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Does Indian Motorcycle Have a Harley-Davidson Problem?

By | General Posts

by Rich Duprey from https://www.fool.com/

Sales remained aloft longer than its rival, but now even its sales are falling.

As much as falling motorcycle sales at Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) have been attributed to its core customer aging out of the market while the next generation of riders seems uninterested in buying the big bikes it produces, Indian Motorcycle sidestepped most of the same pitfalls even though it produces many of the same kinds of motorcycles as Harley does.

Since being resurrected from bankruptcy by Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) and returned to the market in 2014, Indian has been a steady performer with retail sales often rising in the double-digit percentages. That has allowed it to steal market share from Harley, whose sales often contracted at similar percentages.

Yet with Polaris’ third-quarter earnings report released last month, investors may have to accept that Indian Motorcycle now has its own Harley-Davidson problem.

A worsening sales decline
Polaris Industries is not transparent at all when it comes to telling you how its motorcycle business is performing. Where Harley breaks down sales and shipments by geographic region and type of motorcycle, Polaris provides vague percentage increases or declines, maybe calling out a model once in a while, but never giving investors any real insight into how Indian’s various motorcycles are performing.

What we do know is that despite double- and even triple-digit sales growth early on, Indian Motorcycle sales are now quickly spiraling down. Even as Polaris obscures the actual numbers, a mid-teen-percentage decline in retail sales that far eclipses the contraction of the broader motorcycle market suggests that this is becoming a big problem for the bike maker.

Worse, the downdraft is accelerating. In the second quarter, Polaris said Indian retail sales were down by almost 10%, while in the first quarter they were down by high single-digit rates. In last year’s fourth quarter they were down by low double-digit amounts, which was a big drop since they had been positive the quarter before.

That doesn’t bode well for when Polaris reports results the next time around. Even though the bar has been lowered considerably on sales, there’s no reason to think it will be able to rebound — precisely because Indian is still making the same kinds of heavy, big-bore bikes as Harley.

It just released its newest touring motorcycle, the 2020 Challenger, that houses its bigger, more muscular liquid-cooled PowerPlus engine that evokes images of Harley’s Road Glide.

Looking to reverse direction
Certainly both bike makers are hoping to change the equation. Harley has gone all-in on electric motorcycles — a field Polaris rejects, saying they’re unprofitable — along with two new styles it recently unveiled that represent a big change for the bike maker: the Bronx streetfighter and the Pan America adventure bike. They’re smaller, lighter, and meant for a different kind of riding than typified by Harley’s cruisers.

Polaris has also introduced a new bike, the FTR 1200, which was inspired by its racing team’s success on the flat-track circuit. While many enthusiasts had hoped for a street version of the FTR 750 that was tearing up the track, Polaris came out with a somewhat bigger, more powerful bike that it also hopes changes the conversation about its products.

But the introduction of the FTR 1200 was flawed in several respects. Polaris was late to market with the bike, so it missed a good part of the sales season, and then misjudged demand for the different models, believing more buyers would want the base model when in reality there was higher demand for the race replica version.

The new model helped lift international sales in the quarter, but it may be a while before we see any impact here at home. Motorcycle sales typically dry up during the winter months, and it’s still unknown what kind of demand will be there come the spring.

The outlook isn’t bright for biking
Polaris Industries, unlike Harley, is more than just a motorcycle maker. It also makes side-by-side recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, and more recently boats. They help the powersports vehicle maker smooth out sales over the year. And motorcycles only account for 9% of total revenue.

Yet with motorcycle sales deepening even further into the red, Indian is mimicking the worst aspects of its rival at just the wrong time, and its problem could only get worse.

Harley-Davidson beats forecasts as international sales rebound

By | General Posts

by Rachit Vats, Ankit Ajmera from https://www.reuters.com

(Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) beat expectations for profit on Tuesday and stuck to its full-year shipment forecast, allaying fears of another major hit from European import tariffs and a further slump in sales in its main U.S. market.

