Would you buy a new motorcycle from the comfort of your sofa?

More manufacturers are exploring an online model for making motorcycle purchases... but would you go as far as buying a new bike without leaving your house?

Kawasaki H2 1200

For us there is a very specific buzz associated with stepping into a dealership knowing full well you will leave by riding your brand-new motorcycle off the lot. There is just something about that new bike smell, isn’t there?

However, with the industry currently in a state of flux as it grapples with the practical implications of the coronavirus, the humble dealership is one of many long-held institutions that is facing a troubled future.

In what has been coined as ‘the new normal’, just as we have had to find new ways to get our groceries and supplies, companies are working on new ways to adapt to our shift in practices when it comes to consumption – and this applies to the motorcycle industry.

As part of the lockdown restrictions around the globe, dealerships were forced to close up for the foreseeable future and while they are certain to re-open again eventually, they will be doing so with new working practices of social distancing and limited footfall.

This could spell bad news for some companies who may have been working to small profit margins even before this and there have been examples of some dealerships closing-up for good already.

The situation may push manufacturers into developing a whole new method of purchasing a motorcycle, even going as far as to agreeing finance, price and making the payment all online without leaving the comfort of your own home.

On face value, there will be many that will baulk at the prospect of buying a motorcycle with just a few clicks of the mouse. A purchase often made with an element of passion and after some painstaking research, actually going to the dealership and putting pen to paper is all part of the buying experience.

However, more manufacturers are exploring the prospect of limiting physical face-time as much as possible, to the extent that buying a motorcycle on your computer (or even phone…) and having it delivered directly to you could become more normal.

Most brands already offer the configuration tool so you can curate your perfect model and know exactly what you’d be spending and for those that have already made up their mind of what they are going to be buying, this streamlined process probably has some appeal.

MV Agusta has almost unintentionally found itself well placed to capitalise on this new trend after introducing an online purchasing functionality in 2019. This move was largely inspired by the company’s infamously patchy dealer network, forcing it to move some of the process online to pick up potential buyers while it initiates a major overhaul of its physical presence.

However, others have now followed suit. Suzuki has just launched an online service in the United States, meaning you could be putting a Hayabusa in your ‘basket’ while you eat your cornflakes.

Of course, we’d personally find it hard to recommend buying a motorcycle blindly without first test riding it first, but even this could become a more local experience if dealerships are willing to deliver to your home. 

As a gauge of what could be possible, it’s worth noting that in April - with car dealerships across the country being shut - the Tesla Model 3 emerged as the best-selling model in the UK, purely because it relies on an online order model. 

Depending on how long this crisis lasts, manufacturers may not be able to rely on dealerships entirely if they want to shift some models… though it remains to be seen if there is an ‘online’ market among punters.