More older people are revving up their motorbikes to enjoy the economy and thrills of two-wheel riding.
The number of older bikers on the road is on the rise. In a 2016 study from the Department for Transport, it was found that around 21% of all motorbike trips were made by men over the age of 50.
But could older bikers be paying over the odds for motorbike insurance cover?
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For many years, riding a motorbike was considered a young person’s game. From Teddy Boys and greasers in the 1950s, through to the scooter-riding mods and Triumph-riding rockers of the 60s and 70s.
The iconic image of the biker has been young, often reckless, but always cool.
The thing is that no-one stays young (or cool, sadly) forever. They might settle down, get married and have families. At which point they might decide to swap two wheels for four.
Because it’s difficult to carry two kids on the back of a Harley.
But, when the kids leave home and the car no longer echoes with bickering, that itch could start to return.
That yearning for the open road, the feeling of the wind in your hair, and the roar of the engine between your legs.
'Mid-life crisis' bikers
Others might have come to biking down a different path. Maybe they couldn’t afford it when young, or it wasn’t practical, or their parents wouldn’t let them.
But now that they’re older, wiser and more mature, things are different.
You might be a bit older and earn a bit more. It could be that you've got lower outgoings since the kids left home. You might have time on your hands.
You can finally afford that sports bike, that Triumph, or whatever bike you dreamt of in your younger days.
Practicalities of riding as an older biker
Whether you’re new to biking or coming back from time away, you need to make sure you’re qualified to ride the bike you buy.
Make sure you can control the bike you get, that the weight is right and that the style of bike fits how you’re going to use it.
Just because you rode a 750cc bike in your 20s doesn’t mean it’s the right bike for you in your 50s. Make sure you can handle the type of motorbike you plan to buy.
It’s also worth making sure you’re not paying over the odds for your motorcycle insurance.
Do older bikers pay less for motorbike insurance?
Young bikers tend to get hit with higher insurance costs because of their inexperience and the risk of riding a bike.
It's not just a perceived risk. Government figures show that motorcyclists make up only 1% of total road traffic, but account for around 19% of all Great Britain's road user deaths.
The good news is that older bikers could be seen as a lower risk, which might make their insurance cheaper.
From an insurer’s point of view, older riders tend to be more careful riders and are less likely to have an accident.
Years of driving should have given older riders more experience with road hazards. And they’ll also tend to be more cautious or have learnt from their past mistakes.
Remember, riding a motorbike is different from driving a car - not least the fact you no longer have a protective metal shell around you. Bike safe out there, people.
Specialist motorbike policies
Some insurers might offer specialist policies to older riders. There’s also a range of specialist motorbike insurance companies and brokers that focus on motorbike riders.
These include, but aren’t limited to, Bennetts, Carole Nash, MotorCycle Direct, Bikesure, and AA Motorcycle.
The key is to find the right policy at the right price, which doesn't mean always buying the cheapest.
Make sure it offers the cover you need, and that add-ons such as breakdown and helmet & leathers cover are available if you need them.
Cutting the cost of cover doesn't just mean shopping for a bargain.
It’s also knowing what you need and finding the best value deal to suit your requirements.
Other ways to cut the cost of cover
If you can keep your bike locked away in a garage, that could considerably cut the cost of insurance.
Theft is one of the biggest problems for bike owners - some 35,000 bikes are stolen each year.
If you don't have a garage, it might even be worth renting one. It should keep your bike safer and reduce your insurance premiums, which could make it well worthwhile.
Other motorbike security could also help. Fit an insurance-approved lock and alarm, immobiliser or other security device and tell your insurance provider about it.
As an older rider you’re more likely to only use your bike for leisure rather than commuting. Accurately predicting your annual mileage could make a massive difference to your premium.
Another idea is to complete an approved advanced riding course. It might cut cover costs but also improve your riding skills.
Courses from organisations such as The Institute of Advance Motorists and the British Motorcycle Federation are widely recognised.
Motorbike licences for over 50s
Your standard driving licence should entitle you to ride certain motorbikes. But you'll still need to hold a full motorbike licence of the correct level to ride more powerful motorbikes.
You need to renew your licence every 10 years. Once you’re over 70 years old, you’ll have to renew your licence every three years.
It’s free to do so, and you’re able to update your photo at the same time, if you wish.
You’ll need to make sure you continue to meet the minimum eyesight requirements for riding.
This is the ability to read a car number plate (made after September 2001) from 20 metres away.
You also need to make sure you aren’t prevented from driving for any reason.
What medical conditions could stop older bikers from riding?
Generally speaking, you must give up your licence if:
Your doctor tells you to stop riding for three months or longer
You have a medical condition that impacts you ability to ride for three months or longer
You’re deemed unfit to ride due to a medical condition.
The list is the same for bikers as it is for drivers. For more information, check out our guide to medical conditions and driving.
Your safety and the safety of those around you should be paramount. With that in mind, it’s best to keep your health in check and take note if:
Your eyesight begins to deteriorate, even with contact lenses or glasses
Your reaction times are slower than before
You take medication that could impact your ability to ride safely
You suffer from conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, stroke or arthritis.
Certain medical conditions must be declared to the DVLA. If you don’t you risk getting a fine of up to £1,000. And, if you’re in an accident as a result, you could be prosecuted.
You can check if the DVLA needs to know about a specific medical condition at GOV.UK.