Don’t call it a comeback, because even though the US motorcycle industry beat the Motorcycle Industry Council’s projections last year, sales so far for 2013 are looking less than stellar in the first-half of the year.

Down 5.2% from January to June, motorcycle sales were hit mostly by abysmal losses in the scooter segment (23.3%), and helped along by modest losses in the on-road segment (5.3%). Adding more to the misery, dual-sports suffered a 3.4% drop in the first half of the year, though surprisingly off-road bikes showed a gain, increasing 5.4% over Q1 & Q2.

All accounted for, the MIC says that 362,500 motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs were sold the first-half of this year, compared to the 380,500 units sold in the first-half of 2012.

The news may not be all bad though, as motorcycle sales in June were up 1.9%, with off-road sales being up 10.1%, on-road sales up 1.8%, and scooter sales down only 8.6% compared to June 2012.

Considering that Q1 2013 was down 14.7% compared to Q1 of last year, the US motorcycle market has made a strong correction in Q2, though it remains to be seen if the industry can post a gain for the year.

Source: MIC

  • TexusTim

    well, I can feel that the economy isnt what “they claim” if you listen to “them” there isnt any inflation..but i believe we are in the throws of double digit inflation, they are just trying to crunch the numbers to keep us “grinding away” while gas pricing is being “fixed” to drive revenue for the corporations and washington…you see the higher the gas price the more you buy for the same milage..the goverment gets over 40 cents a galloon in tax revenue…think there going to push back or threaten opening the resereves to drive it back down so we can have a fired up recovery? nope there making too much and it hurts everything when we have a goverment with this type of energy policy….they are not letting the economy grow, bikes are not the first mode of transportation in most peoples life so this is expected and my guess is prices will come down but intrest rates will keep rising..it’s a “shell game” and only they know were the peanut is.

  • Damo


    Grim but reasonably true.

  • JSH

    Gas prices are not holding back the economy and they are not high. Back before the recession I was paying $4 / gallon for 87 octane here in Alabama. It crashed to $1.50 during the global recession and then slowly recovered as the global economy has recovered. For the past 3 years it has been back in a normal seasonal variation with a high of $3.50 and a low of $3.00. That is not high, I just did a motorcycle trip in British Columbia and 87 octane was $1.45CAD / Liter or $5.45 USD / gallon. Gasoline is a global commodity. The USA does not control the price and the rest of the world is not going to stop using gas and diesel so that they USA can pay less per gallon.

    The US Federal gas tax has not been changed since 1993 and it covers less and less of the highway budget every year as roads continue to increase in cost and the fixed gas tax is a smaller percentage of every gallon.

    “A new report from the Tax Foundation shows 50.7 percent of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes, tolls, and other fees levied on drivers. The other 49.3 percent? Well, that comes from general tax dollars, just like education and health care. The way we spend on roads has nothing to do with the free market, or even how much people use roads.

    “Nationwide in 2010, state and local governments raised $37 billion in motor fuel taxes and $12 billion in tolls and non-fuel taxes, but spent $155 billion on highways,” writes the Tax Foundation’s Joseph Henchman. Another $28 billion of that $155 billion comes from revenue from the federal gas tax.”

    If we are going to even attempt to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, drivers are going to have pay more. That is a simple reality.

  • sunstroke


    We are “printing money”, which puts pressure on inflation, but we are still dealing with deflationary contraction from low credit, high unemployment, and high current account (trade) deficit. The inflation/deflation forces are basically a wash. We still have some inflation from commodities and mortgage rebound, but it’s not double digit.

    High oil prices are more beneficial than hurtful for the US economy. High oil prices and fracking have created an oil boom in the US, which is a form of free stimulus. Stable high prices and CAFE put downward pressure on our staggering $300B consumptive oil imports. We also have a natural gas boom, but gas is not easy to export. Coal is easy to export. We are banning coal electricity and substituting natural gas. We are exporting coal.

    Obamacare is the problem. Healthcare is a noble goal, but without offsetting the cost of Obamacare with cuts to inefficient (read: pointless) programs, Obamacare is merely piling more expenses on US workers and businesses, which suppresses employment rates. High unemployment reduces demand, and the economy sags.

