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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I see a grim future for our industry. With the economic downturn, discrectionary spending will certainly fall off, and, unfortunately, motorcycles are seen as luxury purchases by the vast majority of the American public, not as viable modes of transportation. New unit sales are down, and, anecdotally, most of the shops I've talked to in the are so far are saying that this is their slowest winter ever, even after last year's.

Now, my shop is in a unique position, in that we're primarily a service and repair shop, with some used sales on the side. And, being a small shop, we're sufficiently agile to change with the market's demands.

The only potential bright spot is the rising cost of fuel. I think that has the potential to both help re-centralize the population, and, therefore, shift the industry to smaller displacement, more practical bikes and scooters with better gas mileage and carrying capacity than the current sales leaders. Like Europe or Asia.

But, I see hard times a-comin' for our business, if current trends continue. So, here's the big question: do you see a sea change in the motorcycle industry's future, away from a lifestyle-accessory-oriented market and toward a commuter- and practicality-based market? Will public perception shift to see motorcycles as vehicles, and not toys?

I'm particularly interested in whether you've heard any perception shift from your non-riding friends. (Working the industry, I don't have a very good idea of what normal people are thinking any more.) Are your friends or co-workers talking about scooters or motorcycles as commuters?

I'm beginning to think that aside from staying focused on service and repair, and servicing the bikes that are already out there, we should start looking at small displacement, low-priced cycles that are unencumbersome to buy into and unintimidating to learn to ride and handle in the city.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 

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The Toad
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Harley is offering special low interest deals on "select models" for the first time in living memory. So definitely something is happening. It might be that sales of smaller bikes increase because of more people looking to save fuel money. Sportsters get better mileage than most full sized bikes so HD will probably do okay.

Maybe I can get that $2K Evo project bike soon, eh?
 

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I prophisy, giggle, snicker, a shift to utilitarian bikes. SS bikes will still be around but a smaller percentage of the market. Everybody is already oohing and ahhing over the Versys.
 

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MODERATOR X
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I'm seeing way more new scooters buzzing around Burbank lately, with everything from teenage girls to old coots piloting them. When you look back at the "old days" after WWII, when folks didn't have that much money to throw into a new car, or full sized motorcycle, the scooter industry was big business. As a barometer to this, I cite the example of my long time friend Hippy Bob, who just sold his 1974 Mach III Kawasaki 500 and bought a used 1 year old 125cc Vino scooter.

I dig little motorcycles and scooters btw. Less is more in my humble opinion. I think we'll be seeing more small bikes on the road in the near future. And if that damn place in China ever gets me that spinal cord I've got on back-order, I'll be getting a 125 something or other too.
 

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Super Duper Mod Man
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No offense intended, but I hope the whole industry sees a huge downturn. Ever moron with a checkbook and can read a magazine article has either a new Harley or Hayabusa, and they can't wait to run into something or get caught at 150+ mph. Sorry, but I liked it when the 'officials' never cared because we were few and far between. The motorcycle in the US will always be a toy for most, and that's OK by me.
 

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Snuggles
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I'm waiting for one of the 30 grand custom choppers to be listed for sale at 5 grand. I'd probably buy one just for the sh!ts and giggles knowing that some idiot forked over a king's fortune for something that ended up being worth less than a new KLR. (not to knock the KLR)
 

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At my work this last year two people bought GSXR-750s, two bought 100cc scooters and one more is thinking about buying one.

They all bought them to some degree because of traffic, the two scooters were also bought with mpg in mind. But I think the #1 thing was traffic.

I have a 250 I started riding on the street because of traffic myself.
 

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People who want a bike will always want a bike - economy be damned. Getting into one doesn't have to be a financial burden either. And with gas prices creeping every higher, people can "justify" the purchase if they must.

The chrome slathered toys and such may languish (or may not...), but the bike industry will probably just realign with the situation and keep on going.
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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I said in the other thread I was going to go home and drink some gin so my opinion is somewhat biased but you're still entitiled to it. I personally thing that it's pretty obvious that the industry is in a down turn. Harley will weather it as they have for over 100 years, I for one will be glad when the suits and rubs move on, Harleys are either cop bikes or true believers like it should be. Should be some bangin' used deals within a few years. The boutique dealers are going to take it in the butt I'm afraid but I think those with good reps and practices will make it. I hope Victory can hang because thayve given it a good shot. The "custom chopper" industry is toast, stick a fork in it boys yer done. Triumph by dint of the fact that they're extremely competitively priced, get good milage and are all around neat bikes should do well. BMW and Ducati have always been niche players no changes there, I'm guessing the big four will trend back to more small displacement and commuter type bikes.

Those in it for life will remain, the dillitants and posers will move on to the next big thing, the big three US auto makers will take it in the ass for the third time over fuel efficient vehicles, get their lunch handed to them by the Koreans this time and still not get it....Our occupation of Iraq will continue for the next fifty or so years like it did in Japan and Germany as a buffer between Arabs and Persians, in other words business as usual.
 

