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. Surely the Vice President’s presence at the trade show is designed to reinforce the commitment from the Trump administration to America’s manufacturing industries, and to talk about the state of the US economy.
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.
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.
In a report commissioned and released by the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), and prepared by the Greyhill Advisors, it would seem that hosting MotoGP and other events at the newly built track was a benefit to the local Austin economy this year, to the tune of $897 million.
The Greyhill’s analysis covers all of the events held at COTA, such as Formula One, MotoGP, and the ESPN X-Games, and it also includes all track rentals, concerts, and other events at the track as well.
Through these events, 1.1 million people attended COTA, whose operations directly account for $166 million of the $897 million brought to the area. The remaining $731 million comes from money spent by attendees outside of the track.
The Schwantz School will be on hiatus for the 2014 riding season, says the riding instruction school. The press release for the track school lists Kevin Schwantz’s “travel/racing schedule and other factors” as the reason for the school’s hiatus. Schwantz is slated to compete in the Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race with the Yoshimura Suzuki Legends team in July.
The MotoGP Legend also is to be a “Guest of Honor” at the Classic Motorcycle Festival at Donington Park in August, and there is possibility Schwantz will be racing in England in September as well. As for the “other factors” mentioned, Schwantz is quoted as wanting to spend time in his recently remodeled home in Austin, Texas.
If you thought the times are tough here in the United States, be thankful that you don’t live in Spain right now, as the Iberian country hovers around 20% unemployment for the general population, with 50% unemployment for the country’s 20-something crowd. Indeed, all the Mediterranean states, save for France, are on the verge of economic collapse. It’s a scary time.
Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to hear last year that the rebirth of the Ossa brand saw the Spanish dirt bike company using the available production capacity in the struggling Gas Gas factory. It seems that manufacturing partnership has now gone a step further, with Gas Gas and Ossa formerly merging, so as to better take on the rough economic landscape.
Signs of life are finally coming back to the motorcycle industry, as Harley-Davidson has shown strong gains in the third fiscal quarter of 2013. Posting an increase in sales of 15.5% worldwide, Harley-Davidson grew 20.1% in the United States the last three months, due mainly to its “Project Rushmore” line of water-cooled motorcycles.
“Rider response to the 2014 motorcycles we introduced August 18 was extremely positive. In fact, initial retail sales of the new Project Rushmore motorcycles sparked the largest year-over-year new model year sales increase in two decades,” explained Harley-Davdison CEO Keith Wandell in the company’s investor communique.