The pandemic has sparked nationwide lockdowns, market collapses, and unemployment hikes over the past year and a half. With the economy in disarray, it would be logical to assume that automobile sales would be down. Actually, the answer isn’t so straightforward.
Sure, car sales plummeted—down around 15% in 2020 than they were the year before. But one type of vehicle has proved itself to be pandemic-proof: the motorcycle. In fact, lockdown seems to have ignited a renewed appetite for motorcycling that hasn’t been matched in years.
In February this year, the Motorcycle Industry Council announced that motorcycle sales actually rose by 11.4% in 2020. And this momentum has snowballed so far in 2021. Year-to-date sales of dual-purpose motorcycles in Q1 of 2021 were up a staggering 47%, whilst off-highway sales were just behind at 45%.
These numbers are backed up by a number of the big manufacturers, including Honda, Ducati, and BMW, who all recorded strong gains in 2020. Trade in many local dealerships across the US is also said to have been thriving during the pandemic.
With the rest of the automobile industry at a standstill, what have been the factors behind the recent rise of two-wheeled transport?
How The Pandemic Kick-Started A Motorcycling Craze
Ironically, the motorcycle industry has a lot to thank Covid for. From the introduction of social distancing restrictions to the demand for delivery services, several forces have converged to drive motorcycle sales during the pandemic.
Motorcycles are, by their design, a socially-distanced mode of transport. And within that category, they’re by far the fastest vehicle. As such, they’re well equipped for lockdown travel, enabling people to quickly get from A to B without ever impinging on quarantine regulations.
The main reason for the surge isn’t really to do with any practical concerns. What has drawn people to motorcycling during the pandemic is its sense of freedom. This has been sorely missed by many amid feelings of lockdown fatigue.
As Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati North America, observes, “If you’re looking for that escape, that release, that joy, then motorcycling is where you’re going to go.” This explains why off-road motorcycles have seen some of the biggest sales increases, as riders have sought out adventure to stave off pandemic pains.
Another interesting factor has been the growing popularity of motorcycling content creators on video-sharing sites like YouTube and Instagram. During the pandemic, these influencers have seen their engagement surge as viewers in lockdown live vicariously through their two-wheeled adventures around the world.
For people who had previously entertained the idea of buying a bike without following through on the purchase, the pandemic has presented the perfect opportunity to hit the road.
Record-low levels of traffic have meant that new riders can build confidence with less interference from other motorists. Many of these riders will also have had fewer commitments during the lockdown, allowing them to pour more time into their new hobby.
The pandemic has hit the pockets of some harder than others. Many workers fortunate enough to be in stable jobs have been able to save through lockdowns. Multiple Covid stimulus checks combined with rock-bottom interest rates have also created favorable buying conditions.
With holidays on hold and other major financial decisions such as a house move likely to be stalled until after the pandemic, there are certainly worse ways to spend your money than on a brand new motorcycle.
The Courier Economy
Another factor that Motorcycle Safety Lawyers draw attention to is the rise of the courier economy. Mobile delivery services such as Doordash and UberEats have been supplying takeaway food to hungry consumers cooped up in quarantine. Revenue for food-delivery apps more than doubled between 2019 and 2020.
These companies, which continue to grow exponentially, often depend on motorcycles to get their drivers from the restaurants to the customer’s front door in the quickest time. Their growth has fed into the growing demand for motorcycles. While motorcycles are useful for delivery jobs, they also can be dangerous, and may require insurance in addition to the often remarkably basic insurance provided by UberEats and similar franchises.