State of Motorcycle Rallies
The slowing economy obviously has had a big impact on number of attendees at motorcycle rallies. A slow economy means that potential attendees are cutting back on extras like going to as many rallies or going to rallies at all. It is not just the people who have unfortunately lost their job, but also the people who fear that they might lose their job and are watching how they spend their money.
There are number of other factors that have lowered the number of attendees at bike rallies. Builders like Jesse James and the Tutels getting their own TV show created a huge demand for motorcycles during the first few years of 2000. Tons of new riders or people who had not ridden in years went out and purchased bikes, but as the fad died a lot of people recognized that they were not as interested in motorcycles as they thought so they sold their bikes, stopped riding as much, or parked them long term which lowered the number of potential attendees at .
In early 2000 the demand for bikes increased across all age ranges, but especially in those who were retiring soon or who had already retired. The numbers of Pre-Baby Boom and Baby Boom generation retired or retiring was and has been huge, so many retirees just wanted to check out a new hobby since they had more time now that they were retired. With all of the excitement surrounding a new hobby there were naturally a lot more people interested in experiencing everything that owning a motorcycle has to offer, including rallies; at least temporarily interested.
Although some cities had been discouraging events by passing laws before the "Biker Boom", many started afterwards due to the increase in the number of attendees at rallies and events. Even though the numbers have lowered, at some rallies significantly, some of the cities really still seem to have a bad taste in their mouth, so they continue to deter or straight out end rallies in their cities. Whether this makes financial sense in a poor economy or not, the attendance at motorcycle rallies has dropped.
During the bubble in motorcycle sales and the "Biker Boom" there were all time highs in sales of products at rallies. Now with so many products available that are used combined with a poor economy, a lot of the people still riding now opt to buy used products. This causes a downward spiral: less revenue for manufacturers and vendors means a lower number of them that can afford to go rallies, which lowers the revenue for rally promoters to spend on marketing and attractions, so less people show up, etc.
Companies selling new motorcycles also have had lower sales because there are so many great deals because on the gigantic number of bikes that are available as the result of the end of the "Boom" and the poor economy. Subsequently, there are fewer companies attending rallies which hurts the promoters' ability to market their event, and lowers the number of people because they have less money to spend in general and even more so on an event with fewer attractions.
All of this ends up being a game of the survival of the fittest for rallies and companies selling products. Although the increase in gas prices might have helped some companies to survive a little longer, the rise in revenue was short lived and companies continue to have to merger, adapt, or go out of business. The stronger rallies and companies will survive the poor economy and the overabundance of used motorcycles and parts.
So, "Are rallies dead?" No, the future of the rally industry and motorcycle industry is not as dismal as many claim, they are just adjusting. For a while there were a higher percentage of companies profiting at rallies and a higher level of profit being made by companies. Rallies survived before the "Biker Boom" and will survive in the future. Promoters will cut back their fees to vendors to adjust for their lower sales and since many will have fewer attractions the admission price will drop to attract more attendees. Bottom line, it takes time to find the right balance.
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