Why Are New Motorcycle Sales in Freefall?

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Harley sales are in free-fall – down 9.3 percent in the U.S. for the first fiscal quarter that ended this summer – amounting to losses of $258.9 million. The company has announced it will lay off about 200 workers this fall.

The rest of the industry’s not doing so well, either.

You can still find plenty of leftover 2016 model year bikes at most dealerships – and we’re eight weeks away from 2018. To say sales of new motorcycles have been slow is an understatement right up there with advising the captain of the Titanic that there’s a “little leak” down in the hold.

But why?

Could it be . . .  Uncle?

Yes. Of course. Always, these days. There is almost nothing bad happening that, to one degree or another, hasn’t got his grubby fingerprints all over it.

It is because of Uncle that motorcycling isn’t what it was once – freeing, in particular. It has become expensive, which is a drag if you’re young, especially. Millennials – the next-up generation that ought to be swelling the new rider ranks – aren’t. Probably because they can’t afford it.

Debt sucks. And Millennials are saddled with plenty of that already.

Here are some telling stats:

The median age of a rider today is 47 – up from 32 in 1990. That is a several standard deviation’s difference and so no small thing.

Even more alarming – if you make or sell new bikes for a living – is that the number of first-time/new riders in the 18-24 cohort – the people who will form the backbone of your buyer base for the next 20-30 years – is down from 16 percent of the total pool back in 1990 to a depressing 6 percent today.

Almost no 18 year-olds (a mere 2 percent) are throwing a leg over – down from 8 percent back then.

Again, money.

Because Uncle.

Motorcycling has become not-cheap for several reasons – all traceable to Uncle.

Bikes are now mandated to have the same expense-padding equipment – especially anti-pollution equipment – that cars have had to have for decades. Non-bikers often don’t know this, but until fairly recently – the mid-2000s – most new bikes did not have computers or catalytic converters and a majority of them still had carburetors rather than electronic fuel injection.

The reason being that even big bikes have small engines relative to cars and the number of bikes on the road is a fraction of the number of cars on the road. Only about 1 in 40 people  even own a bike. Most people own at least one car and many own several. And unlike most cars – which are used regularly – most bikes are ridden intermittently. The majority are ridden for pleasure, not for utilitarian reasons.

Point being, bikes – even without all the emissions gear – don’t emit much in the aggregate. Imposing emissions regs on them is therefore essentially punitive because it’s not meaningful insofar as public health and the “environment.”

But Uncle is nothing if not punitive.

New bikes must now be very much like new cars – computer-controlled EFI, catalytic converters.

They are not only expensive as a result – especially to service, which most people can no longer do themselves, as with cars – they are anodyne. One EFI system is much like another. There’s very little in the way of tactile joy in plugging in a reprogrammed ECU – which is they way you “tune” a modern fuel-injected bike. Besides which it costs a fortune. A reprogrammed ECU is in the range of $400 – vs. maybe $15 for a set of jets for the Mikunis.

This is a problem, generally, for the not-old (or at least, the mot middle-aged) who prefer a hands-on experience as well as an inexpensive experience. So motorcycling is becoming the pastime of the old – and affluent.

The median household income of a motorcycle owner is now $62,200 according to stats compiled by the Motley Fool and 65 percent bring in more than $50,000.

That largely rules out the 18-24 crowd – Millennials – as a class. It’s not that they “don’t like motorcycles,” as asserted by some analysts. It’s simply that they can’t afford them anymore. And that makes it hard to like them anymore. 

And so, they aren’t buying them much anymore.

In contrast, bikes built before the mid-2000s were likable and affordable. They were simple – at least relative to cars. Most service could be done by the owner – as was the case with cars in the long-forgotten past. This was attractive to people in their teens and 20s, both economically and otherwise. It is liberating – financially and psychologically – to own a machine that you understand and can fix yourself. It makes it yours in a way that a throw-way electronic appliance never can be. 

A bond forms between man – and machine.

Well, it used to.

Interestingly, the market for pre-Uncle-ized bikes without all the crap – the cost and the anodyne joylessness – is doing just fine. The value of older bikes, free of computers and without catalytic converters and easily adjustable and fixable in the owner’s garage is going up – in parallel with a similar trend that can be discerned with older, pre-Uncle-ized cars. There is a small but growing industry that concerns itself with rebuilding cars from the ’70s and before to be used as daily drivers.

