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6 Ways the Pandemic Reshaped the Future of Riding

COVID-19 Predictions for Harley® Riders

We’re already getting sick of hearing the phrase “new normal.” It’s like this strange new society where we have to follow arrows to walk down grocery store aisles and interact with others through masks and Plexiglas in is here for good and we just have to accept it. Coronavirus has changed our society, in some ways forever, but it’s not all bad. 

This is a time of near-universal uncertainty, but patterns are already starting to emerge. Our COVID-19 predictions for Harley® riders will look at some of those patterns and show how if you don’t already own a Harley®, you might want to get one.

More Riders Will Seek Motorcycling’s Mental Health Benefits

Since the start of the pandemic, YouGov COVID-19 Tracker has been gathering data on mental health in the U.S. Their most recent numbers show widespread fear and depression. People are still afraid of getting the virus. They’re worried and insecure about paying their bills, keeping their job and juggling new responsibilities. And more than half of Americans are experiencing depression.

Leaving home takes courage and makes our stress level increase. We’ve discovered we’re vulnerable, and that we could just by breathing hurt our loved ones. Even if you’re not worried about getting sick, going in public involves stresses and frustrations that didn’t exist at the beginning of 2020.

There’s less overall traffic, but last time you took side streets and back roads, did you notice that more of it is people on two wheels? People are riding more because they need to do something positive for their mood, and riding provides that. 

In the months ahead, expect to see that trend continue. People will spend more time on their bikes for a number of reasons. Riding provides stress relief and a very real escape from COVID-related concerns. It’s a way to protect your mental health, an act of personal freedom and a way to break out of the quarantine state of mind.

Small-Group Rides Will Become Even More of a Connection Tool

Online meetups are exhausting. You can’t sit with more than a few people at a restaurant. The days of shaking hands or hugging to greet people are over. But as humans, we still crave interaction with the people we care about.

You’re not likely to see large group rides take place anytime soon. However, more and more riders will realize motorcycling provides a safe way to spend a day with friends. If you’re riding six feet apart wearing helmets, you’re not going to pass around germs.

One challenge riders will face is finding new ways to do good. We’re realizing heroes don’t all wear camo, and intensely grateful for the people who put themselves at risk to help out during the crisis. Typically riders use large group rides to show respect, remember and raise funds. Right now that isn’t happening, so dealerships and owner’s groups that find new ways of doing so will serve a currently unmet need.

Riders (And Smart Manufacturers) Will Take a Back to Basics Approach

In times of uncertainty, people reach toward what has brought them comfort, security, success or joy in the past. They’re less likely to take chances on what’s new and unproven. Expect to see that trend when it comes to the types of motorcycles people prefer.

This year Harley named Jochen Zeitz its new acting president and CEO, and at the end of April, Zeitz announced the manufacturer’s new Rewire strategy. Key elements of the plan include focusing on what matters most to existing Harley® enthusiasts and employees and resetting product lines for simplicity and maximum impact. That means you can expect bikes released in the coming years to have strong ties to what made the company great in the first place.

You’ll still see the release of Pan America and Bronx, and Harley-Davidson® will continue to add cutting edge rider technology and innovation, but the things you love most about the iconic brand will remain front and center.

Spending Will Continue to Change

Almost everyone felt the economic impact of the shutdown. As a result, we’ve reevaluated our spending habits. Consumers will continue to shop differently in the months ahead. We’ve seen these trends at the dealership, and we expect them to continue.

  • People are spending on what makes them happy. You’d think during a time of skyrocketing unemployment motorcycle sales would be in decline, but we’re actually struggling to keep up with demand. Consumers are buying things that make them feel good, and they can count on Harley® to do just that.
  • Customization is on the rise. Some riders are being more cautious about their spending. They don’t want to take on a new bike right now, so they see the value of investing in their current ride. 
  • Entertainment spending is more nontraditional. Nobody is going to the movies. Travel is limited. Instead we’re spending on entertainment and hobbies we can do solo that aren’t likely to be restricted in the near future.

And remember that population segment who said Harley® was too expensive, too loud, just for old white guys and so on? How they said the brand was doomed to failure because its success revolved around a name? Some of them will gravitate toward and spend on Harley® for that name. They’ll trade their made overseas bike for one that makes them feel they’re buying a classic while giving them the technology, power and bragging rights they crave.

We’ll Become More Protective of Our Civil Rights and Liberties

Motorcycle riders as a group prize self-reliance and independence. We want to choose our own road and stay in control of getting ourselves there. We have strong feelings about our right to do things like travel freely, protect our privacy, assemble and so on.

The pandemic highlighted how easy it is for many of our freedoms to be taken away. Motorcyclists will be among the groups that resist losing any more of that freedom. Expect lots of lengthy discussions, with more in favor of personal independence than big government.

Made in the USA Products Increasingly Sought After

Kinks in the supply chain have disrupted our ability to buy things we previously took for granted. Plus, we’re more suspicious of things made abroad. Riders are and will continue to trend more toward local purchasing over buying online. They’ll choose goods made in the U.S. over ones made overseas, in many cases even if the American made products cost more.

That’s going to make Harley-Davidson® more attractive to riders who might not have considered it in the past. It could also help already-solid resale value for pre-owned bikes.

If you don't already have a bike, let us help you find the one that's right for you. Shop our new 2020 Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, browse our pre-owned bikes or contact us to tell us what you're looking for.