2014 Q1 Motorcycle Sales Stagnate YOY

April 30, 2014
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.

Data released by the Motorcycle Industry Council reports year-over-year motorcycle sales through the first quarter of 2014 are virtually unchanged. The MIC totals 94,534 new motorcycle units sold in Q1, down -0.2% (-118 units) from last year’s tally. The On-Highway and Dual segments registered nominal gains (0.9% and 3.9%), with Off-Highway and Scooter sales both in decline (-2.7% and -10.7%).


On-Highway motorcycles make up largest market segment reported by the MIC in its quarterly report. It represents all street-legal bikes excepting Scooters and the street-legal dual-sport/Adventure bikes which comprise the Dual segment. Through the first three months On-Highway sales were up 581 units, with 65,301 total.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) remains dominant in its domestic market. In its Q1 report The Motor Company claims 35,730 retail unit sales in the US – a 3% increase YOY. H-D’s revamped Project RUSHMORE Touring models fueled first-quarter US sales, attracting the Milwaukee manufacturer’s core demographic.

No unit sales figures are specified by Polaris Industries (NYSE: PII) in its Q1 report, though the Minnesota-based company claims a 52% increase in revenue from its Motorcycle division. Indian Motorcycles powered the revenue increase with its 2014 model lineup – the first Indian designs to be engineered by Polaris since it acquired the historic brand in 2011. While Polaris does not specify exact details, it admits to a sales decline in the “mid-single digits” from its original motorcycle brand, Victory.


The Dual segment continues to enjoy the most robust growth trend in the US motorcycle industry, registering a modest 3.9% YOY increase. However, total sales for the on/off-road capable bikes are 7644 for the quarter, demonstrating its status as a relatively small niche market – 8.1% compared to On-Highway’s 69.1%, with Off-Highway 17.6% and Scooter 5.3%.

Dirt bike sales exhibited a 461 unit YOY decline in the quarter, with total sales reported at 16,597. Meanwhile, the Scooter segment continues to exhibit the most erratic fluctuations in sales. In Q1 4992 scooters were reported sold, down 597 units and -10.7% for the year.


The seasonality of motorcycle sales can often affect the Q1 results, as cold weather delays customer purchases until later in the year. Such was the case last year, when prolonged cold contrasted unseasonably warm Q1 conditions the year prior, contributing to a -14.7% drop YOY in 2013. Severe winter conditions this year, particularly in the Midwest and East Coast, likely contributed the stagnant Q1 results for 2014. Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell indicated the weather impact in a press release announcing H-D’s Q1 financials, when he touted the 3% YOY unit sales increase despite “the midst of a long, cold winter.”


In the four-wheeled segment, the MIC cites ATV sales dead even with last year’s figures. The 45,388 units sold are up 205 units, for a 0.5% increase. The MIC does not track sales data for UTV and side-by-sides, which has reportedly eclipsed the ATV market in annual sales and revenue.

Hard data for combined ATV/UTV sales is difficult to source, but in its Q1 financial report, Polaris Industries claimed revenue from UTV/ATV sales (which it terms ORV) grew 11% in the quarter. Polaris went on to state that it has increased its already dominant market share in North America, with sales growth in the “upper single digits” compared with “mid-single digits” for the industry as a whole – indicating the continued popularity and market shift from ATV to UTV. (Read Indian Sales Spur Polaris Growth in Q1)

The MIC’s quarterly sales data is compiled by information reported by its member brands: Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, the Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha.  

  2014           2013           Change      %Change
DUAL  7644 7355 289 3.9%
OFF-HWY  16,597 17,058 -461 -2.7%
ON-HWY  65,301 64,720 581 0.9%
SCOOTER  4992 5589 -597 -10.7%
TOTAL  94,534 94,722 -188 -0.2%
ATV  45,388 45,183 205 0.5%