For many people the archetypal image of a motorcyclist is a young Marlon Brando hanging over the handlebars of his Harley or a baby-faced Valentino Rossi tearing up the track.
But in reality more and more of the older generation are saddling up and taking to the open road.
New research by comparethemarket.com found that a third of UK motorcyclists are over 46 years old, with 46 to 55-year-olds accounting for nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of all motorcycle insurance enquiries.
In March this year almost one in ten enquiries to the insurance comparison website (9 per cent) were from people aged between 56 and 65, the highest percentage in at least three years.
Motorcycling is becoming increasingly popular amongst older riders who have more time to spend on the open road. On average, 46 to 55-year-olds ride over 3,400 miles per year on their motorcycle. Over a fifth (21 per cent) of this age group spent £3,000 to £5,000 purchasing their bike, and a small proportion (7 per cent) spent up to £10,000.
Contrary to the cliché, motorcycles do not seem to be a “midlife crisis” purchase, as 68 per cent of over 45-year-olds have held their license for more than 15 years. Only 4 per cent of those covered by the study qualified under a year ago.
What’s more these bikes aren’t just for weekend fun, the average rider searching for cover wants a bike for daily and commuting use rather than just a sunny-day hobby.
And, dispelling another assumption, these older riders are more likely to go for a sports bike than a soft tourer such as a Goldwing or butch Harley-Davidson.
According to the research, the racy Honda Fireblade is the most popular model amongst older bikers followed by the Honda Super Blackbird. The top five motorcycle makes for the over-46s are Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and BMW.
Daniel Bass, head of motorcycle insurance, at comparethemarket.com said: “As their salaries increase and their children leave home, bikers in their 40s and 50s are finding that they have more time, and perhaps more disposable income, to invest in their passions or new experiences, such as riding a motorcycle. Motorbikes are an interesting alternative to a second car and can be significantly cheaper to run as they require less fuel.
“Another benefit of owning a motorcycle at a later stage in life is that your insurance is likely to be a lot cheaper, as older drivers tend to be more experienced on the road and are therefore lower risk.”
The average UK biker is male, lives in Leeds and works in operations, construction or engineering. He rides a Honda motorbike costing between £1,000 and £2,000 which he uses for all means of transportation, including commuting to work.