At a recent lunch meeting with BMW Motorrad Vice President Hans Blesse, the topic of new riders came up. He was concerned that we aren’t attracting enough new faces, and we agree. If fewer people are entering the sport, Hans and the rest of the Motorcyclist staff agree why: It’s more difficult than ever to get that first taste of two-wheeled freedom. Whether it’s due to the rising costs of equipment, less open space, or busier schedules, fewer people are taking the opportunity to get on a motorcycle.
In most cases, a taste is all it takes to turn curiosity into a love affair. Case in point is Source Interlink’s own Jessi Lang, host of the The J-Turn on Motor Trend’s You Tube channel.
Not long ago, Zack and I joined Jessi for a day in the dirt aboard a trio of Kawasaki KLX dirtbikes. Jessi had just taken the MSF course, and was raring to ride some more and overcome her fear of falling down. Zack and I suggested going off-road riding, so we headed out to a local OHV park, away from traffic and unforgiving pavement, so Jessi could spend some time developing her skills. We filmed the experience for an episode of Jessi’s show. Check out the episode, below.
It was fantastic to witness Jessi getting “hooked.” The little KLX110 we put her on was perfect, and she quickly gained confidence and began tackling some tough terrain. She was understandably exhilarated, but so were Zack and I. Tooling around on the KLXs (Zack and I were on 140s) was endlessly amusing and brought us back to the simple days of our youth. Everyone had a great time, and Jessi is already looking for another way to get back on a bike.
The following weekend I returned to the woods with my wife, who spent the day gleefully wallowing through sandy washes and chugging up steep inclines on the 110 and then the 140. Loren doesn’t ride much, but whenever she does she just wants more. Now she’s eyeing my collection of small-displacement two-strokes.
That Sunday I got the opportunity to introduce someone to riding for the very first time. I was washing the KLXs at the office when I noticed the light on in one of the video editor’s offices. Travis Labella, Roadkill’s producer and editor, was hard at work putting the finishing touches on an episode. Travis used to work with Zack and I at On Two Wheels, and has wanted to learn to ride ever since he documented our rescue of a dilapidated Honda MB5. After familiarizing Travis with the KLX110’s controls, he was off. From the moment he let the clutch out until he begrudgingly went back to work an hour later, the grin never left his face. “That was probably the most fun I’ve had in years,” said Labella. Another motorcyclist born.
After laughing myself silly on the little KLXs and seeing how much joy the 110 brought to Jessi, Loren, and Travis, I’ve decided I’m going to buy a minibike. I’ll use it as a pit bike at the track and to hone my wheelie skills, but I’ll also make sure to make the bike available to friends who want to give their kids, siblings, or significant others a taste of two-wheeled freedom and fun. I want to do my part to make it easier for the uninitiated to get a chance to twist the throttle for themselves. After all, my career depends on it.