’t ridden for a month “but will get back in to it”. Another month, and they got out once for a quick trip but just don’t have the time.
    As much as it pains me to see it, I just don’t think motorcycling is for everyone. A lot of younger people are drawn in to the image of it all, but aren’t motorcyclists at heart. As soon as something is inconvenient it is just easier to move on. They don’t experience the same “peace” when they are out on the road that a lot of us get. Unfortunately, I think it is something you can’t “fix” or “change” to get more people to stay on a bike longer. You either love it or you don’t. If you are giving up on your learners because you had a close call with a car, or the process to get a full licence is too hard, or there is no interim step up bike I would suggest they simply aren’t suited to motorcycling and nothing will ever change that. My mate started riding later in life, and as soon as he experienced the ride he was hooked. There was nothing special that did it, he didn’t get anything “easier” than anyone else, motorcycling just did it for him. I think it is an inevitability that the stats will look like they do. Even if more people give a motorcycle a try, I think it is just going to show that (like a lot of things) it simply doesn’t “suit” most people.

    1. Perhaps itis because they can’t use their ‘APS’ & ‘TEXT’ while riding !!!!

      IF this younger generation ever wants to do something in the REAL WORLD – they will have to sacrifice their Smart Phones for a couple of hours.. Do you honestly think that they are prepared for that ???

      Best leave them to their ‘Smart Phones, Facebook, twitter, texting, playing games or ordering and tracking their Pizza Delivery’, rather than have them out on the streets DOING IT !!! They can’t imagine what it is like without a phone stuffed full of useless apps – Perhaps Riding is a DAMN Inconvienience and they just GET BORED because it doesn’t have a Touch Screen and they can’t text or phone while they are riding … the price they have to pay is just too high, they can’t function without a phone in their hand/s … (Honestly, They can’t go wothout their phone/s – CAN THEY ?)

      I for one am glad that they give up riding – if they ‘Give Up’ then they were not into the bike/s in the first place and they just don’t GET IT as to what motorcycling actually is ….

      I am so glad that I was introduced to motorcycling at age 13yrs – what a Life Changing moment for me – and One that I WILL NEVER REGRET !!!

      Take Care – Ride Safe,
      frostbite

  36. The cost of bikes now is simply out of reach to a lot of people.some of these bikes cost more that a 4 door sedan,and they are made in Asian countries.Who is making the money,just look at the NEW showrooms in Queensland,amazingly beautiful,but who pays for it,the bike buyer, hence the cost.

  37. It always has been this way. Throughout my life, wherever I have been I have come across many more people who used to ride than those who still do. We have all tried some things, but found out that they weren’t for us. When riding motorcycles you get cold, hot, wet and dirty. Society is evolving and people are becoming softer and less willing to endure any discomfort. The over-enforcement of road rules is a major problem. Riders are now so focussed on avoiding the major penalties for minor infringements that we aren’t enjoying it as much as we used to. Cost of living pressures, particularly the cost of housing, are leaving many people without the spare cash for expensive pleasures. Years ago every man maintained and repaired his and his partner’s bikes/cars (I still do) saving considerable amounts of money. Young people now don’t learn any mechanical skills, and the bikes are far more complex than they used to be.

    The growth in motorcycling over recent years has largely been driven by fashion. Many people have wanted to be seen on a motorcycle and seen as a motorcyclist for the image. Fashions always come to an end, so a decline is to be expected. We can expect a big decline in motorcycle sales if ATGATT ever becomes mandatory. That would make motorcycling more inconvenient for many people including those who use a motorcycle for general transport such as shopping or commuting to work. To have to take your jacket and gloves off and on at every stop when running around town, or change from your riding gear into your work uniform and back again, as well as changing twice at lunch time makes riding more trouble than it is worth for many people.

  38. Daughter and boyfriend (now husband) owned and rode both road & trail bikes. Family and house followed and bikes had to go. If bike is (only) a recreation item then it will get squeezed out when finances are tight. It must be a part of your transport mix but that is hard with a young family. Fortunately many return to the fold when the family has grown and finances improve.

  39. For me it was the cost of registration. I had 2 bikes and 2 cars to pay for. My wife and I both needed to have cars for the winter conditions here in Tasmania and just can no longer cope with the cost of reg and insurances.
    Also the high cost of tyers at twice the price of car tyres and less than 10kms per tyre.

    I miss riding so much, it was a huge part of my life and a huge part of who I was..

  40. Perhaps many new riders are in love with the perception of what riding will be but find real experience is not what they thought, when you first ride it can be a frightening experience for some ,especially while learning to corner properly brake effectively etc.
    I joined clubs when I started to ride this gave me the opportunity to get advice from experienced riders and was able to follow and learn techniques from them,
    In Adelaide there are no places a new rider can practice their skills without being on the road eg emergency braking tight turns etc you do rider safe and your on your own perhaps more should be done about this, doing ridersafe means you’ve had some lectures and maybe an hour of riding and your turned out on the road I know this is not a problem for some but a place to practice for those that want to may help.