The government can continue to force-escalate the asking price of new bikes – and cars – but it can’t force people to buy them.

So long as there’s an alternative – a way to end-run Uncle – people will take it and do it. Which is why, in the end, Uncle will probably throw down the gantlet and simply outlaw the pre-Uncle-ized stuff, both cars and bikes.

If you think it can’t happen, better think twice.

. . .

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  1. I think motorcycle manufacturers have done a pretty good job at building affordable bikes in the 300 – 750cc range. Back in the day, those were considered medium to large bikes. Today’s youths are just not that interested; they’re too obsessed with their cell phones and video games to concern themselves with cars and motorcycles. If the new ones available were too expensive, there are lots of used bikes available for dirt cheap. If you were able to get the total number of bike registrations (new and used) for young people, you could see if it was economics or just lack of interest.

  2. Snowflakes are triggered by motorcycles? Harleys would be the best bet for the risk impaired but they are too expensive for youngsters with very little disposable income?

    • Hi Rugged,

      I think there is a lot to this business some have remarked on about how the Safety Cult has pansified everything and made most Millennials fear and dislike motorcycles.

      • True Eric. The question is how many young people can ride a pushbike. Not many, safety you see. Can’t have people falling off bikes and getting scratches and bloody body parts. Like I did the first few times I was on a pushbike. And survived to print this comment. So if they are afraid of pushbikes, imagine how terrifying a motorbike is to their snowflake brains.

  3. Unfortunately our young ones have been re-programmed by public schools and Algore to hate the IC engine. Then our children were told to go on to public college and get further re-programming and become a slave to the government debt they can never pay off. Cars to them are appliances that Dad has to pay for.

    As for motorcycles, they are vulnerable industries (consumer discretionary) that take the first hits during these planned recessions thanks to the federal reserve. Us older types are gravitating towards the classic bikes just as you said Eric for their minimalistic symplicity and they are cool. Also you can restore them at a much lower cost than a classic car and gets you instant street cred with the older guys who loved them back in the day. (Mine: 68 BSA Lightning)

    • Hans,

      Mine was a 1968 Triumph Tiger, that I pulled from the stock frame and installed in a Jammers rigid and girder.

      Loved that bike, wish I still had it.

  4. The decline in new bike sales pretty much tracks the bursting of the bubble in 2008. IMO a large part of that is due to so many bikes ,boats,RVs, etc being purchased with money from home equity lines of credit (HELOCS) and cash-out refis. The whole country went on a binge during the age of the bubble, variously described in fatuous articles like in the Wilson Quarterly as “The Wealth Explosion”.
    First came then the Harleys parked in front of houses with for sale signs on them, along with the fancy bass boat.Then the foreclosure sale of the house.
    Why spend $30K on a new “Hardly Ableson” when you can get the same thing used with 5K miles on it it for less than a third?

    • Hi Erik,

      This is absolutely true. And – to me – the crazy thing is the bike industry hasn’t responded with simpler, less expensive to buy and maintain machines. Some of this can’t be helped, of course. EPA. But I think they could still make – as an example – a 750 cc standard with an air-cooled engine that would be emissions legal and cost around $7,000 brand new.

      Related to this, I think, is the issue of practicality. New sport bikes, for example. They are full-on track bikes and not comfortable to ride all day, especially if you’re tall (or over 30). But the thin 22-year-olds can’t afford the insurance on these things. My local store has a massive glut of new bikes – some of them 2016s.

      • I am riding a 2014 Suzuki Boulevard S40. 650 air cooled Mukuni carb. No computer. Just electronic ignition.. It is a motorcycle, not a car on two wheels. Of course, thanks to Uncle, the bike runs so lean that everyone has to do a rejetting after they get it.
        Still, a brand new one is stickered at less than $6k. And, while it is not a highway touring bike, it is a cruiser that is quite comfortable to ride around town (especially compared to sport bikes) and will still do 65-70 all day, or as long as your butt can take it LOL. And that big thumper has plenty of pull from 20 to 65. It’s also a lot less intimidating to new riders while being a hell of a lot of fun for experienced riders as well. As you can guess, I’m happy with it because I wanted a dinosaur like my 69 BSA, just one that was higher quality and more reliable.
        I can rebuild a Mukuni carb myself for a fraction of getting EFI fixed.
        Uh, yeah, it is a cold blooded machine, still a fair trade off IMO.