Shares of the company rose as much as 8.8% to $40.36, as it posted the first rise in international sales in a year during the third quarter and a 3.6% dip in U.S. retail motorcycle sales – the smallest decline in nearly three years.

Profits continued to sink – by 24% – but the results offered some hope that one of the biggest names in motorcycles was finally beginning to arrest a slide in global sales that it has been fighting for years.

Sales in the world’s biggest motorcycle markets in Asia, which Harley has targeted with smaller bikes that go against its traditional profile, rose 8.7% in the quarter and are up about 1.6% this year overall.

The company plans to source half of its revenue from overseas by 2027 and international retail sales rose 2.7% to 23,619 motorcycle in the quarter.

While worldwide shipments fell 5.8% to 45,837 motorcycles, they topped analysts’ estimates by over 1,000 motorcycles, and the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company stuck to its 2019 shipment target of 212,000 to 217,000 bikes.

“As we look to the remainder of 2019, we are encouraged by the momentum of retail sales trends through the first nine months of this year but also recognize substantial headwinds that we continue to face,” Chief Financial Officer John Olin said.

The company is also cutting spending and said it now expects 2019 capital expenses of $205 million to $225 million, about $20 million less than its previous estimates.

Excluding items, the company earned 70 cents per share, beating Wall Street expectations of 52 cents while revenue from motorcycles and related products overall fell 4.9% to $1.07 billion.

The company, which has been criticized by President Donald Trump for its plan to shift some U.S. production overseas, has also been battling the effects of trade tensions on its business globally.

Harley said on Tuesday retaliatory import duties imposed by the European Union and China on its bikes would cost the company about $105 million in 2019, up from its prior estimate of $100, with about $90 million of the hit coming from EU tariffs.

Brussels in June raised import duties on U.S.-manufactured Harley bikes to 31% from 6%, and the company said the impact from tariffs more than doubled in the third quarter from a year ago to $21.6 million.

In response, Harley plans to begin shipping bikes from its Thailand plant but a delay in regulatory approval from the trading bloc means it will not see any benefit in earnings before the second quarter of 2020.

Harley struggles to fire up new generation of riders with electric bike debut

By | General Posts

by Rajesh Kumar Singh from https://www.reuters.com/

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) is betting on electric motorcycles to attract the next generation of younger and more environmentally conscious riders to reverse declining U.S. sales.

But as Harley ships its first “LiveWire” bikes – priced at $29,799 – to dealers, there is little evidence the 116-year-old brand is catching on with new young customers.

The problem lies mostly with this “super-premium” product’s price. The bike costs nearly as much as a Tesla Model 3, and aims for a market that does not really exist: young, “green” and affluent first-time motorcyclists.

The sleek sport bike has been available for preorder in the United States since January. However, the bulk of the orders are coming in from existing and old riders, according to interviews with 40 of the 150 dealerships nationwide that are carrying the bike this year.

The dealers Reuters spoke with account for little over a quarter of LiveWire dealerships and are spread across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, California, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.

Harley has for years failed to increase sales in the United States, its top market accounting for more than half of its motorcycles sold. As its tattooed, baby-boomer base ages, the Milwaukee-based company is finding it challenging to woo new customers.

In 2018, Harley posted the steepest sales decline in four years in the United States. U.S. sales are tipped to fall again this year.

Harley Davidson’s U.S. Retail Sales

Grappling with an ageing customer base and the waning charm for its big bikes, Harley has failed to post sales growth in the United States – its biggest market – in the past four years.

The heavyweight motorcycle maker’s stock price has declined by 42% in the past five years. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index .SPX has gained 47%.

Price Barrier
When Chief Executive Officer Matt Levatich announced LiveWire’s launch last year, his hope was the ease of riding motorcycles with no gears or clutch would help attract young and environmentally conscious urban riders.

