A group of two dozen concerned motorcycle veterans has published a comprehensive research document that addresses the question: can this industry be saved?
Maybe, it concluded, but it won’t be easy.
Former Indian Motorcycle executive Robert Pandya formed the Give A Shift group this fall, hoping to find a consensus of opinion among his friends and colleagues.
He began with a written survey, which included 300 participants, and proceeded to a recent two-hour roundtable discussion in Long Beach, Calif., with 25 of the most ardent influencers.
Their comments, made anonymously for fear of offending employers and business associates, paint a dire picture.
‘We are in trouble’
Sales are flat or falling in almost every area.
Baby boomer buyers, the most consistent motorcycle consumers, quickly are aging out of the industry.
The industry has failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.
The old dealership model is broken and needs a makeover.
The arrival of autonomous vehicles may push motorcycles off the road entirely.
“The message is: we are in trouble, and there is no silver bullet,” Pandya said.
Among the report’s findings:
The motorcycle industry does not need better products, but its marketing and advertising methods are failing to attract new riders in part because they are too focused on selling bigger, faster and more expensive machines to veteran riders.
“There has never been a more compelling and interesting time in motorcycling,” the report said. “It’s clear that the bigger issue is lack of general interest in riding.”
The industry also has failed to appreciate the importance of the female rider, losing sight of the concept that mothers who ride tend to produce children who ride. Instead, manufacturers focus too tightly on the more typical male consumer and, when it comes to women, rely on the careworn shrink-it-and-pink-it approach to apparel and gear manufacturing.
“There is clearly a path to attract female ridership that does…