Motorcycle Death Spiral

This is turning into a record year for me. I scheduled only five MSF/MMSC classes for the season and all but one (so far) have cancelled due to lack of student interest. My local motorcycle dealers are pretty much giving up on the sales season, too. Our Victory/Indian dealer is stuck with a bunch of Victory blimps and hasn’t committed to Victory in anything resembling the same financial resources as in past years. They are hoping Polaris sales of 4-wheel farm vehicles and snow machines will turn into a viable business. The local Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha dealer barely bothers with a show salesperson on the motorcycle floor. If you are there looking at a bike and ANYONE is out on the lot looking at boats or 4-wheelers, you’ll be abandoned faster than an empty beer can at a frat party.

The Boomer hippobike bubble is done. The only “hope” the blimp manufacturers (and dealers) bhave of clinging to a business model is through slippery finance games. Harley is fooling Wall Street with its floor planning scheme, but that will soon collapse like it did in 2008.  When Harley goes, so goes Polaris and Indian. Harley’s desperate attempt to get in on the Ducati sale will probably mean that HD will pay too much, if they win the bid, for the Italian brand and that will just add to the company’s downfall. (Remember, “we lose money on every sale but we’ll make up for it in quantity.”) The Big Japanese Four gave up on the US market as a serious motorcycle business in 2009. They have far bigger fish to fry in functional economies. where small motorcycles are still a viable means of transportation.

It feels like 1982 all over again, but this time there may not be a comeback.

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