The average age of American bikers jumped from 40 in 2001 to 49 in 2010, according to J. D. Power and Associates. In 2009, 31 percent of all motorcycle riders — and 10.6 percent of new riders — were 50-plus, reports the Motorcycle Industry Council. Many have ridden for years, which partially accounts for the rising average age. Some are empty nesters buying their first bike, eager to indulge their motorcycle fantasy. Still others are returning riders who, like all bikers, crave the exhilaration of hanging their knees in the breeze and the promise of adventure in every mile.
Ready to kick-start your own motorcycle fantasy? It all starts with the right bike.
Can you see yourself sporting a black leather jacket and slurring, "Let's split," à la Marlon Brando? If so, you're cruiser material. Cruisers are low and lean street bikes that come in both Asian and American models.
Yamaha Road Star $12,390
Yamaha's Star Motorcycles Division has created a number of clean street cruisers, all featuring V-twin and V-four configuration motors and comfy ergonomics. The Road Star's catalog of available parts and accessories makes it a favorite with riders who like to customize their bikes.
*Click on the motorcycle to see a larger image of each model.
Do you refuse to travel without a cup holder for your latte? You're talking bagger, friend. Touring bikes — or baggers — are the biggest trend in motorcycling today, especially among older riders. Popular models feature tall windshields, ample storage in hard saddlebags (hence the nickname bagger), and plush seating. Some even include heated seats and grips, CD players, and GPS units.