Over the last few years, the world has changed so quickly due to the pandemic and all of the implications that went (and still go) with it.
At some point over the last year or two, we’ve all had to sacrifice our goals, ambitions, wants, and needs.
Or at least postpone them.
At the very least, we’ve had to adapt them or learn to dream a little smaller for the foreseeable future.
So of course, our adaptations have forced changes in trends that we might not have otherwise seen. And this is exciting – because our attitudes are influencing the objectives of the companies who manufacture our bikes.
In this post, I want to mention 8 trends that I’ve noticed over the last year or two. And I want to discuss how you, too, can make the most of them.
1. Motorcycle Touring Trends: Bikes Are Getting Smaller
Let me set the record straight here. This is not a big-adventure-bike-bashing post! As many of you know, I own a big adventure bike, so I’m well acquainted with the pros and cons.
But the one gripe that has consistently pained me is the sheer weight of it. ADV bikes need to be getting smaller and lighter – not bigger and heavier.
For as long as I can remember, you weren’t an adventure rider unless you rode a 300kg BMW GS Adventure. (You could also ride a similarly large KTM, Honda, Ducati, or anything else grotesquely oversized.)
And we never questioned it. Because images of weather-beaten, middle-aged men on big BMW’s adorned the covers of motorcycle magazines across the world.
But now, things are changing. And motorcycle manufacturers are having to change as well.
2. Riders Are Getting Younger & Bikes Are Getting Cheaper
In general, younger riders have far less experience and even less disposable income to throw on bikes.
A lack of experience means that smaller, lighter, more nimble bikes are easier to handle on the trails.
And with less money, younger riders are prioritising the experience of the trip over the bike. Saving money on the bike means they can tour for longer.
So manufacturers are having to put more thought into the bikes they produce. And this is resulting in some smaller, lighter, more affordable offerings – such as Triumph’s Tiger 660, Honda’s CB500X, and Royal Enfield’s Himalayan – amongst many others.
3. Motorcycle Touring Trends: Less Motorcycle Elitism
I’m especially pleased to see this particular trend coming to the fore.
As mentioned above, you could never really consider yourself a part of the adventure community if you didn’t ride a £20,000 adventure-spec machine, have aggressive knobbly tyres, or wear a beige adventure suit.
But attitudes are shifting. People are more interested in the effort individuals put into their trips and less interested in what brand of bike they ride it on.
These days, anyone on two wheels who leaves their home for an adventure and makes it back alive to tell the story is welcomed into the club.
Brand-related put-downs have been replaced by congratulatory slaps on the ass for the effort they’ve put into completing their trip.
And long may it continue!
4. Any Bike Is An Adventure Bike
A few years ago, I posted an article stating that you don’t need an adventure bike to go on an adventure.
I went into the media and marketing of the manufacturers and how it was always subtly inferred that you couldn’t go on an adventure unless you had an adventure bike.
I also stated that it was absolute bullshit – because you can tour on any bike you please.
You don’t have to look too far on social media these days to find people touring all over the world on both small and large capacity ADV bikes.
Look a bit harder, and you’ll find people exploring on dirt bikes, Chinese bikes, cruisers, street bikes, choppers, sports bikes, shed builds and anything in between.
When planning for my first European tour on a 20-year-old Honda CBR 600F, a work colleague (who rode a brand new Ducati Multistrada) asked when I was going to “get a real adventure bike.”
And I must admit, it made me (for a second) doubt my own abilities and self-worth.
All these years later, I’ve toured countless times and have a lifetime of memories from my adventures. As far as I know, his Multistrada (and all of his subsequent new ones) have barely left the garage.
5. Motorcycle Touring Trends: Italian Bikes Are On The Up
Italian bikes (like Italian cars) have always been a thing of beauty. But like most people, I’ve always admired them from afar but never had the hankering desire to own one.
Numerous Italian offerings are entering the touring space, and this can only be a good thing for the sector as a whole.
Of course, we have the 50 million variants of Ducati’s Multistrada (V2, V4, Pikes Peak and all the rest of them.) But we now have even more Italian style and charisma to choose from.
Take your pick!
6. Sports Tourers Are (Still) Coming Back
Another article we posted a year or so ago was the return of the traditional sports tourer.
Granted, the comeback wasn’t quite as vigorous as we anticipated. But they have been making a slow and steady comeback nonetheless.
Perhaps less new (but still important) offerings from Yamaha include the updated Tracer 7 GT and Tracer 9 GT.
7. Motorcycle Touring Trends: Riding Local
Due to the pandemic, people have taken to touring locally – and I see this as a trend that will continue. Of course, as borders begin to open, we all want to flock to the far-flung places we’ve been dreaming of.
And we will.
But I also have several shorter trips planned that span the UK, and I’m looking forward to exploring my own country more. Not only this, but it’s contributing to the national economy and local businesses.
Similarly, I have friends in Italy, Germany, Portugal, and numerous other countries – and while they all plan to travel, they also have plans to continue exploring their own respective countries.
8. We’re Getting Creative
In years gone by, touring was firstly about the experience and secondly about the bike.
And that’s where it ended!
We took the occasional holiday snap on our phones or compact cameras, but the rest of the memories stayed locked away in our minds.
Holiday snaps are being replaced by production-quality photography and videography! And why not?
Decent quality video and images can be gathered inexpensively as the technology becomes more and more available.
And with a plethora of social media platforms to choose from, you can quite easily document your trip through uploading images, video, or even the written word.
People are finding their creative selves and expressing themselves through their adventures.
And that’s a good thing.
Forget about work. Postpone money worries. Dismiss those emails from your boss.
Lose yourself in the location you find yourself and spend an hour creating memories. Because in 10, 20, 30, 50 years from now, those are the memories that will matter.
What Motorcycle Touring Trends Have You Noticed?
What touring trends have you spotted over the last 12 months or so, and where do you think they will take us in 2022?
Let us know in the comments below!
A few of the posts eluded to within this post: