Motorcycle Makers Try Minting New Riders With Youth Programs

Motorcycle sales went into a skid in 2008 and have been sliding toward the guardrail ever since.

That slide started with the 2008 recession and has been hard to steer out of partly because of demographics: Almost 50 percent of motorcyclists are ages 50 and older — riders who don’t necessarily have many bike purchases left in them.

Manufacturers have grasped that to increase sales, it was no longer enough to just manufacture cool new motorcycles — they needed to manufacture new motorcyclists. Now an industry that has long focused in large part on selling bigger, more expensive bikes to baby boomers is looking at new ways to get younger riders onto their machines.

The biggest effort started as an afterthought from a race producer but is now an ambitious outreach program called the Ride Initiative, and it’s intended to recruit a new generation of riders using the backdrop of monster truck rallies.

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