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….

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

  • Wow I just turned 58 and haven’t even thought about when I’ll be too old to ride I work out and stay in pretty good shape so that’s a big factor.I would have no problem lifting my bike if dropped.I have a Kawasaki Vulcan custom which weighs about 650 lbs
    I guess the day I can’t get it up anymore…the bike that is Ill quit lol

  • Of course one day we have to stop to ride a bike, but if we practise regularly, that day will long arrive and that is one of the many good thing that riding a motorbike gives us.

  • I teach motorcycle coaching as my day job. A year or so ago I got a new client named Ralph. Ralph was 72 years old. At the end of of our second session I asked him why he decided to learn how to ride a motorcycle now?
    “Because the ladies like bikers”
    I haven’t stopped chuckling since.
    Ps; he rides pretty well nowadays, just needs to find a passenger

  • I don’t give a single thought to not riding… I’m in my mid 60’s and have ridden steady for over 50 years. Not riding isn’t a consideration… nor is riding a trike, lol. It’s the attitude man… you’re a rider or you’re not. Age doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it.

  • Age is not a factor. Physical limitations have minimal impact we all can recognize. Mental deterioration is the major factor determining suitability to ride, decision making, reflexes, reaction time, analysis, etc. No one will admit their mental abilities are fading.

  • I’ll be 74 in a couple of months and I ride daily. Two cross country trips in the past 5 years (from East Ky) and rides to upstate NY, Dallas, Florida. Like you, I know my reflexes aren’t what they used to be so I am more cautious. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to ride but I’ll do what I must. They are older guys out there than me riding a lot more miles than me so that gives me hope. I am a lone rider. Not anti-social but I just find it hard to find anyone who has the amount of free time I do. While my wife doesn’t like to ride, she doesn’t mind if I do. When the Honda 50cc step through bike came out they said “you meet the nicest people on a honda”. Well, I think you meet the nicest people on two wheels! Ride safe guys (and gals!)

  • My neighbor, Lee is still riding at 93. He had a crash about ten years ago. A drunk in a minivan pulled a U-turn in front of him and he was fairly banged up, but, after a year of physical therapy.he got back in the game with a new-to-him 1100 Gold Wing. Then, four years ago he had a mild stroke. This left him weak in his right leg and arm. Still, after some physical therapy he was back on the GW trying like hell to ride. After some skinned knees and black eyes from dropping the bike in his driveway he reluctantly admitted to his friends that he realized he would probably never again be able to ride his bike. We comiserated with him the day he sold that Gold Wing, but secretly, we were relieved, because we were afraid that we would lose our friend in the next crash.

    About a month later I got a call: “Come over and see my new bike” I thought “surely he wasn’t dumb enough to buy another motorcycle” But of course, as my wife says, anyone dumb enough to ride a motorcycle is dumb enough to buy another one.
    But Lee proved that there are bikers and then there are BIKERS. He bought a trike. He found a big Honda ACE with a Voyager trike kit on it for a super deal by thinking that somewhere out there, was a guy who was gonna sell out because he was too old to ride.

    So nowadays Lee is is riding his trike with us. He doesn’t go on long trips anymore and he drives a lot slower, but he’s right out there leading our pack at 40mph with a great big grin, and his right turn signal on.

    When is it time to give it up? When your family is scared to death to see you ride out of the driveway? Or maybe when you scare yourself so badly you lose your confidence. I don’t know but I’ll ask Lee next time I see him

  • I’m thinkin’ that if I ever get so old and weak as to not be able to pick it up when I drop it, it will be time for a hack.

  • It isn’t age that determines when to stop riding a MC, it is the physical and psychological balance that should guide one to quit riding. I am 70 years old and I began riding in 1958 when I was in junior high school. I didn’t have a driver license or permit to ride then so I did my riding up and down the side streets of the L.A. San Fernando Valley on my chopped Indian Chief (my mother hated it). I did get caught by the cops on a couple of occasions. Today I ride my 2002 Dyna Wide Glide, 2005 VTX 1300R, or my 1997 Valkyrie 1500GL. I don’t know how many miles I have ridden, but I am certain it exceeds 1/2 million. I have always ridden year round, except in snow or freezing rain. I am not as limber as I once was, I need to stop to stretch the bod a bit while on longer rides; e.g. to al, Reno or Las Vegas. My longest recent ride was from South Lake Tahoe to home in Kennewick, WA ( I left Tahoe at 6:00am, arrived home at 8:00pm that same day about 900 miles later). When my reflexes or inability to operate the MC is questionable is when I will stop riding.

