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Aging Boomers are giving the term "Easy Rider" a new meaning as they propel the sales of three wheeled motorcycles, or trikes as they are more commonly called. These motorcycles have created quite a controversy at Sturgis, South Dakota, home to one of the largest annual motorcycle rallies in the world as some cyclists consider these rides a slap in the face of "real" motorcyclists.
Older motorcyclists are not letting balance problems, aching joints, bad knees and other age related aliments force them to give up their love of motorcycles, they just put the training wheels back on their bikes and keep on keepin' on.
Much of the appeal of these trikes has to do with the stability which does not require their riders to lean into curves or hold the machine steady at stoplights which is difficult on the knees and muscles.
Grady Howard, 74 has been an avid motorcyclist for over 50 years, roaring down the tobacco roads of North Carolina and over the mountains of Kentucky with his wife, Barbara behind him.
“I told my wife it was either trike it or park it,” said Mr. Howard, 74, wearing a cowboy hat and a bright yellow safety shirt. “And she said, ‘Trike it.’ ”The three wheelers started out as a do-it-yourself industry such as the Kool Trikes owned by Randy Butler and located near Juneau, Wisconsin. Randy started out in 1990 as Butler Auto, but as motorcycles began taking more of his time and Randy's interest in trikes grew and so did the demand.
Industry experts say the sale of tens of thousands of trikes, whose sticker prices can rival an upscale sedan’s — a new three-wheeled Harley starts at $30,999 — has helped buoy a slumping industry and kept a generation of born-to-run riders on the roads.
CNN Money points out the top two manufacturers' trikes:
The trike in Harley's 2012 lineup is the Tri Glide Ultra Classic, which it colorfully describes on its website as "the ultimate badass touring machine." The massive bike weights nearly 1,200 pounds and is rated for 80 pounds of cargo. But since it has three wheels, there is no need for the driver to balance all that weight when he makes traffic stops. The Tri Glide Ultra Classic starts at $30,499 and costs as much as a midsize car, but that hasn't stopped its rise. Sales grew 11% in 2011 vs. 5% for two wheelers and are up another 27% this year, making the Tri Glide the sixth most popular Harley model.
It's not just the boomers buying up the trikes, though. Industry sales have shown that upwards of 27% first time motorcycle owners are purchasing three wheelers. Women are buying them up as well as they are tired of being regulated to the "back seat" and standard motorcycles can weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds which is a bit much to handle.Can-Am's three-wheeler has an entirely different DNA [...] Spyder sales rose 50% in 2011, and BRP now ranks sixth in U.S. cycle sales. The vehicles come in two flavors: the sporty RS, which designed for one person, and the more sedate RT, which accommodates two and is designed for long trips. Unlike the Harley, Spyder was not adapted from an existing vehicle but was engineered from the ground up. It is equipped with modern safety features like traction and stability control and anti-lock brakes. Prices start at $17,000 and go up to $25,000.
Explains a spokesperson: "We saw an opportunity to go after the non-nons: People with no experience with motorcycles or power sports vehicles." Introduced in 2007, the two-plus-one design of the Spyder was so unusual that Jay Leno took delivery of the first one.
Monte Hochhalter is a 68-year-old truck driver from Longmont, Colorado, who decided to switch to three wheels after some pressure at home.
“My equilibrium isn’t so good anymore,” Mr. Hochhalter said. “My wife wouldn’t ride with me.”A retired veterans service officer, Mr. Howard, who sports loafers with Velcro fasteners, was a bit wistful about the old two wheel days, but loves his 2010 Honda Goldwing conversion which already has 35,000 miles on it.
Mr. Hochhalter was riding a converted 2006 Harley, which cost him $18,000. But the company’s 2013 trike can go for almost twice that, complete with cruise control and a good set of high beams (perfect for older eyes, of course). It also comes with an ample trunk, something Tim Buche, the president of the Motorcycle Industry Council, a trade group, said was important to baby boomers — who make up a third of motorcycle owners.
“Boomers travel,” he said. “And they like to take all their stuff.”
“As long as I can throw a leg over it,” Mr. Howard said, “I’m going to keep going.”A few more articles if you are interested:
And just because it came up in my search and we all need a laugh: