Putting Actions Into Words

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

…find out what’s going on around the industry to further our cause

I know what you’re thinking: Steve got the headline wrong. Usually it’s the other way around, right? While usually true, that’s not the case this time around. Let me explain.

Increasing ridership are the buzzwords of the day, and Harley-Davidson’s plan to add at least 2 million riders in the next five years is a lofty goal we’ve been retelling over and over—ad nauseam. I reread some letters sent in by readers in response to Buzz’s recent column (issue #356, The Future Of Motorcycling). It appears that Buzz’s column struck a chord with many readers, though there weren’t many positive viewpoints coming in. Lots of agreeing, lots of “woe is me,” but no answers to the dilemma of declining ridership.

That’s when I decided to put the shoe on the other foot and open our eyes to what’s actually being done out there. And we didn’t have to look very far. Examples of individuals and organizations working to promote the positive image of motorcycling and help spread our obsession were immediately obvious. Luckily, I had the opportunity to attend the International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in New York City last weekend to do more research. So in addition to checking out the latest hardware, I was busy bending ears and listening closely to find out what’s going on around the industry to further our cause. And we intend to share this information, with you, in writing. See? The headline makes sense now.

In upcoming issues, we plan to add an element to American Iron Magazine to report on what’s happening out there to increase ridership, and in doing so, this will be one of our contributions to the industrywide effort. Since we here at American Iron Magazine can’t come up with all the ideas on how to increase ridership, we plan to report on what others are doing to achieve that goal. By sharing these stories, maybe other readers can emulate what they learn about and help grow said project(s). Some of the initiatives I’ve already discovered include the following.

In conjunction with the recent Long Beach IMS show, a roundtable discussion was hosted to explore the situation. Many prominent figures in the current motorcycling community were in attendance. The meeting was coined Give A Shift, and we just received a full transcript of the meeting—all 59 pages of it. This is going to take a while to plow through, and we hope to bring you some highlights of the meeting in an upcoming issue.

Lee Parks’ Total Control Training Inc. has just announced it has been awarded the PA Motorcycle Safety Program contract for 2018. This five-year program management contract is the largest of its kind in the nation. This is a step forward in bringing motorcycling skills to more residents of Pennsylvania. Total Control now operates the state programs for both California and Pennsylvania, and business is booming. Lee must be doing something right. And we’ll find out what that is.

I found another operator of a motorcycle training school who goes the extra mile to offer free safety seminars at motorcycle dealerships in his community. And I also met a regional rep for a major motorcycle manufacturer who is forming an alliance with a track day school to offer new bike buyers an opportunity to participate in a street bike-only track day session. The goal is to offer new riders an opportunity to practice their skills in a safe environment free from traffic, potholes, and the usual variety of hazards you’d find out on the open road. It gives riders an outlet to push their bikes to the limit in a safer environment. How does this grow motorcycling? Safer, more experienced riders on the road become ambassadors for our hobby to those who do not currently ride.

I also learned about an endeavor undertaken by a dealership in New Hampshire that joined forces with a community college to offer entry-level motorcycle mechanic training classes. The dealership is actually building a classroom/lab (on site at the dealership) to conduct the training, and the college will administrate the program. The idea is somewhat self-serving as the dealership currently can’t find enough mechanics to work there. Some of the students may move on to become service managers or service writers. Again, this is an effort to bring new faces into our motorcycle world. So, if you hear of a successful project in your riding circle with goals (and results) of bringing in new riders, let me know about it at [email protected]