NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
U.S. MOTORCYCLE SALES CONTINUE UPWARD TREND
New motorcycle sales in the U.S. continued to rise across all segments last year, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) announced. While bike sales continue to improve, it’s also worth noting that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation saw enrollment in its basic rider courses grow significantly in 2021 as well, so it’s good news all-around with more riders on more bikes.
“In addition to strong sales, we are seeing strong demand for riding training and education,” said MIC president and CEO Erik Pritchard. “The Motorcycle Safety Foundation saw an estimated 48% increase in enrollment in 2021 over 2020.”
Overall motorcycle sales rose 14.2% over 2020, and 21.8% over 2019 figures, across all segments. That includes scooters, which by themselves rose 19.6% over 2020, and 31.4% over 2019 numbers, while on-road bike sales rose 12.9% over 2020, but what’s especially encouraging is sales of dual-sport and off-road bikes. The strange year that was 2020 saw a 46.2% increase in dual sport sales over 2019 numbers, and in 2021 dual-sport motorcycle sales rose an additional 18.6% over those 2020 numbers. Pure off-road bikes also saw sales rise 42.9% in 2021 over 2019.
These marketing figures were gleaned from sales data that the MIC compiles from 14 major OEMs and distributors across America, and it’s an encouraging outlook as we vroom into 2022.
BUMPER YEAR FOR BIKING DESPITE REPEATED COVID THREATS
Amidst the doom and gloom of both winter weather and the lingering effects of the global pandemic, it may come as a surprise that 2021 was one of the strongest years for motorcycling in well over a decade, with new bike sales worldwide on an upward swing and more people joining the two-wheeled fold.
Anecdotal evidence from training schools here and across the pond reflected a huge surge of people wanting to get into motorcycling and now the latest data confirms it.
Ducati reports that 2021 was their best sales year on record, up globally an impressive 24% on 2020, which was heavily impacted by Coronavirus, but also a massive 12% up on 2019.
And it’s not just Ducati celebrating success either, with BMW announcing 2021 was their best-ever year of global sales – jumping 14.8% from 2020.
Despite concerns an exit from the European Union might hinder growth in the UK, motorcycle sales there increased by 26.6%, spurring a 9.3% rise in registrations.
BRACE FOR DAMAGED SUPPLY CHAIN RECOVERY
With 2021 being the rollercoaster that it was, supply chains around the world have been hit with a crisis of limited product availability: “Starting in 2020, companies reacted to the economic downturn by cancelling production plans for the next year, only to be blindsided by an upswing in demand prompted by rapid vaccine rollouts and fiscal support for rich-world household spending,” explains a report from KitCo. “At the same time, virus containment measures and infection clusters triggered labour shortages and factory shutdowns, just as consumer spending was shifting from services to goods.”
Right around this point was when the Powersports market saw an especially huge surge in sales; people had nowhere to go, so they bought bikes and other toys to have fun locally.
Today, restrictions are consistently looser than ever, thanks to the milder Omicron variants — and with the loosened limitations come a tentatively positive upswing for the market — an upswing that, if we’re lucky, will mean an end to supply shortages and the healing of damaged income streams, predicts webbikeworld.com.
“At some point during this year, we will see a more ‘normal situation’,” says Soren Skou, head of shipping giant Maersk, who predicts employees will soon return to work at ports, inflating demand for shipment services and thereby contributing to the mending of at least one sector of the supply chain.
All told, executives of Powersports manufacturers are anticipating a hike in raw product prices for 2022.
In the meantime, the global semiconductor shortage has impacted multiple industries, including automotive and powersports. Over 80% of the microchips in products consumed by Americans are manufactured in Asia, whose production has reduced following the pandemic. This has resulted in a severe shortage across the world.
As a result, companies like Bosch have increased investment in microchip manufacturing; however, it will be a while until new players like Intel Corp and Samsung can overcome the current deficit. House Democrats and President Biden are pushing for $52B of investment in semiconductor production and research to speed up the process further.
For consumers, we’ve seen vehicle costs rise by over 10-15% the past couple of years due to product shortages and supply chain issues, and this will likely continue until a more permanent solution is found.
STUDY SHOWS THAT ETHANOL IS WORSE FOR THE CLIMATE THAN GASOLINE
Analysis of corn-based ethanol production from end-to-end yields some potentially bad news for this biofuel. While riders have long understood that ethanol can have ill effects on our bikes, a new study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” found that it may have other downsides, too.
Ethanol was supposed to be environmentally advantageous as compared to gasoline, but in the study, researchers dove deeper into how the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard’s outcomes were measuring up to the country’s goals. Instead of simply limiting its observations to any one part of the corn-based ethanol production and consumption processes, researchers gathered data on all parts of the ethanol production cycle.
