A new, direct-to-consumer initiative designed to attract new, young customers and their parents to motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs is now launching with approval from the Motorcycle Industry Council Board of Directors.
The MIC and its manufacturer, distributor, dealership and aftermarket members are calling for industry- and community-wide participation and collaboration to make it a success.
Now in final preparations for 2018, the RiDE initiative is in partnership with Feld Entertainment, the global live entertainment company widely known for Monster Energy Supercross as well as Disney Live, Disney on Ice, Marvel Universe Live and the Monster Jam series that features giant, high-horsepower trucks and pro drivers.
“With RiDE, we’re going to reach beyond motorcycle enthusiasts, taking our powersports story to the massive Monster Jam truck series audience,” said Chuck Boderman, vice president, motorcycle division, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “We’ll be at eleven pit parties in big stadium venues from Anaheim, California, to Nashville to Foxboro, Massachusetts.”
MIC president and CEO Tim Buche said that RiDE is about getting new buyers interested, swinging their legs over seats, and getting behind the handlebars, with professional guidance from RiderCoaches and Instructors. That, he said, is the best way to inform them, excite them and knock down any perceived barriers to riding.
“We know we need the next generations of customers,” Buche said. “We always will."
RiDE programs are slated for seven cities with thousands of square feet of engagement area and hundreds of participants each hour, starting at Monster Jam truck events on the East and West Coasts, Arizona and Tennessee. Audiences who are not primarily traditional motorcycle enthusiasts will have an immersive, hands-on powersports experience.
“We’ll have two-wheel and four-wheel products there, dirt bikes and ATVs, for a taste of all the fun," said Paul Vitrano, MIC chair and vice president, global government relations of Polaris Industries, Inc. "For little kids we’ll have non-motorized two- and three-wheelers. We’ll have Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoaches and ATV Safety Institute Instructors there to help.”
In addition to actual riding, RiDE will also provide a virtual reality option, with participants wearing VR technology headsets. They’ll climb aboard motorcycles that are bolted down but have the ability to rock, pivot and move, and the VR program will give guests a sensation of what it’s like to ride a motorcycle in a trail-riding environment.
RiDE will have a website, and potential customers and guests will be able to engage via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. At each event they will be able to instantly connect and retrieve photos taken there, giving them the ability to post their own content on social media. When guests leave the RiDE venue, they will be able to take local dealership information with them and they’ll receive a follow-up email with photos.
“It’s about three things," said Kerry Graeber, vice president MC/ATV sales & marketing of Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. "Experience, getting that very first hands-on ride. Instruction, how to get in on a class and where to get started; the local dealership and riding areas nearby. And, it’s about inspiration, to go, get out for adventure and family time."
The demographics of the Monster Jam truck audience are ideal for the powersports business. With an average household income of $78,000, a third of them are 25-34 years old, another third are 35-44 years old. Nearly half of them are female and three-quarters of them have children.
“Monster Jam events are a beginning,” said Jim Woodruff, chief operating officer of National Powersport Auctions. “When you think about it, there are tremendous opportunities to share the experience with others in-between events. It could be festivals, dealerships, maybe even schools. The opportunity to share the riding experience and get people excited is unlimited.”
The powersports industry is supporting this program, with funding, coaches, instructors, product to ride, aftermarket riding gear, and considerable staff time. But others are being called on to assist in a joint effort.
“We want to work with the dealers, we want to work with the distributors, we want to work with motorcyclists and ATV riders to get everybody working together, sharing our passions, sharing our stories with new generations of young riders," said Mike Doughty, general manager, motorcycle sales and marketing of Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. "Let's get new butts on seats and teach these young riders how to get started the right way, all of us working together."