If Holland is known as a country of tulips and bicycles then Russia may soon be known as a country of motorcycles. Despite high prices and the poor quality of Russian roads, motorcycle sales in Russia increase by 20% every year and the popularity of these two-wheeled machines continues to grow. Russian men want to own a first-rate bike. Russian women are also attracted to motorcycles, which they ride on their own or with a charming companion. Half of the students at motorcycle driving schools in Moscow are women.
According to statistics, riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, it is 6th on the table of risks. This reality is proved by the many sad accidents that occur on motorcycles. They are constant reminders of the dangers waiting on the streets for those who decide to "saddle a restless steel mustang." Many sports fans remember how the athletic career of Valery Brumel, a prominent Russian athlete, an Olympic champion and a record breaking high jumper, was cut short at the age of 23 because of the serious injuries he received in a motorcycle crash 40 years ago. Valery Brumel was just the passenger and the woman who was driving the motorcycle that unfortunate day was an experienced driver. Nevertheless, streets hide many surprises and even an experienced motorcycle racer is not completely safe.
However, people on the road with a new motorcycle are definitely not thinking about a possible accident. Pessimists should not ride a motorcycle. Motorcycles are for brave, optimistic and wealthy people. Even though motorcycles are expensive, more and more people are buying them in Russia. For instance, a new BMW R1200 GS, which costs $16,000, sold out in Russia well before spring. The owner of this motorcycle can go for long distance trips, explore unknown routes and enjoy outstanding sightseeing. Last summer during Harley Davidson's 100th anniversary, the number of sales of the legendary American motorcycles in Moscow doubled in comparison with previous years.
The first question a potential motorcycle owner asks in one of Moscow motorcycle stores is: "What is the coolest bike you have?" The Yamaha R1, a sports bike with a 1,000 cc engine, has been one of the most popular motorcycles in Moscow in the past few years. People ride this motorcycle along the one of Moscow's prestigious avenues (Kutuzovsky Prospekt) to demonstrate that they are important. The luxurious BMW K1200 LT is also a status symbol. This heavy motorcycle, designed for long trips, is a top selling model in Moscow.
A motorcycle gives its driver many opportunities to show off. People who enjoy high speeds prefer sport bikes. One of the elite racing models, which can be seen in Moscow, is the Ducati 999. Japanese sport bikes like the Yamaha R1, the Kawasaki Ninja, and the Honda Fire Blade are also popular in Russia. Russians also like enduro motorcycles, which are unpretentious and designed for long distance trips. Individuals who enjoy adventures, physical challenges and are not afraid to get dirty usually purchase enduro motorcycles.
Besides dirt bikes, which are made for motocross (Japanese brands are dominant in this class), dual-purpose motorcycles, which can be used on highways as well as off-road, occupy a considerable market niche. The leading models in this class are the KTM Adventure and the BMW F650 GS. These bikes are essential for the terrible Russian roads.
The number of motorcycles and motorcycle owners continues to increase, however, Russia's performance in motor sports remains modest. The world of motor sports is diverse; it includes motocross, rally raids, MotoGP, trial and speedway. However, because Russia does not have a proper racetrack, MotoGP in Russia has not developed. Ice speedway is still popular in the Urals. Other Russian cities use huge auditoriums for motocross competitions. There are plans to build a modern world class stadium in the Moscow region and open a school for young motorcycle racers.
However, only time will show whether these plans become reality. Meanwhile, bikers on expensive motorcycles cruise the streets of Russian cities. These bikers see motorcycles as an opportunity to show off, feel a rush and to participate in a bikers rally. However, a large number of bikers and expensive motorcycles is not enough for Russia to become a paradise for motorcycle drivers. Only when Russia has outstanding roads and adequate motorcycle repair services, will motorcyclists be able to drive on the highways without worrying about their security or road conditions and only then Russia can be called a country of motorcycles.