In an interview with Reuters in February 2018, Levatich said the bike would help address Harley’s demographic problem.

“It is more about the next century than the last century,” he said at the time.

The preorders, thus far, have belied those hopes, according to the dealers.

“It is appealing to a demographic that is already riding,” said Gennaro Sepe, a sales manager at a Harley dealership in Chicago. His store has received four preorders for the bike. All of them are from existing riders.

Harley declined to comment on LiveWire preorders.

The motorcycle maker is not the only company investing in battery-powered transportation.

Tougher emissions rules in Europe, China and the United States are forcing auto companies to switch to electrified models. A survey of U.S. millennial motorcyclists, published in February by the Motorcycle Industry Council, found 69% of the riders interested in electric motorcycles.

Harley’s dealers said they are getting inquiries from young customers, but are struggling to translate them into sales. A key reason: LiveWire’s retail price.

“Interest is very high,” said a sales manager at a New Jersey-based dealership, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media. “But once you get to pricing, interest is thrown out of the window.”

Over half of young college graduates in America, whom Harley is courting with battery-powered bikes, are saddled with student loans that entail average repayment of $200 to $300 per month.

Harley is not offering any discount or incentives to push the sales, either, the dealers said.

In an interview with CNBC television in May, Levatich called LiveWire “one of the best engineered products on the market” and said it was worth its price.

Gary Jon Prough, general sales manager at a dealership in Countryside, Illinois, said the vast majority of millennials cannot afford the bike as LiveWire is targeted at young and affluent customers with incomes above $100,000 a year.

Tesla’s Way

To drive up sales, Prough and other dealers expect Harley to go Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) way: launch more affordable battery-powered vehicles after creating a buzz with the premium model.

Tesla’s first electric car cost over $100,000, but prices came down with subsequent models. Its Model 3 now comes with a base price of $35,000 and was instrumental in lifting its vehicle deliveries to a record level in the latest quarter.

Traditional Harley Davidson entry-level bikes cost about $6,900.

The motorcycle maker has plans to bring out four more electrified models in the mid-power, low-power, e-bicycles and kids’ two-wheeler segments by 2022.

But unlike Tesla, Harley does not enjoy the true first mover’s advantage.

California-based Zero Motorcycles is already selling electric bikes in the United States with retail prices ranging from $8,500 to $21,000. Its top-end bike – SR/F – is similar to LiveWire, but costs nearly $9,000 less.

Still, Bob Clark, a dealer for Zero’s bikes in Chicago, says he has not yet sold one SR/F to riders under the age of 35. All three electric bikes he sold to young riders this year were in the $10,000 price range.

“Young riders are environmentally conscious, but are also very price-sensitive,” Clark said.

It is not just pricing. LiveWire’s limited range is also hampering its sales.

The bike can travel 146 miles (235 km) in the city or 95 miles in combined city and highway riding per charge. An ordinary household outlet can provide an overnight charge, while Level 3 direct current fast chargers stationed at Harley dealers will fully charge the bike in 60 minutes.

This renders LiveWire less effective for longer-distance rides, limiting its appeal among rural riders who prefer touring bikes.

Seven Harley dealerships told Reuters they have not even bothered ordering the bike, which would require investing in a Level 3 charging station and training staff.

An Ohio-based dealer, who had initially signed up for LiveWire, said he pulled out at the last minute as he was not sure of the bike’s demand in his area.

Delayed Arrival

A delay in LiveWire’s arrival in stores has left the dealers in the Midwest and the East Coast with hardly a month to aggressively push the bike before the snow season sets in. Winter generally means a lull for motorcycle sales.

When dealers began taking preorders, the delivery was expected in August, but was later shifted to September. On Sept. 30, the dealers Reuters spoke with were still waiting for the first bike.

In a Twitter post on Oct. 2, Harley said the bikes are starting to arrive at authorized dealers. The tweet also carried a picture of the first LiveWire that was “rolled off the line” at its York, Pennsylvania, facility in late September.