  • I got my license when I retired at 56 and havn’t looked back. Now at 64 I still put 25,000 miles on my bike every year. I ride a Road King, so it is important to work at keeping my strength. It is my incentive to hit the gym a couple times a week and work with weights. My husband and I are RVer’s for 6 months of the year and part of that enjoyment is riding our bikes everywhere we go. My personal goal is to be able to ride into my early 70’s.

  • If you want inspiration about the possible look up Piet Boonstra who has logged well over a million miles and is still going well into his eighties. Me, I’ll be 77 this week and have been riding since 1954, first on a 1946 Indian Chief and now a V-Strom and Yamaha wr250R. I have to admit I’ve been looking at 3 wheels, in the form of a Ural Gear-Up as I enjoy solo riding in the forest area and picking up either of my two bikes can be a chore.

  • Hello Gerald Burkland ! I can only admire that you owned a 41 Indian and you are amazing .I am over 70 now and I have been riding since I was 14 and those days my brother who had a Vespa scooter left for the East and gave me the scooter .Those days you did not need insurance no license to drive a motorbike.Hope you keep on riding and safely, Cheers to your good health.

  • At 60 I Still Scrap The Pavement On My Honda Vtr Super Hawk or My Super Duke On The BacK Roads Near Mexico City, I Belive Meanwhile You CAn Active Your Start Button There Is Not Problem…..Have A Good Day

  • Very interesting comments especially from David who is getting off his bike to see his 5 year old son grow up. Smart move David. I did the same when my daughters were born. I was off for 26 years but getting back on at 60 was no problem.

    I’m now 74 and am on chemotherapy for prostate cancer. This has really loused me up because these treatments every three weeks have sapped my energy. I dropped my bike in a parking lot a month ago and I couldn’t pick it up. So now, my doc has grounded me. Bummer. I’ll be back on my Road King when this chemo is over.

  • I am 61 and have ridden for 30 years.Pacific northwest and ontario canada where it’s hard to ride after november. I can’t imagine hanging up my riding gear .Not yet anyway. it gives me a big thrill every time i’m back in the saddle again.

  • I fell in love with motorcycles when I discovered how they tilt your horizon. A couple of years ago I did a test and it came out that at 67 my reflexes are in the top 5% of the population. I shall keep riding 2wheelers until illness stops me. Or until you shoot me with a bazooka!

  • At 60 I got my Learner’s, and at 62 got my full motorcycle licence. I did 20 000 km on my LAMS motorcycle, then did around 68 000 km on my Suzuki V-Strom. Unfortunately, on sand, I had an “off” last September (four broken ribs) and then another “off” in May (eight broken ribs, a punctured lung and broken shoulder blade, with consequent blood clots in my lungs) – both in remote areas in Australia and both resulting in a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight to medical care. SUZI looks to be written off, but as soon as I can, I’ll be back on – but I won’t be riding on sand in the future.

  • Thank you MCg for putting forward this question. Wonderful comments out there. More strength to all bikers.

  • At 61 I ride as often as I can get my hands on a bike; have been riding since 14 or 15. My close friend, an ex-race rider, rode every day till a couple days before his terminal illness (non-motorcycle-related) at 81. In the first week of the Isle of Man TT fest, 87 year young Ted Fenwick won (for his 5th time) the 250cc Pre-TT race event on a pure road circuit. Young, I believe, is in the head, largely. When I stop enjoying the two-wheel experience is when …

  • I have a very good friend who is 80 years old and his wife is 81 they just got back from riding from Waco Texas to Tombstone Arizona along with many other trips on his Harley trike, they’re going strong and loving every minute of it

  • Most encouraging comments. I will ride for as long as my legs are able to support my BMW R1200R (2009). The passion and the love for riding in me is still strong, though I do less long distance rides nowadays, not because I cant, but because of lack of company. Have been riding – off and on since I was 23. I’m now 71 and still enjoy riding just as much if not more. The feeling of freedom when riding – especially on country roads is fantastic. I hope to ride on for as long as I am able – health wise that is.

