The BMWMOA rally bombed again- Official attendance was 4000 odd souls, which means after deducting the thousand plus unissued and comp’d free tickets the real attendance was 3000 or so. Climate change can take some credit, as the triple digit heat indexes also dropped attendance at the Iowa Guzzi Rally 100+ miles north and a couple degrees cooler. A few days later climate change cancelled a Corvette gathering in Sioux Falls too.

But that’s just the beginning of what ails motorcycling… Let’s dig in the data a bit. Governments gather all kinds of obscure data, and democracies even make that data public. Thus our Census and Labor Department have been asking citizens what they do with their time, especially in the area of when we work for a few decades now. Just scratching the surface of that deep vein of data reveals that a third of us are working on peak rally days AKA weekends. That’s up from a quarter working weekends as recently as 15 years ago and probably even more from the heyday of motorcycle rallies in the 70s and 80s when their was no Home Depot and the lumberyard closed at noon saturday. Focus on the stats for the young riders motorcycling needs and they’re even more likely to be stuck working weekends.

It gets worse… It’s common knowledge that today’s young folks don’t make as much money as us seniors did in the 50s through the 70s. I took my data mining pick and shovel over to another vein in the Labor Department’s rich range of data and scraped up a few gems… Young folks today are spending about 5% less of their total income on transportation than we seniors did a few decades ago. So where did that 5% of their income go? Well, they’re spending 4% more of their income on education than we did a few decades ago!

While BMW will survive on the spending power of their well heeled car buyers, the motorcycle biz is suffering here with heavily discounted bikes lingering on showroom floors for years. And while the Iowa Guzzi Rally will do just fine thanks to the support of the volunteers and the good folks of Elkader, BMWMOA has gotten used to having it’s rallies in mega fairgrounds where a long weekend’s rent runs into six figures. With only 3000 or so paid admissions and many of them at early bird rates of $45 or so, there’s barely enough ticket revenue to cover the overhead. Another major revenue source, vendor fees that often run in the thousands for a decent indoor booth, will dry up as vendors figure out that 3000 or so mostly retired cheapskates ain’t worth it. BMWMOA, your about to go down the fiscal drain…

The solutions? Regional rallies spread around the country that hang around for a whole week. Less than ten buck a day admission with camping included. Free rider training with cheap “try before you buy” rentals. And instead of a throwaway beginner bike, a versatile and adaptable bike that will last a lifetime for under $10,000!

Fat chance any of that will happen. Motorcycling, please prove me wrong…

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