Motorcycling is the act of riding a motorcycle. Motorcycling serves both practical and recreational purposes in the U.S.

Key aspects of motorcycling in the United States:


  • Motorcycles make up around 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., with approximately 8.3 million motorcycles registered in 2018.
  • They are especially popular in urban areas like Los Angeles, where lane-splitting (riding between lanes of traffic) is legal.
  • Some cities like San Francisco allow motorcycles to park on sidewalks, making them convenient for commuters.


  • The average American motorcyclist rides around 3,000 miles per year, mostly for recreation rather than daily transportation.
  • Cruiser motorcycles like Harley-Davidsons are popular for leisurely rides and touring. Sport bikes are popular for performance riding.
  • Scenic routes like the Pacific Coast Highway, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Tail of the Dragon are famous destinations for recreational rides.
  • Events like Daytona Bike Week and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attract motorcyclists from all over the country for festivals, rides, and shows.


  • In 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S., making up 14% of all traffic fatalities.
  • 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws, while 28 states have partial laws and 3 states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) have no helmet requirements.
  • The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers nationwide training courses in safe riding techniques.


  • Marlon Brando’s 1953 film “The Wild One” and the “outlaw biker” image of the Hells Angels in the 1960s established motorcycles as symbols of rebellion in American popular culture.
  • Groups like Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) leverage the “tough biker” stereotype to charitable ends, supporting abused children.
  • The American Motorcycle Association has over 200,000 members and 1,200 chartered clubs, making it the largest motorcycling organization in the U.S.


  • Harley-Davidson, founded in Milwaukee in 1903, maintains a dominant share of the American motorcycle market, especially for heavyweight bikes.
  • Indian Motorcycle, founded in 1901, was Harley’s main rival in the early-mid 20th century and was recently revived as an American brand.
  • Foreign brands like Honda, Kawasaki and BMW have increased their market share, now making up the majority of motorcycle sales in the U.S.

Motorcycling occupies a unique place in American culture, evoking images of freedom and adventure while providing practical transportation for millions. The diversity of riders, bike styles, and riding cultures under the banner of “motorcycling” reflects the mosaic of American society.

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