Kids love motorcycles... don't they?
Unless you’re new to the sport, or you’ve been living under a rock for the last twenty years or so, you’ll know that the motorcycle industry is aging out. The average age of motorcyclists is rising as fewer young people adopt the sport. In an effort to staunch the bleeding, manufacturers are trying to appeal to younger generations, but have been generally unsuccessful. The most recent attempt to discover why The Youth Of Today isn’t interested in motorcycles comes to us from Honda UK. Team Red joined forces with Nottingham Trent University (NTU) to “grasp a greater understanding of younger demographics’ perception of motorcycles and riding.”
Honda UK brought six of its current UK-spec motorcycle models (PCX125, Monkey 125, CB125R, CBR650R, CB1000R, and Africa Twin) to NTU for a five-day exhibition. Honda set up the Africa Twin, its newest generation of Adventure bike outfitted with an 1100cc engine and a DCT transmission, on a “rolling road,” a riding simulator that’s bolted to the bike with the back wheel on rollers, so potential riders can “ride” the bike without actually moving.
Honda touted the event as, “an exciting insight into the advanced capabilities of Honda motorcycles in 2020 and how they can be a source of great enjoyment and functionability.” That’s a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo corpspeak just to say, “Are our bikes good and do The Youths like them? If not, why not?” While the exhibit may have come across as a serious advertisement and endorsement of Honda motorcycles, the students’ reactions to the bikes are being recorded for later study. The research will be used to help Honda focus its marketing toward the aspects of motorcycling that appeals to this age group.
“We’re taking a ‘user-centered’ approach to get first-hand insights from young people about the appeal of motorcycling whilst also exploring any barriers that might keep them away from two wheels. It’s a fascinating piece of work and a great opportunity to link up with a major manufacturer in this way,” said independent consultant and “world-leading expert in motorcycle rider behavior” Alex Stedmon.
Andrew Mineyki, a Department Manager for Honda UK Business Planning, said, “As the market leader, we share in the responsibility for encouraging younger people to consider [powered two-wheelers] as a mobility option. In the face of rising transport costs and ever-increasing traffic congestion, motorcycles and scooters can provide an enjoyable, stylish, fuel-efficient and time-efficient alternative to cars and public transport.”
In my humble opinion, this is the way to do it. Instead of waiting for The Youngsters to attend motorcycle shows or show up at dealerships (they don’t), manufacturers have an increasing obligation to bring their motorcycles to the target demographic. Put the bikes under kids’ noses, because otherwise they’re too disconnected and the motorcycles too intimidating.
Hopefully this “mountain to Mohammed” approach will trickle out to other manufacturers. They might learn that things like local, inexpensive motorcycle training can encourage kids to ride, but kids today need a bit more spoon-feeding than any manufacturer is currently doing. Will Honda UK share the results of this study? There’s no word yet, but the results could absolutely benefit the entire industry, and lift all boats—er—motorcycles.
For Immediate Release
28 January 2020
Honda UK collaborates with Nottingham Trent University to showcase motorcycles to students
- Honda UK and Nottingham Trent University setup exhibition to gauge student attitudes towards motorcycles and riding
- Exhibition comprises cross-section of Honda models on display in the university’s brand new engineering department
- Rolling road running a CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT provides opportunity for students to “ride” for the first time
Honda UK and Nottingham Trent University joined forces to grasp a greater understanding of younger demographics’ perception of motorcycles and riding. This materialised with a unique five-day-long exhibition, hosted by the university’s new engineering department, which consisted of a product display, Honda representatives and a live rolling-road feature.
Year-on-year the average age of the rider continues to rise as fewer young people look to PTWs (powered two wheelers) as a mode of transport. To understand this trend, Honda UK and Nottingham Trent University engaged with over 100 students on campus, asking questions around the appeal of motorcycling, barriers to entry and of their general views on the range of display models.
Throughout the event, Honda UK drummed-up interest in the world of two wheels with a static model display that featured a PCX125, Monkey 125, CB125R, CBR650R and a CB1000R. A sixth bike, in the shape of the all-new CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) saw plenty of action on the rolling road as students climbed aboard to ride a motorcycle for the very first time. This experience provided students with an exciting insight into the advanced capabilities of Honda motorcycles in 2020 and how they can be a source of great enjoyment and functionality.
Post-exhibition, Honda UK and Nottingham Trent University will review students’ responses and reception towards the motorcycles at the event. The research will help to form a new approach to encourage younger demographics to consider PTWs as the best transport mode in many cases.
Professor Alex Stedmon, a key figurehead of the project said: “We’re taking a 'user-centred' approach to get first-hand insights from young people about the appeal of motorcycling whilst also exploring any barriers that might keep them away from two wheels. It’s a fascinating piece of work and a great opportunity to link up with a major manufacturer in this way." Professor Stedmon is an independent consultant working closely with Nottingham Trent University, and a world-leading expert in motorcycle rider behaviour.
Speaking on the project Andrew Mineyko, Honda UK Business Planning – Department Manager, said: “As the market leader, we share in the responsibility for encouraging younger people to consider PTWs as a mobility option. In the face of rising transport costs and ever-increasing traffic congestion, motorcycles and scooters can provide an enjoyable, stylish, fuel-efficient and time-efficient alternative to cars and public transport. The Honda School of Motorcycling, which operates nationwide, can see people through their training and licensing, from start to finish, ensuring they emerge with the skills to enjoy life on two wheels!”.