While the bulk of the United States is self-distancing by staying home as much as possible because of the coronavirus, right now is one of the most affordable times to ride a motorcycle or drive a car, as the average price for a gallon of gasoline continues to drop at a noticeable rate.

This is because on average, a gallon of gasoline costs the least amount of money it ever has in the past four years, and the expectation for April is that gas prices could drop to $1.75/gallon on average across the country.

Long time readers of Asphalt & Rubber will surely know that I have tough criticisms regarding the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). As the leading organization to represent motorcyclists and to co-ordinate our efforts and thoughts to policy makers, industry stakeholders, and the public at large, I often find the AMA’s actions (or lack thereof) to be wanting.

Nothing illustrates this better than the AMA’s policy regarding helmet laws, where one side of the AMA’s mouth touts how the organization is against any sort mandatory helmet laws being passed in the USA, while the other corner of the mouth preaches that all motorcyclists should wear a helmet when they ride a motorcycle.

The issue is an example of how the AMA is held hostage by motorcycling’s libertarian population, and by catering to this vocal group’s whims, this organization that is supposed to represent all motorcyclists ends up alienating the very people it is supposed to serve.

It is a great metaphor for how the motorcycle industry operates as a whole in the United States, and while the industry is starting to realize that it needs to cater to members of the population who aren’t just old, white, male, or politically conservative, the AMA has been slow to get with the program.

You probably saw the headline yesterday, the one where the stock market took a nosedive and there was talk of doom and gloom for our economic future.

For those that don’t know, the news behind the news is the fact that the bond market saw an inverted yield curve between the 2-year and 10-year treasury bonds. This is a fancy way of saying that investors expect to make more money in the short-term than the long-term, and this opinion reflects where our economy is headed.

For the last 50 years, an inverted yield curve has signaled the start of an economic recession, and while that is a scary thing to think about (we would all rather have a booming economy), the boom/bust cycle is common in economics and can often be mild.

Of course, what is different here is that the last recession that the United States experienced was the worst recession of all time, and in many ways we are still feeling its effects, whether those are physical or merely psychological.

While I will let the financial publications debate what kind of recession we are headed into, if they even agree that a recession is looming in front of us, this news does spark some interesting conversation for the motorcycle industry. Let me explain.

Here is some interesting automotive news for you that has bearing over our two-wheeled world, as CNN is reporting that more Americans are behind on their car loans than ever before.

The news accounts for two trends that we are seeing in the United States. One, the decline of automobile ownership; and two, the rising debt load amongst citizens, especially millennial buyers.

What this translates into the car world – namely that buyers are increasingly defaulting on their auto loans – likely bears the same reality in the motorcycle industry, since so many motorbikes are bought through financed payment schemes.

If you wanted better proof that the American motorcycle industry is struggling right now, take a look at the expected attendance figures for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is expecting its 77th gathering to be a bit smaller than in past years.

Some of that is to be expected, of course, after 2015 rally’s record year of 739,000 visitors; but for 2017, numbers are expected to be on par with the disappointing performance seen in 2016, which had 463,000 people in attendance.

For comparison, an average year for Sturgis sees 500,000 to 600,000 motorcyclists thronging to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The annual AIMExpo is a pretty big deal for the American motorcycle industry, it being the de facto consumer and industry trade show for motorcycling, and all.

This year’s event might get some extra attention though, as Vice President Mike Pence is slated to deliver the keynote address at the trade show.

According to DealerNews, the Vice President has the event on his schedule, and has told his aides to “make it happen”. Of course, a lot can happen between now and September, when it comes to the schedule of the person who is just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

With all the new motorcycles for the 2017 model year debuting right now, it might seem counter-intuitive that this would be the right time to make a trip down to your local motorcycle dealership, but it is. Let me explain.

After seeing a modest rebounding of sales and momentum from the recession, this year has been a stumbling block for the motorcycle industry, with sales at the beginning of the year building slowly, before tapering off later in the summer and early fall.

Economic indicators are up, unemployment is down, but the third quarter results from around the industry are pointing to the US motorcycle market taking a market contraction for 2016. The reason for this is uncertainty.

British magazines MCN dropped a bombshell on the motorcycle world today, reporting that Honda was set to discontinue the Honda CBR600RR, with no supersport replacement in sight.

According to their reports, the main impetus for the Honda CBR600RR being discontinued is the Euro 4 emission standards, which the Honda CBR600RR does not meet.

Honda feels too that the demand for a 600cc sport bike is too low to warrant updating the CBR600RR to meet Euro 4 regulations, let alone building an all-new machine for the market that would be Euro 4 compliant.

Of course, Euro 4 emissions only apply to bikes sold in the European Union; but there too, MCN says that Honda seems to feel that the world demand for the Honda CBR600RR is too lacking to continue with the machine.

Miller Motorsports Park is set to change hands, after the Miller family’s LHM Group decided not to renew its lease with Toole County on the property.

This created a situation where bids were tendered for a new operator, which lead to Mitime Utah Investment, LLC — a subsidiary of Chinese company Geely Holding Group, which is also the owner of automotive company Volvo — winning the bidding process with a sum of $20 million, two months ago.

That sale though has been vacated by Third District Judge Robert Adkins, who agreed with the petition of Center Point Management (CPM) that the company’s $22 million bid should have won, since it was higher and the County has an obligation to sell the property for the most money.

The Tooele County Commission is searching for a new operator of the Miller Motorsports Park, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

With the Miller family set to stop operating the track and its facilities at the end of October this year, the county is keen to find a new business partner to lease the 500 acres of land to.

“Our major interest is to enter into a partnership, whether that be an outright sale or a lease” with an entity whose “core competency” is running a facility like the one the Millers are abandoning, said County Commissioner Sean Milne, while speaking to the The Salt Lake Tribune.

It is a sad day for motorsports fans near Salt Lake City, as Miller Motorsports Park will cease operations at the end of October this year, the track has announced.

The news comes from the Larry H. Miller Group (LHM), the track operator, which has decided not to renew its lease with Toole County on the property, thus effectively closing the track and ceasing its operations.

This news will not affect the schedule of racing events (including the MotoAmerica round in June), driving schools, public karting access, and other group activities that are currently planned at the facility, but it does raise some question marks regarding what will happen to the space once the LHM is no longer running it.