Brilliant article, bang on
Some great comments too.
Being a relatively recent convert to biking, I'm distressed at the decline in the past few years. Sales down 25% since 2008, dealers and training schools closing all over the place (lose too many and they won't come back in that area), number of new licensees halved after the 2 part test came in, and the pending 3rd Driving License Directive and FUN IST VERBOTEN regulations look set to inflict yet another huge boot to the lug nuts.
I can't remember the last time I saw an advert for a motorcycle or biking anywhere other than in motorcyling media, selling altar candles to the choir. Bike ads are essentially all the same: lean the bike over, knee out, and rotate the picture so it's essentially horizontal. Slap "YamaHonZuki XRZ900ZZRXR - Liberate the freedom" or equivalent other wankspeak on it, add the mandatory "0% finance available (conditions apply)", print it, and go to the wine bar.
And that might actually be the best adverts that they can do. I like the idea of advertising bikes as being cheap transport, but they're not. Above the 125 budget commuter sector, 2011 bikes are almost all expensive, heavy, over powered, over complicated, with erratic build quality, surprisingly high running costs and practically stone age economy and emissions. Look, just for example, at the Audi A1 1.6 tdi. 104 bhp, 120 mph, 76 mpg combined, 99 carbons (so VED and congestion charge exempt) while carrying 4 in heated, air conditioned comfort. And that's not even the most efficient supermini out there, not by a long shot.
To get anywhere near that while avoiding the 125 mirthmobiles, you'd looking at spanking about £5,500 on something like a G650GS (good luck finding a dealer who'll give you the time of day if you have the cheek to ask about a 250). Then it snows and you're crowding into the rush hour sardine train, wishing you'd bought the car.
So, OK, we're back to emotive adverts. I love the "Life's too short" idea, but it does rather play into the ZOMFG U GUNNA DIE!!!!!!11!!! lobby. Horse riding is 20 times more dangerous per hour (so probably 200 times per mile), but nobody has it in for horsists, so you won't hear about that.
Sod it, I don't know what we can do, but it looks like the MCIA and manufacturers don't either, and instead are happy to just shift increasingly expensive litre+ bikes to codgers. Focussing on people cashing in their pensions may not the be best long term strategy, mind.