Moto Bellwether: Q1 2014 Motorcycle Tire Sales Down 12.7%

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Tire sales for the first quarter of the year are down 12.7%. It’s certainly not great news, but why are we publishing this figure for you? Because tire sales are the best indicator of how active motorcyclists are during the riding season. With tire sales down 12.7% retailers and brands can expect similar downward trends in apparel, parts, and service items during the same time period.

You can account for the sales drop through a number of factors, though one has to certainly consider the unseasonably cold winter (Polar Vortex) that occurred in the United States — except for us Californians, who just had an extended autumn, despite a slew of new ski gear.

The slow to recover motorcycle market is certainly a factor as well, as 2014 has shown almost no recovery in motorcycle sales since the Great Recession. While tight bank accounts and tough credit situations are likely to blame for a lapse in new bike sales, what that effect is on tire usage remains to be seen.

To aid in that analysis, it is worth noting that the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) says that the average annual miles ridden per motorcycle is up 4.3% since 2009, to 3,028 miles per year (2o12). The MIC hasn’t tabulated these numbers since 2012, though it stands to reason that those who own motorcycles are on a whole riding more often, likely substituting miles driven by car.

Hopefully for the motorcycle industry, we have an extended summer, and thus sales will balance out. And double-hopefully, this is a trend that doesn’t continue, after all Q1 2013 tire sales were down 15.8% from Q1 2012. Maybe it’s just a nationwide trend in fewer motorcycle burnouts, only time will tell.

Source: MIC via Cyril Huse Blog

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.