Aging Riders
By Gary Klinker 

Here we are, still in the depth of winter. It is about this time that you really start longing for spring to arrive. In the meantime carrying wood, snowshoeing, reading, Netflix, and weekend gun shows help to pass the time. I don't have a lot of new information concerning Safe Rider yet, so I thought I'd write about a topic that is not very popular with most of us.

Since I regularly read about six motorcycle publications and read other sources of information, a topic that I'm seeing more and more is the aging motorcycling population. Almost every month a letter to the editor shows up asking about when to quit riding, or how to know when it is time to stop. We all realize when we attend events that the average age of those around us is going up. I have never heard anyone say, "Can't wait until I get old enough to sell my bike." If, like me, you want to keep riding for as long as possible let's look at some alternatives.

Keep doing what you do. - If you are physically active, healthy and eat well, keep it up. Regular exercise and a healthy diet will go a long way toward letting you continue riding for a long time to come. Upper body and leg strength will make riding safe and enjoyable for many more years. Balance and holding up the weight of the bike seem to be the biggest concern of those who wonder about hanging it up. Keeping your mind sharp is the next concern. Exercise your mind as well as your body.

From two to three. - You know that we are seeing more three wheeled vehicles on the road these days. Some are new owners, but many are people in this category, who just want to keep riding. Trikes, Spiders, and Slingshots are options on the market. You can also have your current ride converted to a three wheeler. A little research will turn up a number of companies that do trike conversions on various models. There are also places that do the two in front conversions of Harley and Goldwing models. I think the cost of many of these options are pretty high, but how much do you want to ride?

Downsize. - Aside from staying healthy, this would be my option of choice. If you look at the number of brands and choices of motorcycles on the market today, this is the golden age of motorcycles. Not only are smaller bikes easier to ride and much lighter they are a lot of fun. No matter what you ride now, or what type of riding you do, there are bikes on the market that can save you as much as 500 pounds and still do long distance touring, commuting, and weekend riding. Smaller models don't skimp on the bells and whistles anymore. Most can be had with ABS braking, fuel injection and a wide range of electronics. High fuel mileage is also a big plus for us as we approach the "fixed income" category. Harley has 750 class bikes. Almost all manufacturers have bikes ranging from 300cc to 750cc bikes that would suit your needs. Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Yamaha, and BMW all have some very impressive 300 class bikes that sell for less than $5000.

While still riding a number of FL baggers I bought a 95 Buell. It was a big difference and a lot of fun. After that I got a 650 Suzuki, even smaller and lighter, a V-twin with 65 horsepower and 70 mpg. There are a lot more choices now than then. As a way of comparison I looked up some weights of various bikes. H-D Ultra Classic-894, Goldwing-925, H-D 750 Street-489, Sportster 1200 Custom-587, BMW 1200RT-604, BMW 800GT-466, Kawasaki 650 Versys-399, and all of the 300 class bikes I found are under 400 pounds. That is quite a range. The winter months would be a great time for internet research for the riding season to come.

Conclusions. - The bike you ride is a personal choice. What you ride, how you ride, how much you ride, and how long you are able to ride are up to you. There are options to all of these. For some retirement income will dictate choices. For some physical ability and health are the deciding factors. Whatever your choice, practice and periodic training classes will make riding in the upper years safer and easier, as well as building your confidence. The saddest thing I can imagine is someone letting their ego or prejudice stand in the way of their continued riding. There are so many alternatives to sitting at home and growing old.

Ride Safe.

Klinker, Gary. "Aging Riders." ABATE of Wisconsin Newsletter Feb. 2017.

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