US Motorcycle Riders

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US Motorcycle Riders: Demographic Profile

There has been an increase in motorcycle riders in the US between 2014 and 2018. Ownership has gone up from 6.94% in 2014 to 8.02% in 2018, which represents an increase of more than 1.5 million homes. This research gives the demographic analysis of US motorcycle riders.

Demographic Analysis for US Motorcycle Riders

  • The majority of motorcycle riders in the US (81%) are male, while female riders represent 19%. For both genders, the median age of riders is 50 years.
  • A big number of riders in the US are married (68%).
  • 24% of riders who are college graduates.
  • The median household income of motorcycle riders in the US is $62,500.
  • Of all riders, 71% are employed while 24% are retired.
  • Overall, there were 13,158,100 motorcycle owners in the US in 2018 compared to 11,704,500 in 2009.
  • South Dakota has the most number of motorcyclists at 12 people for every motorcycle, beating the national average by 66%. New Hampshire is second at 17 people for every motorcycle, beating the national average by 53%. Iowa is third with 18 people for every motorcycle, beating the national average by 50%.

Recent Changes in Demographics of Motorcycle Riders in the US

  • According to data compiled by the Motorcycle Industry Council, the median age of riders has been rising from 45 years in 2012, to 47 in 2014, and 50 in 2018.
  • College graduates are taking up more motorcycling with the number rising from 17% in 2010, to 20% in 2014, and 24% in 2018.
  • There is also an increase in the number of women motorcycle riders in the US. In addition, there is an emerging trend of millennial motorcyclists.
  • More than half of millennials have enrolled for a training course and frequently commute using their bikes. 69% of millennials are interested in electric motorcycles because of environmental concerns and the high price of fuel.

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US Motorcycle Riders: New Audiences

Our research has showed that people's motivation to ride a motorcycle would be adventure, recreation, and cheap cost of commuting. It also found that motorcycle has much acceptance among women of middle age, millennials,
African-American, and Hispanics.


  • Survey conducted by Motorcycle Industry Council in 2018 reveals a drastic change in statistics for American Motorcycle riders, including more college- educated and female riders and a record amount of motorcycles in households.
  • Male owners are 81% and female owners are 19%.
  • The median age for motorcycle owners have shifted from 47 to 50.
  • Married owners has increased from 61% in 2014 to 68% in 2018.
  • More college graduate now rides because statistic witnessed a rise from 20% in 2014 to 24% in 2018.
  • The median household income for motorcycle in 2018 is $62,500 compared to $62,200 in 2014.
  • Employed owners of motorcycle are 71% while retired owners are 24%.
  • In 2009 11,704,500 people owned a motorcycle, while in 2018, 13,158,100 owned a motorcycle.


  • According to the survey by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), t he study found that among all age groups, women make up 19% of motorcycle owners, compared with less than 10 % less than a decade ago.
  • The survey found even greater ownership among younger generations. Among Millennials, 26% of motorcycle owners were women.
  • Among younger generations of owners, the percentage of women is even higher. Slightly more than 17% of Gen X owners, and 17.6% of Gen Y owners, are women. Among Boomer owners, women make up 9%.
  • Among all age groups, women in the United States now make up 19% of motorcycle owners. But the 2018 survey showed even greater women motorcycle ownership lies within younger generations.
  • Among Gen X motorcycle owners, 22% were women; among Gen Y, 26% were women.
  • When it comes to purchasing a motorcycle, women rate fuel economy and test rides as the most important decision-making factors.
  • The study revealed that female riders are safety-conscious. While 60% of women took a motorcycle safety course, only 42% of men had any formal training.
  • In some state motorcycle safety training programs, women make up 30% of the student population.
  • In the survey, of some 48,000 American households, women were also asked to share their top three reasons for riding motorcycles, they answered fun and creation, sense of freedom, enjoy outdoor and or nature.
  • The 2018 owner survey also found that women motorcycle owners spend, on average, $574 a year on tires, routine repairs, maintenance, replacement parts, and accessories and modifying equipment, compared with $497 by men.
  • The median age for female motorcyclists is 39 versus 48 for males.
  • More than 49% of women motorcyclists do their own maintenance or have a friend or relative do it, instead of taking their bikes to a shop.
  • New motorcycles are preferred over used by 57% of female riders.
  • 49% of female motorcyclists are married.
  • 47% of female motorcyclists have a college or post-graduate degree.
  • Among Gen X, 22% were women.


