We have seen many reports recently about millennials not being interested in motorcycling. Around the same time, we saw Harley-Davidson report a 5.7% decline in sales numbers in the first quarter of 2017. The Motor Company cited the aging population of baby-boomers, H-D’s core customer, and the struggle to replace them.

While some may have dismissed claims about Harley-Davidson’s sales numbers not being representative of the entire industry, the latest financial report from Yamaha may change their minds. Yamaha is reporting a similar financial outlook; North American sales are down while international sales are up, leading to a net positive worldwide for the company. This could be attributed to the more essential use of motorcycles in other markets such as Asia while the U.S. has always treated motorcycling more recreationally.

A recent news release about the first half of the fiscal year from Yamaha stated:

Net sales of motorcycle products overall were 509.2 billion yen (an increase of 31.7 billion yen or 6.6% compared with the same period the previous fiscal year), and operating income was 33.8 billion yen (an increase of 15.7 billion yen or 86.8%).

Unit sales in emerging markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan increased, and despite decreasing in Indonesia due to the market slump there, the unit sales figure increased overall. Net sales increased, and operating income increased significantly thanks to the effects of product mix improvements and cost reductions.

Regarding unit sales in developed markets, sales in Europe were on a similar level to the previous year – despite the launch of new products such as the MAX series – due to the impact of environmental regulations. In North America, sales decreased due to weakening demand, leading to an overall decrease in sales. Net sales were on a similar level to the previous year thanks to product mix improvements, and operating income moved into the black.

  • i think the whole motorcycle industry is going through a small crisis at the moment.
    For one, new gen motorcycle candidates are scared to get a motorcycle due to being dangerous. And there are no signs of improving the safe factor.
    Also, the industry itself it’s going through a big change with the electric bikes and the environmental regulations forcing many changes.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      Actually, bikes are coming equipped with improved safety features every year. Most bikes come with ABS these days and many now have traction control too, even sub-10K bikes. 2017 models are coming with unique daytime running lights that should make them more visible to other motorists.

      No, my guess is lack of disposable income is the culprit. With fuel prices low bikes aren’t basic transportation in the US like they are elsewhere in the world, and a bike bought mainly for recreation is a luxury that gets axed when money gets tight. Many of the older more affluent riders have newish bikes already, and the youngsters get the practical car before they’ll splurge for the fun bike.

      • Goose

        FWIW, I’d say you are both right. Both safety and the migration of US money from the poor and middle class to the wealthy are hurting US sales. Add the young folks aren’t (mostly, I know some exceptions) into mechanical things like my generation (Boomers) were/ are and it is a grim time to be in the motorcycle business in the USA.
        The big town near where I live has had two motorcycle shops and a few scooter shops try and fail in the last ten years. Now we have exactly 1 shop in the county in spite of an affluent populate, lots of young people (college town), great roads (Cal. Highway 1 for one), good off road riding and perfect riding weather.

        • HeDidn’tWeDid

          Good point about “…into mechanical things”. Motorcycles are so physical and mechanical.

      • Scott Silvers

        I’ve actually not bought a NEW motorcycle this century. When you can buy a pristine bike that’s 2 years old, for essentially 1/2 price, it’s no surprise the moto industry is suffering. Their strength (quality) is their biggest weakness.

        • DickRuble

          The fact you buy a 2yo low mileage bike at 1/2 price doesn’t attest to quality. It shows people don’t use the bikes. And there are many reasons. Those who can afford new bikes have desk jobs. They cannot show up drenched in sweat, with a wrinkled shirt, or with motorcycle boots, and crumpled slacks. They have or are about to have kids. When that happens, it’s hard to drop off your toddler at daycare using your motorcycle. Most wives also tend to be not very supportive of riding. Hence the many “don’t have time to ride” statements in selling ads.

