Who's riding motorcycles in California? Older, married, educated men with money -- and getting more so.

New statistics prepared by the Motorcycle Industry Council show the median age of California motorcycle owners was 45 years old in 2012 -- having risen from 33 years in 1990, 38 years in 1998 and 41 years in 2009.

But the age number is a little misleading. Almost 40 percent of the study's respondents were 50 and over -- compared to only 10 percent in that age range in 1990.

That rising number is unnerving to motorcycle industry professionals, many of whom have said they're afraid their core audience is rapidly aging out of the sport, and soon will be too old to ride at all.

The average biker is male -- 88 percent of them, down from 94 percent in 1990 -- and married -- 63 percent of them, up from 57 percent in 1990.

The average enthusiast is pretty well educated. More than 50 percent went to college, and 20 percent did post-graduate work.

The average rider has some money, too. Median income for California motorcyclists was $64,130 in 2012, more than double what it was in 1990. More than 60% reported their annual household incomes at over $50,000, with almost 20 percent reporting incomes of over $100,000.

Almost three quarters of them were employed. About 14 percent were retired.

The MIC study, conducted by the independent firm Ipsos, of Culver City was accompanied by one other statistic that could either depress or encourage motorcycle industry professionals:


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There are currently more licensed motorcyclists in California without a motorcycle than there are licensed riders who currently own one.

According to the MIC, 1.7 million Californians currently hold licenses to operate motorcycles. But there are only 847,937 motorycles currently registered in the state.

Even without allowing for the fact that a lot of motorcyclists own more than one motorcycle, that means more than half the people licensed to ride motorcycles in California may not be riding at all.

"That's great," said one motorcycle manufacturer who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to represent his company publicly. "That means people want to ride, if we just make more motorcycles they want to own."