2010 US motorcycle sales fall further 15.8 percent

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Sales for all motorcycles fell 15.8 percent in the US last year, according to figures released by the Motorcycle Industry Council. Just 439,678 on- and off-highway motorcycles were sold in this country in 2010. While that may sound like the decline is slowing from 2009’s dismal 40.8 percent fall, the big picture looks bleak — in 2005 motorcycle sales peaked at nearly 1.1 million, this year’s results return us to 1998 levels.

Various manufacturers are releasing claims of increased market shares or announcing Q4 sales totals that increased year-on-year. All that seems to be a case of putting positive spin on what remain extremely negative results. A bigger piece of a smaller pie is still less dessert.

The only established manufacture we know of to post an increase in 2010 was Ural — up 39 percent — but even that is still down compared to 2008 sales levels and represents only a tiny drop in even a 440,000 sale bucket.

Where will the decline end? Maybe this summer’s predicted record high fuel prices will help reverse the trend, but it’s likely going to take a long time to see sales return to even 2008 levels, much less see them recover to the 1 million + numbers seen in the middle of last decade.

  • Cheese302

    i am at the point that i think i want to buy a new bike purely to get the sales number up.

  • Johndo

    4 new bikes in 4 years, I’ve been doing as much as I could to bring stats up, but it seems that wasnt enough.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I think you’ve single handedly kept the motorcycle industry afloat though, so good job.

  • robotribe

    The motorcycle industry, like the housing industry, is still making a MAJOR course correction:

    Unemployment is high = less disposable cash
    HELOCs and easy credit are harder to come by; few to none second mortgages available for awesome mid-life toys like water craft, dirt bikes, Hayabusas, cruisers, etc.
    American attitude towards motorcycles as TOYS. Until MOST of us start using our bikes more like our cars, motorcycles will always be the affair and not the marriage.

    Rising fuel choices may give certain makes with low-displacement models a Summer bump, but the long term problem wont be solved until the entire industry consolidates and adjusts to the new reality. Look for major liquidations at a “mega store” near you.

    /crystal ball

    • robotribe

      EDIT: Rising fuel “PRICES”, not “choices”. Derp.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Don’t worry, we’ve got a proper edit button on the way.


    I feel a little guilty exploiting the downturn to squeeze my bike dealer for a super low price on a new last year’s model. I don’t want them to go under. But I like getting a bike for $2K off.

    a slightly offtopic question: why do metric cruisers list for the same (or higher) price as liter superbikes with much higher spec components all around? is it just all that extra metal? In my area you can get a new CBR1000RR for about the same price as a Honda Fury. I don’t get it.

    • ike6116

      I guarantee they don’t feel guilty about the bikes they sold pre-recession.

    • dux

      The same reason an Electraglide costs $26000

  • slowtire

    Is there any resource for the sales numbers of used bikes?

  • BN.

    Hopefully used motorcycle sales are keeping dealerships from sinking.

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      Used bikes from a dealership? I doubt it. Craigslist killed that market.

      The service departments are keeping dealerships from sinking. Beyond that they are hanging on by their fingernails. Also they can try and scrape some profit out of personal watercraft or snowmobiles or whatever else. Although I am sure those sales are in the dumps too.

    • ike6116

      Dealerships could use a scare or two. The whole model is a little antiquated not to mention that the vast majority expect you to spend thousands on a motorcycle without being able to test ride the one you are buying, tell me again why when I am looking drop a couple grand im being treated like a criminal? We like to get all over bike manufactures for marketing only towards boomers but aren’t dealerships at least complicit in this?

      Also I’ll never dig the whole frontier-era “haggling” portion of purchasing a vehicle at a dealership. It’s 2011 that outdated shit has got to go.

    • Deltablues

      Most motorcycle dealerships in Arkansas survive on ATV sales and service. The ATV market here is huge, even in this economy.

  • gregorbean

    I’m on my 13th motorcycle since I started riding in 2004 and I’ve never bought a new bike. Every one bought and sold or traded on craigslist. I personally don’t anticipate buying a brand new bike from a dealership anytime soon, if ever. I get the point of this article, however, and I hope other people start and continue to buy more. And I think they will; in simplest terms, it’s just a matter of time and money.

  • Core

    I was thinking about trying to become a motorcycle technician via MMI… every damn career I have looked into .. they all are hurting bad.

    Shit, I am screwed at the rate this is going.

    • slowtire

      Core, I don’t think you’re screwed at all! MMI and a couple of the other schools are fantastic ways to break into the business. There will always be motorcyles and people to ride them, no matter what brand. Core, I’m pushing 60 and getting real tired of what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years. I’ve strongly considered going to MMI and starting a whole new adventure and learning shit I always dreamed of learning. You’re not screwed, go for it!!!!!!!!