How Old Is “Too Old” To Ride A Motorcycle?

Old Motorcycle ManHE SAID HE WAS TOO OLD TO RIDE.  So, now, he and his wife were traveling on a trike.  We met at a gas station and talked for a while, before we each headed back out on the road in different directions as part of our separate multi-day rides and they sure looked like they were having just as much fun as I.

As a result of our conversation, that was the first time I considered the notion that there could be a day when I’m too old to ride.  That moment was also the first time I entertained the possibility of a three-wheel vehicle.  Personally, I found myself contemplating a motorcycle with a sidecar more than a trike.  Of course, since I haven’t ridden with a sidecar or on a trike, I have no basis to judge which I might prefer.  Having said that, I have ridden a Can Am Spyder, with two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. Although that machine didn’t inspire me, I think it’s good that there are options for three-wheeled vehicles. (For more info, see Worst Motorcycle Demo Ride Experience).

So, how old is too old to ride?

Heck, for that matter, at what age does this concept of “old” begin?

For me, I know I ride smarter (and slower) than when I was a kid.  But I can’t say I have the same reflexes.  Nor do I have the same endurance.  I don’t know how many thousand-plus miles per day I have ahead of me, but factually, there is very little reason I need to put on those miles in a day anymore, anyway.

So, at what point would I say that I’m too old?

I imagine if I start trying to figure out how to replace a motorcycle seat with a rocking chair, while allowing the handlebars to sway up and down at the same time as the rocker, then I may have passed the point of being sensible.  (Actually, I might have passed that point a long time ago, if I was ever sensible at any time).

Back to the point of which I have no answer: how old is too old to ride a motorcycle?

If you have any guidance or thoughts, I’m interested….

MCg

MCg

"Wandering Around" is my motto: Up and down the California Coastal Ranges; the Rockies; the Appalachians; the beaches of both North American coasts; and everywhere in between. Any two wheels with a motor and a full gas tank will make me happy.
MCg

99 thoughts on “How Old Is “Too Old” To Ride A Motorcycle?

  • Retirement is great, doing all the things I postponed while working. Last year at age 75 I bought a Yamaha 250, very easy bike to learn with. This winter I bought a BMW 1200 rt. Much more comfortable and I feel safer with ABS. Been an avid bicyclist for years and still do, but there is nothing more fun than doing the twisties. I am looking forward to touring the national parks. I always have my Miata for when I get too old.

  • Welli am 78 ,dont ride now ,but owing motorbikes is one of the very best memory of my life Ist bike a Royal Enfield Bullet ,but nothiing like a big twin the sound and speed is mind blowing ,makes life worth living ,i owned bikes for years and would love to still climb on a british bike ,but my family are concerned i might kill myself ,so i stay in my car these days ,i owned a few sports cars ,but never had anything like a decent bike that can give you a thrill and get the juices flowing ,to you blokes riding ,take care be happy and enjoy .life is short and youth shorter.

  • I bought my 1st bike age 17 i am now 78 have loved motorcycles from first time i rode one ,other than flying ,which i wanted to learn but could not afford ,i know of nothing for as much fun and just gives you a reason to live ,Should be a club for over 70 years of age ,so all us old blokes can lie to each other about our riding experiences ,i think from memory i owned 5 bikes love twins ,the exhausts sound great ,Last bike i owned was a B.S.A Goldflash .nice for Trips DUNEDIN to CHRISTCHURCH in NewZealand if you are over 70 and enjoy your bike keep it ,as you may never own another ,happy life

  • I agree with your assessment of a three wheeler, regardless of if the extra wheel is in the back or upfront, it just isn’t the same thing. I have a friend who decided he reached the end of his riding years. He is a few years older then I am and was suffering from some medical problems that cut his riding years shorter than they should have been. One of the problems was an issue with one leg, so he decided to investigate the three wheelers. He tried both styles and even a side car setup, but came away from all of them more frustrated than motivated. He decided three wheels were worse than four and not even in the same category of two. I’m not trying to insult anyone and everyone should ride what they are most comfortable with, to each their own. That said I have a serious question for those that have left two wheels and moved to three wheels or something else. How is a bike with three wheels any more fun to ride than a two seater convertible? My friend ended off with a new fiat spider124 and though it isn’t a bike, he enjoys it more than he thought he would on three wheels. Not looking to upset anyone, just looking for an honest conversation from people who made the move.

  • “The Wolf” Bob to my Banker.
    How Old Is “Too Old” To Ride A Motorcycle?. I am not sure there is a real answer to that question, because each individual is different. I started riding in 1954 when I bought my first Army Surplus Harley at 16 years of age. I will still throw a leg over my scoot to go for a 200 mile fun ride and it always ends up being 4 or 5 hundred mile ride. As of yet I just can’t see myself going to three wheels anytime soon, how the hell do you drag foot boards on a three wheeler?

