January 2014 is almost over and it feels like it’s only been a few days. That’s OK though: January is always the dump month. Musicians dump their less-than-marketable albums, movie distributors drop their lackluster movies in the only time of the year they have a chance to make money, and people unload their dumpy moods freely because it’s cold. It’s not all horrible though! We’ll always have “This Week in Financial Blunders” to put things in perspective.
Spring is in the air and the baby boomers just want to ride! Aging baby boomers are riding motorcycles like crazy these days. And they’re getting into accidents like crazy, too. Slower reaction times and deteriorating equilibrium are two major causes of crashing when it comes to baby boomers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association last did a study in 2007, and they found that “motorcyclists over 40 have seen the greatest increases in fatalities from 1997 to 2006.”
The majority of senior bikers aren’t “scooter trash,” criminals or the infamous “1%.” In fact, if you talk to the guys and gals making up the 50 or so motorcycles lined up outside my local Starbucks, many of them are retired professionals, like lawyers, dentists and accountants. Lots of brand-new tattoos and leather jackets in that crowd. Many boomers didn’t have the time or money for motorcycling in their youth. Now, with retirement pensions, savings and even reverse mortgages, many now have the money to be “reborn to be wild.”
Face it, not many seniors are as fit and strong as guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hulk Hogan. Motorcycles can be very heavy. A new Harley Davidson Dyna Glide has a dry weight of 639 pounds. Drop that and try to lift it up without help! Not gonna happen unless you’re more like the Hulkster than most of us.
There are quite a few options that can make motorcycling a bit more adaptable to seniors. Let’s take a look.
With a three-wheel motorcycle, the chance of tipping over is greatly decreased. And because motorcycle manufacturers understand just how large the market is for senior bikers, many now offer three-wheel versions of their motorcycles, and/or have come up with surprising new three-wheel designs.
Can Am makes this space age-looking bike, designed as a three wheeler with a very sophisticated suspension. Noteworthy is that two wheels are in the front with one in the back – opposite of traditional three-wheel designs.
The folks at Harley recognized the market for three-wheel conversion kits that folks were using for its iconic American motorcycles. So, the Harley Davidson Tri Glide Ultra was engineered from the ground up as a three wheeler. The Tri Glide Ultra has two wheels in the back and one in the front, like a traditional trike. Priced at over $32,000, the Tri Glide Ultra also offers a superior level of comfort and convenience for those long rides.
A motorcycle outfitted with a sidecar is a fun alternative to a traditional two-wheel motorcycle. You may have seen them in movies like “Where Eagles Dare,” but they are readily available and a ton more fun in person! A little tricky to ride at first, the sidecar makes tipping over at a stop pretty tough. And there’s plenty of room for luggage or groceries.
Ural-ly should try one
Russian manufacturer Ural offers a number of retro-styled motorcycles with sidecars. The Ural looks a lot like a BMW motorcycle because the Russians nicked the design from the Germans during World War II. The drive shaft and boxer engine are dead giveaways. Urals come in a number of different colors and styles, and are reasonably priced. Ural-ly should try one!
Motor scooters have been around for ages. The Vespas and Lambrettas of Italy put that country on wheels when many Italians didn’t have the lire for a car. Scooters are great for seniors in that they’re not as heavy as standard motorcycles, and the center of gravity is much lower, so they are not prone to tip over easily. And you just can’t top that sexy Italian style. Be sure not to get one with too small of an engine, as getting in the way of moving traffic can be dangerous. Great for a ride through town, a Vespa is also a fantastic conversation starter!
Are you a senior who was born to be wild? Well, get on your bad motor scooter and ride. Do you ride already? Tell us why you love it. Got a recommendation for other seniors who want to hit the open road in open-air style? Tell us, we’d love to hear!