As Gas Prices Rise, Motorcyclists Still Vacation
Raleigh, NC 6/20/2005
Source: BIKERS USA
Many resorts and vacation spots are seeing a drop in people vacationing as gasoline prices soar. However, there is one group that is not as effected by the higher gasoline prices. With their fuel milage usually ranging between 40 and 80 miles per gallon, many people are choosing to ride their motorcycles to their vacation destinations.
Fuel economy is not the only reason. Nowadays, motorcyclists tend to have more cash than ever, with above average incomes, and their ranks cross many of the upper echelon of career professionals. In the last 40 years, motorcyclists have drastically changed the way they are perceived by the public and are now sought after by many charities. During the 2004 election it even helped politicians to be seen mingling with bikers, many of which are military veterans.
Several years ago, there were only a handful of campgrounds in the United States which were exclusively created for the use of motorcyclists.
“It was difficult to find what we refer to as biker-friendly businesses. We were getting kicked out of places as soon as we showed up on our Harleys” says the editor of BIKERS. “Now, everyone wants to own a biker bar, and vacation accomodation businesses are lining up for a share of the money the motorcyclists have available and are willing to spend”.
To get an idea of the money which is available, just take a look at the prices of motorcycles. There are chopper manufacturers which have prices averaging around $32,000, with the range being from about $25k up to $42k. Even the Japanese rip-offs that try to look like American cruisers typcially start around $10k and go upwards to more than $20k.
Yuppy bikers who stop in to get their daily fix of expresso at the overpriced yuppy coffee shops are now quite commonplace.
The trend of motorcyclists having more disposable income than their counterparts who drive their gas-guzzling SUV’s appears likely to continue, and along with it, there is an increase in the number of people who take vacations on motorcycles and buy a second property in a vacation town near locations that have major motorcycle events.
Tourism dollars generated by motorcycle events are enormous! The tourism board in Volusia County, Florida estimates that 500 thousand riders attend Daytona Bike Week, and pump an additional 260 million dollars into the countys’ economy. Austin Texas hosts a rally attended by 50 thousand people which adds over twenty million dollars to the citys’ economy.
In response, bike rallies, sometimes referred to as Bike Week, if they last for 7 days or more, are popping up all over the country.
In places where there are typically distressed economies, such as the Smoky Mountains which border North Carolina and Tennessee, motels are all lining up to be seen as being “biker-friendly”. Old race tracks from the early days of stock car racing are being converted to campgrounds and rally headquarters.
Some areas of the country have not been as quick to catch on to the trends happening in the Carolinas and Florida yet. While the Carolinas typically have a dozen competing events happening on the same weekend, states like Utah, Nevada, and Montana are still lucky to see more one or two major motorcycle events in a season.
Even California, which used to be the great bastion for bikers seems to lag behind the Carolinas. One of the main reasons is that the laws in California are no longer conducive to freedom-loving motorcyclists. California saw a 40% drop in motorcycle registrations in the first year of mandatory helmet laws.
New policies from the EPA which target motorcycles in California are expected to sweep the country in the next few years, leading many to believe that perhaps the oil barons who rule the country want to reduce sales of motorcycles since they have better fuel economies. In addition to being a step towards loss of freedom and rights, the new laws will make it very difficult for owners of custom motorcycle shops and aftermarket parts dealers.
For now, however, the list of business owners trying to cash in on the ability of motorcyclists to travel include resorts, casinos, hotels, motels, cabin rentals, vacation properties, vacation timeshares, and campgrounds. There is also a percentage increase in the number of motorcyclists who buy RV’s. They park at the RV campground, then take their motorcycles on trips around the area.