        • Hi Greg,

          That bike is truly The Last Samurai. It still (2017 model) has a carb, which is amazing given the realities. I doubt it will last.

          If I needed a new bike, this one would be a contender!

          • I saw a Suzuki the other day that was fully faired but minimally, maybe what they call a bikini fairing. It pretty much covered the engine and gave legs some degree of wind protection and looked like you’d need to be laying down for the tiny windshield and other fairing parts to do any good but it was a neat looking bike. Seemed like it said Takana and 650. I noticed aluminum everywhere the fairing allowed. It was a walk by and I was busy so I didn’t get to check it out any further. Is this one of the V twin bikes?

            • Suzuki makes the SV650 which is a V twin sport bike. Completely different animal than my LS650 (S40 Boulevard) which is a cruiser. I do not like sport bikes for street riding. To me they are track bikes, not around town or highway bikes. I hate the riding position, whereas on my cruiser it is just relaxed tooling around. It’s too light for serious interstate riding, but country roads of which I have plenty, it cruises just fine at 65-70. In town it’s great, easy to sling around.

  5. Reading this makes me wish I had never sold my 79 kz750. At least I still have my 81 Honda GL500 with all of the hard cases and trunk, although it does need a crankcase gasket to fix a small oil leak. Now if I was only physically able to still ride. Hopefully one day I will, but I will never sell that one even if I can’t. I’ll just hold on to it and leave it to the kids who both ride.

  6. Another factor too, may be because the motorcycle manufacturers are all now trying to sell “a lifestyle” rathan merely motorcycles. You’re goaded into buying a certain brand or type of bike for some narrow purpose- a Harley for the “biker” image; something else for “stunting”; something else for pure speed. Apparently, you can’t just buy a plain old motorcycle anymore, just for normal riding or transportation- just as you can no longer buy a plain old full-size car or SUV with vinyl bench seats and a stick. So if you don’t fit into some micro-defined niche cafe sub-culture, they have nothing to offer you.

    And then what with having to be captive to the stealerships for service; and branded parts and accessories costing a fortune because they’re not just an accessory, but “part of the lifestyle”, even for those who could afford it, why would they want to- since they are essentially being sold a pre-fab culture, which is antithetical to much of the what attracted people to bikes.

    I’m actually seeing a lot more bikes on the road these days- but they are indeed OLD bikes.

    New Harleys are for dentists. Real bikers or people who just want to experience what motorcycling used to be, ride old ones.

    • Hi Nunz,

      You make an excellent point. Very few “standards” in the mix. This has improved somewhat lately but – vs. Europe especially, where such bikes are still common – you’re right, it’s pretty much: Sport bike, Cruiser Bike, Touring bike or Adventure Touring/Dual Sport bike.

      • Eric! You forgot the “I’m a bad-ass-biker-on-weekends-who-rides-a $34K-Harley”… : D .

        ReadyKilo, Ha! Great point there! If the tree-huggers truly spend more time in the real world; in the actual environment which they claim to love so much, their opinions would be a lot different. Hard to fool those of us who work outdoors. Those who spend the majority of their time in an artificial environment, on the other hand, derive their view of reality from what those around them tell them.

    • My boss rides. He’s strictly a weekend rider though, and only on nice sunny days. Even though the winter in Denver is generally cold and dry his bike sits in the garage on a trickle charger until spring.

      He could easily ride to work every day on the thing except maybe from March until around June. His bike even has heated handgrips. All he brings to work is a laptop, and getting around traffic in town could be much easier on a bike than it is in his Yukon SUV. But his bike is a show pony, not transportation.

      I’m reminded of a Seinfield bit on Comedians in Cars. He’s talking about a friend/coworker of his father’s who rode a bike every day. One day it was raining and the biker came in all wet. Jerry asked “I’ll bet you wish you were in a car today.” The guy replied “Nope, just wish it wasn’t raining.” I’m sure this is a fiction but still a pretty good way to look at the world. And maybe if more people spent more time outside they’d be a little less worried about climate change too.

    • Nunzio said; “You’re goaded into buying a certain brand or type [snip] for the [snip] image”
      Aye, you’re supposed to have a special outfit for everything these days. Going to the gym? Climbing on the Hardly? Apparently you need to dress up like Lance f-ing Armstrong to ride a bicycle now.
      Drives me nuts….

