Motorcycle Sales Continue to Increase for the Seventh Straight Year
11 November 1999Motorcycle Sales Continue to Increase for the Seventh Straight Year
IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 10 -- Perhaps it's because they're the ultimate convertibles. Or it may be because motorcycles double as transportation and recreation. And then again, it may be because motorcycles come complete with an enviable attitude. Whatever the reasons and perceived added value, motorcycle sales -- and sales of the motorcycle aftermarket -- are up and rolling. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council's third-quarter, year-to-date Retail Sales Report, on-highway, new unit motorcycle sales are up 25% over the same period of 1998. Total new unit motorcycle sales, including scooters, on-highway, dual and off-highway motorcycles have increased 23 percent over the same period in 1998, making 1999 the seventh consecutive year of new unit motorcycle sales increases overall. For all of 1998, sales of on-highway, new unit motorcycles increased 19 percent over 1997 and more than 66 percent from 1992. Don J. Brown, an independent industry analyst and frequent contributor to industry publications, attributes the sales increase to both lifestyle and economic factors. "Motorcycling is affordable as transportation and as recreation and it's loaded with added value," said Brown. "Not only can you get where you need to go on a motorcycle, you can get there feeling a sense of freedom, adventure and escape from day-to-day demands." Current sales trends for motorcycle apparel and accessories are also at record levels. According to data from the 1998 Motorcycle Owner Survey, commissioned by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and conducted by Irwin Broh & Associates (IB&A), projected aftermarket sales were $3.9 billion in 1998. Apparel sales made up $1.2 billion and accessory sales were $1.2 billion, and over $1.5 billion were spent on routine repairs and maintenance, including replacement parts. "What we're witnessing is a renewed interest in motorcycling - among a broad and diverse market - for a lot of different reasons," said Beverly St. Clair, managing director of Discover Today's Motorcycling. "Rider demographics show us that today's motorcyclist is not the stereotypical Hollywood 'bad boy.' Motorcycling is mainstream and it appeals to 'the guy next door' from an emotional, economic, performance and even fashion standpoint." Meet the Influential American The MIC Motorcycle Owner Survey sheds more light on the demographics of today's rider. In 1998, the person underneath the helmet is likely to be 38 years old, to have attended college, and to be a well-established, family man. What's more, today's motorcyclist earns more than the average American ($44,250 per year vs. $36,250*), while more than 33 percent of today's owners earn at least $50,000 per year compared to 20 percent of owners in 1990. Although the 1998 study found that the typical motorcycle rider is male, recent trends reveal that women are joining the motorcycle ownership ranks in record numbers. Women now represent 8.2 percent of total motorcycle riders, up from 6.4 percent in 1990. One-third of Motorcycle Safety Foundation class graduates are women. According to the survey, 58 women versus 59 percent men are married. Interestingly, women out spent men on riding apparel ($317 versus $255) in 1998. "Today's rider is the guy or gal next door, an influential American who finds that the end of the road is just as likely to be a board room as a burger place," said St. Clair. Mimicking the Motorcycle Mystique Even people who don't ride a motorcycle seem increasingly eager to look as if they do. The motorcycling influence has become more and more persuasive as seen in store window displays, fashion advertisements, catalogs and music videos. "Without question, motorcycling fashion has become hip," said Denis Labonge, president of Intersports Fashions West, Inc. "The sales of motorcycle fashions and motorcycles go hand-in-hand. Both have been gaining in popularity." The Well-Dressed Motorcycle Motorcycles themselves are also making a fashion statement. Owners interested in making a personal statement with their bikes are buying accessories at a record pace. This year, the best dressed motorcycles are sporting a variety of accessories ranging from aerodynamically designed tank bags and leather saddle bags to chrome pipes and custom painted fairings. Value Beyond Its Parts More and more people are finding the motorcycle that fits their personality and the kind of riding they want to do. There are approximately 2.5 motorcycles in use for every 100 persons in the United States, according to MIC. An estimated 6.5 million motorcycles were in use in the United States in 1997. California, Texas, New York, Florida and Ohio represented over one- third (35 percent) of the motorcycles in use in 1997. The South had the highest motorcycle population in 1997 with 28 percent on and off road use. The West showed the highest motorcycle penetration, at 2.9 vehicles per 100 persons. "Motorcycling has never been about something as simple as getting from point A to point B," said St. Clair. "It's much more than that -- it is a sense of freedom and adventure that is almost impossible to capture any other way. With the increased emotional and financial stress we're experiencing these days, it's no wonder more Americans are discovering the allure of motorcycling -- it's affordable, it's accessible and it makes you feel like the world awaits you." Cruising Escape Today cruiser motorcycles comprise 55 percent of on-highway motorcycle sales, with an estimated 153,000 cruisers sold in 1998 compared to 60,000 in 1991. Celebrities, executives, and the "couple next door" are all part of this rapidly expanding group of owners who want to escape and enjoy the adventure and exhilaration of riding. Thriving Used Market Another indication of the sustained enthusiasm for motorcycle riding is sales of used motorcycles are estimated to be rising, too. The number of previously owned motorcycles sold in 1998 is estimated at 1.3 million, based on 67 percent of MIC owner survey respondents who said they purchased a used motorcycle last year. About Discover Today's Motorcycling Discover Today's Motorcycling, the communications service bureau of the Motorcycle Industry Council, is a source of information about motorcycling to the media and to the general public. Discover Today's Motorcycling operates a toll-free number (1-800-833-3995) that provides free "Straight Facts" brochures about motorcycling, as well as information about Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCourses(R). The Motorcycle Industry Council is a nonprofit national trade association representing manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, motorcycle parts and accessories, and members of allied trades. * According to 1996 U.S. Census Bureau statistics Contact: Nancy Kumamoto of Discover Today's Motorcycling, 949-727-4211, ext. 3027.