US Motorcycle Market Drops 14.7% in Q1 2013

05/21/2013 @ 4:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler23 COMMENTS

US Motorcycle Market Drops 14.7% in Q1 2013 united states text map 635x425

While we have mostly been lamenting the loss of the European motorcycle market, thanks chiefly to the Spanish and Italian economies, things here in the United States appear to be a bit tougher than was thought. While Americans contemplate whether or not we are headed into a double-dip recession, the American motorcycle market certainly seems to be headed that way.

While last year showed signs that motorcycling in the US had hit rock-bottom, and even posted very modest signs of growth, the first quarter of 2013 is anything but reassuring. With the US motorcycle market down 14.7% overall in Q1 2013, the MIC is reporting losses pretty much across the board (off-highway bike sales are more or less flat).

Breaking the US market down into categories, on-highway motorcycle sales are down 16.2% (64,706 units), scooters are down 34.6% (4,771 units), dual-sport motorcycle sales are down 14.9% (6,350 units), with only off-highway sales showing signs of life with 0.4% of sales growth(17,548 units).

The slip in sales is being attributed partially to the losses by Harley-Davidson and Polaris during the same time period, which account for a sizeable portion of the American motorcycle industries overall sales. However, the weather may be playing an even larger role, as the warmer weather earlier in the season last year likely caused an increase of Q1 sales in 2012.

Source: MIC

Comment:

  1. This has nothing to do with the possibility of a double dip recession, and much less to do with the last recession which we have already emerged from, and everything to do with the liquidation of the middle class. Over 150 million Americans make less than $26,000 a year, who can afford to buy a motorcycle on that? Nobody.

    Without an expanding middle class, every business In America is in trouble. I realize some of the corporate owned posers who post comments here (I know exactly who you are) and make enough money to buy 12 motorcycles a year as status symbols like cars and houses you buy, 12 motorcycle you’ll never ride, or at least ride properly :-). You end your friends can’t keep the motorcycle business going, or the rest of the economy for that matter. So stop listening to the people who own you like slaves, you’re just as expendable to them as everyone else.

  2. TexusTim says:

    geez…..if only the goverments of the world were transparent and honest this wouldnt happen.
    they keep telling us in America that things are getting better…this is just not true… the middle class ? it no longer exist….we have welfare,low income and then high income earners..o and all the new goverment employees !! thats right nearly two thirds of all jobs created in the states over the last 4 yeard have been for state or local goverment….they hire mostly minoritys….so ask me if your white 50 years old and built homes for humans your whole life what ya gonna do now ? all that good karma you thought would come back to you evaporated when we elected this ass clown

  3. paulus - Thailand says:

    Damn… a sad fact to start the day.

    Unfortunately (in developed countries, at least) motorcycles tend to be a pastime or luxury item and not the main method of transportation. More and more reasons to hold onto the existing bike.

    Until the economies return to strength enough to give disposable income this trend seems destined to continue.

  4. Brijesh jagan says:

    Could it also be attibuted to the used two wheeler market providing a wider and cheaper option to potential buyers? Once again the economy is partially to be blamed, but with so many “nearly new” bikes available to buyers at drop dead prices, it seems the motorcycle industry might be headed in the same direction as the automotive industry.

  5. Reality Raymond says:

    TexusTim Your spot on…
    It’s just too many choose to keep their heads in the sand rather than take a breath of reality. Facts are Facts any way you slice it! Current leader is a joke and the joke is on the working class!

  6. Faust says:

    It doesn’t help that performance bikes are getting pretty expensive now. Who the hell wants to spend 11.5k on a new 600 (the new CBR600 is now $11,490 base)? With the decline in wages, persistent unemployment, and higher cost of living, a lot of people are selling really nice bikes for not a lot of money. Why buy anything new when there really isn’t anything new worth buying? The top tier bikes like the 1199, and the HP4 are great and all, but for a fraction of the price you can get something great on the second hand market. I currently ride a 2009 CBR600RR and I’ve been kicking around the idea of getting something else for a while. My issue is that even though there are great bikes out there, there is nothing that makes me want to spend that kind of money. All the new cheap bikes are nice (ninja 300, cbr250r, cbr500) but if you already own a middleweight supersport, you aren’t going to buy one. And if you did have 4-5k to spend on a bike right now, why even bother getting a new bike? You could spent less than that for an awesome condition SV650S right now and have an amazing bike on the cheap. I think I’ll just hang on to my CBR for a while longer and wait until something I really want emerges. I wish I could help the motorcycle market out but not for the money they are asking for new 1000s.

