Posted on September 22, 2022 at 8:00 AM by The Biker Lawyers
Biker traditions are dying.
Over the past few years, biker events in the Midwest (with few exceptions) have dwindled.
Biker organizations, such as A.B.A.T.E. have watched numbers trending downwards as an aging membership looks to the next generation.
“It just doesn’t seem like anyone is interested in this life anymore,” is a comment I’ve heard repeatedly.
How do we interest the younger generations in the biker world?
First, let’s look at a few reasons why young adults aren’t in the biker life.
The departure of the middle class.
Owning property and gaining wealth through equity used to be the path to the middle class in this country. It isn’t attainable for many people these days, though.
Millennials and Zoomers are struggling to pull together finances to buy their first home while banks push towards rental companies instead of single-buyer homes, seeking the unending profits of renting your home to you.
What does this have to do with bikes?
Simply put- a motorcycle is a middle-class boat.
It isn’t a necessity, but it is a prominent symbol of a chosen lifestyle.
With the divide growing between the poor and the wealthy, the end of luxury expenses (such as purchasing a motorcycle) continues to grow as well.
When was the last time you saw new Harley-Davidson Motorcycles going for under $15,000?
If you want to attract new bikers, you can’t price them out. We already know people will shell out over $1,000 for the latest piece of tech (such as new iPhones), the question is whether you can put a motorcycle on equal footing financially.
Harley-Davidson needs to build a $5,000 motorcycle, not another $30,000 cruiser.
Until they’re willing to do that, many brands have priced themselves out of younger generations entirely. We’re seeing a rising trend of sport bikes (cheaper to pick up) instead.
Why do you need tech when you’re on a bike?
There have been few technological advances in the biker world, but a majority carry a smartphone now.
It’s time to take advantage of social media and use it to connect us across the world.
Right now, it’s not easy to find biker organizations online, and most of what you can find is badly outdated. It makes recruitment that much more difficult.
Now that we’ve laid out a few of the problems, let’s explore some solutions:
End Brand Discrimination
I don’t care if you ride a Harley or a Yamaha, the days of brand loyalty to billion-dollar companies are fading.
It’s time to accept that some people prefer foreign bikes to cruisers.
Openly ridiculing the younger generations for their preference for sport bikes pushes them away. If nothing else, the pricing of sport bikes and their resultant popularity with the younger generations should be a lesson for our established American icon motorcycle companies.
It’s time to welcome all riders with open arms.
Scholarships for Young Bikers
A Scholarship pilot program for young bikers is currently forming in ABATE of Minnesota, pending approval.
The idea is simple; use profits from the gambling division of ABATE to fund a set number of scholarships each year that are given out to youngsters (16-21 years of age) looking to become licensed bikers. Then get contact information from them and invite them to events.
This helps welcome young bikers into our community from the start, letting them know that we’re here to support them from their first through their final ride.
Listen, I love Led Zeppelin covers as much as the next guy, but they don’t draw a crowd anymore.
Nostalgia only works if everyone was there for the original event, and the younger generations have no clue who most of these bands are covering.
It’s time to grab fresh music and diversify out of classic rock (Country, Rap, Metal, Alternative, and EDM are all genres largely left alone at these events).
Youth Leadership Positions in Biker Organizations
Kids in high school are looking for extracurriculars to fill out their college resumes.
Kids in college, for something unique to make their work resume stand out.
These kids – leaders - are who we need in our community. Giving them a prominent role in our organizations is an important part of that.
The fresh ideas and perspective of youth to supplement those of our long-time leaders will reinvigorate our biker organizations and way of life.
Modernize Online Presence
It’s time to embrace an omnichannel approach.
That means we establish and stay active across all prominent social media platforms, and our websites get a facelift.
If you want to recruit the youth, you must meet them where they’re at (which is overwhelmingly online).
End Partisan Politics at Biker Events
Everybody has the right to support their causes, but we need to focus on what matters to young bikers at these events: Community and tolerance.
We aren’t here to argue about what the president did, we’re here to celebrate the biker life and find camaraderie.
Why does this matter?
Losing organizations such as ABATE will eventually end with motorcycles going extinct.
If you think you don’t need ABATE, go check out legislation regarding your fuel pumps. Now imagine what happens if we lose the single most prominent entity fighting to retain our ability to fill our tanks.
If we do not band together as a community once more and move into a modern age of new traditions in the biker world, we will surely fall separately.
Freedom comes at a price. The price is effort, tolerance, and community. It’s understanding that we need each other to survive.
Speak truth to power,
This message is brought to you by The Biker Lawyers, P.C.