A Motorcyclist’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Future of Socialization

May 11, 2020 View Comments by

The Future of Socialization

People outside of the motorcycle community often think that our beloved hobby is mainly about the motorcycle and its mechanics. In reality, among the more important aspects of riding are keeping in touch with other riders and being part of social riding groups. Motorcycling, like other high-skill outdoor activities, such as sailing and skydiving, can be done alone but is often best enjoyed when practiced in a group. Knowledge and experience are gained by learning from one another. There are the precious moments of pure fun and excitement that are kept forever as shared memories. Simply put, as riders, we need to socialize. How is that going to work out in years to come?

The Problem
In the old days there were only a few motorcycle classes and riding styles. Today the market is highly fragmented, with very fine niche subcategories. Then there’s the generational gap, with millennials and Generation Z focused on self-fulfilment (me and I), which is a complete opposite to the baby boomers’ approach to life. Generation Xers are stuck in between the two extremes.

Considering these trends, it can be quite difficult to find people to bond with, especially those with similar skills and mindset. For women it can be even harder to get in, as the market is dominated by men. Inexperienced riders may find it frustrating to get started. Not many experienced riders have the patience to ride with someone who just finished a basic motorcycle safety course or the desire to teach all the nuances and techniques they’ve honed for many years.

Let’s establish a few socialization activity patterns that are common today on forums, social media sites, and apps:

• Guidance – asking for and providing advice on technical issues, gear, and motorcycle purchase
• Trip planning – getting recommendations about routes and points of interest
• Sharing information – teaching about one’s knowledge and gear
• Companionship – looking for riding partners and groups
• Events – searching and registering
for events
• Marketplace – buying and selling gear and motorcyclesSome sites and apps have features in certain areas, but there is no one-stop solution today that covers all aspects for riders. Many of the current solutions and tools are generic, not designed or built for motorcyclists.

Matching Up Riders
A solution may come from software that will act as a mediator or broker between riders. It is quite feasible that in the near future, artificial-intelligence-based algorithms, used today in online dating services, will be used to match riders. For example, I might get a message such as, “Alon, 38-year-old male, an ADV rider who likes off-road trails and camping, lives 20 miles away, riding a KTM 790 Adventure R.”

The algorithms could match hundreds of parameters, not just broad riding style and motorcycle types, but also character compatibility. Alon is actually my buddy in real life, but there could be other such riders right now of whom I’m not aware.

This matching doesn’t have to be performed just for finding riding partners. If I want to ask a technical question, the service could point me to gurus that may assist me, either free of charge or for some fee. This may look odd, but in this information age where everything becomes a service, it could be a much better solution compared with getting confusing and even wrong advice on internet forums. If experts get an incentive to provide services, whether for reputation points or monetary value, then a healthy market of consumers and providers could be established.

How would the service build and maintain each rider’s profile? Some information would be entered by the rider. Other data would be continuously collected from trips (for example, GPX locations, speed, terrain), motorcycle-related purchases, and other activities. The big data collection should be performed with complete privacy, of course, but if done right, then high matching quality would be achieved.

The matching service could also be paired to a digital assistant service, such as that described in RoadRUNNER’s December 2019 issue. Both services would be working together to provide an incredible riding lifestyle experience.

Matching Groups and Events
There are other possible applications that could use this intelligent correlation logic. For example, the software could automatically find candidates with high correlation to a given group, then act as a catalyst and notify both the candidate and the group of the possibility.

Instead of riders having to manually search for riding events, which requires tedious scanning through forums and often results in missing out or failing to register on time, the service could act as a broker, notify the rider, and even automatically sign him up. The knowledge of events would be automatically collected and scraped from vendors and event organizers’ webpages and forums, and then compared with the rider’s interests and geographical location.

Example: A hardcore dual sport event located in Vermont would be very relevant to a New Jersey-based Husqvarna 701 Enduro rider, but probably irrelevant for a Honda Gold Wing rider who is on the West Coast.

Summary
In this “Social Rider” series I’ve covered various topics, including infrastructure that enables communication using satellites, peer-to-peer and mesh networks, digital assistant services, and considering a new business model where the motorcycle becomes a service instead of a product. Finally, the series comes to an end with a focus on the human aspect—the one factor that is the hardest to understand or change.

Advanced technologies, whether digital or mechanical, are important but not the defining attributes of our riding society. We need to make sure that the rider always stays at the center.

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