Are slow motorcycle sales cause for panic?

Motorcycle sales might be in a two-year slump in Australia, but there is no cause for general panic about the global motorcycle industry just yet.

Several motorcycle manufacturers are reporting growth in profits and even record sales, while many markets continue to increase in sales.

Perhaps the biggest saviour of motorcycling is the continued exponential growth in the Indian market.

Last year, more than 20 million motorcycles were sold in India. That’s up 2.6m from the previous year and almost double the sales of just seven years ago.Turban Sikh sikhs helmet panic

And don’t think that’s all scooters and 125cc motorcycles, either.

More and more motorcycles sold in India are what they call “superbikes” which are over 750cc in capacity.

China, Brazil and other developing countries are also recording massive growth in motorcycle and scooter sales.

No panic in mature marketsEnrico Grassi Hear the Road Motorcycle Tours Italy Tuscany and Umbria: Heart of Italy panic

But it’s not just the developing nations that are doing well.

Mature markets such as Europe are up about 7% including the UK, up 2.9%.

The big concern is that the biggest big-bike market in the world, America, is marginally down last year.

However, there is no need for panic yet. US sales had been growing steadily since the big collapse from the 2008/09 GFC.

Maybe it’s a one-year blip. Let’s hope so, as it has a huge bearing on motorcycle manufacturers’ ability to turn a profit and keep bringing out new and exciting models.

Profit and panic

Meanwhile many manufacturers are continuing to post profits and/or record growth.

  • BMW Motorrad recorded its eighth straight year of global sales growth, up 0.9% with 165,566 bikes delivered;
  • Triumph was down slightly from 63,404 to 61,505, but still reported its second-biggest profit last year; and
  • Although slightly down, Ducati sold 53,004 bikes last year, its fourth straight year of more than 50k.

    Ducati Scrambler panic
    Ducati updated its popular Scrambler range in 2018

Japanese manufacturers are yet to post their 2018 figures.

All eyes will also be on Harley-Davidson who are expected to post a double-digit global slump in domestic sales, but good performances in developing markets.


There is no doubt the motorcycle market is going through some changes and challenges:

Is it any wonder many have a bleak outlook for the industry?

Exciting future

But there are exciting and interesting times ahead as electric motorcycles may revive interest by tech-savvy millennials.

The current panic about a dying motorcycle industry remind us of Mark Twain’s famous quote: “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”


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