Picture this: Nearly 40 years ago boomers flocking to see the road movie Easy Rider. So what are the bold and newly balding doing in their grandparenthood? Buying Harley-Davidsons and other motorcycle 'cruisers' in record numbers, that's what. It's the same trend here as in Australia and America - though maybe without the chopper handlebars.
When the film was launched one of the slogans was: A man went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere. Maybe there's a modern day movie here as well and its slogan could be: A man goes looking for his lost youth and can't find it anywhere….
It's strange what age and money can do to a group as socially challenging as boomers. Easy Rider screened when boomers were in their prime and the film's hirsute, anti-Establishment heroes, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were an affront to all things good about America. Perhaps today's boomers -who many expect to be easing into a gentle retirement - are still giving the finger to Society's norms in a different way.
Either way, big bikes are back in.
Cruisers are usually bigger machines with wide handlebars that drivers ride upright rather than hunched over the fuel tank. In New Zealand, Harleys are most popular.
"Sales are going through the roof" says Wayne Potter, Sales Manager of Christchurch bike shop Rolling Thunder.
"There'll come a time in the next 18 months when demand will outstrip supply".
Wayne has worked for Rolling Thunder for four years and in that time has seen the number of Harley sales double - from 70 to 150 last year. So what's the attraction?
"It's a bit like a legal drug. Once you have one you just can't not have one. I don't really think it matters which bike it is when it comes to that".
And then there's that feeling of freedom and with it a sense of community when bikers gather, he adds.
Boomers are big buyers of the bikes - the average age of a Harley buyer is 48, though now he says, the company is selling to those 33 plus.
Unsurprisingly in America Harley-Davidson Inc. rules the U.S. cruiser market with 51 percent of total sales, followed by Honda Motor Co. at 22 percent and Yamaha Corp. at 11 percent, according to data compiled by Suzuki, which itself has an 8 percent share.
But in Australia, Harley takes second place to Honda cruisers, according to the Australian newspaper. Overall growth in road bikes was 18 per cent last year, with sales reaching 45,510. Honda was the top-selling road bike brand, with 10,014 sold. Next were Harley Davidsons with 7134, and Suzuki with 7080.
The newspaper quoted one motorcycle manager as saying that cruisers were mostly being bought by baby boomers looking for a fun weekend and holiday diversion. "It is the people in the 40-plus bracket who have the disposable income - their kids have left home and they have taken early retirement."
Ride captain of the Motorcycle Riders Association of South Australia Jock Rogan said most of the club's new members were over 40 and looking to change their lifestyle.
"They are a more mature set - grey nomads looking at motorcycles and trailers rather than the camper van," he said.