The U.S. motorcycle market peaked in 2005-6, when high home values and easy credit conspired to help drive sales of 1.1 million new bikes. But following the banking crisis and economic meltdown of 2008, that number has fallen precipitously, to 450,000 total sales in 2011—a drop of nearly 60 percent.
It hurts, but there’s light on the horizon. One good sign: The median age of motorcycle owners has started coming down. In 2008, it peaked at 43. A year later, it was 40. And although final figures are not yet available, the Motorcycle Industry Council says it will likely drop again for 2012. “Generation Y, those folks 33 and younger, are coming into their buying years,” explains Tim Buche, MIC president, who adds that Gen Y will likely surpass Baby Boomers in number this year. That’s significant, because the MIC says more than one of every three motorcycle owners in the U.S. is a Boomer, a person born between 1946 and 1964.
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