  • The MIC survey uncovered trends among the emerging group of millennial motorcyclists. More than half have taken a training course and use their bikes frequently for commuting.
  • In the survey, 69% say they are interested in electric motorcycles, citing fuel and the environment as top drivers.
  • Millennial are potential new audience as t here are over 75.4 million. millennials nationwide surpassing baby boomers at 74.9 million.
  • The millennials that do ride motorcycles tend to ride different brands or models of motorcycle as compared to baby boomers. Millennials prefer Bobbers, Choppers, Cafe Racers, Bratt.
  • Not only do manufactures need to make motorcycles that go along with today's trend but they also need to make them affordable.
  • The motorcycle industry is changing not dying because most new riders are not looking for robust hogs to roll anymore. They are looking for practical and inexpensive cool; Cheap transportation with low entry cost, that gets great gas mileage making them environmentally friendly.
  • Indian Motorcycle press release r showed a 20% increase in sales last year, because of their hugely popular Scout lineup.


  • MIC survey shows households owning motorcycles rose from 6.94% in 2014 to a record 8.02 % in 2018, an increase of more than 1.5 million homes.
  • Accordingly, the survey revealed that 10,124,400 of US homes has a motorcycle since the United States Census Bureau’s most recent estimate put the number of U.S. households at 126,224,000.
  • The MIC says that motorcycle households in the USA have on average 1.30 bikes in their garage, which is up from the 2014 figure of 1.23 bikes per garage.



  • A survey commissioned by Harley-Davidson, found out that men and women share similar reasons for riding. The survey reveals that women and men both are seeking the freedom and adventure the sport of motorcycling can offer.
  • According to the survey, 77% of male and 67% female riders said that riding increased the freedom and adventure in their lives, and more than 75% said that the aforementioned reasons continue to motivate them.
  • For some, to be cool- Motorcycles are cool since it shows the world that the rider is adventurous.


  • Riders opt for a powered two-wheeler as a cost-efficient alternative to infrequent and expensive public transport systems, or as a means of avoiding or reducing the effects of urban congestion. In addition, where permitted, lane splitting which is also known as filtering allows motorcycles to move between vehicles in slow or stationary traffic.
  • In the survey conducted by consumer report on motorcycle owner satisfaction, owners of motorcycles and scooters are very satisfied with their bikes overall, with a majority rating them either excellent or very good for comfort, cost of maintenance and repair, fuel economy, and performance.
  • 88% of respondents were highly satisfied with their bike, with 61% saying they would definitely purchase the same model again.


We leveraged a combination of industrial databases, leading publication and surveys conducted by the Motorcyle Industry Council (MIC) to curate potential new audiences for US motorcycle Riders.

MIC survey is relevant because it is a national trade association supporting motorcyclists in the U.S. by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and others with a commercial interest in the industry. The survey provided us with an insight on the current demographics of US motorcycle rider compared to past demographics. With this figure, we able to see gap in the industry which allows for potential audience in the motorcycle industry.

The motorcycle industry has recognized they needed to target women and younger riders in order to continue their patterns of growth. With the help of the US motorcycle market report, we found Harley-Davidson (market leader), target 4 core demographics for growth: women, the 18-34 age demographic, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Sales in 2014 for these 4 categories were double that of their core customers for a third straight year. Our team has chosen women and young adult (millennials) as potential new audience because not only has the industry witnessed a growth in these demographics, but also statistics show that the median age of motorcyclists has steadily climbed from 45 in 2012 to 50 in 2018, and 24% of riders are retired which indicate a graying market.
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US Motorcycle Industry: Competitive Landscape

Harley-Davidson offers various customization options while Yamaha offers competitive pricing options. Polaris excels in product safety while Honda brings reliability to the table. SYM has been praised for its high-quality and performance.



