Snag reckons it’s all over for the full-on race replica sportsbike, and it sounds like he’s not going to miss them one iota.
Like it or not, the growth demographic among riders is post-40 years of age. While that should set an alarm bell or two ringing in the great halls of motorcycle manufacture worldwide, it’s affecting bike retail and indeed future planning in a huge way.
One of the major losers in all this is the sportsbike. The rocket, no-compromise, race-pedigreed, head-down beast that everyone was losing their load over 20 years is well on the nose now. Just head into a motorcycle shop. There will be more Adventure gear than a Indiana Jones Cosplay Convention. Yep, sporties are almost dead in the market.
You know why? Because they simply demand the rider contort into an almost impossible position to ride them. And, at a time in history that buyer is king, that is an ask too much.
We simply don’t bend like we used to.
Our most physically proficient symphonies in the sack were played a fair while back, personal lap records are not going to be challenged and mirrors are best avoided. But we ride and we ride a lot.
Just because you are older than 40, well, you ain’t dead. So manufacturers have adhered to the very best adage I know when it comes to servicing a bike market – ‘follow it and see what it eats’.
Riders of the growth age group tend to ride less often, but for longer distances when they do. They tour.
A great deal of this riding is recreational. We like to pack the bike and set off, kiss Basil or Rosemary goodbye in the driveway, usually in the company of a dubious lot of people we loosely call ‘riding friends’ and sometimes with a pillion aboard.
All of this should come as no surprise. The scribble was on the wall when the Sports Tourer became flavour of the month in the early 2000s. You could pack them, push them pretty hard and still arrive relatively comfortable and sane. Sensible.
And of course, as a natural evolution, now it’s the Adventure phenomenon. You can sheet this home to exactly the same thinking and add in the fact that light off-road work is in the equation too. Camping is in the picture and who doesn’t love a campfire and a drink with noisy friends?
You see, people in this age group are past trying too hard to impress their mates with the fad of the moment. Think about it. If you are in the aforementioned age group, your CD collection is likely to feature artists that you like. Ha… ‘CD collection’. See?
You’ve given up buying things that you hope will make you look cool among your peers. Yes, Neil Diamond is on high rotation at my place these days. Happy to admit it. I’m not cool. 1200 Techniques could have 1800 Techniques and they’d still never get a spin at Snag Palace. Ariana Grande is Ariana Mediocre, and I didn’t even like Pre-Malone.
And it’s been that way for a while. In fact, Wolfmother could offer up the whole lupine-lineage and they’d never find their way into the Snag Spotify Favourites list.
Wasn’t like that when I was younger. Heavens to Betsy… I listened to some crap in the vain hope that it may lift my social standing when I was a youngster. Hoped it might get me some horizontal activity too. Didn’t do either really…
Bikes are a little different, no-one wants to ride a nail, or be laughed at as they park up and we all like our bikes to be admired, but how they work for us is the primary concern.
My question is this… Why aren’t all sportsbikes made to be comfortable? The theory that, in order for a bike to be open to fast riding and to exhibit high-performance handling, the rider has to have almost all his weight supported at the bars is utter, utter rubbish.
So, why do I have to have my heels in my anus on a sportsbike?
Some may find some pleasure in that (your business, not mine), but my feeling is that it is an exhaust mechanism, not an intake device. So, leave it empty. Give us some legroom.
Seats. Yes, you need to move about a bit when pushing on, that’s true. But can I have just a modicum of padding? I’m not Valentino Rossi (and neither is he any more), I need some cushioning.
And who’s he kidding, that Rossi? He got off the thing after around 45 minutes. I’d like to see him ride that thing from Melbourne to Robe in a day…
So, the tribe has spoken. Litre sportsbikes are finished.
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 26 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.