Report Says Sport Bike Sales in USA Dropped 4.7%

02/27/2017 @ 2:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler62 COMMENTS

The data continues to support the notion that sport bike sales are contracting, with Powersports Business releasing a report that sport bike sales dropped by 4.7% over a 12-month period that ended in October 2016.

According to the dataset put together by Statistical Surveys Inc., 75,469 sport bikes were registered in the United States during last year’s time period, compared to the 79,225 motorcycles that were registered the previous year.

While the general trend across the country is a drop in sport bike sales, the research also showed some interesting locations where sport bike sales actually increased dramatically, showing that there may be a location element to the demise of the sport bike.

The two locations with the biggest gains in sales were Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth, which posted 10.3% (1,408 units) and 10.2% (1,730 units) increases in sport bike sales, respectively. Houston also showed strong grow, with a 6.6% bump. 

However, where sport bike sales lost the most is also where the most bikes are sold. California accounts for roughly 40% of the sport bike market in the United States, and two of its key metropolitan areas showed strong decreases in sport bike sales.

Sales in the San Francisco Bay Area dropped 7.6%, while sales in San Diego showed a 6.7% loss. Los Angeles, probably the largest single metropolitan market for sport bike sales, dropped a more modest 1.1%.

Other notable drops in sport bike sales occurred in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, with 13.8% drop (the largest percentage drop in the nation). New York was also at a loss, showing a 1.4% decline.

The question still remains though: is this a function of changing tastes in the motorcycle community? Is it the result of manufacturers not releasing any new or compelling models in the sport bike category over the recent model years? Or, could it be a mixture of both factors?

Source: Powersports Business; Photo: KTM

  • Paul M. Fenn

    Would love to read a similar report on ADV bikes. Specifically, are they taking up the slack from the above shrinkage?

  • I would as well. I’m not sure how much tracking the MIC does by segment though.

  • Ur Momma

    Marketing has changed. There is no “race-on-Sunday-sell-on-Monday” because there is nothing on the TV or online to see.

  • That, and the shops have never been open on Monday to begin with…

  • MrDefo

    Interesting that you chose a naked bike as the image for this article. My question is, when we say “sports bike,” are we talking about full fairing race bikes, or do we include performance nakeds?

  • michael uhlarik

    I would like to point out that this number is essentially meaningless. The MIC is an organization made up of manufacturers that a) self-reports and b) does not adhere to any statistical categorization that makes sense.

    Other than the US, Canada and the UK, the rest of the serious developed markets in the world have industry reporting bodies that impartially register motorcycle sales by category and brand. This number includes basically anything that has full fairings, is imported, and is not loosely associated with touring. Among the 75,000 units you’l find CBR300s and Ninja 650s. The actual number of GSX-R-type machines is much, much smaller.

    In other words, what does this statistic portend? Nothing specific about changing tastes among genuine sport motorcycles, but rather a contracting of the overall motorcycle market in the US. A hypothesis supported by the shrinking sales of market leader Harley-Davidson.

    Pity all of us… so much wonderful choice right now no matter what your moto-flavour.

  • Superlight

    Uh-h-h, not true. Bein Sports has TV coverage of WSBK, WSSP, motoGP and (I understand) MotoAmerica, but you have to spend extra on cable to get it.

  • Superlight

    I wondered that as well.

  • You bring up a valid point about what constitutes a “sport bike” here. To be fair though, I don’t believe these numbers came from the MIC. It looks like they used DMV registration stats.

  • VForce

    It can be tracked and split out for the ADV bikes.

    Another question- are these new “cafe bikes”, “yard builds” whatever the OEMs call them- the “NEW” sportbikes?

  • michael uhlarik

    I’ve been knee-deep in global market stats for the last month, compiling data sets for clients. I can assure you that the charts indicate the cyclical downturn is coming.

    Good news? Deals for you and me!

  • ZeroCold

    I would like to see this drop compared with other types of bikes and what they are showing.

  • Jason

    Who has cable anymore?

    I dropped it back in 2005 and haven’t regretted my decision once.

  • Superlight

    I didn’t think this was a referendum on cable versus satellite TV.

  • Jason

    The document you are looking for is the Powersports Business Market Data Book 2016. It can be yours for only $99.99. Collecting all that market data isn’t cheap.

    I haven’t bought it since I closed my dealership but I bet a certain online motorcycle magazine could spend a Benjamin to let us know what is going on….