      • HAhaha! Ain’t that the truth, Bob! It’s all about the image! You’re supposed to play a part. Perish the thought you should just ride your bicycle around and actually enjoy it. Oh no! Ya gotta have the lycra and the heart-rate monitor and the power-meter, and pretend you’re training for the Tour De Farce.

        • After buying a new road bike I got a lesson in carbon fiber saddles. Those lycra shorts keep the twins from getting mashed and have a strategically placed pad, both of which keep you from the malady Lance lived through but I probably wouldn’t. The shoes clip onto the pedals.

          I draw the line at a friggin helmet and wear a fishing shirt that keeps me cool. As for cutting the wind I figure it’s a lot like that 379 Pete, just bring a lot of torque.

        • Hi Nunz,

          Here’s another for you: I hike a lot. A couple years ago, I noticed that almost every other hiker was using ski poles – or what looked like them – as an adjunct to walking. It’s the New Look, the New Uniform. You can’t just hike anymore….

          It’s striking how gleichschaltung Americans are. Other examples include tats and nose rings – they’re everywhere out of nowhere. Even the language people use – all conditioned into a meme from on high, by the level pullers.

          • Eric, it seems that a good percentage of adults today have the mentality of an impressionable 8 year-old.

            They all copy each other and what they see on the Tee-Vee. They don’t even realize how juvenile. low-brow, and idiotic the styles which they emulate make them look.

            It’s as if there is no intellect at all; just a brain that keeps the body functioning at an animalistic level, without any thought or taste, or anything more copying what they see, like a monkey.

            There’s something terribly wrong when ya see even 50 year-old women all tatted-up and listening to [c]rap “music” and wearing jeans which look like they had fallen off of a motorcycle at 80MPH.

            And grown men fawning over other men who are their “heroes” because they can catch a ball- and they emulate these “heroes” by wearing replicas of their sports uniforms…and use ghetto language and gestures which they saw in videos.. (I guess they were watching them with their wives- the aforementioned women!)….

            And they’re too clueless to even have any shame about such juvenile behavior….but instead, they openly proclaim it.

            And they vote!

            It truly amazes me how much Western society has devolved in my lifetime.

          • I’ve always used a stick when hiking. I find a suitable stick in the woods and I use it. When I am done hiking I leave it behind. I do find it useful but there’s no reason to get all fancy-pants about it. But that’s people now adays I suppose.

        • Like Eight said, they really are (mostly) functional. And I track my heart rate and all that because 1) I ride for exercise so want to know if I’m actually getting any, and 2) because family history is full of heart attacks and clogged arteries.

          However when I was in really good shape I have to admit that occasionally I’d stop at the grocery store on the way home from a ride and enjoyed the looks I got from many of the female shoppers…

          (These days, not so much….)

          • Ready, you need a machine to tell you when you’re sweating; and when you’re huffing and puffing? Those things are unmistakable and not open to interpretation. The numbers your machine puts out mean different things to different people at different times- i.e. like all health/nutrition “science”, the meaning and interpretation of the numbers are constantly changing…..and in the long-run, it’s your genetics and any bad habits that will determine more about your heart’s health than anything.

            Remember Jim Fixx?

      • I think a lot of my problems bicycling stem from the fact I don’t wear the costume of a “serious bicyclist”. If I wore the costume things would probably be somewhat better. Humans are really hung up on costumes for some damn reason.

  7. When I mention the old car wars of the 80s and early 90s on sites where there is a younger crowd they think I am insane. They don’t realize as early as 1987 people were trying to ban cars made before 1980.
    There is an ignorance that these forces are out there and that is very bad because if the young people who will fight don’t even know the enemy is there, how is it to be fought?

      • You’re probably one of those guys with a “gasp” 40 round mag. I hear the Magpul D 60 is highly reliable…….DEER HUNTING ONLY! HA!

  8. I’m 30…first bike was an ’85 suzuki madura 1200 when I was 21. My current bike is a 78 cb750 supersport slightly modernized to get rid of points (thanks to your kz900 article), but otherwise stock. I want an early 80s harley fxr or fxd with a shovelhead and kick start and that’s why people my age don’t help new bike dealers. That and I think anyone who rides a drive by wire/abs bike is insane. You can die if those fail, and fail abruptly they do

    • I bought a new 80 model Suzuki 1000 GSL, a very nice bike, easily and cheaply hotrodded to much greater power.

