Once upon a two-stroke, advancements in motorcycle technology focused on material science and mechanical engineering to create lighter components, safety equipment to better protect the rider, and harder revving, fuel-conscious engines.  The future of motorcycling is indeed centered around technology, but the focus is on creating and delivering accessible, cost-effective, and digital solutions for tomorrow’s rider.

It is often contemplated how we have gotten to the point where technology has dominated our lives and if it’s really for the better.  Evidenced by the increasing density of our urban environments, wages that don’t keep up with the cost of living, educational debt hanging over the heads of many, and non-stop personal and work schedules, it’s no wonder we’ve turned to technology for assistance.  That technology has manifested itself in the form of Uber, Airbnb, and others in the sharing economy that allow individuals to rent or borrow goods from each other rather than buy their own. These companies are disrupting traditional establishments by creating frictionless solutions, lowering the cost of services, and building loyal communities.  The sharing economy is now coming to motorcycles, recognizing the unmet demands of the next generation of rider, and barriers of riding in today’s environment. By lowering the barriers of time, space, and cost, the sharing economy is helping make motorcycles more accessible than ever before.

There are 9 million registered motorcycles in the United States for 30 million licensed riders.  Additionally, the average motorcycle is ridden less than 3,000 miles per year. With a large population of interested, but inactive riders, as well as a fleet of underutilized bikes, Riders Share believes that these existing bikes should be shared, lowering the cost of ownership and access for all.  The peer-to-peer motorcycle rental marketplace helps bike owners offset ownership costs by listing their bikes for daily or weekly rental on their website. Renters can access a catalogue of bikes on-demand, ranging from a $32/day Vespa to zip around town, to a track-ready Ducati for $200/day. Riders suddenly have a fleet of available bikes to use on weekends or while traveling, as well as a de-facto test ride service before taking the plunge on a new purchase.  The on-demand element allows renters to forego not only the cost of purchase, but also maintenance, parking and insurance expenses. By sharing their motorcycle, bike owners can cover a lease payment with only a couple of rentals per month. Prospective renters must have had their license for 3 years, a clean background, and signoff from the bike owner. In the event something goes awry, the entire transaction is insured under a private policy.

Housing costs continue to soar, garage space is at an all-time premium, and young enthusiasts are becoming more disconnected from their motorcycles and the habit of basic maintenance.  GarageTime is a website that lets enthusiasts rent daily do-it-yourself workspace from their neighbors, helping inspire the next generation of passionate DIYers. By connecting garages wanting to utilize their vacant space with motor enthusiasts eager for shop access, GarageTime leverages existing assets, helps garages earn extra income for dream projects, tool costs, and home expenses, and helps build strong micro-communities of local enthusiasts. Garage owners set their pricing, availability, and rules when creating a listing.  Shops range from a home garage with basic wrench set, to a full commercial service station with use of air tools, vehicle lifts, and mechanic assistance. GarageTime is a useful resource for motorcyclists on the road, offering a network of enthusiasts to turn to for an oil change, replacing a chain, or mounting a new tire. By taking advantage of the spaces and tools already in existence, budding motorcyclists can save money, learn additional maintenance skills, and don’t need to take on a mortgage to have shop space.

One of the most overlooked sharing economy platforms, and possibly the largest modern asset to motorcyclists is the evolution of content on YouTube.  Prior to Youtube, a big problem in the motorcycle world was gearheads were extremely generous with their knowledge, but didn’t have a good place to share information long-term.  Much of that information has been posted on forums, which are great communities to discuss ideas, but aren’t built for storing information as valuable threads are often lost among other posts.  YouTube laid the foundation for a deep user-generated repository of videos to preserve all that knowledge in an organized, easy-to-access format. Today, millions of detailed videos are accessible on-demand, and free of charge.  Thousands of enthusiasts and shops have taken it into their own hands to post make and model specific videos on diagnosing problems, motorcycle and gear review, and how to perform step-by-step maintenance.

We are in a golden age for motorcycling.  Pressured by time, space, and cost, modern riders demand flexibility and a value-added experience as they advance the sport.  The sharing economy is paving the way by creating frictionless solutions for how motorcyclists engage with their bikes, service providers, and other members of the community.  Riders have never had more options and while these companies challenge the motorcycle industry status quo, they also present countless chances to engage with consumers at every step of the ownership cycle, and offer opportunities to redefine product offering, cross-sell services, and add value in new and exciting ways.