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….

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

  • Don’t think it’s a question of actual
    age as much of a question of physical age Hearing, vision, reflexes, etc
    It’s not how old you are but
    how well you’re aging

  • I never really got into motorcycle until till I was 74 years old. I got my endorsement at 74 and schools were reluctant in endorsing me because of my age. It took three tries and then I was endorsed. I practiced on a 250 cc bike and built up to a 750 Harley soft tail. At the age of 80 which I am now I bought a 2114 Harley street glide special and hope to ride for at least five more years.

  • For your height? – you got me there?? Go for what fits you best – but beware, the power of the bigger machines needs to be treated with care!
    Good luck let us know what you get.
    Harold
    P.S. how many horses for your wife; hope it’s on a one to one basis.

  • So here is the trade off Harold; the wife said — after exclaiming her displeasure at the thought of a bike ever since I’ve been on this track — if I get a bike, she can get a horse. Done deal. So, back to what to get. I’m 6’2″, 200 lbs. MSF schools have me on 250’s and HD 500’s, and I’m eating my knees. I want something bigger and more comfortable, so I’ve looked at the Kawasaki Vulcan S, the Indian Scout, and a used Honda Stateline …. all w/ ABS. The Stateline is in Wisconsin — not too close to Houston — so I can’t actually sit on that , but I’ve sat on others, and they are fine. Any thoughts on those ??

  • You say “How’s that for indecision ?!?”
    Indecision is a good starting point; means you are weighing up the ‘pros & cons’
    First hurdle is to get the rest of the family to agree with your decision, this important and probably the most difficult.

    Once you have the green light the rest is easy. For my money’s worth – my advice is don’t go for the a big mean machine; rather start off small, 250 to 400cc; only when you have more experience think of going to a bigger bike. Get to know all you can about riding a bike. This forum has excellent advice; also search the web – there is a lot of advice available.

    Motorcycles ARE one of the coolest man has made!

    Wish you good fortune and that you will soon experience the exhilarating pleasure of riding a motor cycle, be it to the local store for a loaf of bread, or a long trip over ‘hill ‘n dale’.

  • Yeah, this is tough. I’ll be 60 in 4 months. Have the M on the license, taken the Basic Course a couple of times — 1st time back in 2007 — but have never pulled the trigger. I think about it all the time, think that motorcycles are one of the coolest things God ever allowed man to make…..but with great health, a great life, and wanting more of the same, I battle with the dilemma of trying to figure out if a motorcycle would enhance or destroy that great life. The appeal is to learn something new, something really out of the box , acquire a new skill, all those things……..but not hurt myself in the process. I plan to play competitive tennis soon, have 4 great kids (3 out of the house, one more left ), married, and want to keep experiencing life to it’s fullest —- I just don’t know.
    How’s that for indecision ?!?

  • I just turned 50 and I just realized I can’t afford the Porsche. I can’t afford a new fast car (still have my old fast BMW) so I am drooling over an Indian. Stupid, no?

  • I’m about to turn 65 and got passionate about riding a motorcycle again last year. I bought a fairly large bike (Triumph Tiger 800) as I’ll be mainly doing long trips – touring and moto camping. While I’ve got 12-14 years of riding experience, I last rode 28 years ago and am assuming I know nothing. I took several training classes and regularly go to parking lots to practice panic stops, swerving, low speed maneuvers, etc. I don’t commute on my bike and honestly don’t like riding around in traffic at all. I work out regularly and the bike is a big reason I work hard to stay physically fit. I’ve had two close calls, both with vehicles. One I simply trusted not to make a u-turn from the right hand shoulder (my bad), the other simply pulled into my lane without seeing me. I have replayed both instances many times and I think my instincts were very solid; I would not have reacted better when younger. So for now I move ahead but I will absolutely hang it up when I lose the edge I need to stay safe. I’m also thinking of moving to off road adventure riding at some point where the biggest peril is generally dropping the bike, maybe a broken leg or ribs, but few/no cars to contend with.