  • Jason

    Who has satellite TV in 2017? It is just as archaic as cable.

  • Superlight

    Who cares? This was a discussion about motorcycles.

  • Jason

    This IS a discussion on declining Sport Bike sales in the USA. One of the reasons sales may be declining is due to lack of coverage of motorcycle racing in the USA. Right now coverage of motorcycle racing in the USA is confined to an obscure cable channel at a time when the number of people that chose to pay for cable or satellite TV is rapidly declining.

  • Heywood Jahbleauxmi

    The biggest threat to new bike sales are used bikes. Plus, bikes typically don’t get ridden much by most riders, so there are lots of low mile ones to choose from, and they don’t break like they used to. It’s like the two seat roadster market for cars (on life support); bikes are a luxury for most, and out of reach for many…. And almost always unecessary.

  • GregS

    Is there a streaming option for Bein?

  • Peter

    Yes, we have a Roku and Sling and there’s a sports package add-on that includes beIN Sports. The total cost for Sling with the sports package is less than $30 a month. Since we ditched cable a couple years ago, we watch digital antenna and stream with Roku, and just add the Sling + sports package only during racing season. I get to watch everything I want- at a fraction of the price. We’re thrilled to be cable-free.

  • Loud_V8_noises

    Why would I sell my paid off 2012 S1000RR for a new S1k, R1, GSX-RR? The advancements are more or less negligible for a novice and even expert rider. Until someone makes something actually game changing (V4 Ducati/Honda GP replica) I have no interest in another sport bike. Manufacturers need to realize this and come up with something that has WOW factor to it.

  • Vladimir Pushkin

    Valid point here. I built what Honda should have come out with in 2008. Now I am happy. Why do I need the 2017 CBR when its basically sitting in my garage minus the wheels.

  • GregS

    Awesome news

  • Jon B.

    Or is this all just a reflection of how lame San Francisco has become? :p

  • Jason

    Is beIN available on demand or only in real time? When I tried Sling last month everything I wanted to watch was a live broadcast only AND still had commercials.

  • SKD007

    Ya big deal… what’s the point of buying a SBK when you can’t go past 45mph and 80mph.. even a 250 can do that :/

  • Ryan Donahue

    I don’t know, but you can pony up for both WSBK and MotoGP subscriptions. Well worth it, in my opinion.

  • Paul McM

    Or unaffordable for the younger folk who buy bikes. As for LA, the traffic and roads get worse every year. LA was recently named the single worst location on the planet for bad traffic. Also, I’m not sure why (my guess is corrupt contractors using poor quality materials) California roads are falling apart at a much accelerated rate. Oddly it seems to be the roads paved or patched in the last 5 years that are the worst. I’ve lived in CA five decades and the roads are worse than I’ve ever seen them. To be honest it is a disgrace given the taxes collected in California. Gasoline is a full dollar more per gallon than in nearby Arizona and most of that is due to higher CA Taxes.

    My other theory re dropping bike sales is really bad styling on new bikes and glut of used bikes.

  • pidgin

    Good, hopefully manufacturers start making what people actually want.

  • Superlight

    Which is what, specifically?

  • pidgin

    400cc+ dual-sports/supermotos. Would never drive a turd that is a superbike. Ugly and pointless/uncomfortable

  • Superlight

    Yeah and supermotos make a lot of sense for most riders – NOT!

  • awwshucks

    But with lane splitting, wouldn’t traffic be an even bigger incentive to get a bike?

  • awwshucks

    The DRZ400 exists. Granted, it hasn’t been updated in 15 years but still.
    A modern version that’s fuel injected and dropped some weight would be amazing.

  • spamtasticus

    Miami is full of adv bikes now.

  • Andre Capitao Melo

    Thanks for representing all the people in the world, mister.

  • pidgin

    well there are a ton of superbikes and sales are down – draw your own conclusions

  • spamtasticus

    My mommy said the solar system revolves around me, soo… I’m not sure why you are under the impression it revolves arround you.

  • Larry Kahn

    Most don’t know it but something in the V-Strom 650 area is the ideal all-around streetbike. But not a “cool” factor. Which is what many want.

  • Superlight

    You’re probably right, but since we’re talking a hobby, most of us are not that practical in our purchases.

  • Bruce Steever

    Plenty, but how they review segments and how customers/media consider segments is sometimes at odds, especially with EU brands.

  • Bruce Steever

    Or bread lines, depending on how close you are to the margins.

