2012 US Motorcycle Sales Tally 452,386

February 4, 2013
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Motorcycle Industry Council

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) reports retail sales of 452,386 motorcycles for 2012. The annual total is a 2.6% increase from 2011, with positive sales growth in all its tracked segments – including ATV. The sales totals exceed the MIC’s own forecast for 2012, having initially projected slight declines for new bike sales.

Street Bikes Hold 1.8% Growth

On-Highway motorcycle sales held steady, with a modest 1.8% increase for the year. The MIC’s On-Highway segment is comprised of all street-legal bikes, excepting scooter, dual-purpose and dirt bikes. It is the largest segment by far at 318,105 units sold, up 5585 units. The 1.8% On-Highway sales growth is identical to the 2011 sales, and indicates further stabilization of the motorcycle market. Sales have remained steady for the past three years, with the current annual totals effectively half of those prior to the market collapse in 2009 (On-Highway totals for 2008 were 611,133 units).

The Scooter and Dual segments enjoyed the most robust gains for 2012, up a respective 7.7 and 7.4%. Scooter sales, which follow a more turbulent boom/bust cycle often tied to gas prices, enjoyed its second year of recovery after a 11.8% increase in 2011. Sales for the Dual segment gained 1969 units to 28,452 total – the segment comprised of dual-purpose bikes, including many popular adventure-touring models.

Off-Highway/ATV Sales Stabilized

Off-Highway bikes rallied with a strong December (up 6.6%) to beat 2011 sales. All told, dirt bikes recovered 2.1% for the year at 71,535 units total. The trend is encouraging, as Off-Highway showed zero growth through Q3 and suffered the worst decline in 2011 – losing 13.5% and 10,905 units. Like On-Highway models, the Off-Highway market remains at half of its boom year totals – with 2008 sales reported at 147K units.

The MIC claims 225,244 ATV units were sold in 2012, a gain of 1.4%. The sales trend of ATV units is similar to that of dirt bikes, appearing to have finally stabilized after marked decline in 2011 (also at 13.5%). The MIC does not track sales of popular UTV and side-by-sides, which were projected to eclipse ATV sales in 2012.

The MIC sales data is compiled by reports from its member brands, including BMW, Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, the Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. It does not include sales data from outside its membership ranks, like imports from the numerous Chinese powersports brands. The MIC reckons its initial sales total represents “more than 75% of total U.S. sales.” In its statistical annual released later in the year, the MIC revises its sales figures to incorporate estimates from the non-reporting manufacturers – with 2011 sales revised up from 440,000 to 550,000 motorcycles.

  2012           2011           Change      %Change
DUAL  28,452 26,483 1969 7.4%
OFF-HWY  71,535 70,046 1489 2.1% 
ON-HWY  318,105 312,520 5585 1.8% 
SCOOTER  34,294 31,850 2444 7.7% 
TOTAL  452,386 440,899 11,487 2.6% 
ATV  225,244 222,032 3212 1.4%