  • First, sorry for your lost. That is something no parent should ever have to experience, and may God bring some form of peace and understanding to you and your family.

    As for your question I will answer it the same I answer it every time someone ask me about buying a bike. I have been riding for about 40 years now and still feel the same way about bikes. There is no good reason to own a bike, there is nothing you can do on a bike that you can’t do better in a car or truck. They are not safe to ride and it typically isn’t if, something will happen but when. I have been down twice on the road and numerous times off road.

    All that said, I ride for one simple reason, I have to. It is an addiction for me and life is not complete if I am not riding a bike. It has nothing to do with a logical or intelligent decision, it is purely an emotional need. I ride, because I have to ride. Which bike I ride is for the exact same reason, I see a bike or ride a bike and my head said you need to have that bike and that is the bike I must have and I go out and get it. So should you pull the trigger on the Harley and should you ride again. If you have to ask, then you may not be ready yet, because when you are you won’t ask, you will just do.

  • to buy or not to buy…that is the question that has stuck in my craw past few weeks. 64, 180 lbs 5’10″…and damnation if I don’t have that fever again. Had three bikes…one chopped nicely in 70s…rode into 80s…the got ‘domesticated.’ Youngest son (just turned 17 in 2o14) died on black ice hitting a tree in his first auto…since then…the world has changed. Perspectives, what’s important…and how precious life is; often short & sweet. Been 30 years since riding…looking at a Dyna Harley…clean and mean to keep weight down. should I?….

  • I’m 60 years young and did a Triumph Rocket 3. I have ridden off and on since 1973 and will ride until I can no more, which I will will be a long time. When I can no longer ride I probably will not be able to drive a car.

  • Risk management started the first time the operator rode and should end the day the operator becomes the risk. Hopefully that time will not be mandated.

  • I am 65, been riding since ’73 and I am a major motorcycle accident survivor. It took me 1 1/2 years, physically, to get back on two wheels, and another year to start really enjoying it again. Nine years later, and I can’t get enough. I have given serious thought to the question at hand. I will definitely know when I am too old. When you start losing your confidence, it is time to stop, before you stop the hard way. I am more cautious than ever, and I have slown down. I did ride the Tail of the Dragon last summer …… six times front and back. So awesome. Be careful out there old timers ……. It happens in the blink of an eye. I now travel full time in my RV and my Road King goes wherever I go! Ride hard, but not too hard, and ride free!

  • For me, a male, at 65, I definitely feel great on the bike. I am nowhere near too old. I have never actually been a fan of big motors and do not quite understand the appeal. I am 6’2″ and 215 lbs or so and the important thing to me is a frame that is not cramped. My Triumph America fits the bill. For me, that 865 cc can get me up past 110 mph when, on those rare occasions, I have the inclination to twist the throttle all the way and hold it there because I can’t resist the temptation of a long straitaway and clear vision to the sides. It hits plenty of speed for when I am forced to go on expressway entrance ramp. I have tried the biggger ones in the store, could buy if I wanted, yet, they simply do not move me. I feel confident and in complete control with the 550 pounds or so that the Trump weighs. For me it is not a matter of age Vs. weight (I am very fit) but of design and all around utility combined with a desire to throw it around a little once in awhile and take it on a gravel camping path if needed. I can ride 300 miles per day and feel just great, especially when I take a break at the drop of a hat. That is the secret to comfortable riding for me, and for keeping alert… ride, look at the cows, stop often for the small size bottle of water. I love riding my motorcycle. I do not like a passenger, but I love having a woman riding next to me … that is what I call living!

  • I’m 66 but only started riding 7 years ago. I intend to ride as long as my body permits and my mind is sharp. When my reaction time and/or reflexes slow down, I hope I’ll have the wisdom to stop. We have to constantly self-assess. I minimize the danger by not riding after dark (poor night vision!) or on holidays when drinkers are out and about. I am pleasantly surprised that drivers tend to give me wide berth. Is it because I’m female? Mmmm. Another topic for discussion :-)

  • Thanks Chrissy and Rick for your comments, I realize the inherent risks of riding, been doing it off and on since ’59, have had my share of accidents, seen fatal mc accidents, recently had a nephew killed by t-boning an SUV that ran a red light, etc., etc. I do my best to follow Clint Eastwood’s advice ‘A man’s got to know his limitations’….but am acutely aware that on occasion, I may exceed them. One positive thing about riding a heavy scoot, especially when dealing with downtown traffic is, I’m motivated to work out about three times weekly because if I don’t keep the old muscles toned, my kind of riding will be over…I could still get a trike but that just wouldn’t be the same for me. I might opt for the ‘Landing Gear’. For older riders, my thoughts are…..we need to live in the day because none of us, young or old, are guaranteed a tomorrow, whether sitting in our recliner watching TV or ‘riding into the sunset’.

