What is the real reason behind why we feel our sport is shrinking rather than growing? In the early 90’s, motocross and free riding was going off the rails. Every little Johnny, Jack, and Sally had a dirt bike, but it doesn’t seem that way today. Some say it is the cost of the bikes which I call B.S. on because you can find some awesome deals on craigslist. Others will say it is because we are in a society where people only want to be on the computer. I call B.S. on this as well, because I want to be outside. I want to be riding, and I know others do too. It is in my highly unprofessional opinion that the answer is simple. Real Estate and everyone’s mentality towards it.
When I say Real Estate, I really mean owning land. I grew up where my friends and I could walk out to the garage and fire up the XR’s and DRZs in the morning and ride all day long on our own properties. We were EXTREMELY fortunate that our parents owned 4-5 acres each and the neighbors didn’t boarder our land. It is becoming more and more difficult to find a riding location near your home or be lucky enough to actually live in an area where you can ride on your own property.
When I moved to South Carolina I was floored by people’s mentality when it comes to their property. I kept saying that I wanted 5 or more acres when I was searching for a house and everyone, even the realtors were like “5 ACRES WHAT?! What are you going to do with 5 acres, why would you want 5 acres?”
“You simply cannot go outside, hop on your bike and ride when you live in a housing development.”
Look at housing nowadays. Majority of houses are in housing developments where you can almost reach over to your neighbors house from your bedroom window. Don’t even get me started on condos and apartments. These people in subdivisions have a quarter of an acre and wish that they had even less. Land is only a burden to them. You simply cannot go outside, hop on your bike and ride when you live in a housing development. You have to wait all week to go to a riding area or track. Plus, you have to pay money just to ride four, 20 minute sessions. For folks like you and I, this is torture.
So now we have a generation of folks, like myself, that are falling prey to the real estate industry. “Move away from the city, own your own private oasis in the suburbs, you’ll live happily ever after.” Give me a break, the pre-manufactured, cookie cutter homes each sit on .15 acre and they really aren’t even private. Your children can’t even ride a PW50 on these small lawns. Hell, they probably can’t even ride a bicycle in what little grass is there.
“You and I love these sounds… Our neighbors unfortunately hate them. “
So what is the answer to our dilemma? Move out of the suburbs and buy as much land as we can? I’m not sure what the correct answer is but I do think that we all need to try to do as many things as possible to protect what riding areas we have left. We need to support the local tracks and trails that are near you. If you are one of the few lucky folks that has a nice riding spot near their house, perhaps, try not to piss off the neighbors or owners so that they don’t take it away from you. Maybe there needs to be a stronger push on manufacturers for sound regulation.. The noise from a 4 stroke carries further than a pack mule could ever imagine. Even a 2 stroke with a fatty and short pipe can really belt out a crisp tune. You and I love these sounds… Our neighbors unfortunately hate them. Quieter bikes are a necessity for the sports longevity. A silent bike would be best though… Like an Alta!
I’m not sure that there is one solid correct answer, but this does however, bring up another question. With companies like Alta putting millions into bike development for an electric bike, and Yamaha pouring millions into the all new 65, or Honda with the split headers; Why would manufacturers continue spending money on R&D and advertising if the sport was not growing? Is our sport truly diminishing or is it mostly in our heads?