Greying the Open Road: Seniors Embrace Motorcycles, Prioritize Safety and Style

As they embrace the thrill of motorcycling, seniors prioritize safety and style, choosing gear that offers robust protection while reflecting their personal taste. Advanced safety features combined with contemporary designs ensure they enjoy their rides without compromising comfort or flair.

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Greying the Open Road: Seniors Embrace Motorcycles, Prioritize Safety and Style
6 Min Read May 11th, 2024

Motorcycling is an increasingly popular hobby among seniors. It offers a sense of freedom and adventure that is particularly appealing in retirement. While the image of the motorcycle enthusiast is often associated with youthful rebellion, the reality is that the median age of a motorcycle rider in the U.S. is 50, and a significant portion are seniors.

The attraction of the open road on a motorcycle transcends age, and Western nations like the U.K., Canada, and others are mirroring a trend seen in the U.S.: a growing number of older adults are enjoying motorcycling. Fueled by a shared nostalgia for the motorcycle culture that boomed in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, these "silver riders" bring a wealth of experience to the two-wheeled world.

That would make sense, as many adults over 50 grew up with motorcycles in popular culture. Those over 50 likely have many memories tied to motorcycles from TV and the movies. These iconic bikes were featured on both the small screen and the silver screen and then into hearts, leaving a lasting impression. 

We remember when Henry Winkler cruised the streets of Milwaukee on his iconic Triumph motorcycle. The Fonz from Happy Days epitomized cool with every leather-clad rev.

Here are a few other examples that may spark a nostalgic smile:

  • The️ 1969 counterculture classic "Easy Rider," featuring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and their chopper motorcycles cruising across America, remains a symbol of rebellion and freedom for many.
  • The legendary Steve McQueen was not just an actor but a passionate motorcycle enthusiast. His presence in films like 1971's "On Any Sunday" (a documentary he narrated) and 1963's "The Great Escape" cemented his association with the coolness factor of motorcycles.
  • For a lighter tone, shows like "CHiPs" (1977-1983) featuring California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada offered a fun and action-packed portrayal of motorcycle cops.

Motorcycle Safety for Older Riders

For older motorcyclists, safety is of utmost importance. As reflexes may slow and vision could deteriorate with age, the risks associated with riding can increase. It's, therefore, necessary for senior riders to take a proactive approach to their safety, including undergoing regular health checks and adjusting their riding habits accordingly. Safety might involve:

  • Choosing less congested routes when you ride.
  • Avoiding adverse weather conditions.
  • Shortening the duration of rides.

Some might think there is a time to stop riding motorcycles, but many older riders adjust their habits instead of quitting altogether. By taking safety measures and regularly checking their riding skills, many older adults can enjoy this enjoyable hobby well into their later years. It's all about understanding limits and making necessary changes to stay safe.

The Right Gear for Motorcycle Safety and Fun

Selecting the right motorcycle gear is crucial for anyone who rides, but especially for riders over 50. It's not just about comfort; it's also about safety. Whether you're new to riding or have been on two wheels for years, choosing gear that fits your needs is key to a better riding experience. Older riders have various options to pick the best motorcycle gear, including helmets, jackets, boots, and back protectors.

Motorcycle Helmets: The First Line of Defense

When choosing a motorcycle helmet, safety should be your primary concern. For older motorcycle riders, wearing a properly fitting helmet is essential for safety, as it significantly reduces the risk of head injuries in the event of an accident. 

Older riders must choose helmets that offer comfort and advanced protection technologies to accommodate their specific needs. Look for helmets that meet safety standards, such as DOT or SNELL, which ensure they have undergone rigorous testing. Beyond safety, consider the helmet's weight, ventilation, and noise insulation, especially if you're into touring motorcycle gear. Remember, a well-fitting helmet can reduce fatigue on long rides.

Motorcycle Jackets: Combining Comfort with Protection

A good motorcycle jacket protects you from the elements and provides crucial abrasion resistance in case of a fall. An older motorcycle rider should choose a jacket with high durability and enhanced comfort features, such as adjustable ventilation and added padding for extra protection.

When selecting a motorcycle jacket, consider the material (leather or textile), the presence of protective padding, and its suitability for the climate you ride in. For urban motorcycle gear, you might want a jacket that's stylish yet functional, whereas touring jackets should be versatile and equipped with weather protection.

