Here I thought that superbike sales in 2019 were shit, 2020 just keeps on giving. You can read this excellent analysis on Team-bhp to get the real picture, the main purpose of me writing this article is to laugh at just how sucky things are.
To clarify, the depression you see below are not retail numbers, they tell you how many bikes made it form the factory to the dealer, not dealer to customer. That doesn’t make things any better unfortunately.
In 2019 5350 superbikes were sold in total. In 2020, that number went south by 46% to 2879.
It is difficult to explain just how pathetic that number is. To put things in perspective, in 2020 Mercedes alone still managed to sell 7893 cars, BMW alone sold 6092, and even Audi that barely has any models on sale stood at 1936.
The most immediate conclusion that I can think of from these numbers, is that somehow people think of a 50 lac car as more “essential” compared to a 10 lac bike. Or maybe this means that the rich people of India simply aren’t interested in motorcycles? Perhaps a big bike simply does not impress others of your wealth like a long car can.
Sure it’s not the right comparison to make, these are 2 very different markets aimed at very different people, but I’d say there’s enough similarity in the luxury car and superbike segments to warrant at least some level of introspection. Are motorcycle companies simply not targeting the right people?
The fact that big bike sales in 2020 crashed like GameStop’s stock price is not a surprise, Covid fucked everything up. Superbikes were never a priority even in previous years when the world wasn’t on fire, a fucking pandemic didn’t help.
Harley faceplanting into the ground and crashing out of India did help Kawasaki though, the green machines have now the biggest market share of premium motorcycles in India. But the most interesting item I found in this was the bike that got them to the top, Ninja 1000.
This graph from Team-bhp plots the price of the bike against how many were sold. Prices go from some 5 lacs on the left, to 50 lacs on the right. Look at the position of Ninja 1000, it’s the definition of anomalous.
The number of Ninja 1000s sold has no comparison to anything else in that price range, that’s pretty insane in my opinion. Somehow, for the superbiking community of India, the Ninja 1000 has become a very desirable motorcycle with a justifiable price tag. It certainly is well priced for what it gets you, but those numbers are still mind blowing to me.
Especially considering that the Ninja 1000 outsold the Ninja 650.
The Z900 seems to the naked equivalent of the Ninja 1000, those numbers are extremely impressive. Kawasaki seems to have cracked the code for selling premium stuff, make reliable machines, make them look good, price them well.
Which is why it’s even more mysterious why Suzuki, Honda and Triumph are struggling so hard. Triumph I guess is easy to explain, their pathetic service record with plenty of horror stories on Team-bhp would deter any sane person to invest in one. They certainly make excellent bikes, but buying a superbike is just the beginning of the experience.
Unlike Triumph that has quite a large selection of motorcycles, both Suzuki and Honda have just a couple of machines on sale here. Why that’s so is anybody’s guess, I imagine the title of this article has something to do with it. Still, one would think with the brilliant motorcycles that these Japanese behemoths make, they could easily eat into Kawasaki’s market share, but then again 50% of a little more than nothing is still very close to nothing.
I guess we should still be happy not all companies are behaving like Yamaha when it comes to their big bikes.