Tim O'Brien | Apr 10, 2009

Figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show a 15.5 percent decline in sales of motorcycles, scooters and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) compared to the first quarter 2008.

Sales in the sector stumbled to 26,241 for the period to the end of March 2009.

This result, while down on 2008, is not a disaster for a sector that has been in clover until recently, running up record year after record year.

To put it in context, the 15.5 percent decline in motorcycle sales is considerably less than the decline in car sales (down more than 20 percent).

That said, any double-digit decline in sales will have manufacturers, importers and dealers hurting. So, who were the winners and losers?

Yamaha YZF-R1

Although down 23.5 percent, Yamaha took top spot with 5,197 first quarter sales, edging out Honda with 4917 (down 28.7 percent) and Suzuki, up 1.8 percent, notching up 3763 sales.

Still riding high on the hog (and proving there are plenty of baby-boomers with overweight wallets still active in the segment), Harley Davidson sales have barely been dented, down just 3.6 percent compared to a runaway 2008. (Perhaps the world does look better from the well-padded seat of a Harley...)

To put it in context, the 15.5 percent decline in motorcycle sales is considerably less than the decline in car sales (down more than 20 percent).

Interestingly, cruisers held onto top-spot in road-bike segments ahead of 250cc and sports. Here, Harley-Davidson with 1902 sales edged out the strongly-performing Suzuki (1834 sales) and Honda (1775 sales).

Suzuki Boulevard

In the off-road market, Yamaha has things wrapped up. Its 2552 sales walloped Honda's 1996 sales and Suzuki with 1311.

Scooter sales took a pounding, falling 31.1 percent against the same period last year. SYM took top honours here with 517 sales ahead of Piaggio (385) and Vespa (376).

In what might be seen as a statement of the obvious, FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said, “There are signs that the motorcycle market has softened in the past three months, however it has to be remembered that it is being compared to the record sales result of 2008.”

Top ten by manufacturer for the first quarter 2009, were:

1. Yamaha: 5197 sales, down 23.5 percent

2. Honda: 4917 sales, down 28.7 percent

3. Suzuki: 3763 sales, up 1.8 percent

4. Kawasaki: 2808 sales, up 13 percent

5. Harley Davidson: 1902 sales, down 3.6 percent

6. KTM: 1293 sales, down 18.8 percent

7. Triumph: 911 sales, up 1.9 percent

8. Polaris: 633 sales, up 6.4 percent

9. Hyosung: 579 sales, down 7.4 percent

10. SYM: 517 sales, down 21.7 percent

(And, because you're probably interested, in 11th place was Ducati with 445 sales, down 5.9 percent.)

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