For anyone who's been paying attention to current events, the motorcycle industry has had an incredibly difficult year.
According to Webbikeworld.com's compilation of motorcycle sales stats for the U.S. in the third quarter, "...motorcycle sales totaled just 434,370 so far this year, down from 771,950 in the first nine months of 2008 for a drop of 337,580, which makes overall sales down 44 percent."
The real-world ramifications could be seen just last month—with its third-quarter income plummeting 84 percent from a year ago, Harley-Davidson closed the doors at Buell Motorcycles. Foreign manufacturers have been suffering no less. BMW reported that its motorcycle sales in the U.S. were down by 43 percent for the nine-month period. Japanese motorcycle exports, according to JAMA, were down 46 percent in August compared to a year ago, with overall production down 49.9 percent.
All of this bad economic news of declining consumer demand has a domino effect, reaching all the way down to the people working in local shops and dealerships, people you might know well.
This ongoing downturn may affect the very livelihood of our hobby and sport even more drastically than it already has with more job losses and more company closures.
So that's one of the reasons why we've made our December issue a holiday gift guide. Beyond the fun of musing about all the motorcycle goodies we'd like to own someday, it serves as a little reminder: This year, more than ever, we ought to support manufacturers and retailers and service shops if we can afford to. If you've been saving up to someday replace those torn-up saddle bags or frayed gloves or worn-out shocks, now's the time to pony up.
Let's keep our friends in business, and our wheels rolling.