The global motorcycle industry grew 7.1% during 2002, and is expected to grow over 40% by 2007. This market continues to present a promising environment for smaller enterprises and entrepreneurs. Aside from the major bike manufacturers, the market supports a myriad of small and midsize players, including motorcycle dealers, manufacturers/retailers of aftermarket add-ons, custom builders who create small numbers of highly individualized bikes, apparel manufacturers/retailers–the list goes on.
The largest motorcycle market in the world is China, with sales of over 12 million vehicles in 2002. In China, motorcycles are used for transportation. China has been a profitable market for the major motorcycle manufacturers – chiefly Japanese firms such as Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha. However, smaller, locally owned producers are taking an increasing share of the market with knock-offs of Japanese designed motorcycles.
In the West, especially the United States, motorcycles are primarily leisure items. Toys. Nobody buys a Harley because they need transportation–it’s all about lifestyle in the United States. The most successful motorcycle and powersports dealerships in the United States create an experience for consumers. They know they are selling dreams, not transportation. And, of course, there is a booming market for aftermarket add-ons to customize motorcycles so the owners can make personalized statements about who they are, riding their cool bikes.
Automotive Business Review offers more motorcycle industry stats (report fee required).