Feb 23, 2019

Millennials Should Ride Motorcycles, and We Should Teach Them

Ericka Ellis

The case for Millennial motorcyclists: Why Generation Y should ride

Do unto Millennials as you would have done unto you.

I’ll bet you read that line more than once before scanning the rest of the page. I mean, who would’ve thought Millennials could sneak their way into one of the oldest sayings in the book? A saying older than gluten-free pizza, cat memes, Indie-Alternative, and the Kardashians for Chrissake!  

The point is, these are words of wisdom. The question, however, is how faithfully do we apply this ancient proverb to our everyday lives? For instance, are there certain people we regard more than others? I’ll be the first to admit I’m not too keen on today’s Millennial generation which is why I tend to avoid them. That is, until now.

Why have I changed my ways, you ask? Because I’ve recently learned to accept that Millennials are the future and that avoiding them means I’m not only setting myself up for failure, but also the motorcycle culture I love so dearly. If you’re wondering how the two are even remotely connected, here’s how:

Millennials Will Keep Our Biker Culture Alive

By now, I’m sure you’re aware that our culture—that is, the culture that bred biker legends like ‘Mike the Bike’ Hailwood and Barry Sheene—is beginning its slow-but-steady decline. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the millions of Millennials who are “adulting” without a motorcycle, not to mention without even the slightest clue what the best motorcycle for new riders is. In fact, I recently spoke with a Millennial who not only raised her eyebrow when I mentioned ‘motorcycles for beginners,’ but who also had no idea who Evel Knievel was. I nearly fainted.

While I was breathing deeply into a paper bag, however, the following thought occurred to me: Why should she know about Robert Craig Knievel, Jr.? After all, she was barely a twinkle in the cosmos on that fateful day in 1974 when Knievel attempted his infamous jump across Snake River Canyon. And before I knew it, this realization led me to my next predicament: Who’s to blame for her ignoran—I mean, innocence?

Then, it hit me: I am, and so are the Baby Boomers, and so is all of Generation X for that matter! Some of you might be wondering why I’ve chosen to point the proverbial finger at the generations that came before Gen Y and Z, and I’ll tell you: because how else are Millennials going to learn about this stuff if not by the passionate retelling from our older generations? How else are they going to learn about the world record Knievel set when he jumped 19 cars riding his Harley-Davidson XR-750? Or the day Joey Dunlop, one of the greatest motorcycle icons ever, celebrated his 24th win at the Ulster Grand Prix? Better yet, how will they know what the Ulster Grand Prix even is?

Millennials and motorcycles

My fellow riders, if we want to preserve a culture that’s been around for more than 100 years, we have to begin by imparting our knowledge on the younger generations—and not through gritted teeth! We have to speak to Millennials the way we would’ve wanted to be spoken to when we were their age. And if learning their lingo means we have to throw in a YAAAAAS, a yeet, or a dab every now and then, so be it! Because once we’re able to communicate to these young men and women what it is that makes the motorcycle culture so great, we’ll forge a path to a forgotten passion and salvage the legacy bestowed upon us by our riding forefathers!

(I’m imagining McQueen smiling down on me now.)

Millennials Will Ensure the Roads Aren’t Completely Dominated By Cagers

What kind of world do you want to leave behind once you kick the bucket? One where cagers rule the road and motorcycles remain a distant memory? Or one where even your great-great-great-grandchildren still cruise the open road, sporting one of the first beginner motorcycles you ever rode?

Millennials and motorcycles

But, let’s bring it back to the present for a moment.

On Monday morning, when you would be gliding onto the back of your sleek Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom, visor down, dressed to the nine in leather and your favorite collared shirt, briefcase nestled securely inside the custom saddlebag you spent the weekend installing... you, instead, duck carefully inside your run-of-the-mill midsize sedan, adjust the A/C, and fuss with the rear-view mirror for several seconds while you figure out if putting your briefcase in the passenger seat or on the floor is more convenient.

As a driver, you know time is of the essence in the wee hours of the morning, especially when that highly coveted parking spot is still up for grabs. Sadly, though, you’re running five minutes behind schedule, so you can kiss that space goodbye! And forget about stopping by your favorite bagel shop on the way to work—one more delay and you might as well call in sick.

My point is, a world without motorcycles is a world where pressing the ‘Snooze’ button is simply not an option; it’s a world where full-on leather is the opposite of “on fleek,” and where the only freedom you’ll ever feel on the road depends on how far your car’s windows roll down.

Is this the kind of world we want future generations navigating? If we, the older generation, don’t follow the Golden Rule and show these young’uns the way, a world without motorcycles is all we’ll have left. And that’s not a world I’d like anyone to see.


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