In the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse, but to us riders, wherever we are, every year is the year of the horse, whether it’s a V-twin horse, a four-cylinder liter horse, or a special old war-horse you only ride on Sundays. So if this is the year of the horse, the question is: what breed?
Background photo by Tsutomu Takasu
Motorcycle culture and industry, which were static for so long, have become increasingly complex, fragmented, and interesting in recent years. This makes it fun to speculate on which will be the salient trends for this year, or even the defining trend. Here are some suggestions:
Year Of The Scooter?
“Moped” and "scooter" used to be a dirty words. They were something that sucked all the cool out of anyone even standing near one. But like so many once-uncool things, scooters are re-hip. People are rediscovering the joy of putting around the neighborhood and hanging out on the sidewalk, and some people are investing serious effort into making sweet custom scooters. Who thought those three words would ever go together? We foresee more scooters in 2014.
Year Of The Affordable Bike?
The Honda 500s, the Harley Street, new small-displacement Triumphs, and of course Cleveland Cyclewerks, are a few with this aim. As we see more of these on the roads, the hurdle to getting started riding won’t seem so high. Influenced by both emerging markets overseas and trying to attract new riders here in the U.S., this laudable trend should only increase.
Year Of The Electric Bike?
They seem to be coming ever closer to carving out some flesh in the industry. Maybe this will be the year that Brammo, Zero, and Mission start to change what people imagine when they hear “motorcycle.” With all the apparently eager potential riders, it’s just a question of when the matrix of price, availability, and people ready to spend the money will all come together.
Photo by ATOMIC
Year Of The Home-Build?
Doing it for yourself has never been more popular. Of course, not everyone has the time or skills to piece together a unique machine, but a garage-job built for $2,000 is unquestionably cooler than a $50,000 chopper. Everybody loves homemade cookies. Even relatively minor modifications to an old, used, stock standard bike can be a legitimate source of pride.
There is something in these and other trends that we think (hope) will be the real defining label for 2014. This could be the year of the Young Rider.
Photo by Smudge 9000
Year Of The Young Rider
It is easier to get started riding now than probably any time in the last 30 years, and there is an unprecedented range of options. Whether you’re into nostalgia, new technology, sustainability, or just basic transportation, riding should be more attractive today than ever. Add to this the trend of young people moving back into cities and delaying buying cars. Meanwhile, the old stereotypes of bikers (either sportbike squids or beard-and-beer-belly grandpas) are fading away, and with them some of the stigma. On top of all this, riding is being demystified by all the information about bikes, riding, and how to get started that is easily available on many online forums and websites just like this one.
We’re already starting to see more young people on two wheels, and there is every reason to be optimistic that this is not just a blip but a real change in riding culture.
What do you think? What will be the defining trend for 2014? What about your personal 2014 – what will your riding year be like?