Upon taking important things like land use changes, fertilizer increases, and the like into account, researchers reported findings that corn-based ethanol is 24% more carbon-intensive than gasoline production. If these numbers are even remotely accurate, it’s concerning.
“It basically reaffirms what many suspected, that corn ethanol is not a climate-friendly fuel and we need to accelerate the shift toward better renewable fuels, as well as make improvements in efficiency and electrification,” lead study author and scientist Tyler Lark said in a statement.
This study’s release comes shortly before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose updated 2023 requirements to the country’s biofuel policies.
RHODE ISLAND PROPOSES TAX CUT FOR MOTORCYCLE RIDERS
Rhode Island has just had a 2022 budget proposal that could potentially provide a “sales tax exemption for the trade-in value of motorcycles.”
Governor Daniel McKee‘s proposed 2022 budget, H 7123, includes motorcycle tax cuts used strictly for pleasure purposes;
(67) Trade-in value of motorcycles
“From the sale and from the storage, use, or other consumption in this state of so much of the purchase price paid for a new or used motorcycle as is allocated for a trade-in allowance on the motorcycle of the buyer given in trade to the seller, or of the proceeds applicable only to the motorcycle as are received from the manufacturer of motorcycles for the repurchase of the motorcycle whether the repurchase was voluntary or not towards the purchase of a new or used motorcycle by the buyer.”
Gov. McKee‘s proposed tax break would only apply to the trade-in value of a bike, or reselling bikes in general, and could be a great way to get new riders on R.I. roads.
UK DECARBONIZATION PLAN EYES E-BIKES
The British government has launched an action plan that it’s hoped will help realize the potential electric motorcycles and scooters offer for reducing emissions and congestion. The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) have been working with specialists tasked by the Government to find out what needed to be done to increase the use of smaller electric vehicles.
“Traditionally, powered two-wheelers and other types of PLVs (Powered Light Vehicles) have often been absent from national and local policy due to an underappreciation or lack of awareness of their potential benefits to the environment,” says MCIA chief, Tony Campbell. “The launch of this Action Plan is a landmark for our sector, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Government and industry to ensure the full and proper implementation of the Plan’s recommendations.”
The measures that the MCIA have recommended are broad and far reaching, covering everything from ensuring that licensing laws keep up with the evolution of new electric bikes to building a UK based supply chain to help lower costs.
DANES FACE MOTORCYCLE CONFISCATION FOR ‘INSANE’ RIDING
Danish authorities are confiscating three motorcycles a day for what the authorities are claiming is ‘insane’ riding. The rules first came into force in March 2021, and in a nutshell, allow the police and authorities to enforce much stricter penalties for what is deemed to be dangerous and illegal riding or driving. Up to and including the offender’s vehicle being seized, with seized machines sent off and sold at auction!
The scheme isn’t just aimed at residents of the Nordic beauty spot, those travelling in and through the nation are also liable. FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations) reports that anyone touring in or through, holidaying, or on business in Denmark, using two wheels or four is liable to be hit with the same penalties.
The system seems to be working too, as FEMA reports that in the first six months after the new rules came into force, the police seized a total of 510 vehicles, while 623 charges have been filed in 586 cases involving “insane driving.”
RESEARCHERS FIND DRIVERS AND RIDERS SEE DIFFERENTLY
A road safety study from England’s Bournemouth University has found that drivers and riders on the road see ‘different things’ and have a very different visual perception of what is going on around them.
The project was led by PhD researcher (and BMW rider) Shel Silva, who assessed the neurological and cognitive influences of motorcyclists and car drivers.
“The brain has developed an interest in things which are threats,” explains the report, which found that road users would see larger objects on the road, trucks, buses, and so on, as a greater threat than smaller objects such as motorcycles. Silva also found that a motorcyclist’s identification, perception, and knowledge of potential risks would change depending on their motorcycling qualifications and experience.
To complete the study, Silva used eye-tracking and interviews using grounded theory to investigate the causes of collisions. It uncovered that a motorcycle rider can be masked by a natural blind spot in the human eye. And that a driver’s brain can experience saccadic masking (when the brain fills in the information when moving the eyes from one point to another), potentially causing a motorcyclist to be obscured from view.
Silva recommends making minor lane adjustments prior to a maneuver or turn, which can trigger a visual orienting response to capture drivers’ attention.
“The research is suggesting that by understanding motorcyclists’ knowledge and identification of risks it is possible to better inform training and materials which appeal to motorcyclists,” she said. “It is key to understand that motorcyclists do not need training about how to ride a motorcycle but would benefit from more skills regarding how to read the road and other road users.”
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900), German Philosopher
ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services (www.ON-A-BIKE.com / 800-ON-A-BIKE).