  • Whether you’re driving a car or riding a motorcycle there is a point at which you should no longer be on the road. For our purposes, I am going to stick to the reasons that would apply more specifically to motorcyclists.
    1. When you feel you are too old you probably are. You know when you’ve lost the touch and your mojo (your confidence). Listen to your gut.
    2. When you can’t handle the physical requirements to ride safely, e.g., strength, endurance, reaction time, ability to handle the motorcycle (e.g., your ability at slow-speed manoeuvring has tanked, you find countersteering more difficult), etc.
    3. When you have lost the mental requirements to ride safely, e.g., focus, concentration, staying calm in emergency situations, etc.
    4. When the incidence of your “close calls” has gone up dramatically—it may be time to quit.
    Some riders may do OK into their eighties. Others may falter in their sixties. I think the key is to listen to your gut and to be honest with yourself. We will all have to quit sometime and there is no set age. I think most people would agree that quitting a little too early is preferable to too late. R.I.P. Just a couple of thoughts. I am sure there are more.

  • Reason I want to stay with the lighter bikes is that if it falls over , want to be able to pick it up. Almost forgot, also own an electric moped. Not too fast, but then again no real maintenance other than recharging the three 12v batteries.

  • At 71 years old, I bought and am riding a Kymco People 50cc moped that has the bigger wheels. Really enjoy riding it and so far, no spills. Thinking about moving up to a bigger 250 or 400cc. Only issue is that above 50cc, need a motorcycle license vs a moped license. Wondering if I can pass the course to get that license? Maybe soon? Not sure if a 71 year old should even be riding a bigger bike, any thoughts? My wife worries I will get injured but I try to be careful and ride defensively as vehicles can run you over and barely even notice. Lol

  • ill be 60 this year.started at 14yrs. dirt bikes.now touring bikes.(HD).I sold my motorcycle last fall 2018.now im in panic mode as to what im going to do now! im looking for a new one! really life without my bike?it keeps me going.just changing the oil is fun.no this is my retirement hobby.know when to ride,and be safe.good luck!

  • Hi John,
    Are you quitting or have you decided not to get a bike to ride? Frankly I do not think your age justifies your decision not to have a motor cycle, must be something else such as a health issue or wife/family pressure.

    As for been dangerous, I’m sure every older biker agrees with you, but we face risks every day – life is a risk. Be aware of the limitations of age and ride accordingly. But riding a bike is still exciting, fun and adds a little more spice to life, even if it is only at 90km/hour. Now we can see more and meet many with similar interests. Contrary to the general misconception that biker are bad dudes, the older bikers I have met a real nice people; friendly, interesting, and helpful.
    Amazing how many non-bikers are interested in making conversation with older bikers.

    The decision is yours to make! I wish you well in whatever you decide.

    Harold

  • I’m 59 years old and have decided I’m too old to ride. It’s a fact that reflexes are slower with age and now with the onset of foolish texters on their cell phones it’s become increasingly more dangerous to ride. I love life and want to continue enjoying without some idiot taking it away from me.

  • Hell I am 84 retired Navy and its been a few years since I rode a Bike, But every day I look at them and wonder can I still do it, Price hold me back and I don’t think I could hold the big ones up, or if I get down get up my self. But that ego is always there that I think I can. I Cant reach the price today, even that fact I am retired and have no bills, But I am more concern that I may hurt some one not so much my self. I doubt I get back on but the thought will always be there as I miss that freedom and the ride.

  • At the age of twenty I bought a 2nd hand Triumph Bonneville, obtained from a family whose son was killed in an accident with the bike. There was minor damage to the bike but he wasn’t wearing a cash helmet, came off on a corner and went head first into the curb.
    Having a “dead man’s’ bike did not phase me at all, but it did in a small way, make we aware of the dangers of biking but at the age of 20 me and my mates were indestructible. In the early 60’s the Bonneville was the superbike of the day and I loved it. I rode it for three years then sadly sold it to buy a car as the girls were not keen on going to a drive-in movie or to a dance on a bike. The car was a Morris Minor – it was like going from a Ferrari to a soapbox, but for the sake of love and romance I changed; it was a painful change and my day dreams were more about the Bonneville than the latest gal in my life.

    Then my life style changed from living in the country to the city of gold, ‘Johannesburg’.
    Now it was the hell run through traffic to do the 20 km from home to work. Being an innovative guy I convinced my wife that it would be quicker, easier, cheaper and less stressful if I had a motorcycle, so at the age of 26 I soon had a Yamaha XJ650 in my garage, a lovely bike and for a while my wife and I enjoyed the Yamaha with breakfast runs on week-ends away from the city.
    The city was not for me and within a year we moved back to country living in a small town in Natal. By this time the kids arrived; having a family, a new job that entailed much travelling and buying a house there was little time for biking besides times were tough so the bike was sold.

