News The Game

Study: Global Motorcycles Sales Set to Increase

Sales of medium to heavy motorcycles expected to increase as Chinese middle class expands

Things may not be great in trade war America at the moment but a new study suggests worldwide motorcycle sales will increase 4.4 percent a year for the next four years.

RELATED: How to Really Fix Motorcycling in America

The study, by market research group Freedonia (not to be confused with Freedonia), says the growth will be driven in part by increased wealth in growing nations, whose expanding middle class will help to boost the strength of middleweight to heavy motorcycles. This is especially true in China, where overall motorcycle sales are actually expected to drop 1 percent.

A bike built for Beijing?

The study says this decline will happen in part because the market is already pretty saturated and the government is planning to enact a number of regulations that would restrict motorcycle use to some extent (no word on what those regulations are). However, it’s worth noting that China is a huge market, so even with a 1 percent decrease, a hell of a lot of bikes are going to be sold.

Many of those will be to China’s financial winners, who will be purchasing “big” motorcycles as status symbols and recreational machines. Electronic motorcycles are also expected to play a big role in the Chinese market, where cheap battery-driven machines have been usurping the country’s traditional love of bicycles. Katie Melua will probably have to change the title of her song.

RELATED: Harley-Davidson Invests in Alta Motors, Will Collaborate on Electric Motorcycle

Higher-quality electric bikes and a love for technowhizzbangery is expected to drive more moderate growth of motorcycle sales in the mature markets of Europe and the United States. The study says it predicts “growing use of motorcycles for business… purposes,” which suggests to me that the study sees the bulk of mature market growth taking place in Europe.

Bikes like the Zero SR are expected to play a big role in motorcycle sales growth.

–– SIDEBAR: No Electric Bikes From Tesla ––

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told shareholders Tuesday that despite the predicted rapid expansion of the e-bike market, his company would not be building two wheelers because… uhm… he doesn’t like them.

“I actually used to ride motorcycles when I was kid, dirt-biking for, like, eight years or something. Then I had a road bike until I was 17, and was almost killed by a truck. So, we’re not going to do motorcycles.”

Personally, I would think that experience would put you off building trucks. Meanwhile, on a slightly related note, The Motorcycle Obsession will not publishing any articles about Emma Carrbridge because she turned me down when I asked her to senior prom.


The Philippines is seen as a place where motorcycling will expand. Not sure where it will expand to, though…

Despite anticipated growth in Western countries, it’s expected that the Asia-Pacific region will drive global motorcycle sales, with roughly two thirds of all motorcycle sales taking place in that market. That includes China, of course, but also developing markets like Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand, South Korea, India, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

Obviously, the bulk of those sales will be in small-capacity, cheap machines but it’s interesting to consider what effect growth in middleweight and heavyweight bikes will have. I think it’s safe to say that at present, most of those larger bikes are designed to appeal to Western tastes. How will bikes feel/sound/ride when the Chinese are – via their buying power – calling the shots?