FOCUS COVER – Sport, Naked and Standard Bikes Race Ahead in Sales

The powersports industry has enjoyed 14 consecutive years of increased motorcycle sales, mostly fueled by the expanding cruiser market. However, figures show that in 2004 industry sales were up only 6% overall, yet sportbikes as a segment were up 21%.
The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) says 220,396 cruisers were retailed in the United States in 2000, up 19.8% from cruiser sales in 1999. Also in 2000, 94,856 sportbikes were retailed, up 24% from sales in 1999.
In 2004, however, the MIC said 331,054 cruisers were sold, up 5% from cruiser sales in 2003, and 144,798 sportbikes were sold, up 17.6% from sales in 2003.
In short, the growth in the street market appears to be shifting from the cruiser to the sportbike segment, which we’ll define as race-bred performance bikes featuring an aggressive seating position and full bodywork.
In considering this category, however, we cannot ignore two related categories: the standard and the naked sport.
Originally, a standard bike – like the Honda Nighthawk – was a basic machine to which one could add a frame-mounted fairing and bags for touring; a handlebar-mounted café fairing and a pipe for sporting use; or a set of highway pegs and a king – and queen-sized seat for cruising.
The naked sport – like the Aprilia Tuono – is the modern standard. It is an aggressive performance machine with a more upright seating position and visible engine. Like the standard, the naked sport also often comes offered with optional accessories that can be of benefit to a variety of riding styles.
In this issue of Powersports Business we examine the market, buyer, trends and future of the sport, standard and naked motorcycle categories. We also talk with leading OEMs about the impact racing has on the market, and get their view of how parts, garments and accessories from the aftermarket are playing an increasingly important role.

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