Forecast: 59 million cycles by 2011

Global demand for motorcycles is forecast to advance 6 percent annually to 59 million units in 2011, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based market research firm.

Two separate motorcycle markets exist. The first centers on the industrialized Triad (the US, Japan and Western Europe), where motorcycles are seen as pleasure vehicles. The other, much larger market in unit terms, exists in the emerging economies of Asia, Latin America and the Africa/Mideast region, where motorcycles are seen as primary family and work vehicles.

Freedonia says its study shows the global motorcycle industry appears to be on the verge of a major correction as growth rates moderate, which will likely cause numerous players to exit the market or be taken over. While Asia is dominant in terms of unit volume, most key players derive far higher revenues per unit from sales in developed markets such as North America.

The aforementioned growth is forecast by Freedonia to emanate from a mix of developed market incremental improvements and emerging market expansion.

The study says the most rapid growth will occur in developing markets, where rising income levels and the introduction of higher quality machines featuring the latest technologies will fuel demand.

In developed markets, fuel prices and increasing restrictions on car use in some regions such as Western Europe are stoking interest in motorcycles. While the market for large and expensive high displacement motorcycles will also remain moderately strong, concerns regarding future demand have emerged due to the aging of the customer base, especially in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Published in November, Freedonia's "World Motorcycles" is available for $5,400 via