McCommons suggests that one reason fewer kids are riding is because it’s harder to find a cheap little motorcycle for a few hundred dollars, and parents may be hesitant to spend over $1,000 for a bike that their child may or may not enjoy. Still, there are some less expensive options, like minibikes or some pre-owned vehicles, that bridge the gap between “my kid is trying out this new hobby” and a commitment to riding.
"Dealers need to be actively involved in their community with riding areas, local tracks and things like that."
-- Jamie Foreman, Thor MX
With such economic factors to consider, dealers have to make parents — and their kids — eager to buy a new bike. Getting involved in the community and showing support of local youth riding is paramount to supporting and building the market.
Savino notes that after selling a bike, a kid still needs somewhere to ride. “The two things that are really important that we affect is trying to keep land usage, and also the dealer base across the country,” he says. “Youth coming into the market today are our motorcyclists of the future. Hopefully down the line when they are 15, 16 or 17, they are using a motorcycle for transportation day in and day out.”
Sometimes, getting involved means delving into riding issues, like land usage rights and showing support for offroad recreational facilities.
“Dealers need to be actively involved in their community with riding areas, local tracks and things like that,” says Thor MX Brand Manager Jamie Foreman. “Stay active in your community, stay active in what’s going on, organize a group of riders that either write letters or are actively involved in the community and state recreation parks.”
Dealers can also propel sales by giving kids the chance to ride, whether it’s through a dealer-sponsored course or through partnering with groups like the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
“The biggest thing we have is our rider education centers. We have them all across the country, and we highly recommend families to go out and learn to ride, on-road or off-road,” says Savino.
Durhamtown offers a First Time Rider program that allows kids to rent a bike or ATV, or both, for a day. McCommons was surprised when a father and son showed up all the way from Miami to take advantage of the program.
“He said his son had been wanting to learn to ride, so they hopped on a plane,” McCommons says. They rode for four days, he adds, “then they flew home and bought a bike back in Miami.”
That hands-on approach can sell motorcycles, but so can something like showing up to support local youth racing and riding. That involvement can range from sponsorship to setting up a place for riders to get replacement parts, tire changes and other trackside maintenance.
Getting kids inside the dealership takes a community-minded approach, but Massey says that dealers should consider the future impact of supporting youth riding now.
“I probably would have never made the jump as an adult if it hadn’t been for my experience on a bike as a youth,” he says. “In order to maintain a healthy sport and maintain a large riding base, kids need the opportunity to ride and race at that age. They are the future of motorcycling.”