  41. It is dangerous out there with car drivers on drugs and on their mobile phone. I like riding in the country, but city riding is very dangerous I feel.
    International tourists can get a license without any testing, which is just wrong. They spend hours in a plane to get here, why can’t they study the road rules.
    I believe all bikes should have cruise control, it is up to the rider yo use it. Reduces fatigue over long distances.

  42. Inconvenienced with stopping somewhere and then having helmet and gear and where to put it without it getting stolen. And riding in the heat is not much fun with all the gear on. Also seasoned riders can be intimidating on group rides and do crazy things so it’s a fear too. You would be surprised how much intimidation goes on between people that have been riding years to a “newbie”. Nobody says anything but you can certainly feel it.

  43. Shopping! That was one of the main problems when I only had a bike.
    The bike started out with no luggage I just used a backpack then it got a gearsack and rack then a top box then some large panniers and often it still wasn’t enough anything too big to fit in the luggage like a laundry basket and I had to take public transport or walk.
    The other issue is rain and wet gear , I had to buy a coat rack to keep at work to hang my wet gear on. I have no issue with riding in the rain unless it’s that horrible will it or won’t it kind of rain that forces you to put on your wets only to get more soaked from sweat than if you didn’t bother but you have to because it keeps threatening to bucket down that cold hard icy rain that freezes you to the core even though it’s swealtering hot. And that is probably the crux of the problem, confidence overcomes the fear of it not being safe but the only thing to counter inconvenience is convenience. Bikes need to be a lot cheaper to register and use and employers need to provide a place for wet gear and to change
    Fortunately online shopping can easy the luggage issues.

    1. “Shopping! That was one of the main problems when I only had a bike.”

      Did you ever consider towing a trailer behind a bike, Al? That was what I planned to do when I gave up car ownership more than 11 years ago. I would have fitted a tow bar to one of my bikes and set it up so the bar and wiring could be quickly removed, and only put it on when it was needed. However, I bought an extra bike instead and now don’t have enough room in the garage.

      I have carried some quite large loads on a bike (including a laundry basket). But it is important to make sure that you don’t obstruct your view in the mirrors. It helps if you have a bike with high handlebar mounted mirrors. I have made up a variety of quickly interchangeable racks. I got some lengths of PVC pipe and made brackets to bolt them to the side of my bikes for when I buy something long and thin like a fluorescent light tube or a broom. A word of warning – don’t use ocky straps to secure large loads. They are stretchy and allow the load to wobble. I use small tie-down straps from Supercheap Auto.

      Larger items, including a TV, lawn mower and air compressor have been delivered, usually costing $20 to $30. And I use a taxi if I have to. Life without a car is great because it frees up the garage and a lot of money for more bikes. I am very glad I did it.

  44. Maybe the novice riders become dejected after experiencing overzealous law enforcement officers or from other road users running them off the road “because they didn’t see them”. Many years ago you could go out and have some fun on a bike but that’s getting harder and harder! It seems cyclists even have more rights on the road than a motorcyclist nowadays.

    1. The young fella where I work said exactly that. He told me he got rid of his LAMS bike and didn’t bother with another because overzealous law enforcement has him terrified that he’ll lose his licence for some minor infringement or other. And he needs his licence because it would be impossible for him to get to work without it and hence he would lose his job and livelihood. Yeah, I get it that there are complete idiots out there that need to be dealt with, but for decent young people like this bloke the penalties are way out of proportion to many minor speeding offences or lapses in judgement, and according to him, it’s just not worth it. You are right…it is no fun anymore.

      1. You’ve hit the nail on the head, back in the 70’s when I got into motorcycles it was common for riding instructors to advise new riders to travel 3 or 4 kilometres per hour faster than the rest of the traffic, not so fast as to surprise unwary drivers or attract unwarranted attention from the constabulary but to ensure you are not travelling in vehicles blind spots and are making distance between yourself & other traffic. Now of course you would be seen as a scourge on society.

  45. Inconvenience almost stopped me from continuing towards my full licence. As a young motorcyclist there were a number of other things to think about when choosing to travel by bike over some other transport:
    * Do I need to carry anything or bring it back? Will a backpack be big enough to carry it?
    * Where do I keep my helmet? is it safe locked up on the bike, where someone may damage it or should I carry it around everywhere I go? – Thankfully my Honda had a helmet lock on the bike.
    * Getting into all the safety gear before a ride can take a lot more time and effort than just getting in a car.
    * Should I carry my heavy jacket around or leave it somewhere?

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