  • I am 74 and ride a 2013 Harley Heritage, I traded for it a year ago as it is a handier weight around town than the 2009 Harley Electra Glide Classic I was riding. I bought my first Harley in the mid 60’s and love to ride. I still have good reflexes, just don’t have the endurance I used to have and feel the heat and cold more which turned me into a fair weather rider. I still managed to put 8500 miles on the Heritage this past year and ride every chance I get. In fact I only put a little over 6000 miles on my car last year. When the reflexes go then I will feel it is time.

  • I am 67 and have been riding since almost 50 years. I am now riding my 19th motorcycle, a Triumph speed triple. What a suprise when I sold my 850lbs 80 hp Electra glide for a 440 pound 130 hp bike. I am in heaven !

    When even 450lbs seems too heavy, I will definitly try out a trike Many of my friends ride them and they love it. That Spyder looks great and at over 100hp sure will provide the thrills of riding. The Slingshot is also a very interesting trike, although more like a go-cart than a bike.

    I intend to ride until I die and wish you all a safe ride.

  • Uh… I see that the old geezer in the picture forgot to put his clothes on. If you find yourself doing that, trust me, you are too old to ride.

  • I’m 64 and returned to riding at age 61. I commute to work averaging 225 miles each week in rush hour NYC traffic. I find riding keeps your mind and reflexes sharp. Already have 11,200 miles on my 2013 Burgman 400. I too will ride as long as my situational awareness remains sharp. That is the only way you get to ride another day.

  • I have read most of the comments and agree with most of them. However be glad you do not live in IL. because in this sorry state you will have to take a riding test starting at your mid 70’s and do not ask what will happen to your insurance premium. I am 77 and have never had to take a riding test. I got my shock this year. I started riding at young age of 15 and have been on them for about 65 years. I never had a ticket, never had an accident, and the last three bikes I logged about a little over 35000. I have enjoyed my time on two wheels and had hoped it would not stop this early. However since the state requires this test I guess I will have to either Take their dumb test or give up biking. I guess I am one of those who who is a hard head. I figured if I was able to ride that many years with no problems why do I have to take a test. At this time I am not sure what I will do. Hate to give it up, but i’m not sure if it is worth the aggravation to try and change anything and after i get past the age of 80 I would have to test every 3 years. I want to go back to my first bike, a 1941 INDIAN Bonneville and in those days If you could start if and ride it home without wrecking it, you were qualified. also in those days a lot of them did not have a license fir cars, let alone a bike. OH well guess I will just have to be happy that I had all those good years with no problems. Too bad iat has to end like this.

  • People.
    I´m 55 years old. I´m writing you from Meliquina Patagonia Argentina, the last three months I´ve been talking talking to my better half about a solo driving from Alaska to Argentina.
    She is trying to nail my head about saying, you are too old to do that.
    Do you know what I think???
    I want to do it!!! and I feel in conditions to do it nowwwww!!! What a hell..
    Thanks for read my writing!!
    Regards

  • After swearing for many years that I would never ride, that all riders had a suicide wish, I took up riding at the age of 73. Bought a BMW K1200 LT and two weeks later rode solo from Los Angeles to Spokane, Washington and back. In 2012 (age now 76) rode from Los Angeles to Fairbanks, Alaska, with a partner on his own bike, on a BMW K1600 GTL (read “Alaska and Back on a K1600 GTL” – Amazon books) and in 2014 rode around the USA with a different partner. I’ll be 79 in September and plan on making the BMW Rally in Billings, Montana in July. Fortunately everything still works and as long as it does I hope to continue riding. But this is a purely subjective matter. If you feel up to it, then do it. If you don’t feel up to it, try whatever seems to please (such as a Spyder, Can-Am, whatever). We ride because we enjoy riding and when the enjoyment is no longer possible, then look for something else.

