The mighty motorcycle industry remains strong even though sales have fallen off in recent years from unprecedented growth. An American success story, the $14.6 billion U.S. motorcycle industry experienced a growth that reached double digits in the cruiser segment during most of the 1990s, driven by baby boomers and their need to break free from midlife doldrums.
Motorcycling became more mainstream than ever, inspiring TV shows and spurring new manufacturers that specialized in high-dollar custom niches. In fact, biking became so popular that it hardly qualified a participant for rebel status anymore, despite closets of sinister black T-shirts.
Cruisers comprise the largest market segment in history, although sales fell off after 2005 and are flattening out. Yet this market still accounts for 45% of all new streetbike sales, according to industry analyst Don Brown. Experts caution, however, this is no time for manufacturers to back off building and promoting new models.
The Big Four Japanese makers—Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki—are built to endure a slump in any one two-wheel segment. They have the diverse product lines and extensive international distribution to take a few hits and not flinch. Collectively, their cruiser numbers are huge.
More: State-of-the-Cruiser Address on Motorcycle.com