Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA, USA
Trends in Motorcycle Touring
Thought some of you might find this of interest. It's from page W10 of the March 31, 2006 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
Travel companies are revving up motorcycle vacations, and motorcycle makers want to join the pack.
Last April, Off the Beaten Path in Bozeman, Mont., started offering individual bikers custom-designed nature rides through the Grand Tetons and the Southwest. (The trip typically costs $3,995 per person for seven days, including tour guide, bike and other amenities.) Since January, Abercrombie & Kent has packaged a 360-mile ride from Ayers Rock to Kings Canyon in Australia's Outback, at about $466 per person. Meantime, BMW Motorcycles will launch a tour program called "Xplor" this spring, while Harley-Davidson says it will start a tour business early next year.
The new tours come as more Americans are buying motorcycles: Unit sales rose 5% last year, from 2004, and have nearly tripled since 1995. Also, the proportion of bikers with a love for long distances has been slowly growing, with 31% of owners at least occasionally touring more than 500 miles at a time, up from 28% five years before, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council's latest survey, in 2003. Short tours were up, too.
The new travel tours are also aimed at people who don't own a motorcycle -- or never have. Keith Roe, an engineering-company executive from Greenwich, Conn., recently got back on a bike for the first time in 20 years for an Off the Beaten Path custom tour with his wife. The 60-year-old says they got funny looks when they accidentally rolled into a 1,500-motorcycle rally in a small Wyoming town. "My wife had on jeans and a fancy pocketbook while other girls were wearing leather bras," Mr. Roe says.
For some tours, you don't even have to be on a bike. Sean Reid, owner of Northeastern Motorcycle Tours, leads gourmet trips through New England, and recently began to let vacationers tag along in fancy sports cars. He says, "A lot of folks don't know how to ride, but they'd love to do the whole thing in a Porsche Boxster."