  • Ray there is nothing logical about riding a motorcycle. It doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 78 with hernias we don’t ride because it makes sense or because it is logical, we all ride because we have to. Don’t expect anyone that doesn’t ride to understand why you ride. I’m in my 50’s and and still in good shape and I have been riding for just over 40 years now and gave up a long time ago trying to explain why I ride. When I can’t physically roll the bike out of my garage anymore, then I will know it is time to ask for help to get it out, but I will probably keep riding…

  • I’m 78 years old and ride a Harley Davidson Ultra Limited. I’m not only old but have several inoperative hernia’s, as well. Most of my family and friends don’t understand. Not sure I do, either.

  • I just turned 70 last November. This spring I took my Goldwing 1800 for a spin. I found the 1000 lbs or so a little intimidating to say the least, especially at slower speeds. Took a 2014 Can-am Spyder for a demo ride an was thrilled at the confidence level I experience. Maybe not for everybody, but if it keeps me riding and a pleasure to boot. What the heck. thanks for listening…Jim

  • I will be 70 years old in a few months and have been riding for 58 years. I agree; keep in shape!! I am at home riding my FXDWG, and any of the other models. If you ride – or do anything long enough – the ability to handle the machine becomes second nature.

  • I just turned 70 and have been riding for 55+ years. I don’t feel any less confident riding an Electra Glide now than I did 20 years ago. I can still ride 600 mile days when touring (if necessary) without getting too tired or burned out. In fact, when on a 10-14 day trip I find that the more I ride, the more I want to ride. When my better half is with me I always stop when she wants to stop (sound familiar?). An earlier post by Baron hit the nail on the head. Try to stay fit by exercising and you’ll keep riding much longer. I will quit riding when I feel I can no longer ride safely.

  • Whom decides when we become too old for any of our many interests? God and we ourselves. So kick the age issue in too the ditch and ride on.

  • Wanda, Yes, still riding in one’s 90’s is a big risk…and yet better to go out of this world doing what one loves rather than waste away in a nursing home. Many pastimes are dangerous but he’s had a long life already and I say: more power to him! :-)

  • My other half is 94 and still riding….I think that’s just asking for trouble; he refuses to consider 3 wheels….but it IS a great pleasure for him. I do worry for his safety.

  • Getting to apply for medicare …geez when did I get that old??? hip issues and motorcycling. STRETCH!!! I get hip cramps all too often when riding but I have found that when I really work at stretching each day it’s not as often. Also, which is kind of weird, bikes with forward controls (cruisers) put more stress on hips. They seem to put more stress on your tailbone, forcing you to reach for the bars instead of them falling naturally into your hands. Ssometimes a slight mod to the bike makes life on two wheels a lot easier and more fun

  • What IS it with bikers and hip problems?? My right hip hurts so bad at night that I have to sleep on my back, otherwise that entire leg aches like the dickens. Getting old is a pain, literally. Well, I will ride until my body is incapable of doing it. I’m 66 now…we’ll see :-)

  • I am 68 and my left hip goes out of joint sometimes from falling off a motorcycle but I ride a dyna Switchback and just get on from the wrong side seems to work okay so far good luck

  • I’m 65, riding 50 years. Bad hip for 5 years. Some days it’s painful to mount my Indian Chieftain and I may end up on the super light, low, fast, balanced new Scout. Someday. But as long as I can get on and hold her up, I’m riding. Hip only hurts badly when I’m not riding.

  • I recently posted I was 65 and had no hip problems. Well, now I’m 66 and have a hip problem! LOL. I can still swing it up over my Harley Sportster, but my Sportster is higher than any other Harley….I am thinking about trading it in for a lower bike…maybe a Softtail. It, I’m told, would be a better balance and easier to handle. Any advice out there?

  • Ill be 75 in 7 months and will ride my 950 Yamaha as long as I can. It is harder to throw my leg over the saddle now with arthritis but once I’m on board I’m ok. I am a safer rider now. My bike is one of my greatest pleasures. I know some day I’ll have to stop. But not yet…..

  • I’ll be 72 this year. The problems I’m experiencing have to do with getting on and off the bike. Throwing my leg over the saddle is getting harder. Once aboard and underway, I have no problems. I do go a bit slower, compensating for the decreased reflexes and eyesight. I like the idea of a side car. I’ve driven a Honda GW trike. Much too heavy for my tastes. My brother traded that for a Slingshot. I told him that doesn’t qualify as a bike, its a 3 wheeled sports car. Tons of fun, but not a bike. I’m giving serious consideration to a Burgman. Easier to climb aboard.

