Bikers bloom in their middle age

February 7, 1997

HE IS 46 and has an enduring passion for motorcycles. And it seems senior lecturer Geoff Crowther is not alone.

Research shows more middle-aged men - and women - are not only looking for excitement on the roads but also a new image.

Investigations carried out during the past six months by Mr Crowther, director of Huddersfield University's leisure and consumer research centre, and a committed bike rider himself, reveal older people are searching for thrills, adventure and the kind of social life associated with motorcycling.

He has done 50 in-depth interviews with riders, dealers and manufacturers as well as about 200 less formal interviews at rallies, clubs and races in an attempt to explore the appeal of the motorcycle.

"In recent years the motorcycle market has changed considerably, with fewer youngsters getting involved in buying motorbikes and more middle-aged people either returning to motorcycling or getting started," said Mr Crowther. "This older consumer is seeking a leisure pursuit that allows escape from everyday life and provides some excitement, adventure and for some, a social life too."

He said that today's bike riders are unlikely to see their machines as mere means of transport. "One 40-year-old interviewee said he felt rejuvenated and alive on his motorcycle. There is a degree of selfishness too with an opportunity to create a new identity by buying all the gear that goes with it. For some riders a new motorcycle represents the ultimate toy to possess, display and perform with."

The year-long research is expected to be completed by next August and is supported by BMW, a motorcycle manufacturer.

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