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

  • sunstroke

    Good news. At this rate, it will only take 20 years for the industry to recover.

  • Shaitan

    Yikes! That’s not promising.

  • Nobody

    On-road bikes are doing very well. Let’s face it–ATVs and off-highway bikes are luxury items and if you remove those figures everything looks very good for bike mfgs.

    Yamaha didn’t pull out of WSB because of the economic climate. Yamaha is pulling out because Ducati, BMW, Aprilia and Kawasaki are producing bikes they won’t be able to beat next year. They just don’t want to show up for a fight they can’t win.

  • MMmm…no. Yamaha pulled out because it’s their European arm that foots the WSBK bill, and things in Europe are a disaster for Yamaha right now. Sad fact is that racing has a very low ROI when it comes to making sales.

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