IMS Survey Says Discover The Ride Program Is Connecting With Non-Riders

To those outside of the moto club, learning to ride a motorcycle is a lot harder than we riders think it is. For one, where do you begin? How do you get a bike? Who’s going to teach you?
Sure, you can throw caution to the wind and learn like many of us did: Borrow a neighbor’s minibike and figure out how the clutch works while trying not to huck it into a blueberry bush continuously (true story); accept your uncle’s ex-con brother Gary’s (the one with the limp) offer of teaching you to ride; or just sign up for an MSF course and stifle yawns for several long hours in the classroom. And then, just hope for the best.

Well, there might be another way. The Progressive International Motorcycle Shows (IMS) just released survey feedback that suggests its New Rider Course might be a more attractive process in the quest of learning to ride—potentially, anyway. The IMS group says that data gathered from survey participants of its Discover the Ride initiative showed 81 percent of the non-motorcycle-licensed folks who’d tried the program’s New Rider Course plan to get their motorcycle license. Of those, 64 percent were under the age of 35, which, the IMS feels, is a hopeful sign that a good portion of younger folk are interested in motorcycling.

“The motorcycle industry has struggled with millennials and Gen Xers not entering the market at the same rate as baby boomers are aging out,” said Robert Pandya, team manager, Discover the Ride. “Thus, it is critical for the future of motorcycling that current industry leaders come together to bring approachable opportunities for the next generation, as well as underserved demographics, to experience and get on board with riding. As the nation’s largest consumer motorcycle tour, IMS is currently leading that effort with Discover the Ride.”

A quick recap: Discover the Ride launched during the 2018–2019 IMS tour and rolled through seven major cities across the country, with a side trip to the 2019 Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Auto Show at the end. The program was designed, says IMS, to give “non-motorcycle-licensed consumers the experience of riding in a safe environment,” via a series of interactive components including the New Rider Course, The Kids Zone, educational seminars, and a dyno and wheelie experience. The New Rider Course in particular gives newbies the chance to throw a leg over a speed-limited electric Zero motorcycle (no transmission) and learn to ride while getting instruction from expert coaches in a controlled environment.

As far as using electric motorcycles for learning tools goes, Pandya is all in: “I mean it’s a no-brainer, right? You don’t have to learn what that clutch thing on the left does, or when to pull that shift lever, or how to do it—you just twist and go. Easy, right?”

RELATED: IMS Makes It Easier To Learn To Ride With New To 2

And Pandya isn’t just blowing smoke—the longtime industry vet owns a Zero DS himself. More importantly, he feels it’s up to us as a community to step up and preach the gospel of motorcycling to non-riders. “We [motorcyclists] need to do a better job of being inclusive. I can probably teach a pedestrian to ride in 10 or 15 minutes [in the New Rider Course] and I love seeing that shine in their eyes. But we all have to take it from there.”

“It is important for the motorcycle industry to recognize there is a deep pool of potential riders, especially within the younger generation, as Discover the Ride’s data suggests,” said Tracy Harris, Senior Vice President, Powersports, Informa.

Of course, it’s not all wine and roses; data gathered directly after the activity being studied can potentially be colored by the participants’ post-ride high (especially in a low-stress scenario like this one), so it remains to be seen whether they’ll follow through on their plans to get their full endorsement. Buzzkill, right? Still, it’s a huge step in the right direction, and one we motorcyclists should take to heart. Anything that lessens the barrier to learning to ride helps us all.

Additional key highlights from the Discover the Ride survey feedback:

  • Across the seven IMS tour stops and the DFW Auto Show, more than 6,800 consumers participated in Discover the Ride.
  • 47 percent of all non-motorcycle-licensed Discover the Ride and New Rider Course participants were female.
  • 2,008 non-riders completed the New Rider Course.
  • 51 percent of those were female.
  • 64 percent of the non-riders were under the age of 35.
  • More than 2,340 kids rode StaCyc bikes in The Kids Zone.

The Discover the Ride feedback from non-motorcycle-licensed participants was contributed by more than 2,000 consumers spanning Long Beach, New York, Dallas, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. In addition to the 2018–2019 IMS tour stops, Discover the Ride’s feature at the DFW Auto Show resulted in a comprehensive dataset from both industry and nonindustry consumers.

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