With the demand rather limited, the dealers said, Harley has decided to keep the supplies tight in order to protect the bike’s brand value and prevent any price-discounting pressure. The dealers said they are all expecting to receive less than 10 LiveWires this year.

James Hardiman, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, reckons Harley would sell between 400 and 1,600 LiveWires in the first year. That is not even 1% of the 228,051 bikes it sold worldwide last year.

“This is going to be largely a rounding error certainly this year and even next,” Hardiman said.

Maturing US Market Coupled With Global Auto Slowdown Affecting Harley-Davidson’s Top Line

By | General Posts

by Trefis Team https://www.trefis.com

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG), whose stock currently trades at around $35, generates its revenue primarily from its Motorcycle segment, which is projected to account for 86% of total revenues in 2019, while the Financial Services are expected to contribute 14% to the top line. In this note we discuss the revenue segments of Harley-Davidson, their historical performance, and expected Total Revenue for 2019. You can look at our interactive dashboard analysis ~ Harley-Davidson’s Revenue: How does HOG make money? ~ for more details. In addition, here is more Consumer Discretionary data.

What Does HOG offer?

  • Harley-Davidson Motor Company was founded in 1903. In 1986, Harley-Davidson, Inc. became publicly held and currently is the parent company for the groups of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company (HDMC) and Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS). The company specializes in heavyweight (601cc+) cruiser and touring motorcycles.
  • The Company’s long-term strategy, announced in 2017, is to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally and includes the following 2027 objectives:
  • Build two million new Harley-Davidson riders in the U.S.
  • Grow the Harley-Davidson international business to 50 percent of its total annual volume.
  • Launch 100 new, high-impact Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
  • Deliver superior return on invested capital for HDMC that falls within the top quartile of the S&P 500.
  • Grow the business without growing its environmental impact.

Operating Segments:

  • Motorcycles and Related Products Segment: The Motorcycles segment consists of HDMC, which designs, manufactures, and sells at wholesale, on-road Harley-Davidson motorcycles as well as motorcycle parts, accessories, general merchandise, and related services. The Company conducts business on a global basis, with sales in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), and Asia Pacific.
  • Financial Services Segment: The Financial Services segment consists of HDFS which is engaged in the business of financing and servicing wholesale inventory receivables and retail consumer loans, primarily for the purchase of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. HDFS also works with certain unaffiliated insurance companies to provide motorcycle insurance and protection products to motorcycle owners. HDFS conducts business principally in the U.S. and Canada.

What Are The Alternatives?

  • Major competitors are Triumph, Yamaha, Ducati, and Royal Enfield brands.
  • Mediumweight and lightweight segment motorcycles are also an alternative, but Harley has started to add some of them in its offerings.

What Is The Basis of Competition?

  • The principal factors that determine consumer vehicle preferences in the markets would include overall vehicle design, price, quality, available options, reliability, and functionality.

Harley-Davidson’s Total Revenue has fallen by 4.7% between 2016 and 2018, and is expected to fall further by 5.9% in 2019.

  • HOG’s total revenues fell from $6 billion in 2016 to $5.7 billion in 2018. This represents a decrease of 4.7% primarily due to the Global Slowdown and Maturing US Market.
  • We forecast the revenues to be around $5.4 billion in 2019, reflecting a further fall of 5.9% y-o-y.

Revenue expected to be around $5.4 billion, primarily from contribution of Automotive segment – For detailed bifurcation of Total Revenue please check our interactive dashboard – Harley-Davidson’s Revenue

  • Revenue from Motorcycle and related products segment has fallen by 5.7% between 2016 and 2018, and is expected to fall further by 6.6% in 2019.
  • Financial Services segment Revenue has grown by 3.2% between 2016 and 2018, but is expected to fall by 1.1% in 2019 amid the fall in sales.

