Motorcycle Industry Trends

Changing demographics affect the biker image.

The motorcycle industry has seen several notable trends emerge in recent years. Since 2003 the number of households that own motorcycles, the number of women who ride motorcycles and the number of younger motorcycle riders on the road have all increased, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. As motorcycles become an increasingly common sight on American streets and driveways and motorcycle riding becomes more accepted by non-riders, the profile of the average motorcycle owner is changing.

Financial Growth

Financial growth in the motorcycle industry started out relatively strong in the early years of the new millennium, but like most other industries, motorcycles took a hit from the economic recession of the latter part of the decade. In 2005, the $14.6 billion American motorcycle market had seen 12 consecutive years of financial growth, according to MarketResearch.com. Motorcycle sales began to decline nationwide in 2007, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Demographic Changes

The demographics of motorcycle riders have also changed since about 2003. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the number of female motorcycle owners increased nearly 3 percent in the five years from 2003 to 2008. Also according to the MIC, in 2008 women accounted for nearly 6 million of the country’s 25 million motorcyclists. The ages of motorcycle riders are changing, too. In 2003, those 40 and over composed the majority of motorcycle riders. But from 2003 to 2008, the number of younger riders–those under age 40–increased about 62 percent, according to the MIC.

Changes in Use

More riders are using their motorcycles for transportation. In the MIC’s 2008 U.S. motorcycle owner survey motorcyclists cited transportation as the No. 2 reason for owning a bike and riding, ahead of short-distance leisure riding, or “touring.”

User Income Increase

The median income of motorcycle owners has increased significantly. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the 1985 median income was $50,366.89. In 2005, it was $55,850, and in 2009 it was up to $59,290, according to MIC motorcycle owner surveys.