There are two types of people who buy motorcycles. For the first group, a motorcycle represents the cheapest form of motorized transport. Here, there is usually little interest in the vehicle beyond essential maintenance, nor enthusiasm for the more exciting sensations of motorcycling. It's just transport – one step up from a bicycle, but a big step down from the car, which most of this group would rather own. Chances are, they will not be reading our website.
The second group is diametrically opposed to the first. Motorcycling to them is a passion, a symbol of freedom and often a lifestyle. They ride a motorcycle by choice. In fact, many make that choice on a daily basis, because despite the paradox of a higher dedication to motorcycling, many of these people also own a car. So wealth, or the lack of it, is one of the guiding factors that determine which group we fall into.
The fact there are models in between the Honda Wave and the Honda CBR1000RR 'Fireblade' proves that shades of grey exist between the two extremes. Just because you're an enthusiast doesn't mean you don't have certain practicalities to respect, such as luggage, a passenger or just a bad back. At the other extreme, reluctant commuters may take a certain pride in their machine and enjoy some of the benefits, such as maneuvrability in dense traffic and the ease of parking. Ultimately, however, we're not and while function and emotion may very rarely be found in equal ratio, the majority of us are polarized towards one or other of the extremes. When it comes to the prime purchasing motivation, motorcycles are either the cheapest wheels or they're expensive toys. Individual circumstances change, of course, and someone who buys for practical reasons early in their adult life may aspire or progress to models further up the food chain once expendable income allows. I've known both situations myself. As a student, I vaguely recall riding to job interviews in the pouring rain, with a portfolio the size of a dining table bungeed to the back of my 'sensible' motorcycle. It was not enjoyable, nor professional, nor remotely safe. But the desire for better things lurked behind my begrudging acceptance of a decidedly uncool motorcycle. I was smitten by a love for motorcycling, the miserable North European weather notwithstanding. I knew that one day I would own a motorcycle I wasn't ashamed of and now I do. Five, in fact, even if some spend most of their time leaking a variety of fluids onto the garage floor. The garage also holds a few motorcycles that are owned by the girlfriend, she seems to appreciate more younger motorcycles. As with humans, incontinence seem to come with old age.
On a wider scale, local economies dictate which category tends to be predominant, although these are far from constant. China and in lesser amount Thailand have seen a transition from essential no-frills transport to stylish personal statements. Few motorcycle can be sol now without at least some concession to aesthetics. Even though function still has to be respected, the change in attitude, and subsequent sales boom, has been powered by demand from within the domestic markets rather than a desire from the manufacturers to compete with Western-level products in export markets. That can only happen with improving economies and we're witnessing a similar trend across much of Asia and Latin America.