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In the Headlights: Motorcycle Market Trends

“It is a great time to reflect on what has been generally a successful year for the Powersports industry,” according to Jeremy Jensen, president of the Motorsports Group at Wells Fargo CDF, who reports some consistency from previous years, unexpected strengths, and a few areas of opportunity for next year:

UTVs — Retail of side-by-sides saw a nice rebound in the second half of the year, some of which was weather driven, and the segment continues to grow in the mid-single digits per year.

ATVs — Sales of ATVs have been consistently solid throughout the year, and expected to be up by low single digits by the end of 2019, with much of the growth coming in the 400-600cc sector. Given typical cannibalization of ATV by the UTV sector, this is a promising result year over year.

Motorcycles — Overall, motorcycle retail sales are very similar with 2018 levels, however, different product groups are driving strength and weakness. Sport bikes, which was a successful sector last year (specifically <500cc), has fallen back. Off-road bikes, however, will be up by double digits percentage with dual sport models also posting growth this year. Heavyweight motorcycles remain a key industry challenge as the industry continues to adjust to the preferences of the millennial generation.

Product innovation continues to be strong with technical advancements, new models, and improved performance and comfort. Whether it’s being able to connect your phone, a more advanced GPS system, or an improved suspension, vendors are leveraging technology and looking for ways to enhance the rider experience.

From a dealer standpoint, a great area of opportunity is continuing to focus on building the local rider community. Organize events, let people feel and experience the products, introduce diversified groups of people to powersports, and continue to leverage social media as a way to reach new audiences.

Manufacturers have their own unique approach. They’re shifting to smaller displacement vehicles at lower price points and an increased focus on bringing new technological elements to the vehicles. This allows riders of all backgrounds and experience levels to have access to the industry and feel connected to the broader community.  “In the end,” Jensen advises, “we’re trying to encourage a lifestyle, not just a product.”

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