TM0703_Market Focus, Motorcycle Enthusiasts
By Paul Barbagallo
Motorcycle Madness was once a condition that almost solely infected the 350-pound Hell's Angel type who lives in old blue jeans and dirty leather.
Today, motorcycling in America is more for sport than for transportation, and it is more popular with all ranges of society than at any other time, says Buzz Kanter, editor in chief and publisher of motorcycle magazines American Iron and RoadBike.
"Our readers range from dentists to guys missing teeth," Kanter jokes. "We have found much of the growing popularity with motorcycles is from people well into their careers, usually in their late 30s through their mid 50s, who used to ride and gave it up while launching a career and/or starting a family."
"The expanding popularity of motorcycling and a growing desire for new and ever-better products has kept the industry healthy for an entire decade," says Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).
With 2002 sales up 9.4 percent, the U.S. motorcycle market is celebrating 10 consecutive years of rising sales, according to the MIC. Total motorcycle sales topped 937,000 in 2002.
"Even during uncertain economic times, Americans still want to buy motorcycles," says Buche.
As one of the most popular motorcycle brands, a new Harley-Davidson tops the cost charts at around $15,000. Most riders then spend $1,000 or more on accessories, another $500 on riding clothing and gear, and at least another $500 on insurance.
Current manufacturer-suggested-retail prices (MSRPs) of on-highway motorcycles range from $2,999 for entry-level models to more than $20,000 for high-end sport and touring bikes. The average MSRP of today's "street" or on-highway motorcycles is about $11,500.
Whether riders spend their dollars on Harley, Honda or Yamaha, the financial needs for motorcycling are great. "Motorcycling is not an inexpensive activity or hobby," avows Gary T. Sweet, vice president, marketing and membership, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).