We were filling up at a vacation area gas pump last week when I saw 40 or more motorcycles roar past us. It was hard not to notice a caravan of that size, and hard not to be envious of anyone getting that kind of gas mileage. Some of the riders were women and some were men, but they had something unique in common. Guess what? They were all seniors. Many of them sported bushy gray beards and a bit of a paunch, but they were having a good time. Some of them may have looked a bit seedy and rough around the edges, but nothing that couldn’t be changed with a minor attitude adjustment. Where were they going and why were they all smiling? I was intrigued.
A very readable article by Dave Nichols in this months AARP magazine (July/August 2011) caught my eye. The article was about motorcycles and senior riders. It seems there are an increasing number of older riders on the road today. Riding a motorcycle isn’t something that you want to take lightly even thought biking is a lot safer than it used to be. Are you still interested? The author had some good tips for first time buyers:
- Motorcycles are expensive so you want to make sure that riding is for you. Learn how to ride first and if you fall in love, well go for it.
- Horsepower isn’t everything: If the bike is too powerful for you it will be intimidating. Remember, you want to be the one in control. Maybe start with a scooter.
- Insurance: Check with your insurance carrier to see what it is going to cost you to insure your bike and yourself.
- Take a Riders Course: Probably the most important step on your agenda.
Safety first: Veteran riders stress the importance of wearing the right clothing, which includes a DOT approved full-face helmet, leather jacket, jeans or leather chaps, boots and gloves. Surely you could find a pink leather jacket somewhere! Don’t be complacent, always be aware of your surroundings, don’t tailgate, and always be focused.
The author went on to describe different types of motorcycles under the categories of “Cruisers” and “Baggers”. The cruiser models are serious stuff and might be a bit intense for older first time riders. I would be drawn to what he callers Baggers (touring bike that are popular with casual older riders.). We are talking about drink holders, tall windshields, ample storage, plush seating, CD players, GPS units and every other convenience known to man.
I read a second article by Jorge Sanchez (St. Petersburg Times: St. Petersburg, Fla. December 2002) about “Trikes.” A Trike is a motorcycle that has been converted into a three wheel vehicle, which has the older rider in mind. The added stability means you don’t have to struggle to hold up your ride with your legs when you come to a stop, or worry about tipping over. Some models have a sidecar that would be handy for putting your groceries or provide a seat for your dog. They look like motorcycles, drive like cars and are frequently seen on the road.
My main complaint about motorcycles has nothing to do with the sleazy fashion statement, but more about careless drivers and the gosh-awful noise level. I don’t like noise, but everything else appeals. If you aren’t quite ready for a motorcycle there is always the scooter. Scooters can make great bikes for those who want to start small. I don’t think I would be brave enough to ride any of them on the freeway, but then I don’t like driving my car on the freeway either. What’s the rush anyway!