      Sold it only a bit over a year old still in warranty to buy a pickup I had to have.

      Necessity reared its ugly head and I couldn’t afford both.

      2 years later a new pickup was added. A year and a half later another pickup larger and more powerful was added.

      Mandatory insurance stopped me at 3 full time pickups plus an El Camino and I’d have bought a CB 750 if the wife hadn’t intervened. I try to figure a good reason for another big 4, probably a Kaw, all the time. Want seems to take a backseat these days

  9. Just because something might be a cliché doesn’t make it untrue.

    Lots of old-school activities have gone by the wayside because the millennials have no interest in them, and not just motorcycles and cars. Many hobbies such as model trains, building models, craft work, collecting, artistry, and so forth are of little or no interest to those under about age 40. Ditto for reading books, magazines, and newspapers. Ditto for playing many sports outside of carefully guided school sports with the goal of getting a sports scholarship to university. Few youth take up, say, golf as a pleasure any more.

    The local newspaper has a column on collectible items every Sunday. Often it notes that prices for most of these items have dropped a lot since a peak about 10–15 years ago, and the growing lack of interest among the younger crowd in collecting anything is the main reason. You have to suspect that many formerly valuable antiques will probably end up in landfills or junkyards one day as a result. This will include old muscle cars that would have been worth restoring.

    Some of all this can be traced to stagnating wages: many people just don’t have the money or time for motorcycles, tinkering with cars, or other hobbies. No, video games, smartphones, and computers have subsumed everything else for the younger crowd; they can find time for that. Many young guys today come from single-parent (single-mother) households and never learned anything about mechanical stuff either. The worst part is that these kids won’t realize what they’re missing until the rest of us are gone and no one is around to fix these things.

    • @ekrampitzjr,

      I have 3 bikes. One Honda Rebel CMX250C Y2k year model, one Kawasaki VN750 that I foolishly used K&N air filters on that ruined the engine and a 1984 VT700 Honda Shadow. All three bikes are not running currently. Not because I don’t want them to but rather due to the following issues.

      One I have arthritis in my hands which makes any repair tedious. This condition also limits my musical practicing to a mere 5 minutes per day. Two, parts are now hard to find. I’d have to have a 3d metal printer to build the parts needed. Three, I am now on Socialist Security. the only debt I have is my house payment but it is almost 900 bucks and i receive about 1200 bucks a month. This makes paying someone to repair any one bike impossible.

      I loved riding my bike to work, however, since I no longer work…


      • Yeah, remember them?! Today, those model rocket engines would probably be considered “explosive devices”- and if you let your kid play with ’em, you’d be hauled away as a neglectful monster- and the kid would end up in Guantanamo as a “terrorist”….

        In 8th grade, as a sheet-metal project in shop class, we got to make “launch boxes”- with a light, and a toggle switch and push-button, to launch the rockets!

      • Ah, Model Rockets — in sixth grade, my friends and I played with them a lot, we dubbed ourselves the “Basement Bombers”. We even configured an RC vehicle with a rocket launching rail…sort of a “Kiddie Katyusha”!

        We also like to make “Beer Can” guns…a primitive cannon fashioned out of the old Falstaff Beer cans, which were STEEL, and the diameter was just right for a tennis ball. Use a salvaged hypo to inject some gasoline, and you had a honest-to-“Gawd” mortar!

        If some kids were to pull those stunts today, the shit would hit the fan!

  10. 2018 Honda Goldwing:


    7 speed automatic/dual clutch transmission
    traction control
    auto dampening suspension
    Apple CarPlay

    Playing with the “build your own” page I checked every box and…

    2018 Gold Wing Tour Airbag DCT
    Candy Ardent Red/Black
    35 Accessories Selected
    MSRP $39,583.25*

    My Cherokee was cheaper and I don’t need to sit under an overpass in the rain. Just the fact that there are 35 factory accessories available is kind of mind-blowing.

    Eric are you going to get one to review?

  11. John has a point.

    I think a large reason was the Great Recession.

    A large secondary reason is the fact that the current crop of youngsters has had any sense of adventure, daring or risk taking thoroughly beaten out of them by 20 years of helicopter parenting and Safety Uber Alles.