    However, the poor economy is not really the problem with the US motorcycle market. Several decades ago, young people had money and jobs and bikes were affordable, accessible, and easy to personalize. The purchasing power of young people has declined as they’ve chosen school debt, but motorcycles have become more complex, less accessible, and more expensive. The manufacturers have basically alienated all young people, and as the baby-boomers age, motorcycle companies have no customers. They need product and marketing innovation, but they appear to be clueless.

  • bailey

    I understand inflation and the value of the dollar but new motorcycles are really expensive these days.
    I’ve been buying motorcycles since the mid 80’s and it’s much much more expensive.

    I ride daily 80 miles in Phoenix commutes and use motorcycles primarily.

    It is significantly less expensive than automobiles to operate.

    Now if they can make real cooling solutions for hot Arizona evening commutes.

  • Norm G.

    re: “I’ve been buying motorcycles since the mid 80′s and it’s much much more expensive.”

    I’ve been buying stamps since the mid 80’s and the cost to mail a 1st class letter is much more expensive. I’ve been buying gasoline since the mid 80’s and the cost to fill my tank is much more expensive. I bought my home in the mid 90’s and the cost for a single family dwelling is much more expensive. welcome to the 21st century, where you going with this…?

  • tonys

    Norm G:
    Totally agree. Actually for what you get in a motorcycle now in terms of HP, electronics, power to weight ratio, suspension, tires, etc, motorcycle have actually gotten a lot cheaper. How much was the 999 vs the 1098?

  • JSH

    @ Bailey: You do not understand inflation. From motorcycle.com’s spec database and an online inflation calculator.

    Touring Bike: 2004 Honda Goldwing – $18,999 ($23,485 in 2013 dollars)
    …………………2013 Honda Goldwing – $23,990

    Budget Bike: 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 500 – 4,799 ($5,932 in 2013 dollars)
    ………………..2013 Honda CBR500R – $5,999

    Sportbike: 2004 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 – $10,599 ($13,101 in 2013 dollars)
    ……………..2013 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 – $13,799

    Motorcycles are a tiny bit more expensive than almost a decade ago when adjusted for inflation and they are much more technologically advanced. Motorcycles are only expensive if your wages haven’t kept up with inflation. Unfortunately, that is the case for the majority of middle class Americans and the situation is really bad for working class blue-collar workers.

    (Note – Motorcycle.com’s database only goes back to 2004)

  • Oh, it’s so hard to make money in anything anymore, but a consumer luxury good? Not a good era. Great technology, but I’m pretty sure a 2001 cb,z,x,r, anything will look cool and do a good job for a couple thou, and the young guy with the good credit and a decent paycheck is so rare anymore.

  • Manufacturing has gone to China and the US banking industry has been successfully raped and pillaged the humble people of the next decade’s worth of what used to pass for “production.”

    Insurance? Lawyers? Mind-fucking pharmaceuticals? We got ’em! Yes, the US is great at non-products in the fake economy. But does history show one success story without a strong manufacturing base and reasonably well-paid workers?

    I’m pretty sure Rome outsourced sword making to Egypt’s cheaper labor force early on the road to it’s demise…looking pretty familiar.

  • sunstroke


    It is true that prices have merely kept pace with inflation, but pegging prices to inflation is not how consumer goods markets work. The pile of goods and services available to consumers increases each year. If you want to grow marketshare in middle class consumer segments, you must provide more performance for less money, like the consumer technology segment.

    Obviously, motorcycles and internal combustion engines cannot return the kind of consumer surplus provided by electronics, but limping prices along with inflation and leaning on subprime credit, while delivering stagnant (in the grand scheme) products is a precarious strategy. Car manufacturers are doing the same, and it’s going to end in tears, maybe it already has for moto manufacturers.

    Imo, the only industry that has done worse than motorcycles and cars in the under-30 demographic is the recording/movie industry. Music/Movies once dominated the under-30 demographic, but they decided to collude, and when new media became mainstream, they were put out to pasture by piracy and file-sharing. Not even DMCA could save their corrupted empire. Bad business model and worse business practices. Motorcycles are headed the same direction.

  • JSH

    You are correct that the total amount of goods and services increase each year. That is one of the primary reasons that motorcycles are not as interesting to the under-30 demographic. They would much rather spend their money on electronic good and services than on a motorcycle. Back in the 80’s a very small percentage of people had cable and no one had internet or cell phones. The 20 somethings I know today easily spend $250 a month on cable, internet, and smartphone service. That could easily cover a motorcycle payment and gas but a bike is seen as a toy while they see online connectivity as essential.

