Another thing the interwebs have diluted a tad is SoCal’s local International Motorcycle Show, the one that kicks off new-motorcycle fever in Long Beach, California, every November. Now that we get to see nearly all the new bikes the week before from Milano, it’s slightly anticlimactic. Only slightly, though. It’s still a great place to see everybody in the U.S. bike industry all in one place and gauge their confidence/fear ratio, along with most, if not all, of the new machinery, and to ask each other collectively, ‘How we doin’?’
It seems we’re doing pretty alright, judging from September’s numbers, just in from the Motorcycle Industry Council.
Scooter sales seem to be in the toilet (cheap gas?), but scooters remain a small segment of the U.S. market anyway. The big chunk of bike sales are On-Highway, and they’re up a healthy 6.4% for 2015. An overall motorcycle gain of 4.7% may not seem like much, but a senior Yamaha official told us it looks pretty good to him, on the heels of last year’s really big gains. They’re not selling many more motorcycles, but they’re selling more expensive ones – high-profit units like the new R1 and FJ-09.
In fact, the real success story is in the DUAL category, which includes everything from small Yamaha TW200 playbikes to the biggest Triumph Explorer, and all the BMW S1000XRs and Ducati Multistradas in between. Not only are those bikes up 6.9% year to date, for the last four years their sales have grown 12%, 7.1%, 16.7% and 2.9%.
Elsewhere, the MIC’s numbers aren’t great for the overall market in terms of units sold. Motorcycle/Scooter sales posted a 3.7% increase in sales from 2013 to ’14, with 560,000 bikes sold. Contrast that with the number sold before the Great Recession: MIC says 1,190,000 units were sold in 2006, the peak year; so 2014 marked unit sales clawing back to just about half of what they were before the economy tanked. And 2015 marks the first time there’ve been two consecutive positive years since then.
If you’re a regular reader of MO News, you already know lots of companies have been reporting robust if not record sales, including Yamaha, BMW , Ducati and many others. So, let’s have a look around, shall we?
Harley’s got a couple of new “S” models, that get the 110 engine, out of a line-up of 38 bikes.
Many eschew and poopoo the three-wheeler, but if the graying of the heads inside the Long Beach Convention Center continues at its current pace, in 20 years there’ll be more trikes than bikes.
Satoshi “Kamikaze Boy” Tsujimoto raced this one in 1986 with teammate Kevin Schwantz. Suzuki’s new GSX-R1000 will be here for 2017. Could be good.
For now, everybody seems content with the reborn SV650, back out of the Gladius closet and taking styling cues from vintage Ducatis. A rare sighting of the infamous Jeff Karr at left…
Meanwhile in the Yamaha Deparment, Race Director Keith McCarty, custom builder Jeff Palhegyi and the FZ-07-based flat tracker prototype.
In Hondaville, the big news is the Africa Twin, sighted here for the first time in the wild. She starts at a very reasonable by current standards $12,999, and $13,699 for the DCT version; both come with ABS and HSTC (traction control).
Frankly I’d rather ride the CB500X, for about 1/35 the price of the RC213V-S. But that’s just me.
Ducati was the only big manufacturer to bring fashion models, beer and snacks, and are reporting sales through the roof. Coincidence? North American CEO Dominique Cheraki reveals the new XDiavel and its new variable-valve timing engine (my personal hit of the show).
The show is a big-enough deal that former Honda PR honchette Coree McElwee Windust (left) turned out for the occasion: Enough said. The new Ducati Multistrada Enduro is way cool also. Ducati must’ve got tired of hearing people say it’s not really an off-road bike, and rolled a video of the new Multi to prove it is. This one gets a 19-inch front wheel and all the other things it needs to be taken seriously off road.
Polaris was already on a tear even before introducing the new $8,999 Scout Sixty. Polaris mastermind Steve Menneto, amid a sea of Roland Sands customs, was the man with the plan…
Triumph’s new Bonnevilles look really tasty up close. We’re off to ride them in early December.
Maybe the most exciting/practical bike this year failed to appear at Long Beach (this photo’s from EICMA). And according to our KTM rep, the new Super Duke GT probably won’t make it to the states until the fall. Not sure what the hold-up is?
When it was time to go, I realized I’d spent the whole day hobnobbing with the big manufacturers, and had no time left to explore all the smaller businesses and displayers who keep the industry churning, in hard times as well as flush ones. Next year, it’ll be all about them! Really it will! Okay, that’s all I got. Back to work.