  7. Jake F. says:

    How do these figures compare to the US auto market over the same time period?

  8. Jake F. says:

    YTD US light vehicle sales are up 6.9% compared to last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know that we can blame an uncertain economy or the death of the middle class on this one. In this age of distracted driving, might it be that fewer Americans are willing to risk life and limb to travel public roads without the protection of a steel cocoon? Off-road bike sales remaining stable while on-road bike sales plummet suggest this might be the case.

  9. Damo says:

    Even if the economy is doing a wee bit better, people are not in a hurry to go into debt again.

    I have a reasonably high income and after I wrecked my daily driver, I opted to buy a beater for commuting rather than talking out even a small loan for a new car.

    I think people are getting smarter about spending on all levels. I work with some people with extreme wealth and they have been concentrating on carrying zero debt, rather than having tons of toys, even though they can afford them.

    Like Faust says, why buy a $17k Panigale when you know some rich squid will be selling one with 1000 miles on it for $10k next year?

  10. Jorge says:

    I think jake has it right. Bikes r more expensive but my concern is getting run over by some idiot on their phone.

  11. carboncanyon says:

    Millennials are driving much less than Boomers, and the average age of riders is still climbing. I’m less concerned about year-to-year changes; I’m looking at decade-to-decade or even generation-to-generation changes. Less than half of 17 year olds have drivers licenses. What percentage of 17 year olds had a drivers license 20 years ago?

    The MC industry has to wake up and realize that the competition for the incoming crop of customers isn’t other bikes or manufacturers; it’s other hobbies and diversion like smartphones, the next XBox, etc. Do you drive/ride to a friend’s house? No, you fire up Modern Warfare and play across the net. It’s cheaper, faster, less effort, less hassle, etc. How are the OEM’s going to compete with Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft?

  12. Bailey says:

    Pricing! I used to go into the dealers and drool. Now, I’m buying oil / filters and in absolute sticker shock on the cost of new bikes.

    I ride 80 miles round trip daily and ride either my 99′ TL1000R or my 90′ GSXR-1100.
    Incredibly cheap transportation.

    It’d be nice to have a shiny new BMW touring bike but not with those prices. yikes!

    Peace to all and happy riding.

  13. skadamo says:

    Went to my local KTM / Ducati / Triumph dealership yesterday and half the bikes on the floor had “SOLD” signs on them. Maybe Q2 will be better?

  14. kww says:

    It’s not just the economy, I think part of the blame can also be laid upon the feet of the industry as well.

    There is an absolute dearth of exciting mid priced motorcycles, imo. And the manufacturer’s have to contend with the very real rationale of the dealer – profit per unit sold.

    Why the hell won’t Ducati make and sell a Supermono (for 20 years now)? Why won’t Yamaha sell the 660 Tenere or MT-03 in the USA? Profit per unit.

    This is the same lemmings approach that forced GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy – the dealers were so obsessed with profit per unit that when bad times came, they had no back up plan and marched right off that fiscal cliff.

  15. Norm G. says:

    Q: “How do these figures compare to the US auto market over the same time period?”

    Q: “How are the OEM’s going to compete with Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft?”

    A: our tiny lil’ T-Rex arms are too short to box with juggernauts. while we cry for “free lunch”, unbeknownst our lunch boxes have been getting raided right under our noses.

    there’s plenty money out there, and people are still spending it, they’re just spending it on what they value. no different than in the year 2010, 2000, 1990, 1980, 1970, etc.

  16. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    I blame the Republicans…no wait, I blame the Democrats. No, hold on, I was right the first time, I blame the Republicans. I also blame the rich people who can buy Ducatis. However, Guzzi riders are ok.

    It’s only Q1, let’s see what happens moving forward. I don’t understand why anybody here would be upset with poor sales figures because the outcome of that is great for the consumer. Motorcycles aren’t selling? Umm, motorcycles go on sale! who’s opposed to that?

