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That motorcycle sales are down because of the coronavirus lockdown seems like an obvious thing to state. Just for clarity though, American motorcycle sales through the first four months of the year are down 9% compared to last year.

Truthfully, that number is far less than we were predicting here at Asphalt & Rubber, and there is a good reason for that. While the COVID-19 scare has decimate on-road sales (-23%) and scooter sales (-24%), this has not been the case for off-road motorcycles sales totals, which are up 30%.

Even dual-sports seem to be buoyed by having a tire in the dirt, with sales reported to be down only 5% during the same time period.

Looking deeper into the dual-sport numbers though appears to give an insight on this odd dichotomy between street and dirt sales in the motorcycle industry.

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Everyone knew that the coronavirus outbreak was going to be hard on sales for the motorcycle industry, but no one was certain on how big of an impact the global lockdown would be…until now.

The first shoe to drop, Harley-Davidson has released its first quarter report for 2020, and the numbers are not good.

The report shows that Harley-Davidson motorcycle unit sales in the USA are down 15.5% (22,732 units sold) compared to this time last year, with international sales taking an even bigger hit, to the tune of a 20.7% drop (16,707 units sold).

This means a total unit sales decline of 17.7% for Harley-Davidson worldwide, with 40,439 units sold around the world in the first three months of 2020, down from the 49,151 units sold last year during the same time period.

Part of a new series for our A&R Pro readers, we will be providing regular digests of motorcycle news, topics, and issues from key regions around the world, in an effort to make sure our readers have a firm grasp on the pulse of the entire industry.

Our first edition looks to our friends to the north, where our colleague Zak Kurylyk tell us how the Canadian motorcycle industry is handling the coronavirus outbreak. Look for more installments, from other regions, in the weeks to come. -JB

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the bike industry as a whole, but for the Canadian motorcycle scene, it is potentially disastrous. Think 2008 financial crisis, but on steroids. If the 2008 recession was King Gong, then COVID-19 is going to be Godzilla.

The timing couldn’t be worse, due to the seasonal structure of the riding season in Canada, and due to the massive drop in oil prices. As a result, most of the problems faced by the American industry are intensified in Canada.

Very few Canadian motorcyclists are actually riding this time of year, but March-April is when deals get done, and money changes hands, Without this, all the major players are going to take a big hit. Retailers, rally organizers, race teams - everybody's looking at having 2020 essentially wiped out.

As a result, most of the problems faced by the American industry are intensified in Canada. With all the questions surrounding the economy, it's likely some major players are never coming back.

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Pierer Mobility is once again spilling the beans on its holdings, releasing the 2019 sales results from the KTM and Husqvarna motorcycle brands.

To that end, the combined effort sees another sales record for the group, with 280,099 motorcycles sold last year. This marks a 7% gain over 2018.

This makes 2019 the ninth year in a row that the KTM Group of motorcycle brands has seen positive sales growth, which is not a claim that too many brands can lay their hands on.

The yearly results for Harley-Davidson are out, and once again they paint a dark figure for the iconic American motorcycle brand, as its total worldwide sales collapsed like a dying star, with a decline of 4.3% to bring the company to a  total of 218,273 units sold worldwide.

Things were worse in the domestic market, with Harley-Davidson’s sales in the USA showing a 5.2% drop (125,960 units) from 2018’s figures.

This leaves the Bar & Shield brand’s international sales down an even 3% (92,313 units) – for those doing the math.

Good news from the Bavarians, as BMW Motorrad reports that 2019 was the company’s best sales year…ever (again).

According to the German company’s tallies, BMW Motorrad sold 175,162 motorcycles and scooters last year, a bump of 5.8% over the figures from 2018 (165,566 units).

As expected, Germany remains the primary market for BMW Motorrad, with 26,292 units sold last year (up 10.4% from 2018). Crunching the math further, Germany accounts for roughly 15% of BMW’s two-wheeled sales.

The rest of Europe was strong for BMW Motorrad as well, with the European market up 7% overall for BMW – France (17,300 units), Italy (15,580 units), Spain (12,607 units) and the Great Britain/Ireland (9,611 units).

While news of the Ducati Superleggera V4 is breaking the internet right now, other headlines are also coming out of Bologna, as Ducati has released its 2019 sales figures.

Tallying a total of 53,183 motorcycles delivered to customers worldwide, Ducati managed to beat the 53,004 units from 2018 – an increase of 0.34% in worldwide sales, for those who are counting.

Holding that figure back though was the brand’s progress in the United States, with the American market dropping close to 2% compared to last year, with 7,682 motorcycles sold last year.

Official data on the US motorcycle industry for 2019 isn’t out yet, but Asphalt & Rubber has seen preliminary numbers, encompassing the first 11 months of the year on new motorcycle sales, and those numbers show that the USA continues to have essentially zero growth.

According to the documents supplied to us by our Bothan spies, from January to November of 2019, the US motorcycle industry grew a whooping 0.1%, with most of the major brands posting moderate single-digit losses for the year on new bike sales.

While we wait for the New Year and ponder what has occurred in the last 365 days, the folks at Honda certainly have a milestone to remember 2019 by – this was the year that they built their 400 millionth motorcycle. That’s a lot.

This marker comes in Honda’s 70th year of making motorcycles (the Honda Dream D-Type went on sale in 1949), and it is an astounding achievement for the Japanese brand.

While motorcycles sales in the United States continue to slip, sales in Europe continue to grow. I use that line almost every time I write about this subject – largely because it’s the truth.

The fact is that there is a fundamental difference about what is going on in the European markets versus what is going on here in the United States, and it shows in the sale data.

Reporting on the first half of the year so far, the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) says that the European motorcycle market is up 9.1%, compared to the first-half of 2018.

While the rest of the industry walks on pins and needles, the Piaggio Group is celebrating a strong first-half to the 2019 sales year, with overall unit sales up 9.2%.

That number isn’t just all Vespa scooters though (however, the Italian brand does sell quite a few of those), as Piaggio reports that its motorcycle sales saw a 14% bump in gross revenue.

The Italian conglomerate pegs the new Moto Guzzi V85 TT for the sales boom over last year, which is quite a feat since 2018 was a strong year for the Piaggio Group as well.