Choosing Motorcycle Pants and Boots

As our bodies change, so do our riding needs. Older motorcycle riders should prioritize protective motorcycle pants that offer both impact resistance and flexibility for comfort during long rides. For those who cherish a touch of nostalgia, some manufacturers even offer classic styles reminiscent of the glory days of motorcycling.

Motorcycle pants should offer comfort, protection, and mobility. Look for pants with reinforced padding or armor at the knees and hips. Similarly, when choosing motorcycle boots, ensure they offer good ankle support, have non-slip soles, and provide protection against the bike's heat and potential impacts. Both pants and boots should fit well with your other gear to provide seamless protection.

Gloves and Back Protection: Essential Accessories

Motorcycle gloves should protect your hands from abrasion and improve grip. Choose gloves that offer padding or armor on the palms and knuckles and consider weather-specific features like waterproofing or breathability based on your usual riding conditions. Motorcycle back protection is another critical element that helps protect your spine from accidents. Be sure to opt for a back protector that fits snugly under your jacket.

Special Considerations: Gear for All Riders

Motorcycle gear is not one-size-fits-all. Women's motorcycle gear, for instance, is tailored to fit the female form, and kids' motorcycle gear is scaled down to protect younger riders safely. Additionally, consider motorcycle gear for touring if you plan long trips, as these are designed for durability and comfort over long distances.

Staying Safe on Two Wheels: Essential Health Checks for Senior Riders

For senior motorcycle enthusiasts, prioritizing safety goes beyond protective gear and mastering defensive riding techniques. Regular health check-ups are crucial to ensure you're physically fit to handle the demands of riding. Here's what to consider:

  • Annual Physical: Schedule a comprehensive physical exam with your doctor. This should include a review of your medical history, current medications, vision and hearing tests, and a discussion of any physical limitations that might affect your riding ability.
  • Focus on Key Areas: Pay close attention to areas particularly important for motorcycle safety. Discuss your balance, coordination, and reaction time with your doctor. They may recommend additional tests for reflexes, strength, and flexibility, especially if you have any concerns.

Shopping Tips: Where to Buy and What to Consider

When buying motorcycle gear, start with specialty stores or reputable online retailers offering a wide range of products and brands. Reading motorcycle gear reviews can help you narrow your choices and find the best brands. Remember to look out for sales or clearance events for cheap motorcycle gear, but always ensure it meets safety standards.

Motorcycle gear laws vary by location, so be aware of your local requirements to ensure compliance. Winter motorcycle gear should have thermal properties, while gear for dirt bike riding should be rugged and designed for off-road use.

This website,, offers information and recommendations on products to consider. The AARP Rider Magazine Forum is an online forum that allows riders of all ages to connect and share experiences. There's a dedicated section for "Mature Riders" where older adults can discuss specific challenges and solutions related to motorcycle riding. 

Gearing Up for the Road: Safety, Comfort, and Style for Older Riders

Hitting the open road on your motorcycle is a great way to enjoy the freedom and scenery. But as riders mature, safety and comfort become even bigger priorities. 

But safety doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort. As we age, our bodies change, so prioritize comfort to avoid aches and pains on longer trips.

Remember your personal style! Motorcycle gear comes in a wide variety of colors and designs. Choose something that reflects your personality and makes you feel confident on the road.

Focusing on safety, comfort, and style can help you create a motorcycle outfit that lets you enjoy the ride to the fullest. So, gear up and get rolling!

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About the Author

Marcus Howard is a writer with years of experience in the field of alternative health. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including CBD, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and the use of alternative health options for older adults.

LTC News Contributor Marcus Howard

Marcus Howard

Contributor since July 5th, 2023

Editor's Note

If you are approaching or in your 50s or 60s, you should understand your body is changing. While you might still be very active and even enjoy motorcycling, age will catch up with you at some point.

Chronic illness, accidents (hopefully not a result of riding), mobility difficulties, dementia, and frailty lead to needing help with daily living activities or even supervision due to dementia. 

One problem is that rising costs of long-term care services will reduce your 401(k) and adversely impact your retirement income and assets, changing your lifestyle and legacy. 

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