    But the thrill of a bike never left me and I would always notice a motorcycle be in on the road or parked; besides I still had my leather jacket that was a constant reminder.

    Once retired the yen to have another bike grew stronger. One evening I announced to my wife, “I’m going to buy a motor bike!” I expected a virulent response but she calmly asked, “Why? You’re 77 years old; do you think you can still ride? I do not think it’s a good idea.” After much discussion and my unwavering decision to get a bike she agreed.
    Most of my friends and family think I’m crazy except for my wife, a reluctant ally, and especially my daughter who said, “Go Dad Go”.

    With the high price of new bikes I began searching for 2nd hand bike in the 500 to 650cc range. Took a few for a ride; the one that that got me hooked was a 1981 Honda 500CX shaft drive, it was in excellent condition but it was heavy – as was the price.

    As my search continued I realized that I was setting my sights too high and the one thing that worried me was the mass of the bigger bikes; I doubted if I could lift a bike weighing +200 kilograms, also I needed a mechanically simpler machine that I could work on, this narrowed the field to a single cylinder; besides speed was no longer my ambition, I just wanted to ride a bike!

    I ended up buying a Yamaha YBR 250cc; it was in pristine condition, had done 9733km and the price was right. The previous owner suffered a stroke and had to sell.

    Having had bikes in my younger days I thought that being back on a bike would be like ‘a duck taking to water’. Surprise, surprise, after 50 bike less years there was a lot to be learnt. My cornering was poor as was riding at slow speed less than 10km/hr, taking off one a steep incline, smoothness in gear change. I dropped the bike thrice when stationary and my confidence level sank to an all time low.

    I browsed the net for advice and tips on motorcycling; the information gleaned was a great help and so I began my own training programme. Threet months ago my overall rating was probably 30% but now I reckon I’m close to 90%, wonder if you ever get to 1005? As they say practise makes perfect and practise I do. Recently I managed a nasty situation when a car pulled out in front of me – this was a great boost to my confidence.

    Have had a number men come and chat all saying they would love to have a bike.
    “So get one!” I reply, but in most cases the excuse is the wife would not allow it; probably more than anything else it is the risk of motorcycling that scares them off.

    At a shopping centre an old lady stopped to admire my red Yamaha and wistfully said, “My husband and I rode a bike for many years; they were wonderful years”.

    Having a motorcycle is an exciting, pleasurable and relaxing experience – I’m a very Happy Chappy! Maybe, just maybe, sometime in the future I’ll up-grade to a bigger machine; but for now the Yamaha and I are very good friends

  • I think if you love to ride…you will find a way…I am a Disable American Vet and have a bad back, a long with severe leg pain. I tried the Spyder and really didn’t care for it. I sat on a HD Trike, it didn’t feel right. So what did I do with my 2017 H-D FLHTCU? I searched and came across the “Landing Gear, Leg Up” System. If you are concerned about being too old or having a disability with the possibility of dropping your ride, check out this system from a company out of Florida. Ask for Pete. No more fears. Ride free! Go a head Google it. Bye!

  • And now, count me among the thousands of Boomers with the time and disposable income to completely outfit the bike and myself before ring the first mile on it: pair of Givi 48L Trekker Outback side cases, Happy Trails HD skid plate and crash bars, Hepco & Becker center stand, Barkbusters Storm handlebar guards, Alpinestars Andes V2 jacket and pants, Forma Adventure boots, Arai florescent yellow XD-4 helmet. Time to start training!

  • And I passed the BRC, one of four graduates out of six who began and more than 40 years older than all of the others.. I now have the coveted M endorsement on my DL. Waiting for the Happy Trail crash bars and skid plate to arrive.

  • I’m a 69 y.o. male retired soldier. I don’t know how old is too old, but I’ll soon find out. Signed up for an 18-day adventure bike tour with my son, an experienced cyclist, in Patagonia next year. To train for the tour I bought a virtually new BMW G650GS, presently parked in my garage awaiting my successful completion of the Basic Rider Course next week. That’s right. I’m a newbie. Previous experience limited to tentatively driving my daughter’s Yamaha V-Star in the relative safety of our neighborhood. If I fail the BRC beyond hope I’ll cancel the trip and sell the bike, never having ridden it. In the meantime, nothing ventured . . . !

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