  • The only answer, for me, is that I will be too old to ride when I am physically unable to ride or dead. I began riding at 16 back before it was popular. Three years ago, at age 61, I rode all 48 states alone in just over 9 days. A year and a half ago, I rode my new Indian Chieftain over 1500 miles in under 24 hours. This fall I will ride from Oklahoma to Maine and back. My body has ached every day for over 20 years, diagnosed with spinal and hip joint degeneration. The only time I do not suffer from the pain is when I am in the saddle. A thousand miles a day is still pure pleasure. When I cannot handle my 850 pound beast any longer, I will buy a smaller bike. I will stay on two wheels just as long as I can breathe and lift my leg over the seat. It is my passion. I will never, never, never give up voluntarily. There are only a few days on this earth for each of us and there are more roads than any man can travel. Every day I don’t ride is a day lost. So, let’s ride today like there is no tomorrow!!

  • 2012 August I retire from the police department and three days later I’m moving my fiberglass trailer that I tow behind my two wheel Wing and my back goes out. After many doctor visits and gawd awful MRI I discovered I have a bulging disc. No pain but then the neuropathy sets in. Not wanting to drop my bike I decided to stop riding. Then in February of 2014 I bought a used trike. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been riding again ever since.

  • At 57 I think about the day I realize I cannot ride….with dread. I’ve ridden since I was 7 and find not riding inconceivable. I ride an ’08 KLR because I prefer the dirt over the slab and can still handle the toughest single track. Commute near daily…do my own maintenance…exclusively. At this point I cannot imagine moving on to a three wheeler when the time comes. I do hope I recognize that the time has come before I screw the pooch and injure someone…or me! However I do find the younger set riding three wheelers a constant source of humor and the targets of my good natured ribbing. Then there are the weekenders riding their garage queens…”livin’ the life” riding to the nearest gas station “to be seen” and smelling each others new leather. No matter your age…ride like you are invisible and the cagers are trying to kill you!

  • Do they make a Viagra pill for riding a bike???

    I’m in my 50’s and there is only one thing I enjoy more than riding and I don’t plan on giving either up anytime soon. I have a long way to go before I’m too old to do anything, but I made my buddies agree to one thing a few years back, when I’m drooling on myself and the dreaded nursing home conversation starts, they are to balance me on my bike and give me a little push to get me going. I will be taking one last ride into the mountains and I won’t be home for dinner… We should all have two final rights in life, to be able to go out the way you lived and to do it with dignity…

  • I am 67 and decided this year that my long distance riding may be over. I love long distance riding.

    5 years ago I rode from Iowa to California, up the coast, and back to Iowa. I took 3 weeks off work. When I retired I moved to Florida.

    2 years ago, I rode from Florida to Maine round trip, and took 5 weeks. I’ve made numerous trips to Washington DC.

    This year I decided to ride from Florida and to take a strictly southern route to Vegas to get more states under my belt. We planned 8 weeks this time.

    My endurance is down I can tell for sure! A 250 mile day is about all I can handle (we used to be able to do almost double that) – but this was riding through New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Arizona. The altitude kills me. I have a hard time breathing although I don’t have any problems in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. So it has to be the altitude.

    My reflexes are pretty much right on except I don’t have the strength in my hands that I used to (clutch). But my friend just about got himself into a situation and I saw it coming long before he did. We are the same age. I also see road signs before he does, I noticed.

    From Vegas we went to Avon Colorado, and now are heading to Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and back home to Florida. When we have finished I will have 44 states to my credit where I rode my own all the way – – no trailer at any time.

    BUT I really like breathing, I don’t like being dehydrated, I really don’t like being cold and riding with all that cold weather gear on, I don’t like being hailed on or even rained on. Plus I noticed this year I have a lot of muscle and joint aches. SO I’m pretty sure this will be the last long distance ride on my motorcycle for me. I might change my mind in another year, but probably not. I WILL, however, continue to ride around Florida for as long as I can hold the bike up and squeeze the clutch.