 

Indian motorcycles taps into 100-year roots with Japan relaunch

By | General Posts

By Chester Dawson and Reed Stevenson from Bloomberg and https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Even though Japan’s population is shrinking and economic growth is tepid, the archipelago is one of the top five markets for heavy bikes. Polaris is seeking to boost Indian’s single-digit market share to 10% by 2025.

A century ago, Indian motorcycles were the brand of choice for Japan’s police. They were called “aka-bai” — or red bikes — because of their color. Now, the maker of big American two-wheelers is seeking to recapture some of that glory with a brand relaunch.

Recreational vehicle maker Polaris Inc., which makes and sells Indian bikes, is betting that it can gain market share from entrenched foreign rivals such as BMW Motorrad and Harley-Davidson Inc. Instead of relying on a single distributor, the Medina, Minnesota-based company now has its own operations in Japan, with plans to double its store count to 30.

Even though Japan’s population is shrinking and economic growth is tepid, the archipelago is one of the top five markets for heavy bikes. Polaris is seeking to boost Indian’s single-digit market share to 10% by 2025. It has taken direct control over local marketing, which it had outsourced after buying the Indian Motorcycle brand and relaunching it globally in 2011.

“We weren’t doing the rational thing in Japan,” said Kintaro Izumida, general manager of Polaris in Japan. He works out of an office in Yokohama with about a half-dozen other employees. “Now we’re going to do that.”

Harley provides a rich target as the longtime market leader among import brands, with a 44% share of the 20,385 bikes sold last year, according to the Japan Automobile Importers Association.

Japan’s domestic bike makers — Honda Motor Co., Kawasaki Motors Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Yamaha Motor Co. — specialize in smaller-engine mass market bikes, with relatively few high-end motorcycles with engine displacements of more than 1000cc.

“They are very strong manufacturers with really strong brand, but we don’t really go head-to-head,” Steve Menneto, president of Polaris’s Indian motorcycle division, said in a phone interview. “For a small island, it’s amazing how much appreciation there is for motorcycles, and premium motorcycles at that.”

The move comes as U.S. motorcycle sales face headwinds, which is prompting American brands to look abroad for growth. Last month, Harley-Davidson said it anticipates international sales to expand to half its business.

Japan is a natural market because it has the type of well-heeled buyer who can splurge for bikes that start at $8,999 for the Indian Scout, and top $29,000 for the brand’s Touring model. Partly due to its international exposure, Polaris’s sales rose in the first six months and the company forecasts a full-year gain in the low to mid-teens over the segment’s 2018 revenue of $546 million.

Indian’s retro-styling and long history in the U.S. and overseas is a selling point in Japan, where brand identity is a key differentiator. That extends beyond the bikes into lifestyle categories such as Indian-branded accessories and apparel, which account about a fifth of his division’s revenue.

“The awareness of the Indian brand in Japan is pretty strong,” said Izumida, noting it was the favored brand of a famous sumo wrestler who became the father of pro wrestling in Japan.

U.S. moving to block California vehicle emissions rules

By | General Posts

Two U.S. agencies are preparing to submit for final White House regulatory review a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

WASHINGTON: Two U.S. agencies are preparing to submit for final White House regulatory review a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards through 2025.

The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are expected to seek approval to finalize the first portion of the rule dealing with California and other states before completing action on setting yearly fuel efficiency requirements. The plan would not revoke California’s ability to set low-emission vehicle standards that has been in place since 1990, the sources said.

The move comes as President Donald Trump has expressed anger with automakers over the issue. In July, four major automakers, including Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG, said they had reached a voluntary agreement with California on fuel efficiency rules.

California and other states had vowed to enforce stricter Obama-era emissions standards, after Trump proposed rolling back the federal rules. Automakers had worried that court battles between state and federal governments could create years of uncertainty for manufacturers.