          • Alexander Pityuk

            That is one solid comment. Which is rare from you 🙂

          • Scott Silvers

            I’ve many hobbies (mountain biking, snowboarding, RV camping, guitars), so dumping all my disposable income into a new bike is a waste of funds that I can use for my other fun activities. That bikes are so good nowadays that a 2-5 year old bike is such a good option, presents a difficulty for the manufacturers – how to entice people to spend double to get a the same bike (gently used) for essentially half price.

          • toomanycrayons

            “Most wives also tend to be not very supportive of riding.”

            Freezing some donor spooge and/or having a great insurance policy might change that. Maybe you’re just projecting some old-fashioned sentimentality, there? America’s leading ladies, Ivanka and Melania, could probably get along if their best bets stuffed a motorcycle somewhere it shouldn’t go.

      • Eric

        ….and you’ve hit the nail on the head. This is the real story behind the difficulties we’re seeing in this sluggish, post-crash economy overall.

      • toomanycrayons

        “…and the youngsters get the practical car before they’ll splurge for the fun bike.”-Mad4TheCrest

        Boomers have burnt up the world and sold the kids’ futures to the rich for empty promises and BS. The kids aren’t expecting to have fun; don’t need the toys. They don’t believe in tangerine trees and marmalade skies, either. Everything isn’t possible. MAGA works as a useless, foolish punchline, if you think you were there. You can’t get there from here anymore, anyway. Why make the effort to help aging Boomers refill their dying memory balloons? They need a different lie.

        • Mad4TheCrest

          Uh, wow, I didn’t mean to strike such a nerve. And I am not so sure that aging Boomers don’t deserve help refilling their memory balloons, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

          • toomanycrayons

            Deserving…Boomers? That seems a little redundant. Millennials have quit the MAGA self-congratulations prattle that both parties represent. The fake individualism represented by motorcycle culture is what’s dying, not just the various iterations. Around here Boomers are screaming up and down the roads in Porsches, Maseratis and Audi R8s, detailed by no-hoper kids at the dealerships. They all look like Trumps to Millennials. This time the dream is dying, too, not just the dreamers. That’s where the sales are going. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way?”

  • Mad4TheCrest

    I know bike sales are trending generally down the past two years, but reading of Yamaha’s problems surprised me; mainly because I see so many FZ07, FZ09, and their variants around. Lots of Bolts too, and more R1’s than other Japanese Superbikes. Yamaha appeared to be doing well, at least here in SoCal, so the bad news is perplexing.

    • Born to Ride

      More new yamahas than anything out there it seems

    • DickRuble

      1. They sold many bikes in 2015 and 2016. More than their share due to the popularity of a few models. A dip after strong sales for two years is not a drama. They’ve overfished the pool (or was it swamp?).

      2. If you browse the ads, you’ll notice an interesting trend: very few used FZ07 for sale and many, very many, FZ09. Moreover, the used FZ07 sell around or above $6000 while there are many FZ09’s in the $5200-$5800.

      • Daniel

        The FZ-07’s are a better package!

  • spiff

    With sales down, it would be interesting to see if motorcycle registrations at the dmv are up or down. Are used bikes being sold, and registered by new owners?

    • DickRuble

      It doesn’t help Yamaha’s case that their dealers do not allow test rides. You’re supposed to buy it blind. Maybe that’s a Japanese thing, but here in the good ol’ USA we like to see the bride before signing on the dotted line.

      • Brent S

        That is very annoying – I don’t have experience with BMW or Harley but the only manufacturer I have seen offer test rides in the US is Triumph and that’s only seemed to start recently.

        • Bare1

          I’ve gotten demo rides on Triumphs since they started selling them in CA, 1995

      • HazardtoMyself

        Really? Is that an official policy? Better keep my mouth shut if it is. Local dealer has let me take out FZ07, FJ09, FJR, R3 and various star models outside of normal “demo days”.

        • DickRuble

          I didn’t say it’s official policy. It’s what’s going on (in my neck of the woods, at the very least).

          • HazardtoMyself

            I have heard that before alot about Yamaha, so was curious.

