Motorcycle Ownership Experience On Upswing

Honda bikePeople may be paying more for their motorcycles, but they like their motorcycles more. The moto ownership experience has improved for straight years to a record level, according to J.D. Power & Associates. The firm's latest on the business--the "2008 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study," which measures owner satisfaction on a 1,000 point scale--says satisfaction with owning a bike has improved by 5 points this year versus last.

Satisfaction with the cost of owning has improved by 11 points versus last year, with 18% of owners saying the cost of owning their motorcycles is "outstanding," versus 10% in 2005. Thirty percent of motorcycle owners termed the value for the price paid for their bike "outstanding" compared with 21% in 2005. The study measures owner satisfaction with new motorcycles based on the product performance and quality, cost of ownership, sales, and service.



Owners also feel that the quality of their bikes is strong because of fewer problems, with 42% of owners saying they had no problems with their bike--an improvement of 3% versus last year.

"Despite the fact that owners report paying 14% more for their motorcycles this year, they are also more satisfied with the value received for the money spent," said Tim Fox, research manager of the powersports practice at J.D. Power & Associates.

The 11th annual study is based on survey responses from 7,334 owners who purchased motorcycles between September 2007 and May 2008. Owners were surveyed in September and October 2008.

Other improvements: among motorcycle owners who visit a dealer for repair work, 79% said that the work was performed right the first time--a 4% improvement from 2007.

The firm says that over the past seven years, satisfaction with engines and transmission has increased more than any other product-related elements.

If there's a problem, it's that buyers are getting older because the industry is not getting enough younger consumers into riding. J.D. Power says that since 2001, the average age of motorcycle owners has increased from 40 to 47 years.

"This indicates that the current population of motorcycle buyers is aging, and a large proportion of these owners are likely to soon exit the market," says Fox. The firm says first-time buyers constitute about 22% of all new-motorcycle purchases, and that number has not changed since 2001. "It is critical for manufacturers to focus on attracting first-time and younger buyers--primarily those in the Gen X and Y demographics--in order to ensure continued growth in this market."

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