  • I know, for me, I moved to a trike when my MS got bad enough that I couldn’t trust my balance on two wheels consistently. I couldn’t give up riding, which my doctor wanted me to do, but now, I don’t ride when it’s super hot (aggravates the MS and my meds make me dehydrate faster), I don’t ride when I’m having a ‘brain fag’ day, and I ride a trike, because it’s safer for me, and for the other people on the road. I think that, at the point at which my riding became a danger ot me and to others, and jeopardized my overall health and longetivity, I started making concessions to keep as much of the joy as I could, while letting go of the ego desires to ‘maintain my preferences’ in the face of realistic and honest assessment of my capacity.

  • Your age has nothing to do with when you should stop riding. My father will be 92 his next birthday and he still rides. What you ride and what kind of health you have are more important facts. My father is very physically active fir any senior. He still maintains a house with a large yard and refuses to use anything but push gas mower to cut the grass on his large corner lot. If you want to ride longer keep fit and active. I am almost 60 and think nothing of riding my Kawasaki Concours 800 miles in a day. Sometimes with my 92 year old dad.

  • There is a guy in our group who until last year rode a Goldwing. At 84 he decided the GW was a bit much for him so he sold it and bought a brand new Yamaha 950T now he is riding. He has no problem riding at all. He always rides with a groupd as he knows there is know way he can pick up the bike if he was to drop it.

  • I’m 63. When will it be time to admit I am too old? I suppose when either 1) my strength fails and I cannot hold a bike up and/or 2) when my mind is gone to the point that I find my self doing dumb things that indicate an inability to focus, concentrate or react properly. If I start having too many “close calls” I guess that’ll be a good time to admit I have to either give it up or get a three wheeler.

  • Pretty good replies. For my own decision, I have laid off riding for the past six years simply because I now have a 5 year old son, and it is more important to me to be there for him rather than ride. I have simply found other hobbies and activities to wile away the time, for he is only going to be an always happy, smiling toddler once.

    More to the point, probably when I no longer have the physicality to hold a bike upright easily at a stop, make full lock U-turns, or have some other impediment (vague, I know) that stops me. I would probably go back to sports cars then though!

    I greatly enjoy participating on this forum though, as it keeps the juices flowing. I will ride again.

  • If I couldn’t lean my bike in the curves, the best part of riding would be lost. But when I am too old to hold it up, or when it becomes too tough to ride 2-up with gear, I would consider either a Voyageur kit (allows a 12* lean) or a set of “Ghost Wheels”.

    I met an old couple on a long trip with a big bike and a Voyageur kit. In addition to all the additional storage for their gear, it freed them up from worrying every time the traffic slowed or they had to make a slow turn into a parking lot. Because it continues to use the rear drive wheel (unlike a full trike conversion) and because it allows the 12* lean, they said it didn’t diminish the quality of their ride when cruising. He said the bike could be separated from the kit in about 5 minutes so that when home, he could still take the bike out as a 2 wheeler on his own. It took him 10-15 minutes to reattach the kit and head out with full gear again.

    I have never seen Ghost Wheels in person, but from the video, I would say they also beat the notion of trike or a sidecar, hands down

  • I’m 67 and still riding. I have a 800+ lb. Kawasaki Vulcan 1700. There are times when I wish it had a reverse gear when I’m backing out of a parking space. I have a friend who recently passed away who was in his 80s and still riding. He had a Honda Goldwing. A person knows if they are capable of handling a bike and if their reflexes are still sharp. When I feel I can’t handle it anymore, I’ll give it up. Until then I’m going to continue to enjoy the freedom of the open road.

  • Hopefully each individual rider will be able to make the decision for themselves and not have it made for them. The decision needs to be made by intellect and not desire. Not just rider safety is at stake here, other individuals safety could be involved also. Lawyers would have a field day with an impaired cycle driver.

  • I often wonder about what age is too old for many things including riding my motorcycle. I believe that reflexes are definitely aligned appropriately for age so slowing down, keeping a safe distance and stopping frequently can enhance the experience and prolong the enjoyment i hope! I just turned 56 during a 7500 KM (4660 MI) tour of 7 States in 10 Days (Solo) which was a fabulous experience that challenged my mental and physical capabilities, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! I’d love to do something similar again although I would skip the Desert experience 😂

    Cheers everyone

    Mark

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