            Now I always had trouble finding a victory dealer who allowed tests. Found it funny as at the time their slogan was something like ride one and you will buy one. Dealers attitude was more buy one and don’t complain when you don’t want to ride one.

      • toomanycrayons

        “You’re supposed to buy it blind. ”

        A recent thing here in house sales is the bidding war option which precludes an inspection/no conditions. So, hey…you just paid $25G over the asking, and the place has a coat of cheap paint over all the structural flaws? Sucks to be you, is the ebay business model without a net. Why not use it with motorcycles? You can always walk away and watch someone else live your dream, or…nightmare.

        • Paulo

          It’s not a blind thing. You can not put every John Doe on a machine that far exceed the vast majority of riders. Go to a Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc and ask to test drive before you buy. LOL

          • toomanycrayons

            So, we agree. LOL?

      • therr850

        No test rides has always been the norm. Some dealers are relaxing that but if a “new” bike has miles it ain’t new and not many small dealers can afford to loose the profit on four or ten bikes and still negotiate on other new bikes. In my area a lot of dealers are being bought out by “mega” dealers, dealers carrying all the Japanese brands, some Euro brands, Polaris inventory and so forth. They are allowing some test rides because of their size.

      • David Kraft

        Most dealers don’t allow test rides.

  • HazardtoMyself

    Auto sales are down year over year as well. Every year can’t have record sales like was seen in 2016 for autos and some bike manufacturers.

    I do worry though that as the safety first generation grows (you know the kids who wore helmets while learning to walk and play on the playground), we will see less younger people buying motorcycles due to their perceived danger.

    Even my oldest son who sees me ride everyday was scared to learn to ride his dirt bike because a teacher told him it was dangerous and he could get hurt. Once he was on it there has been no turning back.

    Up to us i guess to teach these young ones that riding is not just recreation. It can be a fun, safe and economical aternative to sitting in 5-8 passenger vehicles all by themselves. With proper training and good awareness I believe bikes can be safer than traditional autos.

    • toomanycrayons

      “With proper training and good awareness I believe bikes can be safer than traditional autos.”-HazardtoMyself

      So, should your properly trained and aware sons get hit at an intersection, which would you prefer them to be operating, a motorcycle, or an SUV?

      • HazardtoMyself

        I would rather they avoid the impact in the first place which is much easier to do on a motorcycle than an SUV.

        Last summer was sitting at an intersection in the family car. All traffic stopped. Saw the person behind me coming up distracted by their phone. Had a car in front of me and two others on each side.

        Flashed my brake lights, hit my horn for the hell of it and the young lady kept coming until she hit something that prevented her from moving any further, me. When that happens on a bike, I move up out of the way. Let ms distracted hit the next guy.

        A well trained, aware rider will avoid situations most can’t avoid in an SUV.
        If the impact occurs, sure the SUV will do better unless their hit by an 80,000lb fully loaded semi. So why not avoid it instead?

        • toomanycrayons

          “So why not avoid it instead?”

          Make mine a Subaru. Your argument is based on implausible perfection: “Jesus” riding a bike wouldn’t have had the attention lapse that a deceased rider just had, is how your argument plays out.

          My point is that we’re not perfect, so…a well constructed cage trumps the impossible standard of perfect attention.

          I depend on your semi driver paying attention, btw. The standard for semi licence is somewhat higher than for a bike.

          Speaking of bike, I do more miles on a racing bicycle than on my m/c. I love big semis. They pay for, clean/blow the crap off the lonely highways, and invariably make efforts not to kill me…so far, successfully. I PAY ATTENTION. That’s what bottom of the food chain means.

          Lycra and a foam cup on my head are not there to inspire confidence/safety so much as coolness and cooling. My full face Arai is so they can identify the teeth, should only the laws of physics be paying attention.

          An insurance agent once told me you’re 20% to blame because you chose to be on the road. You have to get off the porch to get killed or have fun. Even then your attention is just a small part of the equation.

