America’s motorcycle industry hit a wall during the Great Recession – and never clambered back into the saddle. Sales slumped in 2008 as discretionary spending by maxed-out consumers took a hit. Between 2006 and 2010 the number of big-engined Harleys slumped by a half, says Kyle Stock on Bloomberg. But a structural change has prevented a rebound: “ageing riders [are hanging] up their leathers”.
In 2003 a quarter of US motorcycle riders were 50 or older; by 2014, the figure was almost 50%. The market has relied on people who “may only be able to buy one more bike”.