With all the dire news about new motorcycle sales, there is one glimmer of brightness.  According to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), more US households than ever now have at least one motorcycle in their garage.  In its 2018 survey, the MIC compared statistics from studies conducted in 2014 and 2009.  The findings are quite interesting.

Good news

US household motorcycle ownership had grown from 6.94 percent of households to 8.02 percent.  Those percentages mean that there was an increase of more than 1.5 million homes.  Other ownership measures improved as well.  During the four years since the last study, there was a 1.5 million increase in motorcycle ownership.

2014 had been a previous record for US motorcycle ownership.  But as of 2018, motorcycle ownership rose from 11.7 million bikes to 13.16 million bikes.   This is not an insignificant increase.  In addition, while total motorcycle ownership increased, so did the number of motorcycles actually in use.  Motorcycles in use rose from 11 million to 12.3 million.

One negative

The one declining metric was the percentage of motorcycles in running condition.  The 2018 study revealed that 93 percent of motorcycles owned were operable.  However, in 2014, more than 96 percent of motorcycles were operable.

According to Jim Woodruff, Secretary/Treasurer of the MIC Board of Directors and COO of National Powersports Auctions:

“The annual pre-owned market is actually three times larger than the new market. Used bikes appeal to many riders because there are so many options in terms of price and style.  As used units become a larger part of the overall motorcycle population, it’s not surprising to see a slight decrease in the percentage of operating units. Our research shows that the average age of a pre-owned motorcycle sold in the US is approximately eight years old. Plus, vintage bikes are on trend now and many riders are keeping non-runners as part of their collection.”

Used and vintage motorcycle ownership

Based on the above, the reduction in running motorcycles is not a significant worry.  It’s an indicator that US households value not only new but also used and vintage machines.

So when you see news of declining sales and doom for the motorcycle industry, there is a thread of hope for the present time that motorcycles are here to stay for at least the immediate future.

Here’s to hoping that US culture continues to prize motorcycle ownership, and that motorcycle manufacturers can conjure up a way to continue or increase US household’s interest in motorcycles.


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