  • HeDidn’tWeDid

    In 2016 BMW sold 12,300 units in Italy. Italy has 60 million people. In 2016 BMW sold 13,730 units in the USA. The USA has a population over 300 million. How many ‘nice’ motorcycle shops do you know of here in the US? Here in Little Rock there are 4 motorcycle dealers covering the Big 4, KTM, and HD. The HD shop is by far the nicest facility wise…and even it is not the nicest in AR. LR is an odd market since we are supposed to be a ‘city’ but we really are just a ‘town’. Before the 2008 crash we did have a Ducati/Triumph/BMW dealership that was genuinely nice with great service. Now if you want any of those brands it is a long drive to BMW in Bentonville, Dallas, or Tulsa. The sad part about motorcycle sales in the US is if you took away HD’s numbers, the remaining market is really tiny. These manufactures are fighting for scraps. ATV sales, well, those are still booming, at least here in Arkansas…and one of the reasons I don’t buy the ‘disposable income’ argument because a nice ATV or side-by-side is running close to $15k and I bet my local shops sell 4 of those for every motorcycle they sell.

    • DickRuble

      ATV’s don’t require any demonstrable skill. If dealerships sold 15K Lazy Boys on wheels, they’d outsell ATVs. If trikes were 12K instead of 32K they would outsell bikes by a wide margin in the US.

      • HeDidn’tWeDid

        I have to say that I see TONS of trikes here in AR.

        • toomanycrayons

          Many SUV ads lately seem to be for really fearful people. There are snowmen and big trees chasing people all over the place. I watch amazed. WhoTF are these ads for? They sure won’t be the types riding fast bikes with no safety cages, no 360 airbags, and having a tendency to fall over. Madison Ave. has done its research. People are scared, or, at least open to it being suggested they damn well should be. You could probably get elected with an idea like that…

          • HeDidn’tWeDid

            True, but what they don’t realize is that SUV, even a really well built one, is only going to protect you up to maybe 50 mph. Granted, wrecks these days at those speeds are not as injuring as they would have been 15 years ago, but modern cars are still not “safe”. I’ve hit deer on my motorcycles here in Arkansas and walked away, but I was also wearing good gear. I honestly do not ever want to hit a deer head on in my Mustang (2017 model).

          • toomanycrayons

            I don’t think it’s scientific unless you repeat it for comparison. How many 2017 Mustangs can you afford to walk away from?

          • HeDidn’tWeDid

            Knowing how prolific the deer are here in the Ouachita Mountains, probably will get my chance soon enough.

      • c w

        They don’t require licensing. Skill is another issue.

  • Dan Rossi

    Are more people moving to big cities? Riding in big cities is not fun as riding in rural areas .

    • Eric

      That’s true, but it sure beats driving a car! Parking is a LOT easier, too!

      • DickRuble

        Not where I live. You still have to be parked in a car parking spot and pay for it. There is no allowance to park on the sidewalk or anywhere else. You’re treated like a car driver. No more no less. In Europe, it’s a different story.

        • Eric

          Wow, that’s pretty crazy! Your town is missing some opportunities, it seems. Where I live, they allow multiple motorcycles in the same space, and in some places, they have motorcycle only parking. Some cities allow motorcycles to use the leftover “corner pieces” of diagonal parking if you’re on a motorcycle. With the increased congestion in American cities, this seems like a real missed opportunity for the cities to save money; they should actively encourage alternative thinking like this; every little bit helps, as it costs roughly 15k to build every space in a parking garage…

          • DickRuble

            They allow multiples bikes on the same car spot, challenge is to find a bike parked in such a way that you can park yours, not to mention the bike idiot might kick your bike down ’cause ..you know, he paid for the spot when he got there first and you’re crowding his piece of crap.

  • Derrial

    Motorcycle sales are down for HD and others because the bikes are insanely expensive. Harley’s, Indians, and other tourers can easily cost 25 to 30 grand… It took me a while but in the off season I was able to find a leftover touring machine. The combined factory incentives and dealer discounts made it a much easier proposition to purchase.