    • Anti Federalist: exactly. Production costs for most things are way down, and wages have been stagnant, or at least not increasing at pace with inflation, for decades. That, along with the fact that motorcycles just aren’t that cool to the current generation. It is hard for me to admit, but the world moves on, and new generation rarely love the same stuff the way older generations did. I’m in my 40s…my younger colleagues in their mid 20s are almost utterly indifferent to motorcycles and cars. It’s just not their culture.

      • Anyone noticed the size of the current crop of youngsters? Most can’t get out of their own way plus they’re huge tall. Maybe it’s just where I am but I feel like a kid when I’m in a crowd of them. I’m not small…..among my peers but I’m peewee amongst the younger crowd. I can see how a bike isn’t a good fit for them. and the girls, oh lawsee, whas happened to the gals? Driving by a college yesterday I saw one girl after the other, in doubles and triples, that would outweigh me by a great deal. They’re not starving.

        • Yep 8S. Those fat cows and bulls are everywhere here in Australia also. Walk through a shopping area and see how many people are guzzling junk food and sugared coffees. fat, rolls of fat. Mind you one needs lots of sugar to drink such a bitter fluid like coffee (I hate the smell). They have trouble moving faster than a snail’s pace.

    • Ready doesn’t ride motorcycles, but often thinks about buying one. He didn’t ride as a kid so don’t have the background. So this is an observer’s POV based on likely incorrect information more than anything. -ed

      Another problem is since the 1990s bike marketing is dominated by crazy fast bikes and Harley-riding greybeards. When the average man on the street thinks of motorcycles they think of the straight piped Harley that their (got-damned) neighbor runs down the street and sets off the dog alarm. I could see the point of taking that strategy, for the manufacturers and dealers it’s cheaper to sell to the converted instead of trying to open up new markets. Touring and basic transportation bikes were generally looked down on, and of course the national obsession with all things HD probably turned off a lot of potential riders too. A Honda Rebel 500 or Yamaha V star looks like it would make a great bike for fun on weekends or for commuting on nice summer days (or how about getting around in crowded congested cities if you can keep it from being stolen), but they aren’t marketed outside of existing owners who aren’t going to want an entry level bike. And I’ve heard rumor that a few bad apples will harass Japanese bike owners, although I imagine that’s pretty much overhyped and maybe just misinterpreted boy behavior.

      If someone does show an interest too often they’re likely to be steered to something they can “grow into” instead of something that might be good for years but isn’t going to impress the boys in the club. And you’d better join a riding club, subscribe to magazines and visit every Harley dealer you come across, because it’s not a transportation and fun machine, it’s a lifestyle. See you at Sturgis, unless you got one of them Japanese bikes…

      But then again, a small displacement engine might not be able to pull the average obese American who’s so high on Oxycontin they can’t keep their balance.

      • The only motorcycles that I have any interest in are from about 1900 to 1940. The older the better. Someone I knew who became a friend later once asked me if I wanted to buy a ’42 Harley. I was in college at the time and needed such a thing like a hole in the head but thinking back I probably should have bought it if the price was reasonable. Anyway one of my things back when I might have bought a motorcycle was that I would just be some social outcast riding something something 1920s, that it would be about the same as my bicycle in the 1990s.

        • Hi Brent,

          Toward the end of my marriage, I found solace in the restoration of my ’75 Kaw triple two-stroke, which I have written about here often. These older bikes are almost living things in a way that nothing modern can be. Regardless of their objective merits – horsepower, quickness, etc. – they lack personality. They are appliances, disposable as much as they are interchangeable.

          • I’m a steam power/steam locomotive “affciando” for the same reasons.

            I’ve taken part in number of restorations and have also had the experience of working on steam powered ships, one of which was WWII vintage.

            I remain fascinated by the simplicity and almost “living” condition of external combustion just as much as I do with old internal combustion.

            • Hi AF,

              I dig steam, too… great minds!

              Locally, the restoration of a classic steam powered locomotive – the 611 – was recently completed. That beast will get your heart rate up!

              • The Union Pacific Railroad actually still operates two steam locomotives. One of them, the last steam powered they bought in the 1940’s, was never retired and only goes out of service for maintenance.

              • Those streamlined J class engines are just stunning. I’ve been meaning to get down your way and ride behind 611 and also get over to Cass Mt. Railway.

