Sunset rides always gets me thinking. I am an AMA member and have been for many years. Sure, I missed a few in the mix, but I have a bunch of pins and have recycled my share of American Motorcyclist magazine for decades. I feel there there is some good coming out of the AMA at least as far as a brand awareness on capitol hill, and they have some great archives and assets in the Hall Of Fame. I have jumped in to help the HoF host interviews too. Happy to do it. There are many great people who work for (and have been fired by) the AMA. But I have been consistently underwhelmed by them. I really wish the AMA was…better. It has to get better.
Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations. Certainly the membership numbers have been dwindling, so the budgets are tighter, and the influence is waning too. Things take time. Industry politics slows the process. But the nagging thought that hit me as I chuffed home on my Guzzi, was that we desperately need a lightning rod for the AMA. Someone to deliver the sort of buzz and attention that we know motorcycling can generate. The AMA stands up as the organization to represent riders, but they fail to inspire most of us who ride. They move too slow. There is little original thought that makes it through the political filters. They are often not where riders are. They are too stuffy. OK, way too stuffy. This is supposed to be fun. Where is the excitement? Agh. This HAS to get better.
So - with that idea cricket chirping as pulled my lid off - it’s time for a glass of whisky and an open letter:
Dear Keanu Reeves, please buy out the AMA.
Hear me out man, we need you badly. You have been a staunch advocate for riding for many years. You get it. You get how kids on bicycles are our future. You get that an oily old hand shifter can be as cool as a pristine new KRGT. How the sound of an engine inspires. That controlling the wind is actually heaven on earth. Why we nod to each other as we pass. You totally get it man.
Right now we really need the power you bring to the world of motorcycling.
Now, I’m not talking about being a spokesperson. That is just another lazy and far too easy approach. I mean being a catalyst for change for the whole organization. With your leverage I see a comprehensive change in the AMA to make it more relevant, more representative, more effective and more…inspiring. Something that will live on for years, and become the jewel in our industry.
It is time for significant new energy in the top management at the AMA. New perspectives. New ideas. Re-think the structure to de-centralize the management. That means engaged and experienced enthusiasts from all over the US can contribute. Re-organize to get the AMA back into core grass roots and experiential new ridership opportunities. Let’s get the AMA Hall of Fame mobile. Get those assets moving to where riders are - and be the catalyst for experience and making memories.
New rider pride is addictive - just ask the fellas from Super 73. They get it. And they don't even make motorcycles - yet.
Inspire: Other celebrities. Rider stories. Free first ride programs. Municipal managers. Politicians. Kids programs. Coloring books. Product placement. Story integration. Matchbox toys. Tangible membership benefits. Actually cool AMA apparel. An energy drink. Automatic membership for each new bike sold in the US. Moto summer camp. Moto romantic vacations. Moto parking programs. Congestion fee abatement. George Clooney inviting us to ride. Matt LeBlanc teaching us how to wheelie. The Dave Chapelle / Alonzo Bodden moto comedy tour ending with a concert performed by a band that rides! Interesting PSA’s. Modern website. Annual lap of the country tour. Moto America / AMA Charity track days. New everything…I could go on. I probably will. Even though it pisses some people off.
Keanu, I have ridden with you at a Bonnier track day. I have chatted with you at the Quail. I have seen you at COTA and riding through Hill Country after the GP race. Familiar head nod. You didn’t know me, but you did - y’know? I have heard stories about you helping riders. Videos everywhere. You build your own perfect bike - and offer it to others. Living the dream and staying humble. You are the single most visible motorcyclist in this amazing country, and you can be the lighting rod we need to revolutionize the AMA and elevate motorcycling for the benefit of all of us.
I am certain top motorcycle managers across the country will want to be part of that revolution. I sure as hell would. I am certain that the benefits and definitions of membership (now community) can be modernized. I am certain that the existing community of riders will share the message and grow our influence with government. I am certain that OEM’s, insurance companies, hotel chains, beverage companies, and consumer events will jostle to find new ways to be a part of the most exciting revolution in the moto industry.
I am certain that you standing up will be the lightning rod we all need today, and qualified new leaders will be by your side in an instant. So please buy the AMA. And thank you for getting us, and being a rider. Let us know when you need help. We will be in.
Please - #KeanuKickstartTheAMA We need you to be the spark for our industry.
You present some great ideas in this and I love the idea of taking it out of seemingly manufacturers hands and putting the AMA into the hands of true enthusiasts. But I believe that the AMA's largest problem in our minds is that they are too focused on racing motorcycles and deal with street riders more of an after thought. So, I would add that Keanu should not take over the AMA, but set up a partnering organization that would deal with the street and legal side of motorcycling.
Fair point - but the AMA has largely abdicated professional racing from a promotional standpoint anyway. Their strength is in government relations and amateur racing. The Vintage Motorcycle Days model could be applied to a West Coast event as well. I do feel there is good to be salvaged out of the AMA and the HoF - but I strongly feel that if there is not a catalyst for the organization soon, their waning influence will dribble out and it will be too late to affect the industry as they should. There are great opportunities out there to partner with companies such as Revel, Super 73 and others who border the category of motorcycling but can help expand inclusion. That will take years to get to - but those thoughts are needed now. Before the next recession firmly puts motorcycling into the same category as Equestrian Polo.
The AMA tries to serve a small % of the population, but only represents a small % of that small %. So their voice is often not heard or paid much attention to. IMO they would serve the motorcycle community better if they spent a lot less of their resources in money and time fighting against helmet and exhaust laws that the largest % of motorcycle riders don’t really care about. Instead, spend that capital on trying to grow the motorcycle community by attracting people to the sport/hobby and making it easier for them to become a part of it.