Motorcycle dealers may be scratching their heads over the latest numbers released by the Motorcycle Industry Council. The general economy is improving and auto sales are up. But, the MIC is predicting a drop in motorcycle sales which means dealers should be increasing their advertising budgets.

Popular media has been reporting a growing interest in motorcycles as the cost of gas increases. But sales numbers don’t support these stories. Last year, the 12 leading bike brands had a sales increase of  only 0.3%. The 2 high points in the market related to fuel-efficient models:

  • Scooter sales 11.8%
  • Dual-purpose bikes 14.8%

Statistics also show that bike owners may be holding onto older models instead of buying new ones. Dealers have been seeing an increase in their maintenance and repair business. Further evidence of this trend is found in replacement tire purchases which grew 9.6% among the leading brands last year.

MIC President Tim Buche says that unemployment rates and stagnant incomes are largely to blame for consumer caution about large purchases. “Even with low interest rates making this a great time to buy for many people, overall economic uncertainty is leading us to predict we’ll have fewer sales in 2012.”

MIC data also shows that ATVs, carried by many motorcycle dealers, will also have sales declines this year. Instead, the market seems to have shifted to recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

In calculating their forecast, the MIC assumed that dealers and manufacturers would spend the same on marketing efforts in 2012 as they did in 2011. If dealers decide to increase their marketing efforts – for motorcycles, ATVs, or ROVs, they may be able to boost sales in this competitive market.

[Source: MIC Forecasting Motorcycle Sales, Predicting Decline in 2012; Roadracingworld.com. 18 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2012]