A long time ago, in a neighbourhood far, far away, I had graduated from riding my BMX and was riding a ‘ten-speed’, when I heard of a new kind of bike that would change my life: a mountain bike…
The current motorcycle market shows a trend towards Trail and Adventure bikes. Glancing at the KTM 390 Adv, Husqvarna Norden, or iconic models such as the Yamaha Ténéré, Honda Africa Twin, BMW R1200GS, and others, coupled with the marketing push and sales numbers, show what lay ahead.
Manufacturers are in a ‘chicken or egg’ cycle (pun intended), seeing both the benefits as well as the challenges in responding and animating this segment. The benefits being the demand and the challenges being their ability to supply that demand within the confines of realistic budgets and brand competition.
This tremendous recent increase in popularity and interest in the entire off-road sector exists due to economics, versatility, logistics, communication and globalization, population, laws, and weather, but is definitely catalyzed by media, publicity, R&D, and investments.
Events like the Dakar (which now has a new and affluent home for 5 years in Saudi Arabia), World Enduro Super Series (Romaniacs, Erzberg Rodeo, etc.), and other world class events, are becoming headliners for broadcasting outlets such as RedBull TV, ESPN, Sky Sports, and many others, bringing the thrill ‘down to earth’, where everyone feels they can get a taste.
People are ‘taking to the dirt’ and liking it. Where once upon a time Adventure bikes were used as nothing more than comfortable road-going touring platforms, they’re now being used to reclaim their namesake and to challenge riders and to face taking on different terrains. At the same time, enduro and motocross (reaching all the way to trial bike riding) have been blessed with an influx of female aficionados, substantially increasing numbers and opening new gateway market segments.
When off-road motorcycling was less popular and seen as more of a whim or a niche, most of the market demand could be met with a variety of asphalt biased machines. Nowadays, we want it all, and we want more of it, with more options.
It seems absolutely natural that real life constraints of not having the luxury of owning different bikes for different purposes, encourages an adaptable solution found in trail and adventure bikes.
We’re living a time of change and the dust hasn’t even begun to settle one way or another. The only thing that’s clear is that there is no clarity as to which way the market will end up, but the signs do point to practical, adaptable, and flexible motorcycles taking to a beaten path or a road less traveled.
Peter ‘Safety Bear’ Bokor