Why Are Motorcycle Sales Booming When Cars Are In The Dumpster?

Illustration for article titled Why Are Motorcycle Sales Booming When Cars Are In The Dumpster?
Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Last year we said there was never a better time to go on a motorcycle ride. With everything canceled, and gathering in groups being dangerous, riding is extremely compelling. Still, it is surprising to see that motorcycle sales are through the roof even while car sales are down. What’s going on?


We recently reported how only expensive cars weathered 2020 well. However, we have some new data that shows that people weren’t just buying trucks and SUVs. Apparently a lot of people swung their legs over motorcycles, too.

The Motorcycle Industry Council says that sales of on-highway motorcycles and scooters remained steady in 2020, while the off-road segment went off of the charts with a 46.5 percent spike. Overall, motorcycles and scooters saw an 11.4 percent rise and the powersports industry as a whole finished 2020 with an 18.4 percent bump.

I was initially astonished at those numbers. With so many people out of work during the pandemic I expected motorcycles — generally considered a luxury in the U.S. — to take a massive dive. But it appears many of those who did have some cash just needed to get out and enjoy themselves. And that’s great! Motorcycling is a pretty safe solo activity to do during these times. It’s just you, your machine and the road. I expect the trend to continue as the days get longer and warmer.

This year is not even a couple of months in and the news is already full of fun. Kawasaki dropped a new KLR650 that is like a Greatest Hits version of the old bike. Suzuki didn’t want to be left out and rolled onto the scene with a new Hayabusa. Harley-Davidson will jump into our hearts with its Pan America, we hope. Shoot, even Ural has something new. Whether you’re into small displacement or large displacement, there’s a motorcycle for every motorcyclist.

I think the used market is even better. Some used motorcycles are getting super cheap because people just need the machines out of their lives. It’s how I picked up the lovely Buell Lightning XB9SX up top for $2,000. I also came close to buying a 2012 Triumph Tiger 800 for only $2,500. The pickings are even great for beginners, too. Check out this Honda Rebel that’s for sale for only $1,000.

Illustration for article titled Why Are Motorcycle Sales Booming When Cars Are In The Dumpster?
Photo: Facebook Marketplace (Other)

Bikes are cheap, fuel is cheap, gear is cheap and the open road is calling.

So if you’ve been on the fence about riding, I think now is the best time to get into it. Motorcycle safety training courses are a fantastic place to start. Then, when you’re ready, go on a ride. You’ll be amazed what even a short ride can do for your spirits. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I’m having, a motorcycle ride cures almost all.


Towards the end of this winter season I’m planning on riding along the Mississippi River and through southern Wisconsin to hopefully find some of the best riding roads this part of the Midwest has to offer.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...



I want a bike but I would kill myself. I just know how I am.