The Motorcycle Industry Council released its first ever U.S. motorcycle industry sales forecast but the news is not positive.

The MIC, which represents various leading motorcycle OEMs as well as several manufacturers of parts and accessories, usually releases quarterly sales figures for the U.S. market but, until now, had never released industry-wide future sales projections. While sales were up a slim 0.3% in 2011, the MIC’s new Business Advisory & Forecast predicts a modest decline in new motorcycle sales in 2012.

“While our market stayed essentially flat last year, unemployment numbers and stagnant incomes are making consumers more cautious about large purchases,” says Tim Buche, MIC president. “Even with low interest rates making this a great time to buy for many people, overall economic uncertainty is leading us to predict we’ll have fewer sales in 2012.”

ATV sales are also expected to continue declining in 2012, though that is being attributed to a shift in demand from ATVs to side-by-sides (also known as UTVs or recreational off-highway vehicles. The MIC does not track UTV sales itself though some industry estimate side-by-sides are outselling ATVs.

The Business Advisory & Forecast also reports spending on maintenance and repairs have been increasing since April 2010, suggesting consumers are spending their money maintaining motorcycles they already own rather than on buying new models.

Data from recent tire sales supports this theory, with the MIC’s Motorcycle Tire Sales Report showing an 9.6% increase in replacement tire sales. The report also found an 11.7% increase in off-highway tires over a time period that coincides with a 13% decrease in new off-highway motorcycle sales.

“We’re seeing strong indications that riders are continuing to maintain their current motorcycles or upgrading ones they bought used, and we’ve recorded an increasing number of miles being ridden on American roads over the past decade,” says Buche. “The interest in motorcycling is healthier than ever. That’s good news for our industry over the long term and this bodes well for retailers.”

The Business Advisory & Forecast projects sales for the next three years, but the MIC is only releasing the 2012 projections to the public.

[Source: MIC]

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2011 US Motorcycle Sales Results