June 19 2007.

Forget faster and better-looking machines, the next generation of bikers is likely to demand eco-friendly bikes and 'smart' leathers, according to a Devitt study on what biking would be like in 2037.

More than half of bikers (54%) said how 'green' a bike is would become the overriding factor for choosing a model, with looks and style likely to be a secondary consideration.
The majority of bikers surveyed also felt that a bike's top speed would become almost irrelevant, with just 5% predicting that bikes would be faster than they are today. In fact, one-in-five (22%) expected speed limiters to be fitted to bikes as standard.

Almost half (47%) also foresaw that manufacturers would begin to fit mandatory black box technology into bikes at manufacture. Technology designed to monitor vehicle use is currently being trialed in cars for insurance and road charging purposes and bikers said that this would be extended to bikes and become the norm over the next 30 years.

When it came to gear, bikers envisaged that leathers would move with the times and bristle with hi-tech equipment designed to increase survival in an impact. More than half (53%) predicted that advances in technology would allow for airbags to be incorporated into leathers, while one-in-five bikers (19%) looked forward to all-in-one suits, incorporating boots and head protection.

However the future for biking as a method of transport is rosy, with many in the survey pointing to a social need to reduce congestion and protect the environment as factors likely to encourage more people to take up two-wheeled transport. And while only one-in-five (21%) said that crowded and dangerous roads would put future bikers off, the majority (65%) thought that more people would turn to two wheels, as cars become more expensive to own and run.

So, with more and safer bikes on the road, did bikers believe that car drivers would eventually become more considerate to their two-wheeled cousins? The resounding answer from today's bikers was no. More than half of bikers (54%) said nothing would change and another third actually believed consideration for bikers would worsen, as safer cars led to a greater feeling of driver invincibility.

William Hughes, Devitt's Managing Director, feels that the biking industry should take note of the research findings.

"The message is simple, manufacturers should focus long-term on providing more advanced protective clothing and allow us to ride safer and more environmentally-friendly bikes," he said.

In 2036, Devitt insurance will celebrate its centenary, having been formed in the 1930s when motorcycling grew in popularity and insurance became an essential element of protection.

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