  • Harley-Davidson's reviews are predominantly negative, with people mainly pointing out engine failures, electric part malfunctions, and high fees. The average rating of the company on the Consumer Affairs website is around 1.2 stars.


  • Harley-Davidson has focused lately on expanding its aim at the millennials and baby-boomers.
  • The company has also been targeting women. An example of this is their bike line Sportster.
  • In general, Harley-Davidson targets passionate bikers coming from the upper-middle-income group and between the ages of 25 and 40 years.


  • Harley-Davidson offers electric, street, sport, heritage, touring, trike and CVO bikes.


  • Harley-Davidson's main competitive advantage is its broad product portfolio, brand recognition, and years of experience.
  • Another advantage that Harley-Davidson has against their competitors is its wide array of customization options.


  • People think of Honda mainly as the brand that manufactures automobiles. On the Consumer Affairs website, Honda has 4 out of 5 stars average rating.
  • In general, customers are dissatisfied with paint quality, electric part malfunctions, roadside assistance and build quality.


  • Honda has committed to serving the eco-friendly field, intending to have two-thirds of its global vehicle sales come from electrified vehicles.
  • Their US market, however, is currently lacking interest in eco-friendly vehicles and demands bigger size, utility, and driving dynamics.
  • In the US, Honda's motorcycles marketing team is targeting multicultural millennials. Their strategy is a combination of digital and social media ads that focus on multicultural individuals.
  • Their target market is middle-income individuals.


  • Honda offers adventure, touring, cruiser, sport, super sport, minimoto, and standard bikes.
  • In, addition, they offer off-road (Source 19) and police bikes.


  • Honda leads the market in terms of reliability. The brand has a widespread reputation of being reliable, which is supported by consistently earning high rankings in Consumer Reports.
  • Also, Honda is competitive in terms of fuel efficiency in comparison with other brands.



  • On the Consumer Affairs website, Polaris has an average score of two stars.
  • Most of the reviews are negative, and the complaints are focused on vehicle malfunctions.


  • While millennials are one of Polaris' main consumer groups, the brand is currently targeting baby boomers.
  • Through their marketing and message, they aim at people with heritage value by evoking feelings of nostalgia.



  • Polaris has a competitive advantage in terms of safety/quality of their products. According to the executive vice-president of global operations of the company, they have invested significantly in safety development.



  • On the Consumer Affairs website, Yamaha Motorcycles has an average rating of 4.2 stars, and most of their reviews have positive feedback.
  • Their consumers' feedback focus on how innovative the brand is, the quality of their manufacturing, ease of steering, and suitability for learner-drivers.


  • Yamaha targets the middle-class market and individuals between the ages of 25 and 35 years old.
  • Through their marketing and message, they also target families with children.


  • Yamaha offers the following motorcycle types: motocross, cross-country, trail, dual-sport, super sport, Hyper Naked, Sport Heritage, Transcontinental Touring, Adventure Touring, Sport Touring, and scooters.


  • Yamaha has the best price to performance ratio in the field and competitive pricing in comparison with its competitors.



  • The general US opinion around SYM is that it is a scooter company rather than a bike manufacturer.
  • The customers praise the brand for its high-quality and performance but consider it low-tech when compared to other bikes in the market.


  • Through their advertising and their message, SYM targets both millennial men and women.


  • SYM offers scooters, e-bikes, cubs, and bikes in their portfolio.


  • A review made by one of MN Motorcycles experts said the bike is capable of outperforming other more technologically advanced motorcycles.


