Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Advanced Age Of The Motorcycle Rider

I recently read the average age of the Harley Davidson rider is now 58-years-old. This is up substantially from the 23-year-old high-water mark recorded in 1948. Conventional wisdom attributes the confluence of higher incomes and more leisure time as pre-dotage retirement looms. According to Dr. Albert Hissingaz of the Wilmington Institute for Holistic Dry Cleaning (an independent research resource), most men experience several liberating factors at this magical age.

“Our studies indicate that at 58, the majority of men have paid off their alimonies, their mortgages, and their kids’ college expenses. They want one last shot at a youth pissed away on responsibilities. Most understand they are not going to meet that 35-year-old hottie for one last weekend of red hot sex, and just want a meteorific, chromed ride on the way to the La Brea tar pits,” said Hissingaz.

So if the average age of the Harley rider is 58, how old is the typical BMW rider? These figures are kept in a demographics vault at a secret location under a strudel bakery in Munich. Yet conservative estimates by Beemer watchers place the average age of the BMW rider at nearly twice that of their HD counterparts, or 116-years-old.

These estimates are based on a number of astute observations. For example, the second most popular beverage served at the beer tent of any BMW rally is prune juice. (When mixed with vodka, this is known as a “Purged Russian.”) Most BMW riders have a set regimen for a day-long ride, which includes stopping for dinner at 4:30pm, to take advantage of the “early bird” specials, including the cottage cheese and apple sauce on the buffet. A staggering majority of BMW riders camp right next to their bike at rallies and other events simply because they will not remember where they left them -- or even how they got there -- in the morning.

In a desperate bid to reverse this trend, some BMW clubs are doing what they can to lure in younger members. This includes leaving candy out by parked bikes and hiring young actors to show up at a few meetings each year, to pretend that they are having a good time.

Other marques go after a younger crowd with focused marketing. It is a well-known fact that Honda has a cradle-to-the-grave sales philosophy, starting with a 5 cc breast pump, that allows an infant to regulate the flow of milk with a motorcycle-type throttle that makes a reassuring CBX motor sound. It is rumored that BMW plans to counter this move with a sleek-looking tricycle, offering three-year-olds a choice of dynamic colors and an electrically adjustable seat -- for $8,427.

Earlier this year, it seemed as if the normally staid Bavarian Motor Works was reaching out to the younger crowd through dramatic videos that just oozed sensuality and raw sex. At least one of these appeared on a popular BMW e-mail list in 2007. The word on the street is that the legendary German bike builder is considering reaching out for the younger, calorically-challenged American market. One 60-second commercial is alleged to show a portly rider stuffed into an Aerostitch suit, flanked by two scantilly-clad Asian women. The rider is sitting astride a K1200GT, holding a piece of chocolate cream pie on a plate. He looks up at the camera, smiles, and flicks the pie off the plate, saying, “It’s easy to knock off a piece on a BMW.”

Then again, this is just the sort of advantage a slightly older crowd can appreciate.

Despite the fact that age is part of the BMW rider equation, Beemer pilot mileage figures are higher than ever. Seated next to a seasoned BMW veteran at the beer tent during a recent rally in Vermont, I discovered he’d ridden in from Tierra Del Fuego -- over a three-day period. He claimed the only way his age could be accurately determined would be to saw him in half and count the rings on his ass.

“So what would it take to get you to give up riding, “ I asked?

He looked at me in disgust, drained a 12 ounce glass of prune juice in three swallows, and replied, “Kryptonite.”

Copyright Jack Riepe 2008 -- All rights reserved
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Delphi)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)

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