    The dealer stored it for free over the winter and even paid my airfare to go pick it up and drive it home in the spring making it a trip of a lifetime. All in all, if you research the bike you want you’ll find someone somewhere offering it for less. My local dealer wasn’t even interested in trying to find me the same machine, he never even called back after I gave him my phone number.

  • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

    i’m surprised i’d heard the FZ 07 was popular

  • Ok Campers

    I think its due to a general lack of interest by the younger folk. Although I’ve had bikes for their entire lives, neither of my children ( who are in their 40s) nor any of my six grandsons have any interest in motorcycles. In a recent conversation with a 22 year old nephew, he mentioned that none of his friends had a driver license nor any interest in getting one. Uber suffices and the advent of driverless cars seem to offset any “need” to drive. They all seem to be more interested in technology and computers, but their lack of interest doesn’t “compute” with me…………………..

    • Scott Silvers

      young people are more interested in their phones than motorbikes

    • papagrune123

      I also know of a 22 year old male that doesn’t have a driver’s license. he did own one of those scooter that you did not need a license to use it I have had my auto license since I was 16 years old, and my motorcycle license since I was 18 years old. if they won’t let me test drive one, they can keep it. I am 64 years old and have insurance on everything I own, including my motorcycle.

      • Ok Campers

        I hear ya about the “no test drive”……but with some reservation. In 2001 I bought a 1999 Moto Guzzi EV leftover from a dealer who did not allow test rides. Fortunately I was so in love with that bike (I’d wanted it from the first day I saw it on the showroom floor in ’99) that I agreed to buy it two years later without ever having ridden a Guzzi. Having no idea what to expect, and filled with a feeling of I-hope-I-didn’t-just-make-a-huge-mistake, I rode off the lot and instantly knew I’d made the right choice. I still have the bike and still love it as much as the day I got it…….but I’m not sure I’d buy any other bike without a test ride!

        • toomanycrayons

          “I still have the bike and still love it as much as the day I got it…….but I’m not sure I’d buy any other bike without a test ride!”-Ok Campers

          What happened to the guy from 2001, Campers? Motorcycles were supposed to cure that. Anyway, if you can’t change the bike you can at least change your mind. It’s not like you’re married to the bike. Oh, wait…what? Yes, Dear, the garbage is almost out…almost….

          • Ok Campers

            What?? Whatever point you are trying to make is unclear to me. I bought the Guzzi because it was everything I wanted…I wanted, not what you or anyone else wanted… twin cylinder, air cooled, shaft drive, no unnecessary body panels and with the look that I…not you….find appealing. The fact that it met my criteria then and that I still have it now attests to my total satisfaction with the product. Guzzis are not for everybody, but those who love ’em, love ’em. Now all that being said, I also have a 2009 Vstar 1300 Tourer, ( which I bought after a test ride !!) which is completely different from the Guzzi, but is the one that carried me around 12 states and 6000 miles during a 6 week ride a couple years ago. Now, in a couple weeks that Vstar will be hauling my 70 year old bones on another multi-week ride. Is that what you meant with “… the garbage is almost out…almost….” ? Or, in your mind, is having the same bike for close to 20 years equated as not taking the garbage out? If so, I hesitate to think what your view of my 40 year wedding anniversary, celebrated last June, would be. No matter; to each his own. Ride safe…………………..

          • toomanycrayons

            “No matter; to each his own.”

            My point, exactly. There’s nothing wrong with being happy with what you have. People simply “change their mind set” as things evolve, like a marriage. Your currently stated “need” for a test ride runs against the success formula 2001 Campers used: love it; make it work.

            That motorcycles are supposed to/should cure doubt by re-enforcing confidence through necessity was a tangential point.

            As to taking out the garbage, there’s a saying: “Love comes easy, then comes…rent.” So far you seem to have at least two great successes on your hands. Why change the formula to include a “test ride?”

