For nearly 50 years, the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council (MMIC) has been representing the interests of participants in the Canadian motorcycle industry including manufacturers, retailers and riders. Looking to gain some additional insight into the organization and latest trends in the industry, Inside Motorcycles reached out to MMIC Director of Communications and motorcycle enthusiast extraordinaire David Grummett, who eagerly agreed to participate in our Five Questions series.
Inside Motorcycles: According to the MMIC website, the organization was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit association. What is the mission of MMIC and what are some of the major initiatives that are undertaken during the year to support this mission?
David Grummett: MMIC is involved in so many things on a daily basis. In a typical day we can be helping provincially with off-road federations to fight for land access on the eastern side of the Rockies, working with the government in Nova Scotia to rewrite their Highway Traffic Act, consulting with Quebec on new scooter legislation and working with regulators in Ontario to stay on top of insurance rates and get access to HOV lanes. Nationally we work with Transport Canada to ensure autonomous vehicles can see motorcycles. We also work with Environment Canada and Health Canada to ensure there are no surprises that would limit sales in Canada.
Our Powersport Show Services (PSS) group works year round to produce the motorcycle shows and determine the best ways to reach out to both existing and new riders.
A new initiative from our member companies is to take a more active role to grow the sport. We are really excited to receive this mandate and to communicate all that is exciting about the motorcycle lifestyle.
IM: Prior to assuming your current role as the MMIC Director of Communications, what other roles/positions did you hold in the motosport industry and how did they help prepare you for your work with MMIC?
DG: My first role in the industry was as a consumer. I motocrossed, was a street squid, toured North America and roadraced. I went through post-secondary studies in environmental science and really had no intention of working in the motorcycle industry. Fate somehow led me to partnering with Bruce Parker to open a retail store in Toronto. That phase lasted 22 years. After consistency for 2 decades I moved from the Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders to Western Sales Manager for Suzuki to Western Sales Manager for Piaggio and finally to MMIC/COHV/PSS as Director of Communications. I also taught the FAST School for almost 20 years and I currently teach the M2 course as a CSC Certified Instructor.
The really cool thing about my past is that I had the opportunity to walk in all of the shoes in the industry. Consumer, racer, retailer, teacher, wholesaler and association manager. I have covered over 100,000 km on the street plus raced motocross, enduro, supermoto and road circuits. I’ve played on flat track and speedway bikes but somehow never raced them. Throughout my career I’ve always prided myself on my ability to communicate and build relationships. All of this allows me to see the whole picture of motorsports in Canada and thrive in my DoC role.
IM: What are some of the main trends that you have observed in the Canadian motosports industry during the last decade and how to do you see these same trends continuing into the next decade?
DG: Many things have changed in motorsports over my career span but the reason to ride has stayed the same. The younger generation will thrive on the speed and adrenaline. The older you get the more you enjoy the freedom that comes with motorcycling. It provides isolation from the stresses of the world when your helmet is on and it provides a social experience at stops along the way. It’s also really cool and can make you a badass amongst your peer group.
Unlike the constants like the reasons to ride, technology is constantly changing. Some advances make bikes more powerful, lighter and more agile. More importantly bikes are becoming safer to ride. ABS, cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, rear wheel lift mitigation are already in play. The next wave will see vehicle connectivity and autonomy. If this technology can minimize or eliminate the dreaded left hand turn collision, it will be a great time in motorcycling.
IM: The creation of new riders is a frequent topic of discussion among OEMs. Where to you see the next generation of riders coming from and what role will the MMIC play in this process?
DG: As noted above the OEM members of MMIC have tasked us with growing the sport. Coincidentally MMIC’s counterparts south of the border and across the pond in England have been given the same task. Baby boomers that got started because of Easy Rider, The Wild Ones or On Any Sunday are aging out. We need new bums on seats. I think most new riders will come from people close to existing riders. Neighbours that drool with envy as you ride away while they push their lawn mower. Friends, co-workers or teammates are logical sources. Sons & daughters or grandsons and granddaughters of riders will be the basis of the next generation. Motorcyclists are doctors, lawyers, plumbers, school kids and all walks of life. Our new riders will be just as varied.
Motorcycles have a built in magnetism. Kids riding by on bicycles or in the next car at a stop will give the thumbs up or say “cool bike man”! I think a lot of people are affected by this magnetic attraction. Too many people are bored or don’t have good friends. Motorcycling is the “RX”!
The big question is how do we help them take the first step. How do we get them to say “What the heck, I just signed up for the motorcycle course and I’m buying a bike”? We as an industry need to expand our sights. We aren’t in competition with each other. We are in competition with video games, boating, RVing, trips to an all-inclusive and with BestBuy and their big screen TVs. It’s not just the bike, it’s the lifestyle that comes with it. As the old saying goes “there are no motorcycle parked at a psychiatrists office”.
MMIC will strive to become a hub of information for new riders. We are developing a new website called “gomotorcycling.ca”. We will work with our show division to reach out to a new demographic and cross promote and target other similar activities. In the end it will be many hands that make small work. Social media will allow the industry, the media, the shows and the riders themselves to create the next generation of riders.
IM: Of all the motorcycles that have called your garage home over the years, which is your favourite and why?
DG: I just did a rough count of 34 motorcycles that have resided in my garage. I loved most of them. Some I had a love, hate relationship with. The RZ350 that I won the Canadian Yamaha Cup Championship in 1988 was very special. It allowed me to compete on the world stage against riders from 15 other countries at the Brands Hatch circuit in England. That said, it got Maid of Honour. My absolute favourite was my 1990 Yamaha TZ250. 30 years ago it cost over $18,000 but man it was worth every penny. 80 some horsepower and just over 200 pounds made it so much fun to ride. My first lapping session I thought, oh no its so small, I don’t fit (5’8”, 150 lbs). My second lapping session I was pulling crossed up wheelies while leaned over and screaming in my helmet “I’m Kevin Schwantzzzz”! In 90 I won Eastern Canada Pro Formula 1 & 2 class championships plus I finished second in the national championship to the original squid kid, Steve Crevier. I wished I had kept those two bikes the most. I currently ride a Honda Africa Twin DCT and it is my new favourite.