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Cycle sales powered by pricey gas

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY Tue Jun 6, 7:29 AM ET
High gasoline prices are helping boost nationwide sales of motorcycles as commuters look for a fuel-saving alternative to four-wheeled travel.
The Motorcycle Industry Council, a manufacturers' trade group headquartered here, reports that sales of motorcycles and scooters rose 8% in the first three months of this year compared with 2005. Council spokesman Ty van Hooydonk and other industry leaders expect second-quarter reports, due in July, to show another jump in sales.


Vincent Stone, 36, of Los Angeles, shopping at L.A. Cycle Sports in Inglewood, is among those switching. He garaged his van and bought a 25-year-old motorcycle. "It cost me $85 to fill up the van. Man, it's been killing me," he says. "My motorcycle only costs $13 to fill up."


The Motorcycle Safety Foundation says 350,000 people will take its new-rider course this year, up 10% in a year. There are so many newcomers the foundation can't find spots for 40% of applicants.


"The wait time in some states can be months," says Tim Buche, president of the foundation.

At Coleman Powersports in Falls Church, Va., general sales manager Greg Keoho says the store sold 109 motorcycles last month, up from 76 in May 2005. Scooter sales were up to 44 from 35 a year ago.

Vento Motorcycles, makers of entry-level scooters and motorcycles with 250cc and smaller engines, saw a 33% jump in orders in April and May, says Henry Lonski, vice president of sales: "There are a lot of new faces coming into the dealerships, and I believe a lot of that is because of the gas prices."

Tom Lindsay, spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association, says a survey his group took of riders found 35% planned to ride more this year because of fuel prices.

Gas prices may be just the nudge some are looking for.
"A motorcycle is not a need, it's a want," says Kevin Foster, sales manager at L.A. Cycle Sports. "People are looking for reasons to justify that want, and gas prices do that."

Hugh Hurt Jr., emeritus professor of safety science at the University of Southern California and leading accident researcher, says new motorcyclists should learn safe practices. But he says new riders may not pose a greater risk than others: "The current problem is older riders, bigger bikes and alcohol."




I guess I had a different "nudge" cuz my car gets better MPG's....
 

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I read this report a while ago. Really, how can anyone be surprised with gas prices the way they are. I think scooter sales are going to absolutely explode over the next couple of years also, especially with major companies coming out with their hybrid motorcycle/scooter things now. I just hope all of these new riders ride safe so we can keep insurance prices down for the rest of us.
 

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i think its not just gas prices, but troops coming back from overseas. hell, everyone in my unit talked about gettin a bike when we got back, and a lot did.
 
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