April Motorcycle News
More US Marines killed riding Motorcycles than in War

Combat injury or death are always possibilities in a war, but last year more U.S. Marines were killed here at home while off-duty riding motorcycles than from enemy fire in Iraq, prompting all military branches to require completion of rider training courses and mandatory personal safety equipment on and off base.

Now, in a move encouraged by military leaders at different Armed Forces bases, a bill is making its way through the North Carolina legislature that would extend the mandatory training requirement to civilians, making it tougher and more expensive to get a motorcycle license.

The legislation, Senate Bill 64, passed the State Senate on March 11. It would take effect July 1, 2010 and require would-be motorcyclists to pass a safety class before they can get a motorcycle endorsement on their licenses. The bill, which is currently pending in the state House, would also prevent riders from taking advantage of the “perpetual” learners permit by making it valid for just 6 months with a rider having one year to get a full motorcycle endorsement or quit riding.

It's estimated there are 48,000 motorcycle riders in the Department of the Navy, many of them choosing sport bikes which are designed for speed.  Nationwide, the military lost 41 people to motorcycle crashes in fiscal 2001. That tripled to 124 in 2008.

Youth Off Road Models Banned

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which went into effect February 10, 2009 is meant to protect children from lead-laden products, but unintended consequences of the new legislation are decimating the industry as thousands of motorcycle and recreation vehicle retailers across the country scramble to obey the federal law: all of them had to cease selling small off-road motorcycles and ATVs designed for kids, because according to a provision of the Act the machines are dangerous.not because a child might have an accident on the diminutive machines, but because if a child develops an appetite for the vehicle's brakes or battery terminals and decides to nibble on the ATV or motorbike, lead poisoning may result.

The ban encompasses some 19 models from just Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki. The economic impact of the CPSC's ruling will be substantial for both dealers and manufacturers in an already weakened economy. The regulation takes an estimated $100 million worth of inventory off the sales floors of some 13,000 dealers immediately. It also impinges on manufacturers, makers of aftermarket equipment and everything from racetracks to distributors.

New Motorcycle and Scooter Sales Set Records

Despite the economy, U.S. sales of new motorcycles in 2008 still topped the one-million mark, and did so for the sixth straight year. That beats the longest run of million-plus sales ever recorded by the Motorcycle Industry Council, during the five years from 1970 to 1974. Also, scooter sales last year reached their highest annual level ever.

The MIC’s preliminary estimate for all motorcycles and scooters sold nationwide in 2008 is 1,087,000, down just 3.3 percent compared to 2007. The MIC is currently estimating 2008 scooter sales at 222,000, a new record. Back in 1992, total motorcycle and scooter sales combined were just 278,000.

“All in all, our industry has not declined as precipitously as many others,” said MIC President Tim Buche. “Many Americans certainly want motorcycles, both for recreation and transportation. When they aren’t buying now, it’s down to personal economics, not desire.”

While total sales have declined slightly during the past two years, they are following in the tracks of some very big years. There were 1,124,000 new bikes sold in 2007. In 2006, that number was 1,190,000, the biggest year for motorcycle sales in more than three decades. The record for most new bikes sold in a year is 1.5 million, back in 1973.

International Female Ride Day -- May 1

Women riders are hitting the road in record numbers, with the latest statistics showing that 12.6% of motorcyclists and scooterists are now women, a 29% increase from 2003. Now, the ladies even have their own day to kickstart the riding season!

Flagged for the first Friday of May each year, International Female Ride Day has become the globally synchronized day for women to -- just ride!

Supported by the motorcycle industry around the world, it now encompasses a range of international cultures and locations including Canada, United States, South Africa, Australia, Greece and the UK to name but a few, with Poland joining in this year.

In conjunction with International Female Ride Day, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. has declared May as the first-ever Women Riders Month and has planned a series of events around the world to celebrate the ever-growing numbers of female riders hitting the highway and to encourage more ladies to take life by the handlebars.

Harley-Davidson is also encouraging women to learn to ride via either the Harley-Davidson Rider's Edge New Rider Course or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse training program, and is backing a Guinness World Record attempt for the number of women motorcycle riders trained in one weekend during the first weekend of May.

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