  • Bruce Steever

    There are typically republishing limitations on that sort of thing.

  • Bruce Steever

    “But that’s so scarrrryyyyyy!”

  • Bruce Steever

    You’re wrong, but nice WAG.

    The road issues are simply a matter of where the money is, and isn’t, going: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0717-obernolte-gas-tax-20150717-story.html

  • Kamal Brown

    They been hashing out the same stuff for years now sport bike wise

  • major tom

    I’m not surprised. So my “new fantastic sport bike” has five more horsepower, gets worst fuel range because the airbox is larger, weighs five less pounds, because it’s more fragile. is harder to ride in public because all the power, costs more, and is uglier. Oh, must not forget it’s five MPH faster. Yep, makes sense to me. Ideal compromise means down-sizing and a return to sanity. But what would the pundits then talk about and hype?

  • Gary

    Interesting point since the lines have become increasingly blurred (save for full coverage bodywork). I suspect one answer to the “where have the sport bike sales gone” is the very rise of performance street fighters. These days more of them boast specifications and capabilities that would rival a genuine RR bike. All this in a package that accommodates its pilot and riding environment more suitably than an RR model. This makes the street fighter one obvious choice unless you’re just dying to look like a super bike racer.

  • pidgin

    Exactly what I’d expect a superbike rider to say.

  • Jake F.

    The talking heads on CNBC and elsewhere have been predicting that for years now. I think their strategy is if they sing that tune long enough, eventually they’ll be right!

  • Jake F.

    I think it’s also worth mentioning that the insurance rates on superbikes are often double or more what the rates are for an equivalent cc bike in a different category. It certainly makes me think twice about buying one.

  • Racing Enthusiast

    It isn’t polite to make fun of the low performance kids.

  • spamtasticus

    My only street legal bike right now is a KTM 690 enduro R…

  • moto_junky

    Interesting discussion. Lots of theories. My personal take is to simply to look at the cost of living. Our sport is an awesome hobby to most riders. Areas where sales are down, the cost of living, more specifically the cost of housing, has gone up significantly in the last 3 or four years. Bay Area is a prime example. Areas that sales are up are much more affordable in general. More cash more toys. I bet if you look even deeper, sales of inexpensive bikes have probably held steady while the liter bike category has suffered.

  • Paul McM

    That was a good article that addressed budget issues. But here in Ventura county we are seeing newly resurfaced roads breaking up faster than older road surfaces. Some recently paved tarmac is starting to break up just a few weeks after it was laid down. Never seen that before so badly in California. It suggests to me that the contractors are cheating the state on materials or they simply don’t know how to pave a road anymore. The roads here in California now remind me of what you’d see in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the USSR. Pathetic…

  • Bruce Steever

    I hear you, but that’s the nature of patching varied surface grades. Without a full replacement of the damaged section, the various material types will never provide the durability of fully-disposed road surface.

  • Jason

    Resurfacing is just covering up the problem with a bandaid. Instead of redoing the roads correctly the city pays a company to grind the surface and lay about 2 inches of asphalt on top. This does nothing to address the fact that there are huge issues under the surface and that fresh new surface starts breaking up along the same cracks in the road below.

    It comes from years of neglect followed by wasting money to try to make lots of miles look nice for a bit instead of ponying up the money needed to fix it right or using limited miles to fix fewer miles correctly.

  • michael uhlarik

    I’m talking about motorcycles, man. Just motorcycles.

  • durandal1

    This! Everyone is looking at the salaries in Silicon Valley and moaning about the 1%. Great until you realize the engineers live in 900sq ft houses and drive priuses to work, because that’s all that they can afford with the current cost of living.

  • Rob

    Here in Canada, more specifically Ontario (where 1/3 of our population resides), sport bike sales are being absolutely decimated by the unregulated insurance industry. Most insurance companies are flat-out refusing to insure sport bikes. Some are blacklisting entire brands.
    If you can find an insurance provider that will insure a sport bike, the prices are astronomical. The average 35 year old on a YZF-R6 can expect to pay over $2,000 a year for basic coverage. Yet, that same rider can expect to pay half for an FZ-09. Relative to other demographically similar foreign markets, that’s still massively overpriced.
    Up in Canukistan, the insurance industry has declared war on the motorcycle industry and the careless attitude of the OEM’s is allowing the insurance industry to win this war.

  • Zeek Seseika

    Ever try to insure a Sportbike…might be very expensive…