                Looking forward to C and O 1309 coming back into service as well.

                In 1935 the PRR could make the run from NYC to Chicago in 16 hours 30 minutes, using semi-streamlined PRR K4s locos. The best time government run Anthrax can do today, is 19 hours

                Here’s a couple of links to projects I help out with, up here in northern New England:

                Restoration of Maine East Coast #470

                Wiscasett Waterville and Farmington RR

      • Ready,

        Both Honda Rebels are now out of reach of the poor. Mine new cost 2850 lock sock and barrel. the new ones are in excess of 4k msrp. For people living with Mom and Dad saddled with stupid student loan debt…

        Well you know where that leads!


        • I guess that makes sense as long as living at home includes automobile privileges too. Otherwise it makes even more sense to run a motorbike instead of a car, but most aren’t set up for practical daily use. Just adding a simple milk crate to the back (or a backpack) would do wonders, especially when all you’re bringing to work is a laptop and maybe a change of clothes.

    • I have to agree. The commercial that turns my stomach most is the one GM has for their black truck where da da goes out and buys a smaller replica for son. He puts the boy in the damn thing with a HELMET ON!!!

      Now mind you I have an electric car for my GGSon that has a remote control so he can ride in it in the yard while I control it. The top speed is 2.5 miles per hour and has a seat belt. There is ZERO chance the car will overturn on a flat surface! i refuse to make him wear a stupid appliance like a helmet.

      Talk about making ya teef ache!!!


      • I helped build an electric go kart track here in Australia. Boss let us run the electric cars on the track after the day’s work. No helmets or any of the safety crap the riders now have to use. It was great to feel the air blow across your face, and without the helmets, it appeared the speed was much faster. The helmets kill all the sensation of speed and just about anything else.

        • Hi to5,

          I have been riding around for short forays without the got-damned helmet. I encourage everyone to do this. You will immediately remember the freedom – and if enough of us would just flip the bird to “the law,” it would be unenforceable.

  12. In 1997 I bought a brand new GSX-R600 for $7699.

    That represents $11,719.96 in 2017 dollars.

    MSRP on a brand new 2017 GSX-R600 is $11,199.

    The 2017 model is wildly better in every way than the 1997 — it makes 10 more hp at the rear wheel, and weighs 35lb less wet. And it costs $500 less (in 2017 dollars) than it did 20 years ago.

    The drop in sales isn’t due to increased costs, governmental or otherwise.

    • Hi John,

      Money isn’t everything… the ’97 was a simpler, more accessible machine. It had carburetors, no cats – no computer. http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/suzu/suzuki_gsxR600%2097.htm You could work on this bike yourself – easily, inexpensively.

      The ’17 has computer controlled EFI, drive by wire, cat/02 sensor and myriad electronics.

      I’ve had bikes – including many sport bikes – all my life. I’d love to have the ’97.

      The ’17 interests me not at all.

      It’s analogous to cars; what they’ve become. Quicker, faster… yes, inarguable. But less personality. More homogenous.

      A new Corvette would easily wipe the streets with my Trans-Am.

      But the Trans-Am makes me smile in a way the new ‘Vette can’t.

      • Eric:

        I sold my last carbureted bike two months ago. My two current bikes are both FI, cable throttle, and their cats mysteriously disappeared after their first evening in my garage. And an ECU flash is today’s jet kit. I don’t miss the fussiness at altitude or the startup games of carburetors. But you know what really I do miss? The smell. FI will never have that nice, semi stall overrich fuelly stench at idle that a hot tuned carbed bike has.

        • Hi John,


          My ’03 ZRX1200 is prolly the last bike I’ll buy new. And you know what? The Keihins are dialed in so well the thing might as well be fuel injected.

          But with the character that only carbs give ya!

    • I think that the drop in bike sales is due to the feminzation of modern men. Around my office, there are a lot more “metro” sexual type dudes around. None of them would have had any reason to know about bikes since they spent most of their child hood drinking water from BPA cups, were subjected to vaccines and GMO food at an early age. They spent most of their time indoors playing video games. I think that demographic shift towards single motherhood with mothers bearing the primary burden of child rearing had much to do with it too.

      • Hi Swamp,

        Amen on single motherhood… if my forays into post-divorce dating are any measure, almost every woman over 25 who is single has at least one kid already.


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