The Future Of Motorcycles & Powersports

Dec 19, 2022

Tags:general1

Imagine if you tapped a button on your phone, and a few minutes later, a brand new Ducati arrives in your front door. Actually, make it a Harley. Or one of those 3 wheeled Can Am Rykers.

How awesome would that be?

We want to make that vision a reality, and not just for motorcycles. We want to trailer an ATV to you, or dirt bikes, and I am sure we'll figure something out for snowmobiles too. Maybe even one of those flying motorcycles, once (if?) they hit the market.

It will not be easy to unglue people from their screens and get them outdoors. Riders Share's mission is to make powersports accessible. I started this company because I could not afford to buy a motorcycle or snowmobile, but I still liked riding every once in a while. And most inventory just sits around, doing nothing, clamoring for a good ride.

So we started a peer to peer online marketplace for motorcycle rentals, where thousands people currently lists motorcycles for rent. We vet riders, provide insurance, and some day we will allow quads and other vehicles too.

We have a plan to get people out riding more and less afraid of partaking in outdoorsy adventures.

We plan on ungluing people from their screens and taking them outdoors by reducing costs of doing so, promoting safety & community, and by making a wider variety of toys available for people to find the exact adventure they dream of.

Making Powersports Accessible

1. Cost: It Starts With The Wallet

The number one reason people don't engage in powersports is cost. The average Polaris buyer is a dual income household with good credit and that means more than 60% of American households don't fit the profile of someone who can afford to buy a powersports vehicle.

Let's be honest, $10,000 is a lot to splurge on a toy when you can spend the evening binging Netflix for under $20 a month.

And that's the United States. In other countries that are not as wealthy as ours, very few households can afford the luxury of enjoying an ATV in the desert or a motorcycle ride on a twisty road. The potential to expand access to powersports there is huge, and they too are addicted to screens.

The cost-benefit equation for powersports is simply not there for most people. The average motorcycle gets only 2,000 miles per year according to the Bureau of Transportation, compared to cars which average well over 14,000: cars get 7x more use!

At Riders Share, our mission is to make powersports affordable. We help powersports owners earn income from their vehicles when they are not in use, so they can purchase more or buy nicer toys. And we help people that want to experience powersports without the financial commitment by renting them at a fraction of the cost of a traditional outlet. It happens to be a greener way to engage in powersports, not just more cost effective.

Many Potential Riders, Few Vehicles

To give you an idea of the potential, there are roughly 10 million off road powersports vehicles on the road, yet it is estimated for 40 million people to used powersports in the last 5 years (sources here and here). With on-road motorcycles, similar story: around 30 million licensed riders per the MIC and our estimates, but under 10 million registered motorcycles. That leaves dozens of millions of people interested in powersports that do not own them. In the case of off-road powersports, many people only interact with them when friends share or by renting.

I mean, if younger generations can't afford to buy houses...where does that leave your UTV budget???

Riders Share estimates there are around 60 million people that enjoy or have enjoyed the adrenaline of powersports in the last 5 years and 15 to 20 million vehicles, roughly 3 enthusiasts per vehicle available. And there is significant overlap between people that enjoy snowmobiles and people that ride motorcycles, so it makes sense to have them all under one platform.

The Sharing Economy

By using the Airbnb model, we make powersports vehicles available and more affordable to all enthusiasts. On Riders Share, it already is roughly 50% less expensive to rent a motorcycle than on traditional motorcycle rental outlets, because owners of bikes don't have to pay rent, hire employees or incur many other costs that rental shops have; and our owners maintain bikes better on average than a paid hand - because they ride them too!

Sharing Economy Timeline - Powersports are next!

2. Training: Reduce Negative Experiences

While off-road powersports don't require as much training, the largest segment of powersports requires licensing to ride. Motorcycles in many countries have 3 tiers of power, while in the US one license can usually allow you to rent most types of 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles. Accessible training is critical not just to expand access to motorcycles, but also to promote safety - and safe riding applies to all powersports.

Is There A Decline In Motorcycle Licensing?

Below are 3 charts from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) detailing 3 things:

a) an over 50% decline in new licensed riders from 2011 to 2020

b) a 30% decline in MSF training sites in the same time frame

c) a 40% decline in MSF certified coaches

Source: Motorcycle Safety Foundation

Part of the reason the MSF has declined is that they now have competition, such as other rider training academies beating them for state contracts. Furthermore, many locations were not open in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the trend is clear even before the pandemic: less and less people are interested in learning how to ride motorcycles.

Yes, there is a decline coming in sales and ridership, and not just of Harley riders.

