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Could COVID-19 Be Responsible For A Boom In Motorcycle Sales?

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If you’re looking for a bright spot during these tumultuous times a new report from Bloomberg shows that after a dip in sales early on, the overall health of the motorcycle industry is actually improving during the pandemic, with some manufacturers showing an uptick from averaged expected gains over the first four months of 2020, especially during the month of April.  

Of course it’s true April is traditionally a strong month for motorcycle sales, but the report asserts an extra spike in sales is likely due to the fact that consumers have been cooped up since early March and are longing for a way to escape the confines of home while safely maintaining distance from others.

In fact, Erik Pritchard, head of the Motorcycle Industry Council, says there’s good reason for this optimism, especially when you consider that in the first four months of 2020 the motorcycles industry in the U.S. has seen its best performance since 2016. 


In the same report, Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati North America, shares this confidence, reporting April motorcycle sales at its flagship store in New York City were up 24% over last year. In addition, dealerships in other parts of the country such as Southern California and the Bay Area as well as some regions in Florida have seen similar gains, while other dealers like Kentucky Powersports tripled its sales for April, and Minnesota-based East Central Sports has reported its selling more dirtbikes than ever. 

It’s simple, according to Chinnock. “If you’re looking for that escape, that release, that joy, then motorcycling is where you’re going to go.” 

Carrizo-plain-camping-1-1.jpgPhoto: Jon Beck

Who can relate?

So yes, there is reason to believe that at least for the most on-trend manufacturers (sorry Harley) sales will continue to surge, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and perhaps even because of it. 

Earlier this month Stefan Pierer, CEO of the KTM group, which includes Husqvarna and GasGas, told France’s Le Peaire des Motards that his group continues to be in good shape: “Fortunately for us, the powered two-wheeler industry is thriving to some extent after the Covid. In all the countries that have reopened since containment, there is an increasing demand for our products.”

Having responded to the implications of the virus early and aggressively, the ADV- and dirt bike-heavy group, which was surging pre-pandemic, feels ready to charge off the line as global economies continue to restart. In fact, Pierer says the KTM groups didn’t lay off any workers during the shutdowns and has since added 40 new employees.

Motorcycle sales roar backMotorcycle industry leaders Stefan Pierer and Vinod Dasari have expressed optimism about a Covid-Inspired sales surge.

He says another interesting “fallout” from the crisis is a newly increased demand for dirt and adventure models in the U.S., explaining that for an approachable sum of money you can escape coronavirus without worrying about social distancing. “You can leave the risks linked to urban density and visit the countryside, always with the best protection, wearing your helmet. This is the main reason why we are facing a huge demand for our off-road models in the USA,” he adds.

KTM does however say it “lost” around 30,000 units while its factories were shuttered, and only expects to “recover” half that number with ramped up production efforts. Other manufacturers have most definitely experienced similar reductions in stock, reminding us that while motorcycles will be in greater demand, they may at least temporarily be in short supply.   

Royal Enfield’s CEO, Vinod Dasari, has also stated optimism there will be a global surge in demand for motorcycles. And he says this is only partly due to people wanting to avoid the confines of cars or public transport as they continue to social distance themselves. The second reason for his confidence is a swell of enthusiasm he’s seen building as people in lockdown live vicariously through the tales of two-wheeled digital nomads like Royal Enfield Himalayan rider, Noraly Schoenmaker, a 23-year-old Dane who sold all of her possession to ride around the world. 

Myanmar-royal-enfield-himalayan.jpgPhoto: Noraly Schoenmaker

As he recently told the Economic Times of India, “There is pent up demand. We have been engaging quite a bit with our customers digitally and obviously because of the lockdown, the digital engagement scores are through the roof but the level of engagement is simply superb.”

Of course this potential growth in new riders and bike sales will benefit every consumer down the line as strengthened cash flows are sure to support research and development for new or improved models, as well as infuse the apparel and aftermarket industry with lifeblood. As MPN reported recently, there has been a surge in aftermarket parts sales, breaking all-time records during the shutdown.

And I guess for that, we have Covid to thank.


Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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