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So, here's the big question: do you see a sea change in the motorcycle industry's future, away from a lifestyle-accessory-oriented market and toward a commuter- and practicality-based market? Will public perception shift to see motorcycles as vehicles, and not toys?

No, I don't. The simple fact is that it's far too terrifying for most people to commute on US highways riding a motorcycle. Maybe people who need occasional surface street transportation will consider getting a bike or scooter (students, homestayers, etc.) but people who have to get on the Interstate in rush hour traffic are going to need cajones of steel to make that commute on a regular basis. And there just aren't that many of us who have them.
 

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Originally I got into riding because of the mpg factor. I haven't really seen much of a difference in the number of riders in my neighborhood, though. Most people would probably buy smaller cars than buy motorcycles. But you know how many SUVs and trucks are on the road, so they're probably skimping elsewhere.

By the way, for a motorcycle enthusiast, the mpg factor isn't all it's cracked up to be. We tend to like adding bikes to the stable, and insuring them can put a real dent in the pocketbook. Gotta have at least one, though. Time has split into two new categories: the time you're riding, and the time you're not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I'm seeing way more new scooters buzzing around Burbank lately, with everything from teenage girls to old coots piloting them.
This is interesting, because, as we know, trends in this country start on the coasts and move inward to those of us in flyover country. However, there is the weather issue to contend with in most places. That is, Burbank doesn't have it, and the rest of the country does. (For instance it's 35 degrees and raining in St. Louis today. I rode to the shop, but, shockingly, I didn't see anybody else on two wheels aside from the pedal-pushing hardasses.) But, I will be interested to see if the trend continues to grow on the left and right coasts.

When you look back at the "old days" after WWII, when folks didn't have that much money to throw into a new car, or full sized motorcycle, the scooter industry was big business.
This is a good point, and an interesting one. I'm not hip on my recent global economic history, but I know that several years ago, the scooter craze in Europe seemed all but unstoppable. Can anyone tell me if that correlated to an economic slow spot in the EU or UK?

In Post WWII Europe, particularly Germany, the economy was so poor that sidecars necessarily became the main mode of transport for entire families. As they came out of their post-war slump, sidecars were seen as poor-man's transportation, and lost a lot of favor in the market.

I'll be curious to see if history repeats itself in this case.
 

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So, here's the big question: do you see a sea change in the motorcycle industry's future, away from a lifestyle-accessory-oriented market and toward a commuter- and practicality-based market? Will public perception shift to see motorcycles as vehicles, and not toys?

No, I don't. The simple fact is that it's far too terrifying for most people to commute on US highways riding a motorcycle. Maybe people who need occasional surface street transportation will consider getting a bike or scooter (students, homestayers, etc.) but people who have to get on the Interstate in rush hour traffic are going to need cajones of steel to make that commute on a regular basis. And there just aren't that many of us who have them.
Mine shriveled up, I ride the train to work now. 60 miles of lane splitting a day just adds to the already crazy stress I get at work.
 

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Mine shriveled up, I ride the train to work now. 60 miles of lane splitting a day just adds to the already crazy stress I get at work.
I actually have a comparatively "sane" commute to work: about 20 miles one way with a 70/30 mix of Turnpike/Interstate and surface streets. But recently I've found myself wondering if whatever joy I get out of the ride is worth the increased risk of riding during rush hour. Compared to taking a ride on the weekend or evenings, it's far more frantic. Yes, I continue to commute, but I wonder...
 

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Given that I don't see the number of SUV's and giant pickups declining on the roads, I unfortunately think people aren't thinking about bikes, despite the far better economy they could achieve. I was the only motorcycle I saw commuting to work this morning. It was 26 out, but still there are usually a few. I hope Americans see the light and start to move to more efficient vehicles, but $3/gal gas isn't making it happen.
 

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I certainly don't enjoy commuting on the bike, I consider it useless wear and tear. Unfortunatly my whole deal is based on riding to work as much as possible. In the winter months...(you know Ken, when it's below 70 degrees)... and I'm stuck driving all month @ $3.20 a gallon my gas bill is nearly $650. I simply can't afford that over a long period of time. Plus I can use the carpool lanes on the bike and shave 15 minutes at least off my time. The commute itself is a mix of backroad freeway and surface streets so while it can be a challange, it's not the worse possible drive. Besides at least I get an 80 mile ride in a day ......
 

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I confess that I am currently engaged in map recons to avoid the intersection of Rte 81,Rte 481 and I think 11 is in there as well just north of Syracuse when I return to commuting this spring. After I have passed this location, I consider it aerobic exersise, high pulse rate etc..., the rest of the journey makes me normal again, helps me leave work behind, ya know survivors high.
 
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