    I would love to see the Japanese-bike sales tank like what happened to the UJMs in the early 80s. They were stacking up like cordwood and selling for cheap.

  17. Gerry Alden says:

    Waiting for stacked up cheap prices? 80’s UJM’s are rusting collections of junk left outside all over the Northeast. 80’s Ducati and Guzzi models are well stored precious treasures. When the 80’s buyer had to decide what was cheeper, which way did he go? Get it Chaz? This same paradigm exist today. In 30 years the cheap $5999 Honda vertical twin will be left neglected at little value, and the higher purchase price Guzzi 750 will be a highly fought over collectible item.

    What I see not happening in todays motorcycle showrooms is a lack of professional leadership, or “salesmanship”. It is a precious experience to be in the presence of a highly qualified individual sales pro. Todays sales clowns holding the smartest of smart phones, are hired to place birthday candles on unsold floor models. The reason sales suck, is not because of lack of exciting new products, or too high purchase price, is it because the sellers suck. No sales ability equals less sales. Let’s bring back the slick sales guys from the 80’s.

  18. Faust says:

    @Gerry

    I respectfully disagree. In the 80s you pretty much had to go to a dealer to find out new deals offered by a manufacturer, and to get some information about new models. These days, with all the print and internet media that is just not the case. Instead of going dealer to dealer without knowing much about the models, you can go and get most of the information via their websites. When I was in the market for a 600, the reason I went with Honda was because they announced 1,600 off MSRP and 1.9% financing. I was in the dealer to buy one the next day, and they didn’t even know about it. I had to tell them that their bikes were mislabeled, and they had to go online to verify it. I go into a dealer merely to sit on the bikes, and get some impressions on the ergos, because I’ve already read every review possible at that point. Saying that you want slick salespeople back leads me to beleive that you think the average customer goes into a shop not knowing what they are looking for and can be talked into a bike by salespeople. I just don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’m pretty sure when people go to a dealer, they already have an idea about what they are going there to look at. In addition, when the new models arrive, it’s unlikely that the salespeople have ridden them all, so their sales pitch on the bike tends to be generic and uninformed. It’s usually a regurgitation of the press kit, because they haven’t even been on the bike yet. I’d rather read an honest review from a journalist who’s actually been on the bike and has an actual frame of reference. When they do a press release on a new model, journalists are there, not individual sales clerks. The week after a bike comes out, you can’t ask a dealer how the new forks feel on the track, because there is no way they could answer you. Motorcycle journalists know though.

  19. jack says:

    Faust is absolutely correct. When I bought my last bike (Ninja 1000) not only had I read everything available, but I researched every option available that I would want. When the bike went on sale, I jumped on it and not only bought the bike, but all the options both factory and aftermarket that I wanted. Love this bike.

  20. Norm G. says:

    re: “I go into a dealer merely to sit on the bikes, and get some impressions on the ergos, because I’ve already read every review possible at that point. Saying that you want slick salespeople back leads me to beleive that you think the average customer goes into a shop not knowing what they are looking for and can be talked into a bike by salespeople. I just don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’m pretty sure when people go to a dealer, they already have an idea about what they are going there to look at.”

    touche.

  21. Norm G. says:

    re: “the dealers were so obsessed with profit per unit that when bad times came, they had no back up plan and marched right off that fiscal cliff.”

    there is no “obsession” with profit per unit. PPU is simply… business. anything other than that and you may as well register as a 501, then call a sign company and have ‘em come install a lighted red cross over your door.

  22. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Btw, you do realize I was joking about ducati buyers.

    Anyway the discussion that followed was interesting.
    To add to it, I recently bought a brand new Ninja 636 for a great otd price. The kicker of the deal was kawasaki’s offer of 0% financing for 48 months.

  23. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    If sales are down that’s on the manufacturers. We don’t buy bikes from the goodness of our hearts.

    Bring us products we want, bring us prices we can afford. Make it too difficult for us to say no.

    I think for a good solid two years Ducati was leading the way with exciting products, but pricing finally caught up with them. BMW and KTM seem to be strong right now striking a good balance between price and product. Harley seems to be making headway bringing a younger crowd into their showrooms. …and from personal buying experience I really like what kawasaki is doing.