  • My day job is a professional motorcycle coach. Riding a motorcycle is not all that hard but it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on, but…controlling a motorcycle takes a bit more work, it also makes your riding a lot more fun. I have students well into their seventies that just want to keep their skills up (I am 63 and have been riding 50 years, coached regular people and racers since 1997) Almost Everyone here has said that if you are still physically fit, keep riding. Yep!!! But, relearning old skills, breaking bad habits will keep you safer on your rides. Find a good motorcycle coach in your area and spend a morning or two with him or her. I use video and audio (it’s a one way radio…I get to talk, you get to listen). I also say to everyone I work with, “you can’t use a skill you don’t have” Keep your skills up and your physical and mental skills and you’ll be riding for years and years.

  • I’m a 65 year old woman and have been riding for 8 years. I ride a Harley Sportster 1200XL. I have no arthritis, no hip or back problems, nothing physical that would tell me to slow down. I feel most alive when I’m riding. I feel that riding keeps me young as it requires balance, mental acuity, and being fully focused. If crossword puzzles stave off Alzheimer’s, riding must do a hell of a lot more! Anyhow, if I notice that my reflexes are not as sharp, I will pack it up. Until that time, I intend to ride to my heart’s content :-) And a 3 wheeler would never work for me. A 3-wheeler to me, is not a motorcycle. It’s a car without the top and sides. My brother says: if you ever find me in one of those, just shoot me! To each his own. If you’re having fun, that’s the main thing. Age is just a number. Some people are old at 20.

  • Leave your age for others to count, do as you like, when you like, while on the seat of your motorbike.

  • I will be 65 this year and have been riding for almost 60 years. This year the first time out on my Electra Glide I was very uncomfortable. It just felt too heavy and I was very hesitant and tentative especially at slow speeds. I also have a BMW F650GS that I used for short trips and errands that I got real comfortable with but it doesn’t have the legs for a trip, for me. Answer? Bought a F700GS, has the power, easy to handle, 1/2 the weight of the Harley. Riding keeps you young so find a bike that you feel safe on and RIDE ON!

  • I am 67 next month I will be 68. I have a 2000 Road King and a 1997 Yamaha Virago. When the Road King feels too heavy I take the Virago out. I recently thought about getting a Indian Chiftain but the cost was too much and they did not want to take my Road King in trade. I saw a Mercedes 1999 230 slk for a much lower price than the bike. I like the way it drives and it gives me some of the feeling that my bikes do. But I will keep riding my bikes untill I no longer have the physical ability to do so.

  • Hi, I agree with all the replies posted, good luck to everyone who rides, no matter what age and always remember. DO WHAT YOU CAN , AS WELL AS YOU CAN, FOR A LONG AS YOU CAN.

  • Its not a gestion of age, more a question of ability and motivation. I’m 67 and fit as ever in most departments. I can still kick as high as ever, and just as hard. But when I can’t pick myself up off the ground, I might consider quitting.

  • It’s not how old you are, it’s how fit you are. If you can easily walk over a mile, lift your leg above your hip, ect. You are fit enough to ride. If you want to ride longer, get fit and stay fit.
    Just my $.02.

  • I think age has nothing to do with it ,I know people of 20yrs old I wouldnt let near my bike ,ride whatever floats your boat as long as you have a smile and the wind in your face

  • Actually I met someone about a year ago that bought a new wide glide. The first month that he had it he was in the store twice buying replacement parts for the items that broke when he dropped the bike on two separate occasions. Maybe its time for 3 wheels? He was in his mid 60’s, I’ve seen much older then that riding. So I guess everyone is different, you should know when, he did!

  • Old is simply a mental state! I am 75 and tour on an original (manufactured in 1989) ZX-10 Kawasaki. I have been riding since 1958 (1957 Harley Sportster) and expect to ride for many more years. I do no expect to ever quit riding as long as I feel that I am reasonably safe. Here is to the old guys who still hang with the hot shoes. Have owned and toured on almost ever motorcycle brand and have enjoyed them all. Star

  • How old is to old, I havent a clue , been riding since I was 7 and now at 50 I still ride daily and enjoy my bike, I suppose the day I cant hold it up or swing my leg over, or when my hands cant function, will be the day I stop riding, but I even think maybe I can modify my wheel chair with a 250 cc engine etc could I continue to ride hehehe.

  • I am 71 and just bought a 2014 Honda ctx 1300. I still enjoy riding the twisties and dragging my pegs, I don’t know when too old will be, but as long as I can lift her up from the side stand I will ride. I believe I will know when I can no longer handle that big bike, and will buy a Miata.

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