The plan, also backed by BMW AG and Honda Motor Co Ltd, is more stringent than Trump’s proposal but looser than the Obama-era rule. California, the most populous U.S. state, accounts for about 12% of American vehicle sales, and if the administration recognizes the deal, it would allow automakers to operate under one set of rules.

An administration official said it was close to submitting a rule internally dubbed the “One National Program rule” aimed at ensuring a single national level for fuel economy standards.

But other automakers, including General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp, have declined to back the deal. Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, told Reuters in July that the four automakers had agreed not to legally challenge California’s vehicle regulatory authority.

Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration had set in 2012.

News Source: Reuters

Enfield reports 24% drop in sales of Motorcycles in August 2019

By | General Posts

Eicher Motors Ltd has announced the sales figures of motorcycles for the month of August 2019. The company has sold 52,904 motorcycles during August 2019, as compared to 69,377 units in August 2018, a drop of 24% YoY.

The company has sold 44694 units of models with engine capacity upto 350cc in August 2019 as against 65712 units in August 2018, registering a drop of 32% YoY.

The company has sold 8210 units of models with engine capacity exceeding 350cc during August 2019 as compared to 3665 units in August 2018, a growth of 124% YoY.

Exports stood at 4152 units in August 2019 as against 1363 units in August 2018, a growth of 205% YoY.

Shares of EICHER MOTORS LTD. was last trading in BSE at Rs.16260.35 as compared to the previous close of Rs. 16544.4. The total number of shares traded during the day was 3816 in over 1555 trades.

The stock hit an intraday high of Rs. 16652.25 and intraday low of 15985.95. The net turnover during the day was Rs. 62267233.

Source: Equity Bulls

Motorcycle Makers Are Getting Hip to Women-Only Rallies

By | General Posts

Anxious to find new audiences after a decade of declining sales, the giants like Harley-Davidson and BMW Motorrad are finally taking notice of a self-made community.

On Valentine’s Day, Sharry Billings posted a photograph on Instagram. Below the image of herself, her hair a red caramel and her smile open, she wrote: “I love you so much I wanna squeeze you!”

The object of her affection? “All the motorcycles I have owned and will own in the future,” she explained. Alongside the photo of her astride a Harley-Davidson, she wrote that bikes “have changed my life, healed my soul, and brought me more love and friendships than I could have ever imagined.”

Billings goes by @sistermother13 on Instagram, but the main account she oversees is @thelitaslosangeles. The Litas is a group she joined three years ago as a way to connect with other women riders in her city. She’s co-led the L.A. branch for two years. When she joined, it provided her with much-needed healing and camaraderie after her kids grew up and she got divorced. Billings had ridden as a teenager and into her 20s but took a hiatus later. “It was always in my heart,” she says. But when she was married with young children, “I thought it was a little too dangerous.”

After the breakup in 2015, she found herself longing for escape. And adventure. “My prayer at the time was, ‘God, I don’t want to date.’ These men are not happening,” Billings says, laughing. “The first thing that came to my heart was the motorcycle I wanted. It was a Harley.”

She bought the bike, took the ride. Then she joined the Litas. “I’m very grateful to have found my heart again,” Billings says.

Founded in Utah by Jessica Haggett half a decade ago, the Litas have expanded to include hundreds of branches around the world (Litas Denver, Litas Lisbon, Litas Rome), with members ranging from twentysomething singles to 60- and 70-year-old retirees with grandkids. They take regular rides, often along wild back roads, including the Pine Mountain Ridge route near Ojai, Calif., that Billings took with 32 other riders one Saturday in July. It’s about riding with your own style and pace but surrounded by like-minded friends.

“If you’re learning to ride, you’re going to kill yourself riding with men—they ride like bats out of hell!” Billings says. “And women—I’m generalizing here—tend to be more careful. We are mothers, we are sisters, we feel obligated to stay alive.”