          • Ok Campers

            Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Now I get it ! Thank you for the courtesy of your patient clarification. It is clear that you put more thought into motorcycling than I do, the validity of your tangential thought being a prime example. I never considered the benefit of boosted confidence as a result of riding, but can clearly agree with you. And you give the 2001 version of me too much credit for daring; I was merely a guy smitten by having found what I’d been looking for without knowing that it even existed. Took me two years to get around to buying it, and only then, truth be told, at the urging of my wife who would sometimes suggest, ‘We should’ve gotten the Guzzi when we first saw it.” So you see, I am a slow learner….and have been for quite some time. But I think you already know that.

    • David Kraft

      When we were teens we all wanted our drivers license when we were 16. The high schools had drivers Ed classes that you could attend at 15. Today, statistics show that most kids of age don’t want a drivers license, at least not right away.

  • brunssd

    When the MT-07 Tenere finally appears in North America I’ll do my part to boost sales.

    • Patriot159

      MT-07, T7, or whatever they will call it… ME TOO! The new 790/800 KTM ADV looks promising as well but undoubtedly will be several grand more so 99% sure it’ll be Yamaha for me.

  • DeadArmadillo

    If you listen to the “safety gurus ” in the motorcycle press no one would ever ride. It’s tiresome dressing up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy everytime you want to run down to the lumber store for a bolt. I’m not advocating riding in shorts and flip-flops but ATGATT? Bull*hit. And with gasoline cheap? Lots of headwinds for the industry.

    • John A. Smith

      I dunno, man. My Roadcrafter goes on over my street clothes in about 10 seconds. I’m already wearing boots, and my gloves are stored in my helmet. Complete gear up takes less than a minute. But I’m with you on gas prices…not that my ZX-14R gets more than 35mpg most of the time anyway 🙂


    When is Yamaha sending over the new 2017 TMax Scooter?

    • David Kraft

      The big maxi scooters are neat and all but what is the purpose? The miles per gallon are not very good and they have become very expensive. I don’t see why someone would want one over a motorcycle.

      • c w

        The desire to carve and not shift. And have somewhere to put milk.

      • BTRDAYZ

        I’ve had some nice bikes. A Kawasaki Z1000, Kawasaki ZRX1100… My first bike was a Honda Pacific Coast. Eventually, I divorced, and while I was a weekend daddy, I had no time for my bikes, so I sold them. The last bike I sold was the Z1000, because I figured I’d get more use out of a convertible year round (live in NJ). So 2006 was the last year I owned a bike. Today, I’m 51. Older and fatter. Kids gone, and me more aware of risks. Many of today’s new bikes don’t move me (except for that expensive MV Agusta Brutale Dragster!). Sportbikes are great machines, but I’m not trying to fold myself into them.

        To me, the maxi-scoots look like a way to enjoy the sensations of being on 2 wheels, without all the drama. They look comfortable. They don’t look to encourage me doing dumb stuff that might get me hurt or killed. Casual biking appeals to me at this point in my life.

        Now if a local MV Agusta dealer opens near me and I can buy a new Dragster at 1/2 price, I’m all on that! 😉

  • dracphelan

    As a couple of others have alluded to, I think part of the problem is what is offered in the USA. Some of the potential younger riders are probably intimidated by higher displacement bikes, And, there is an attitude in the USA that smaller displacement bikes are slow and anemic. The bike I started on 20 years ago was a Kawasaki Vulcan 500. That thing had trouble getting up to 65. I test rode a new 300CC bike the other day and it was much better than that Vulcan was. The increased engine efficiency, better design, and improved materials make lower CC bikes a much better alternative today. I bought a used Super Tenere earlier this year, and to be honest I often wish for something smaller and more nimble. I would love to buy an MT07 or something similar.

  • Steve McLaughlin

    Test rides on some of these bikes would be a crap shoot it they didn’t crash it first time out. Yamaha makes excellent HIGH performance motorcycles. 90% of the buying public do not remotely have the ability to ride them safely. Maybe a highly insured demo bike would be the answer, but loss of life or limb would probably be prohibitive if they could even get insurance for it.