When Am I Too Old to Ride?

By Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School.

When Am I Too Old to Ride?

It’s a question that many riders, especially those of us old enough to be called “seniors”, are starting to ask themselves. The Baby Boom “Woodstock” generation of riders is now silver-haired and wondering how long they want to ride the same bikes they did a few decades ago.

At a recent Americade, a major touring rally in the Northeast, the average age of attendees early in the week was definitely hitting the over-55 mark with a younger crowd on Friday/Saturday. It was great to see so many different types of vehicles available to demo ride this year. Folks lined up to ride everything from a Harley-Davidson CVO Road King to a Can-Am Spyder. Both Indian and Victory brought a stable of large touring bikes and Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha had a combination of sport and touring bikes to sample.  The demo lines were long everywhere with anxious riders waiting to ride the latest and greatest, hoping to find their next bike.IMG_6078

Inside in the conference center, there were many seminars on various topics. Ours werefocused on input from the audience. The one clear question that came up time and again was what age is too old to ride. It was obvious that it was on the minds of many, and the comments and opinions flew back and forth in animated discussion. One gentleman said he just couldn’t hold up his bike anymore. He rode a Honda Goldwing with his wife onboard as passenger. His solution was to get a trike, which he was very happy with. Others suggested converting an existing bike to three wheels if there was a problem with balance. One gentleman in his late 70s complained that as he was getting older going out at night or in limited visibility situations (fog/rain) was more and more stressful because of changes in his eyesight. He has limited himself to riding in his immediate neighborhood, but wanted to know if there was another solution.

So what age so you think is too old to ride? There is no right answer and the consensus was that many factors have to be taken into consideration, including limited vision, and changes to our reaction times, balance, flexibility and strength (especially relating to 2-up situations) that come with aging.  Some suggestions for extending your riding that came up were:

1 .Strengthen your core with resistance, weights, cardio and other exercises.

  1. Maintain good health with emphasis on vision.
  2. Stretch before riding to maintain flexibility.
  3. Check the ergonomics of your riding position and adjust for maximum comfort.
  4. Check out some accessories that you may not have considered before. Some riders commented that adding floorboards or “highway” pegs on engine guards helped prevent leg cramps. Heated or smaller size grips, throttle locks and adjustable levers can alleviate hand cramping from arthritis. Adding LED accessory lighting above or below the headlight not only helps you be seen but can improve the length and width of your vision ahead at night.
  5. Take additional skills training to improve reaction time.
  6. Consider a smaller, lighter bike.

We’re all getting older. It’s up to each individual to evaluate their skills and decide whether they should still be riding, but some of these suggestions can help you keep on riding safely and comfortably.


Ride Safe!

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