The Litas are singular but not uncommon. All across California, Oregon, and Utah, from Texas to New York, women-only motorcycle groups and riding events are springing up like wildflowers. They go by names such as the Miss-Fires (Brooklyn, N.Y.), the Chrome Divas (Austin), and Leather and Lace (Daytona Beach, Fla.). They do regular rides: Tuesday night pizza runs, say, or weekend coffee meetups—and they take periodic excursions to women-only destination events such as the Wild Gypsy Tour, which is organizing a festival in Sturgis, S.D., in August, and the Dream Roll in Ashland, Ore.; it’s early June event near Denver was photographed for this article.

The biggest crowd follows Babes Ride Out, a series of events founded by Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis in 2013. It started with 50 women riders who gathered to camp out in Borrego Springs, Calif. They built fires, pitched tents, drank beer, and played games on Harleys, Husqvarnas, and Hondas while soaking in nature and one another’s company.

These groups are tapping into an undercurrent of the motorcycle industry. As sales have faltered, dropping more than 40% from 2008 to 2010, then recovering somewhat by 2014 but never to previous levels, manufacturers including Harley-Davidson Inc. and BMW Motorrad have struggled to create appeal beyond their core demographic of older white men. Their efforts include offering electric and less-expensive motorbikes and introducing exciting conceptual prototypes. Female riders offer enthusiasm and youth, and, yes, they’re spending money that brands crave.

The number of women who own motorcycles has almost doubled since 2010, according to a 2018 study by the Motorcycle Industry Council. Today, 19% of owners are women, up from 10% in 2009 and 8% in the late 1990s. And the number of female riders gets higher as you go younger: 22% of Generation X riders are women, and 26% of millennial riders are women. What’s more, the average woman who owns a motorcycle spends $574 annually on maintenance, parts, service, and accessories, while the average man who rides spends $497.

While the industry on the whole dropped 40% from 2008 to 2010, the amount of women who own motorcycles has almost doubled

“We are riding a ton,” says Joy Lewis, who started when she was 12. “I have a friend who put 20,000 miles on her bike in one year.” Lewis’s father, an Alaskan crab fisherman who owned a Harley, got her hooked. “We spend a lot of money on our gear and our bikes, and a lot of things to go with them. I think that’s starting to be appreciated.”

Andy Jefferson, a spokesman for Husqvarna, says one of the brand’s priorities must be to provide support for women’s motorcycling. “We were like everyone else—going after a piece of the pie,” he says. “But everyone was looking at men, and there are all these other people—women—that nobody even really talks about in conversations about how to sell more bikes.” The brand lacks figures for how many of its owners are women but is “working to change that,” Jefferson says. “That’s part of the problem.”

Husqvarna honed in on women riders five years ago when it started sponsoring Babes in the Dirt, an offshoot of Babes Ride Out that’s more focused on off-road and dirt-bike riding. Last year the company spent $50,000 to $60,000 in support of the three-day rally, lending 27 motorcycles and nine staffers to service the bikes and teach.

“We counted between 80 and 100 girls out there [trying out] Husqvarnas,” he says. “The number is not huge by any means, but those are 100 people we didn’t have before. It also jumps down to their brothers and sisters and kids. We never would have got these people without doing this.”

But more important, “we want to get you to ride a motorcycle,” Jefferson adds. “If you ride with Babes and have fun and go buy another brand, great. We just want people riding.”

At BMW Motorrad, which on July 1 named Trudy Hardy vice president for the Americas, the company is sponsoring women-only events including the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride. It’s also covering travel expenses and appearance fees for brand reps such as Elspeth Beard, an architect who was the first British woman to ride her motorcycle around the world. The brand also sends pro racer Jocelin Snow and Erin Sills, who holds a 242 mph land speed record, to attend events at local dealerships.

Harley-Davidson has expanded its retail line in recent years to include a host of riding jackets, helmets, boots, and gloves sized and styled for women. It’s perhaps the most critical field of growth for the 116-year-old Wisconsin brand, which has seen sales steadily decline since 2014. The average age of a Harley owner is 50. The average price of one is $15,800—more than many millennials will spend on a car, let alone a motorcycle.

