Much ink has been spilled about the long-term viability of motorcycling. In last month’s column, I noted how the average age of riders has crept up during the last few decades, now cresting 50 years old. The problem isn’t the fault of geezers like us who continue to ride.

The problem is a lack of demand among the younger generation. Today’s kids generally aren’t much interested in doing things outdoors, preferring instead to wile their lives away staring at screens of all sorts, whether while gaming or frittering on social media.

More troubling is that many kids don’t even ride bicycles anymore. Pedal-powered two-wheelers were once the gateway to adopting motorcycles as transportation, and if kids aren’t riding bicycles, good luck getting them to dare to pilot a motorcycle.

Rubber-Side Down Next Generation
My kid doesn’t like to do much outdoors, but this Indian-badged Super 73 electric bicycle has changed the equation and helped foster an activity shared with her motorcycle-riding father.

However, there’s a widespread movement going on that you may have noticed. In my neighborhood, the ratio of pedal bicycles to electric bicycles has dramatically shifted toward the latter. Seeing kids whizzing around on e-bikes is an affront to my sensibilities, thinking these young whippersnappers should be pedaling for their speed just like I did as a child.

But my thoughts on this topic are evolving. As I watch kids riding cycles powered by motors, I’m seeing the potential for a shorter leap toward eventually riding motorcycles.

I’m observing this also through the eyes of my 16-year-old daughter, who has zero interest thus far in getting her driver’s license. It’s a surprisingly common occurrence among today’s teens to shun the freedoms of independent transportation. With so much of their social lives taking place on social media and other screen devices, adopting the responsibilities of driving a motor vehicle is often rejected.

But kids still gotta get around now and again, and e-bikes seem to be emerging as the vehicles of choice for teens who aren’t ready to license up to drive cars.

My kid has been riding bicycles since she was 5, and we enjoyed taking trips around the neighborhood together on two wheels. But as her smartphone became ever more important, her willingness to ride bikes with dear old dad has waned dramatically. Pedaling to get anywhere seems to require too much effort, which has put the brakes on our shared adventures. She is similarly unwilling to go through the hassle of packing up to go out dirtbiking.

And then I saw that Indian Motorcycle is now selling a rebranded Super 73 electric bicycle as the eFTR Hooligan, a dirt-track inspired e-bike with Indian badging. When I queried Indian about the bike, company reps offered one as a loaner for testing.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Related: Indian eFTR Hooligan Review 

Riding an e-bike couldn’t be much easier, assuming you know how to ride a bicycle. Just start pedaling, and the motor kicks in to whisk you briskly away. Or simply lean on the thumb-actuated throttle and get propelled up to 21 mph.

Instantly, bicycle trips became much more palatable for my girl. Instead of complaining about how much effort it takes to pedal and wanting to pull the plug early and head back home, she was choosing to expand her horizons and eager to continue exploring while I puffed along behind on my pedal bike. And instead of me driving her to a friend’s house a couple of miles away, now she just hops on the eFTR and gets there herself.

Will the eFTR turn my kid into a motorcyclist? Too early to tell, but at least she’s getting her two-wheeler speed legs under her, and the step up to a scooter or motorcycle won’t be as daunting.

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As for the kids already screaming around my neighborhood on e-bikes, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that more than a few of them will make the transition to becoming motorcycle riders. A million more would extend the viability of the activity we cherish.

What do you think? Can e-bikes help save motorcycling?

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