Motorcycle and scooter sales, like gas prices, rise

Alex Bauer

Many motorcycle dealerships are watching fuel pumps and licking their chops each day as gas prices continue to soar.

People are choosing to ride bikes more often because of the high gas mileage. Motorcycles often get two or three times better mileage than a standard midsize car. A motorcycle typically gets between 45 and 75 miles to the gallon.

“The fuel economy gives everyone a reason to go buy a motorcycle,” said Cindy Philio at Cycle Enterprises II in West Bloomfield, N.Y. 

Philio said her dealership doesn’t look at overall sales until the end of the year, but added, “We kind of have a general feeling as to how the summer is going and it’s a good feeling. Overall, I think the sales are up, and it’s mainly because of gas prices.”

Dan Cook, sales manager at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports, said that more riders each day are expressing concerns with fuel prices.

“What kind of gas mileage does this bike get?” is one of the most popular questions that Cook answers day in and day out.

Canandaigua Motorsports has been selling more bikes this year than in the past, and Cook thinks gas prices are directly responsible for that.

“I know for a fact that it has increased sales, especially for the smaller bikes,” said Cook. In general, smaller bikes — like smaller cars — get better gas mileage than larger ones.

Andrew Toulson, service writer at Canandaigua Motorsports, agrees that sales are up for smaller bikes, such as the 250cc Honda scooters.

The main difference between a scooter and a motorcycle is the transmission. Scooters are automatic, while motorcycles are manual and require the rider to shift. A 250cc bike, meaning that the size of the bike’s motor is 250 cubic centimeters, is the smallest full-size motorcycle.

Toulson said that Canandaigua Motorsports began the year with seven 250cc Honda scooters, an inventory usually good enough to last at least through the  summer, and ran out two months ago. 

Customers visiting Geneva Harley Davidson Sales & Service might not even know that the shop even sells bikes anymore. Sales have been up so much that the shop’s inventory is almost completely cleaned out.

“My floor is empty,” said Corinna Taylor, finance manager. “The ’09 bikes haven’t arrived yet, and I’ve only got nine others left. Normally at this time of the year, we’ve got around 30.”

Taylor said that all of her small bikes are gone, and there are only two used ones in stock. 

Even though most motorcycle dealerships are prospering, there certainly are exceptions. 

Soper Powersports Kawasaki in Farmington, N.Y., is experiencing a major sales decrease, and the shop is going out of business in either late August or early September, said Joy Soper, whose parents own the business.

Soper said that the struggling economy is hurting the shop to the point where sales have plummeted. 

However, Soper Powersports Kawasaki has still seen some of the same trends that other area dealerships are seeing. For example, smaller bike sales have gone up.

Soper said that she sold out of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R weeks ago and is still getting five calls a day from customers interested in the bike. The Ninja 250R gets approximately 75 miles to the gallon, she said. 

Dealerships are selling bikes to riders of all ages, genders, sizes and shapes.

“We’re seeing a lot of new riders, and we’re seeing a ton of people in their forties who rode 20 years ago getting back into it,” said Cook. 

Taylor agrees.

“More and more people are getting their old bikes back on the road,” she said.

Lillian Ford, a six-year rider, recently purchased a new Harley Davidson V-Rod. The V-Rod is smaller and more fuel-efficient than her previous bike, a Harley Davidson Road King. Ford bought the V-Rod because she wanted something smaller and easier to maneuver. She sees riding as an opportunity to have fun and save some extra money on gas.

“If you can go out, get on two wheels and save money on gas, life is good,” she said.

Contact Daily Messenger writer Alex Bauer at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 255, or at abauer@messengerpostmedia.com.