It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good, says the proverb. It was first recorded in 1546 and seems to apply just as well in 2020. The Coronavirus is obviously an ill wind for many thousands of people, but it seems to be blowing rather well for the Australian motorcycle industry – especially if it’s selling dirt bikes or agricultural vehicles like ATVs and SSVs.

ATVs and side-by-side sales are booming along with dirt bikes.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Australian FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries), welcomed the positive sales results.

“It is wonderful to see some strong sales from our member motorcycle brands,” Mr Weber said. “A year-on-year increase of 24.5 per cent is significant, and signals improving conditions for both members and dealers.”

Overall, a total of 52,838 vehicles were sold from January to June 2020, in comparison to 42,457 during the same period in 2019. This represents a strong 24.5 per cent increase in sales, a bright spot in an economic environment that has been predominantly negative over the past four months.

The most popular segment during the half was the ATV and SSV segment, with a total of 14,545 sales compared to 9,638 sales in the first half of 2019. Off-Road motorcycles reported 20,885 sales in the half year, compared to 14,666 in the same period 2019.

“The ATV and SSV segment is up a remarkable 50.9 per cent and now represents 27.5 per cent of the total market. And off-road bikes are also on fire, with an increase of 42.4 per cent, and claiming 39.5 per cent of the total market,” Mr Weber said.

The popularity of these two segments are thought to be a direct result of the COVID19 pandemic. Tony Weber explained: “People can’t go for overseas holidays, and for quite some time, they couldn’t even go for holidays within Australia. So, we believe that, instead of spending up big on expensive family vacations, people are treating themselves in different ways – and this could mean they are taking up new sports like trail bike riding.

“ATVs and SSVs are also popular, and we understand this is due to the Government’s instant asset write-off program which makes the purchase of farm machinery and equipment very attractive at the present time,” Mr Weber said.

Road bike buyers have yet to follow their off-road colleagues.

Road bikes and Scooters did not enjoy the same increase in popularity as the previous two categories. Road bikes reported 15,243 sales during the first half, down 2.7 per cent on the same period last year. Scooters recorded 2,166 sales, down 12.8 per cent, for the first half of 2020.

The FCAI has previously stated that motorcycles make perfect sense for commuting within the guidelines of our current pandemic environment.

With mass transit systems susceptible to contagion risk, personal transport has become the go-to option for many commuters. Motorcycle and scooter riders can mitigate infection risks, with two-wheeled transportation offering an effective means of maintaining social distance while enjoying a freeing and fun ride that ends with easy parking. Riders can also nimbly negotiate traffic and park conveniently, cutting commute times.

That final message still has not quite sunk in, with road bike and scooter sales down, but on the bright side the percentage drop in sales has not been as high as it was for the preceding couple of years. Are good times ahead for the Australian motorcycle industry? Nobody is quite sure, but at least off-road motorcycle sales are ensuring that times are not quite as bad as they have been.

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