“Even just in the last five years the conversation has shifted,” says motorcycle aficionado Lewis. “I’m sitting here in leather Kevlar pants as we speak, about to go into a meeting. Not only are companies making cute technical stuff that you could wear to work—rather than some weird leather pants with pink embroidery all over the butt that you’d never wear—they’re making things we can actually use.”

Attendees at events for Babes Ride Out (or BRO, the ironic abbreviation they’ve adopted) come to America from as far away as Sweden and South America. Some have ridden since they could walk; some can’t operate a bike at all, preferring always to be a passenger and imbibe the inspirational atmosphere. There’s always plenty of denim and leather on-site—but the hipster kind, not the leather-daddy look. Local shops give classes on basic bike maintenance. Some women get tattoos to commemorate the experience.

“People camp, and there are trailers, too,” Lewis says. “The idea is that you grab coffee and breakfast, and then during the day everyone is out riding. And then all the stuff happens in the evenings with bands or karaoke and slow races”—feats of throttle control.

Earlier this year, a 96-year-old woman joined them at camp; she’d first ridden cross-country on her motorcycle 75 years ago. Last summer the annual California desert meetup saw 1,700 women ride in Yucca Valley; 500 attended an East Coast campout in the Catskill Mountains in New York; 700 attended the most recent Babes in the Dirt in Lebec, Calif.

“Maybe people think that women who ride are pretty tough and badass, which is probably true, but all in all, women riders come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and lifestyles, so any label that you want to give them does not really work,” co-founder Violet says. “I can honestly say that there is no ‘type’ … and we like it that way!”

Be Here Next for Motor-Loving Ladies

The Dream Roll
Set at New Frontier Ranch in the southern wilds of Oregon, the Dream Roll offers camping, tattoos, dirt trails, an on-site bar, and water activities near stunningly picturesque Crater Lake. Aug. 23–25; Ashland, Ore.

Wild Gypsy Tour – Sturgis Buffalo Chip
The biggest and baddest Gypsy festival of the year, the five-day South Dakota event will appeal to the truly unbridled spirit with Super Hooligan races, minibike showdowns, the Wall of Death—and multiple concerts including Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Snoop Dogg, and Styx. Aug. 3–7; Sturgis, S.D.

Babes in the Dirt East
A mix of flat-track and motocross riding gives dirt-loving ladies a place to experience and perfect their off-roading skills. Where Babes Ride Out focuses on asphalt routes, here you’ll be on trails. Sept. 20–22; Greenville, Tenn.

Babes Ride Out 7 – Central Coast
BRO 7 will include the jewels of years past: karaoke, free beer, performances from local bands, route maps for area rides, and hands-on classes for working on your bike. B.Y.O. tent. Oct. 11–13; Santa Margarita, Calif.

Futuristic Weekly News for May 30, 2019

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Ride from Suck, Bang, Blow in Murrells Inlet, SC to Rockingham, NC for the Smokeout 2015. USA. June 18, 2015. Photography ©2015 Michael Lichter.

Hot Action Non-Stop from Bike Shows to Motorcycle Sales and Magazine Shutdowns

The Bikernet Weekly News is sponsored in part by companies who also dig Freedom including: Cycle Source Magazine, the MRF, Las Vegas Bikefest, Iron Trader News, ChopperTown, BorntoRide.com and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. Most recently the Smoke Out and Quick Throttle Magazine came on board.

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Manheim Indianapolis Bike Sale

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Join us Wednesday, May 1st at 10am ET for over 125+ bikes from our trusted seller, Harley-Davidson Financial Services, and other dealer consignment!
 
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Join us in lane or via Simulcast! For more information call our Specialty Department at 317.527.2165, reply to this email, or call Nick Anderson at 317.385.3208.

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Manheim Indianapolis
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