Industry growth continued its 14-year upward trend last year, the fourth year in which sales crested the million-unit mark, Motorcycle Industry Council President Tim Buche told a group of about 175 attending the MIC's annual meeting here Friday.
"Once seen as the oddball pastime of street racers and wild ones, motorcycling is now largely viewed as a respectable form of recreation and, increasingly, transportation," Buche said. "For the industry, sales for the past five years have been at a great level. Rising fuel prices, increasing highway congestion and parking woes have given more people reason to trade four wheels for two, or dust off the old bike they haven?t touched in years."
The MIC's preliminary estimate on new unit sales for all brands last year is 1,158,000 units, a slight increase from 1,149,000 in 2005.
"But our work isn't done," Buche said. "It's more important than ever for the seasoned veterans of our industry to steer new riders toward making smart, responsible choices when it comes to motorcycling. A decade from now, the strength of our business will depend on an emerging generation of riders that we must nurture and develop right now."
The MIC lists 1973, when Americans bought more than 1.5 million bikes, as the pinnacle for annual motorcycle sales. Sales cooled in the 1980s and began to bounce back in 1993.
Domestic motorcycle sales figures in recent years:
1992 — 278,000
1993 — 293,000
1994 — 306,000
1995 — 309,000
1996 — 330,000
1997 — 356,000
1998 — 432,000
1999 — 546,000
2000 — 710,000
2001 — 850,000
2002 — 936,000
2003 — 1,001,000