Training Helps Limit Fear of Powersports

There are many, many reasons why people are losing interest in motorcycles. Part of it is that there are more fun activities to do with your free time than there were 30 years ago - the competition is your smartphone!

Another reason is the perception that riding motorcycles today is more dangerous than in the 80's, when car drivers weren't distracted by smartphones and traffic wasn't as bad. The perception that riding motorcycles today is more dangerous is simply wrong, as the rate of fatalities per vehicle is now much lower. However, social media and technology easily spread awareness of negative experiences, and maybe we are more risk-averse than our parents because of that.

Training makes it safer to ride and reduces negative experiences that make people quit riding or too afraid to try. It's simple: Better riders result in less accidents.

We need better training.

I had a horrible experience when I took the MSF course.. The guy didn't explain how to shift gears and it was the first time for me as I had always driven automatic cars...like most young Americans today. He was intent on scaring us from riding altogether and made a couple of people quit right there. They also taught me stuff that was flat out wrong! Unfortunately, experiences like this one are par for the course.

You'd be surprised how many people think the back tire is your main brake. That is what they (incorrectly) taught me at the class. And do not send me angry email me about it, just watch a MotoGP race and you'll see which tire the pros favor for braking.

It is not surprising that the fatality rate of motorcycles is much lower in other countries. This is something we can fix.

Our plan to fix training: Experiences

One of the limitations of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is that it is a non-profit funded by motorcycle OEMs. There is little economic incentive for the organization to expand training locations, advertise them, track outcomes and improve.

At Riders Share, we plan to use our online marketplace business model to fix this:

  • Experiences Marketplace: We will allow people to list all kinds of experiences (classes, tours, rallies, rides, get togethers, etc.) in the same way that today they can list a motorcycle for rent. Our sorting algorithm will surface the highest quality experiences (and classes) in each city or town, just like our algorithm today surfaces the most reliable, best priced motorcycle listings
  • Insurance: We will create insurance products to help more people become certified instructors at a lower cost, just like today we provide more affordable commercial insurance for motorcycle rentals
  • Data: We will track what types of curriculums result in lower accident rates within 6 months of taking a class, and recommend instructors modify their curriculums based on empirical data, a scientific approach. Believe it or not, no control studies have been performed in the US over the last 30 years to test the effectiveness of MSF curriculums. A small control study done in Canada found kids got overconfident from taking training and crashed more within 6 months. There is a real possibility the courses are doing more damage than good.
  • Marketing: We will market these experiences and take a small cut to pay for the ads. Picture an ad on Tinder targeting young single people and suggesting a motorcycle class as a first date!

The concept of using a business model to get people off their screens and into powersports works because the revenue of the business goes into marketing these classes to non powersports enthusiasts. It funds itself, and does not need charity.

3. Community: More Positive Experiences

I am optimistic that we can help train more riders, and that self-driving technology in cars will eventually prevent many motorcycle accidents (I know, I know it's not there yet). I also think we can use self-driving tech to deliver bikes some day.

But none of that matters as much as having an awesome time with your buddies while riding.

When you are having a great time, you want to share it and experience it with other people. In fact, people that go on a fun motorcycle road trip at least once tend to become lifelong riders, whereas people that exclusively commute on motorcycles tend to quit riding.

Our vision with the Experiences Marketplace is to allow you to book that snowmobile ride of your dreams with a new group of friends, with a tour guide to take you across the best trails in New Hampshire. Or to find a local club to ride on the weekends in the new town you just moved into. Perhaps to book a class with a former racer that makes your dirt bike riding skills so much better now than they were before.

4. Variety: Spice it up!

Some people are more comfortable in a scooter than in a sport bike.

Others live in smaller towns with no dealerships.

Perhaps you value convenience and want to be able to walk and get a ride without waiting.

The last piece to make powersports accessible is having tons of different vehicles, in every location possible so we can cater to all tastes and needs. From ATVs to flying motorcycles (a man can dream), the more vehicles available the more access we can provide.

They are coming!

Summarizing: Connecting people and vehicles in the real world

It's not going to be easy to fight screen addictions and convert these addicts into adrenaline junkies instead. This is particularly true when Mark Zuckerberg is pouring billions into the "metaverse". We must ensure new technologies are applied to the powersports space and we need to do a better job of keeping people interested in powersports so that videogames and The Matrix-style simulations don't replace outdoors activities.

Our mission at Riders Share is to make powersports accessible and safe, and we plan to do so via lower cost, more variety and better experiences.

We hope you join us on this ride,

Guillermo Cornejo

CEO | Riders Share