US Motorcycle Sales Flatten with 1.7% Half-Year Growth

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Despite showing a rebound for 2011, and several brands posting strong growth over the past six months, industry-wide motorcycle sales in the United States grew only a modest 1.7% over the first six months of 2010. The news comes as Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki report continued sales decreases in 2011, and as the Japanese brands constitute a large portion of sales in the US, those losses have more than offset the record sales posted by smaller unit sellers like Ducati and BMW.

2011 itself has been a mixed bag for the motorcycle industry, as the first quarter saw a 7% increase (156,215 units) in year-on-year unit sales, though the second quarter was down 1.6% (158,686 units) compared to 2010. Scooters have been primarily driving sales, with 18,198 units sold in the first half of the year, posting a 29% increase for the market segment. Dual-sport machines also posted a strong 13% increase with 15,876 units sold, though off-road motorcycles were down nearly 17%, selling only 37,123 units. Streetbikes were neutral for the first half of the year, posting only 3.3% growth for the past six month with 187,565 units.

In all though, the United States motorcycle is showing a greater affinity than other markets for bouncing back from the recession, as sales figures in Europe are still posting massive losses in that market (Italy just posted a 23% decrease in July sales compared to last year). The collapse of the European market has affected virtually all large-displacement manufacturers, and is the driving reason for Yamaha Motor Europe’s withdrawal from the World Superbike Championship.

First Half Motorcycle Industry Sales in 2011:

Type 2011 2010 Change % Change
ATV* 103,730 125,414 -21,684 -17.3%
Dual-Sport 15,876 14,045 +1,831 +13.0%
Off-Hwy 37,123 44,673 -7,550 -16.9%
On-Hwy 187,565 181,542 +6,023 +3.3%
Scooter 18,198 14,122 +4,076 +28.9%
Motorcycle Sub-Total 258,762 254,382 +4,380 +1.7%
Grand Total 362,492 379,796 -17,304 -4.6%

*ATV sales figures do not include side-by-side vehicle sales.

Source: MIC via