by Guido Ebert

U.S. Cycle Sales Look Flat for 2013

Two-wheeler sales in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2013 totaled 383,524 units, up 0.5% compared to 381,785 units during the same nine-month period in 2012, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).

Here in Minnesota, the situation couldn’t have been more difficult for retailers who were forced to weather a long-lasting winter that decimated any chance for what is usually an early-year buying frenzy.

Nationally, for the first nine months through September, sales of On-Highway models experienced a 1% uptick to 274,578 units, sales of Off-Highway models climbed 8.2% to 55,212 units, and Dual Sport sales grew 3% to 24,267 units. Scooter sales, especially hard hit by the long-lasting winter, were down 16.7% to 29,467 units through September.

Registrations of new motorized two-wheelers in the U.S. in 2012 totaled 452,386 units, up 2.6% compared to 440,899 units in 2011. On-Highway sales in 2012 totaled 318,105 units, Off-Highway sales numbered 71,535 units, Dual Sport sales totaled 28,452 units, and Scooter sales accounted for 34,294 units.

Japan’s Imports Fall

Japan’s four major motorcycle manufacturers produced 398,394 units during the first nine months of 2013, down 14% compared to 454,268 units during the same nine months in 2012, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Honda produced 105,243 units, down 34.4%; Kawasaki produced 43,982 units, down 22.2%; Suzuki built 126,921 units, up 15.7%; and Yamaha produced 122,248 units, down 4.1%.

The four OEMs together exported 112,894 units to the U.S., down 4.7% compared to 118,160 units. While shipments of two-wheelers larger than 250cc grew 6.4% to 84,806 units, deliveries of vehicles sized 50cc & Under declined 29.8% to 6,528 units, 51-125cc plummeted 49.7% to 3,940 units, and 126-250cc fell 17.2% to 17,620 units.

Six Inducted Into AMA Hall of Fame

Six legends of motorcycling were inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame for 2013.

Honorees included AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion Ricky Carmichael; AMA and desert racing champion Danny Hamel; racer, promoter and K&N founder Norm McDonald; Ride For Kids founders Mike and Dianne Traynor; and – posthumously – AMA Road Racing Champion Randy Renfrow.

In addition to the class of 2013, the induction ceremony celebrated the outstanding careers of two existing Hall of Famers: Mark Blackwell, a pioneering American motocross racer, six-time AMA championship race team manager and industry executive; and Torsten Hallman, a four-time FIM World Motocross champion who was instrumental in introducing the sport of motocross to America and later founded the Thor brand.

Federal Task Force Mulls Mandatory
Helmet Law

A federal task force is poised to recommend that all states have mandatory helmet laws for all motorcyclists, which the task force says would reduce injuries and deaths as well as result in economic benefits.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force, whose 15 members are appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC, a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, makes recommendations to the U.S. Congress about community preventive health services, programs and policies.

The American Motorcyclist Association says it believes motorcyclists would be best served if regulators and legislators focus on programs to prevent motorcycle crashes from occurring in the first place. The AMA says any economic benefits would be insignificant since health care costs related to motorcycle crashes are miniscule in the context of total health care costs nationwide.

“The AMA continues to strongly encourage the use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, sturdy footwear and a properly fitted motorcycle helmet certified by its manufacturer to meet federal safety standards,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “But we also believe that adults should have the right to voluntarily choose to wear a helmet.”

Global Participation in U.S. Safety Conference

Researchers from the United States, Germany, Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom and Sweden recently assembled in Florida for the 2013 Motorcycle Safety Foundation/ifz International Motorcycle Safety Conference (IMSC).

The first safety conference of its kind in the United States since 2006, IMSC attracted safety experts from 23 countries on four continents to discuss safety technology and initiatives, rider characteristics, crash analysis and personal protective equipment.

“Our goal was to provide a forum that would assist industry, government, academic institutions and research organizations in devising and improving countermeasures to enhance the safety of all motorcyclists,” Motorcycle Safety Foundation President Tim Buche said.

Enterprise Rent-A-Cycle

Enterprise Rent-A-Car recently launched a pilot program to rent motorcycles to customers in Las Vegas. The move marks the first time a U.S. car rental company ventured into the motorcycle market.

Enterprise’s motorcycle rentals feature seven Harley-Davidson models, including the Street Glide, Road Glide Custom, Electra Glide Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, Road Glide Ultra, Heritage Softail Classic and Fat Boy Lo. Fees range from $120 to $160 a day.

Enterprise says it selected Vegas because tourists are prone to take trips to outlying attractions like the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. All renters must have a motorcycle driver’s license. Makes sense. Helmets, which are required by Nevada law, are complimentary. Ick.

Motorcycle Show, January 17-19

The Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) series is scheduled to make its stop at the Minneapolis Convention Center the weekend of Jan. 17, 2014. Ticket prices for the three-day event start at $15.

Brands scheduled to attend as this issue of MMM went to press included BMW, Can-Am, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.

Minneapolis is one of 12 stops in the IMS series. It follows a show in Washington, D.C. and precedes a show in Phoenix.

A Triumph for DeVault

Donald DeVault, a 73-year-old from Omaha, wonders what kind of memories his Triumph motorcycle helped make in the 46 years since it was stolen.

California authorities recently recovered his 1953 Triumph Tiger 100 at the Port of Los Angeles. The bike was about to be shipped to Japan when U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents who checked the vehicle identification number discovered the motorcycle had been reported stolen in February 1967.

The bike was valued at $300 when stolen in 1967. The shipping documents listed its value today at $9,000.

‘Cop Motor, Cop Shocks, Cop Brakes …’

The Michigan Department of State Police in 2013 evaluated four motorcycle models – the BMW R 1200 RTP, Victory Commander 1, and Harley-Davidson Electra Glide FLHTP and Road King FLHP – as part of its annual Police Vehicle Evaluation Program.

As expected, the BMW turned out to be the quickest, fastest and best stopper of the four bikes, achieving a top track speed of 128 mph (followed by the Victory, Road King and Electra Glide, a fastest lap of 1:41.11 (followed by the Road King, Electra Glide and Victory), and a brake test of 143.9 feet (followed by the Electra Glide, Road King and Victory).

Testing was performed at Grattan Raceway, a two-mile road course the MSP says provides a realistic environment in which to gauge motorcycle dynamics.

Polaris Purchases Primordial

Polaris Industries has been on a tear, acquiring a variety of companies both domestically and overseas in an effort to further its technological resources. Most recently, the Medina-based company best known for its powersports vehicles acquired St.Paul-based navigation software maker Primordial, Inc.

Primordial developed ground guidance software soldiers use to navigate dangerous off-road terrain. The company later launched Ooze, a crowd-sourced mapping application it sells to businesses and government agencies.

It appears Primordial’s Ooze will play a role in improving Polaris’ Rider-X mobile apps, which snowmobilers use to navigate trails. Meanwhile, Polaris’ defense business, which makes ultra-light tactical vehicles and other products, likely will tap into Primordial’s military expertise.

Norton Again Comes to the U.S.

The first batch of the most recent iteration of Norton motorcycles has been shipped to the U.S.

For those of you who may not recall, the Norton brand has been through the ringer, sold or granted through bankruptcy to various owners throughout the years – in fact, even briefly and controversially owned by a Minnesota-based entrepreneur.

The new Norton Commando 961 motorcycles are produced at a recently completed 45,000 sq. ft. facility in Donington Park, UK. About a dozen bikes were shipped stateside. All were pre-production orders being fulfilled.


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