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While new-bike sales in the United States continue to plummet, the Motorcycle Industry Council is reporting that overall motorcycle ownership is up in the USA.

This is because the MIC has found that 8% of the US households in 2018 had a motorcycle, according to their polling data – the most ever recorded by the MIC in decades.

The results are a modest bump from the 6.94% recorded in 2014 (the last time that the MIC did a full survey of motorcycle ownership), with 2018 showing that 10,124,400 households in the USA having a bike.

With the United States Census Bureau estimating the number of US households at 126,224,000, the MIC’s numbers come out to be 8.02% of the households.

When it comes to sales figures for 2018, it is a good news / bad news type of situation for Ducati Motor Holding.

This is because the Italian brand sold 53,004 motorcycles to customers last year, which is a 5% drop from 2017’s figures, and ends an eight-year growth streak for the brand. That’s the bad news.

The good news though is that Ducati claimed the title as the top superbike brand in the world, with 9,700 Panigale models sold in 2018. This marks a 70% increase over the 2017 figures, thanks largely to the new Panigale V4 model.

BMW Motorrad has released its yearly figures for 2018, and the report is mostly positive. Sales worldwide were up a very modest 0.9% for the year (165,566 in total unit sales), and this does mean that 2018 was the German company’s eighth year in row of growth.

The news was good for BMW Motorrad USA as well, with the American subsidiary showing a 2.2% bump in sales (13,842 units) compared to 2017, thanks primarily to the company’s introduction of the K1600 Grand America.

We teased the news a little bit in our A&R Pro coverage of the EICMA show, but the one missing element in Ducati’s Milan presentation was its sales figures from the 2018 model year.

There is good reason for their absence though, as Ducati’s successive record years of sales are about to be no longer.

With Audi releasing its quarterly report, we can now see why, as the Italian motorcycle brand sees its deliveries to customers down 3% for the third quarter of this year – down 6.3% so far for 2018.

Done and dusted, the EICMA show in Milan is the biggest trade event in the motorcycle industry, and each year we see dozens and dozens of machines debut in Italy, with much fanfare.

With the bevy of new model releases that occur though, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. So, we are going to break down the big headlines and moments from this new bike season for you, starting with one of our most talked about brands: Ducati.

Ducati traditionally starts off the EICMA festivities, hosting a pre-event somewhere in Milan days before EICMA. The day of this launch seems to get pushed back further and further each year, as other brands have jockeyed for position, and so this year's pre-event event was held on the Sunday before EICMA.

To its credit, Ducati does EICMA right, and the Italian company has honed to perfection the balance between of hosting a live event for gathered press and VIPs that is also suitable and entertaining enough to be broadcast live on Italian TV and across the internet.

The EICMA show unveiling might be geared now for mainstream consumption, but for those in the industry there are still some valuable inferences to learn from what is said...and what isn't said.

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While the motorcycle market in the United States continues to struggle in 2018 (despite gains in consumer spending), things across the pond are doing substantially better.

This news comes from the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM), which is reporting an 8.2% increase in motorcycle registrations in Europe during the first nine months of 2018. This trend was additionally buoyed by the third-quarter registration results from 2018, which are up 10.4% over Q3 2017 figures.

Another sales quarter, and another report of dwindling sales from Harley-Davidson. The details of the news are the same as well, as sales in the United States continue to disappear, while sales abroad improve modestly.

As such, Harley-Davidson is reporting a 13.3% sales drop on motorcycle retail sales in the United States (36,220 units), with international sales up 2.6% (23,006 units), both compared to Q3 2017. This means that Harley-Davidson’s total sales are down 7.8% for Q3 2018, with 59,226 units sold.

Comparatively, the relative market for Harley-Davidson (bikes 601cc or more in displacement) were down in sales for Q3 2018, to the tune of 9.8% – though we should note that the Bar & Shield brand accounts for roughly half of this relevant market.

Things are not well at Yamaha Motor USA, and over the coming days you are going to read a number of reports from us about Yamaha and its US operations.

Before we dive into the multitude of issues that the Tuning Fork brand faces here in the United States though, we wanted to first talk about Yamaha’s crashing sales, because that best frames the company’s entire situation, and is the basis for the other stories that concern the brand.

Now halfway through 2018, Yamaha sales big bike sales (500cc and up) are down a staggering 19% for the last 12 consecutive months, compared to the same previous 12 months before that.

To put that figure into perspective, the big bike market in the USA is down roughly 8% over the same time period, though that figure is due mostly to Harley-Davidson, which accounts for half of the American bike bike market.

Just picture it. You are BMW, and you made the S1000RR superbike, the machine that completely changed the game in the liter-bike market.  And now, you are about to crank things to 11, with an all carbon fiber version of this wickedly popular motorcycle.

Perhaps the best track bike ever created, the BMW HP4 Race makes an honest 212hp at the crank, weighs 378 lbs...fully fueled at the curb, and it has all the top-shelf components you can dream of, all of which are bolted onto the carbon fiber frame, carbon fiber swingarm, and carbon fiber fairings.

A thoroughbred. A true race bike, by DNA. The astounding thing about the BMW HP4 Race is that it is more than the sum of its parts, which is saying something because the parts are simply the best that the motorcycle industry has to offer.

I know this because I got to spend a lucky five laps on the BMW HP4 Race at Laguna Seca, courtesy of BMW Motorrad USA, and while that duration is far too short to give any sort of meaningful feedback about this track-only superbike, the BMW HP4 Race is exactly what you think it is:  an S1000RR taken to the next level.

So then, why has the BMW HP4 Race been a colossal failure in the United States? Because it most certainly is.

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More doom and gloom for the motorcycle industry, as Ducati Motor Holdings sales are slumping for the 2018 model year. Selling 32,250 motorcycles so far this year, the Italian brand is short 7.4% the volume it sold this time last year.

To translate unit sales into fiat currency, the 32,250 motorcycles sold equals €448 million in revenue going into Audi’s coffers. Of note, Ducati’s revenue contribution to Audi AG accounts for 1.4% of the automaker’s total revenue.

For the second quarter of this year, Ducati sales were down 8.9% compared to Q2 2017. This means that 20,319 Ducati motorcycles were sold in Q2 2018, compared to the 22,300 sold in Q2 2017.

The second-quarter sales results from OEMs continue to roll in, and another brand is showing a decline, this time it is BMW Motorrad. Usually one of the stronger brands, in terms of yearly and quarterly growth, the Germans are reporting a 3.1% sales decline for Q2 2018.

In total, BMW Motorrad sold 51,117 units worldwide, compared to the 52,753 units it sold during the same time period last year. In terms of money, this sales drop means a corresponding 5.8% decline in revenue (€658 million) and a 6..8% decline in profits before tax (€174 million).

This is also translating into a 1.6% sales decline (by unit volume) for the first half of the year, with only 86,975 motorcycles and scooters sold to customers.  This has resulted in a 10.1% revenue drop (€1,182 million), and a profit decrease of 23.7% (€196 million).