To provide the competitive analysis of Harley-Davison, Yamaha, Honda, SYM, Polaris, we searched through reliable industry sources, and the official company websites. This search helped us determine each company's target market, brand perception, products, and competitive advantage. However, the search did not bring any official statement about SYM's competitive advantage. To provide this, we used the following strategy.

As our first step, we searched credible review sites, such as Consumer Affairs, Consumer Reports, and other similar sites hoping to find reviews that could help us determine its competitive advantage or to provide a customer perception. However, these sites did not list any review from SYM's consumers.

Next, we looked for reports or analysis made by experts and third-party companies about SYM. We hoped to find a comparison of the company with its US competitors and use it to determine its competitive advantage. We searched sites like Marketing91, Industry Week, Competitive Advantage Analysis, among others. A review made by one an expert from MN Motorcycle on one of their bikes, praised the bike's quality, but there was little information to make a competitive advantage analysis.

As our next steps, we searched for any survey conducted in the US about the motorcycle manufacturing industry that would contain insights into the brand perception and competitive advantage of SYM against the other brands. We researched through sites like Research Gate but were unable to find any survey of the kind.

Lastly, we decided to look for interviews with the leadership team of the company hoping to find mentions of the position SYM has in the US market, its target market, or how the brand is perceived. Additionally, since the company is headquartered in Taiwan, we searched through local news sites like Taipei Times and UDN. Unfortunately, although we found a few interviews with its leaders, the company's perception, strategy, or position in the American market was not mentioned.

While we found enough information to give a small insight into the brand's perception, its target market, and insight on the brand's advantage, not enough information was available to provide a competitive analysis of SYM in the US from a more official source.
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US Motorcycle Industry: Competitive Landscape (2)

Royal Enfield is known for its history of making "battle tested" products which contributes to its motorbike image. Indian is America's first motorcycle company and is known today for its unique look and easy handling.

Royal Enfield





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Purchasing a Motorcycle: Customer Journey

Before buying the motorcycle:

  • Decide the type of motorcycle- It can be a Cruiser, if you are looking for an everyday bike, a Sports bike for the high speed riding thrills, or a touring bike, if cross-country travels is your thing. Knowing what type of bike you require depends entirely on what you want out of it.
  • Go to school- Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) rider education classes are required by a number of states before you can make a motorcycle purchase. These classes range from beginners classes for first-time riders, to advanced classes for honing your skills as you get more experience. It is a great opportunity to try out riding in a protected environment.
  • Gear up- When deciding your motorcycle, make sure to keep a budget and a choice for the gear equipment you require with your bike. At minimum, this should include a full-face helmet, a purpose-made motorcycle jacket with pads, gloves, and boots.

Customer Journey

  • Once you have shortlisted the bikes you want, the first step would be to get the insurance quotes for them. Motorcycle insurances are not cheap- therefore it is always important to research about it. Insurance cost also helps you in deciding on your motorcycle as the rates might be higher for one shortlisted brand as compared to another. MSF training, lower displacement engines helps in getting the insurance discounts.
  • The second step is to decide how to finance your purchase. Taking a loan is not necessarily a bad thing if you can keep up the timely payments as it helps to improve the credit history and boost the credit score. The dealer undoubtedly offers the financing but it doesn't hurt to research with your bank or local credit union.
  • Choosing the dealership is not just about getting the right price, one needs to research about the overall service and reputation of the dealerships near you. Attend the events, interact with the employees and get to know the type of relationship they have with their customers.
  • Even if the customer has the type of motorcycle decided, it doesn't hurt to have a look and feel of the bikes available at the dealership. Ask as many questions one has about the bike and get it all clarified, also make sure to sit on the bike and get a feel on how comfortable it is with respect to height, foot pegs etc.
  • If it is not necessary to get the latest model of the bike, it is easier to snag great deals since dealers are also interested in getting rid of older models. This is a great time to ask for value added deals like accessories, apparel and prepaid service deals.
  • The last step is the paperwork and final signing of the deal. Proper care needs to be given to make sure the document is in order and also keep in touch with the service department of the dealership for future use.

