The West

Baby boomers live motorcycle dream
Motorcyclist Chris Byrnes. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

More baby boomers may be living out their teenage fantasies by learning to ride motorcycles after they turn 40.

New figures obtained by _The West Australian _ show that one in three motorcycle licence applicants in WA is over 40.

Curtin University cultural studies professor Jon Stratton said that the romance of riding a motorcycle on the open road appealed to many baby boomers, particularly men.

"This is the generation brought up watching films like Easy Rider," Professor Stratton said.

"To them, the motorcycle symbolises freedom and the opportunity to escape and leave their troubles behind.

"As they get older - and they have the money and the time to own a motorcycle - they can live out their dreams by buying one."

Professor Stratton said that motorcycles were popular after World War II because they were considered the cheap alternative to a car.

But this had changed in recent years, with some motorcycles being as expensive as a good second-hand car.

The lower cost of running a motorcycle is what convinced 58-year-old Chris Byrnes to get his licence two months ago. The daily commute from his home in Stirling to the city - and the cost of parking - made a motorcycle a more economical option.

"It also offers far more flexibility and freedom," Mr Byrnes said.

"Buying a motorcycle was never on my bucket list but it's been a fantastic investment."

He has also joined the Ulysses Club, a national organisation for motorcyclists over 40.

Established in the 1980s for riders who have "done our bit in life and feel that getting bogged down in the rigours of later life is just not on", the WA club organises regular weekend rides.

"The social aspect has been fantastic," Mr Byrnes said.

"And mixing and talking to experienced riders has also improved my motorcycling skills."

The new data from the Department of Transport shows that, of the 4204 practical motorcycle tests undertaken in 2011-12, 1037 were for people between 30 and 39 years, 945 for people between 40 and 49, 433 for those between 50 and 59 and 90 were for people aged over 60.

In addition, 1891 people (or 23 per cent) over 40 applied for a restricted motorcycle licence (bikes up to 250cc) in 2011-12 out of a total of 4445. Only 33 people over 40 from 3598 applied for a moped licence.

The West Australian

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