  • conchop

    Having been a motorcycle dealer, I try to keep up with the sales report. This 30 plus year conservative revolution has effectively knocked working people to their knees. It comes as not surprise that today’s MC buyer has many other priorities. Keeping a roof over their head and food on the table is a prime concern as there is a real struggle to stay in the middle class. This puts motorcycles in a completely different light.

    Do you see as any chop shops? Do you see as many custom bikes? Do you see as many race bikes? Chances are, you don’t. Today’s motorcycle has to be a practical investment. There for a while, ADV bike sales were strong, just as I had predicted they would be. Choppers are nowhere near what they were and rocket bikes are just high speed toys. But an all weather all road bagger is sensible.

    Who know what will be next, but I bet anyone thinking of buying a new bike had better feel secure in their income and household. As the banksters and manufacturers have off shored so much of our labor force, and as so many financiers and multi-nationals have dragged the world money supply to themselves and the tax burdens to what’s left of the middle class, people do not feel nearly as comfortable buying a bike.

    One thing’s for sure, if I were in the market for a new bike, it would have to be a “Swiss Army Knife” that was built like an anvil, and that would sip any kind of pump piss they sell these days. Otherwise, I have very little use for a new bike.

  • sunstroke

    @ conchop

    Federal tax revenues have increased 600% since 1980, when “conservatives” supposedly took control of America. Obviously, we don’t have any conservatives de-funding the government to help rich people. Instead, liberals within the Democratic Party (plus Nixon and Ford) pulled the plug on middle-class entitlements, and transferred the funds into pork-barreled spending for “victimized” Americans. This basically started after the assassination of JFK, and it has continued unabated for 50 years.

    Fifty years ago, 10% of GDP was military spending. The military provided jobs, housing, healthcare, education, worker training, and pension for middle class Americans. The military put millions of doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers, lawyers, etc. into the US economy. The military has been de-funded (now 4.5% GDP) rather than re-purposed for post-Cold-War peace time. Fifty years ago, we also spent big money on infrastructure projects (interstate system), technological exploration (NASA), and agricultural programs.

    During the Great Society push, the productive programs that created the most equal post-industrial distribution of wealth were converted into unproductive entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, and Unemployment. The conversion of productive entitlements to dead-weight loss has not fulfilled the promise of humanitarianism, and it has strained American middle-class productivity, thus, balance of trade. Deficit spending and explosive growth at the top, particularly during the dot com boom, are about the only things keeping this brokedown palace alive.

    The US will not be fixed until voters find competent liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans to reform dead-weight socialism and convert it back to middle-class productivity. Obama was almost one of these people, but when politics got tough, he held his nose and signed Obamacare, which imposed a raft of new taxes on the productive middle class and American employers. He also handed ownership of American auto manufacturers to perhaps the least productive labor institution in the US.

  • sburns2421

    Food and energy are excluded when calculating inflation (CPI). Conveneient, because thoase are the two things that have increased greatly in the past decade.

    People are being squeezed. Grocery store from one side, gas pump and heating bill from another, health insurance from another, education costs from yet another.

    You don’t spend $10-20k on a new bike (toy) in that situation. Motorcycles are not practical for most people with kids, have to be in professional dress for work, or live with cold winters. A $15k Kia will be much cheaper to own and operate overall than a $15k BMW GS.

    It may be that bikes haven’t gotten much more expensive in the last decade, but many other things have. With stagnant wages, bikes are a lucury fewer can afford.

  • JSH

    subrns: You make good points about stagnant wages and motorcycles as luxury items. I do take issue with your statement that people are getting squeezed by rising food prices. Americans less on food (as a percentage income) than any country in the world. We are also spending less (as a percentage of income) than we ever have in the past even though we are spending more of our food budget in restaurants. In the 1930’s the average American family spent 25% of their budget on food. That percentage has steadily fallen over the decades to about 10% today. When 2/3rds of our population is overweight or obese, it is hard to complain about the cost of food.

  • sunstroke


    It is important to point out that the Fed, BLS, BEA, and other institutions have not used core-CPI since 2011. They all use the PCE price index.