Factors to buying a Motorcycle

  • Environment friendly: As compared to cars, motorcycles require less fuel and the average fuel consumption rate is around 30-40km/litre. This leads to low cost, low carbon footprint and a much efficient form of transportation with low environment impact.
  • Commuting made easy: Traveling with motorcycles with much faster as compared to cars which saves the precious time spent on the road. Especially with riding between lanes allowed in states like Texas and California, riding has never been more enjoyable. Also, parking is much cheaper and easier for the bikers.
  • Cool factor: No one can deny the fact that one of the major reasons to buy motorcycle among any age group or gender is to look cool. Bikers have that innate sense of attitude which has led to increased motorcycle purchases.
  • Sense of independence: Freedom is one of the attractions of motorcycle culture and being able to get on the bike and travel around the country is one of the examples of independence. The younger demographic is extremely influenced by this factor and the need for freedom.

Barriers to purchasing a Motorcycle

  • Cost: Even though motorcycles in general cost much less than cars, but the overall cost including insurance, equipment, maintenance costs, gear costs etc., is much more than that of cars. This is a major deterrent for people to buy them and requires heavy research.
  • Safety: Motorcycles are unfortunately associated with track biking, accidents and rash driving. Though, most of these assumptions are wrong, but there is no denying about the additional safety measures required for riding.
  • Licensing issues: In most states, a separate license is required for bikes and getting a new license seems like huge hassle for a lot of people.
  • Longevity: Since the motorcycles are not shielded from the weather elements, unlike cars, they tend to last much shorter and you can do more miles with your car. Therefore, customers looking for long term investment tend to prefer cars over motorcycles.

Research Strategy

The first step in the research process was to ascertain the customer journey and see how the process of buying a motorcycle in US goes about. We started with steps to consider before making the purchase though concentrating on biking communities website, e-commerce shopping sites for bike accessories and articles from bikers. The research team successfully got a comprehensive list of steps to follow while buying a motorcycle through these sources.

The next part was to find out the factors which convinces the customers to buy motorcycles. We looked for articles from biking blogs and websites which listed the reasons for owning the motorcycles and its advantages, especially the emotional reasons associated with the purchase.

The last part was to look for barriers to purchasing motorcycles and what are the major deterrents which stopped customers from making the purchase. Articles stating the pros and cons of purchasing, major issues associated with motorcycles etc. were helpful in getting a list of barriers.

