Granted, there are places where the weather is fine and bikes can be ridden year-round, but outside of California, Florida and Hawaii, most folks park their rides during the winter. Even in Southern California where the weather is good 12 months out of the year, winter mentality sets in and you see fewer motorcycles on the road.
Then there’s the problem of transporting stuff. You’ve got to have determination to live with a motorcycle as your primary vehicle. If you want to move to a new place, you either need a friend with a car or truck, or you have to rent something. Groceries? Well, at least you won’t overeat.
Price is another obstacle. Granted, you can buy some used bikes pretty cheaply, and there are new bikes on the market that could serve as commuter rides for around $5,000. But you can buy a pretty decent used car for $4,000; it may not be pretty, but it hauls stuff and keeps you cool in the summer, warm in the winter and dry when it rains.
BUT HERE’S A THOUGHT
I don’t think the motorcycle will ever replace the car for basic transportation here, but one thing that could open the door to attract more riders is to permit lane sharing nationwide.
I remember summers in Atlanta, stuck in traffic about three miles from my exit point. It was hot and humid, the bike was radiating heat, and we were at a dead stop with an occasional lurch forward for about two to three car lengths. It probably took an hour to cover those three miles; in the meantime the lanes between the cars were at least six feet wide and totally unoccupied.
I could have been out of the traffic pattern and the heat and to my destination in less than 10 minutes, and it wouldn’t have inconvenienced anyone.
Maybe the vehicle itself can’t be much more practical, but we can have laws that help make it so.
This story originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Dealernews.