From Part 01
  • "“For decades, the MIC Owner Survey has told us a lot about who we are, and we’re now learning how things have shifted since our last study was done in 2014. Some of the stats are encouraging, like the increasing number of women owners, while other data, such as the rising median age, show where we have more work to do.”"
  • "Other measures rose as well, including a 2.5 million bike increase in motorcycle ownership. The previous record for motorcycle ownership was 11,704,500 in 2009 and in 2018 the total number was 13,158,100."
From Part 02
  • ""As the number of Boomers and mature motorcyclists shrink and are replaced by newer riders, we could soon be looking at a solid 25 percent of motorcycle owners being female," said Andria Yu, MIC director of communications. "We've seen with our own eyes.""
  • "“We’ve seen particularly strong growth in the aftermarket sector for women,” said Cinnamon Kernes, newly appointed vice president and general manager of MIC Events and the American International Motorcycle Expo presented by Nationwide, the largest powersports trade and consumer show in North America. “Over the past decade, more women are designing riding gear and other products specifically for female riders, working in major companies or creating their own brands. Having gear designed for women by women was a huge step and has certainly helped encourage female ridership.”"
From Part 03
  • "We usually think of the Sanyang Motor Co., Ltd — better known to us as SYM — as a scooter company, so when looking at their little Wolf Classic 150, I expected ...well, I expected less than what I saw."
  • "Honda has committed at the corporate level to far greater electrification across its lineup, seeking to have two-thirds of its global vehicle sales come from electrified vehicles by 2030, with a faster ramp-up in Europe and more electrified variants of its core nameplates."
  • "But like other automakers facing stricter regulations across the globe, it faces a delicate task in marketing its green vehicles to U.S. customers who have shown more interest in size, utility and driving dynamics than fuel economy."
  • "Honda is launching its most multicultural, mobile, socially driven campaign ever for the 2018 Fit. The campaign focuses on how the vehicle is “Fit for fun.” In order to best reach Millennials, the campaign is completely digitally focused and socially driven. "
  • "The campaign is specifically geared toward younger car buyers who lead busy lifestyles and are uber-connected, said Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of Honda marketing at American Honda Motor Co., Inc."
  • "The campaign features creative from RPA for the general market, “Fun Surprises,” in which the entire commercial set is packed into the back of the Fit. “Secret Life of Fits,” a Hispanic Millennial-focused spot created together with agency Orci, targets consumers who like to strike a balance between living in the moment while planning for tomorrow — and are looking for a vehicle with some personality."
  • "“Fituation” is a series of spots that focus on African American Millennials and were created together with Muse."
  • "Product portfolio– whether it is motorcycle segment or its automotive segment, Honda have large product portfolio addressing the needs of the different segments which help the company to build long-lasting relationships with the customers."
  • "Customers of Honda motors are the middle-income group people who are looking for vehicle whether it is 2-wheeler or 4-wheeler, which suits their pocket and at the same time is value for money for them."
  • "As baby boomers continue to age out of the industry — replaced with millennial buyers — manufacturers like Harley-Davidson Inc. and Polaris Industries Inc. are brainstorming ways to target these consumers."
  • "Yamaha mainly targets the middle-class people who are looking for something stylish, offering good mileage guarantee and will not break the bank. It also targets youths who are within the 25-35 year group bracket."
  • "Yamaha employs the competitive price strategy on its products. This is not at the expense of quality. In fact, Yamaha products have the best price to performance ratios in the world. "
  • "To try to turn things around, the company has to inspire the next generation of bikers to replace the ones who are aging out. Millennials are proving to be a tough audience: They want smaller, cheaper motorcycles — the antithesis of Harleys."
  • "The issue seems to be a generational one. Baby boomers fell in love with the oversized bikes as the symbol of romance on the open road. But younger generations aren’t interested in their parents’ motorcycles."
  • "Harley-Davidson has succeeded in attracting some new riders with bikes like the Sportster —especially among women."
  • "Customization and accessories are the major competitive advantage of Harley Davidson. People love their Harleys and there are numerous customizations possible in an Harley, from the handle, the stand to the overall looks including the accessories the driver can wear."
  • "Harley Davidson’s customers are the passionate bikers who love to ride for long hours and to great lengths. Harley targets those customers who are “Born to ride”. These customers are from upper middle income group and are in the age group of 25-40 years. However, the age group barrier of Hogs is long since crossed because even senior citizens love to own a Harley and go on long drives."
  • "Over the past two years, the company has centralized its product safety organization, enhanced its post sales surveillance and analytics, and invested in industry-leading talent, tools and processes. Polaris remains vigilant and focused on continually learning and bolstering its safety and quality practices."
  • "Polaris is making safety and quality a competitive advantage. As the result of our comprehensive approach and significant investment, we are seeing the tangible results of our efforts, both in the quality of vehicles we are building today and in our approach to preventing, monitoring and responding to safety matters,” said Ken Pucel, executive vice president of Global Operations, Engineering and Lean, Polaris."
  • "Broad product portfolio ranging from Harley Street in lower segment to cruiser & touring bikes in the higher range has helped the company in increasing its sales. At the same time, these products have driven the premium brand image in the market."
  • "Customization and accessories are the major competitive advantage of Harley Davidson. People love their Harleys and there are numerous customizations possible in an Harley, from the handle, the stand to the overall looks including the accessories the driver can wear."