Motorcycle sales | Triumph, Royal Enfield soar; BMW, Ducati slide; Harley slumps

Royal Enfield emerge as the big winners on the global motorcycle sales charts after huge gains in Europe, while Harley-Davidson resumes its status as the big loser

Royal Enfield 2022 Scram 411.

Triumph, Suzuki and Royal Enfield have emerged as the big winners on the global sales charts during the first half of 2022, while Ducati, BMW and Harley-Davidson head into the second portion of the year with some ground to make up.

As we head deep into August, some of the world’s biggest motorcycle firms have begun reporting sales figures from the first six (or seven) months of the year, with some intriguing results emerging that represent a positive outlook for some and trouble ahead for others (figures and data reported by Motorcycles Data).

- Royal Enfield is enjoying a bumper year so far as global sales enjoyed double-digit growth during the first six months of 2022.

While its fortunes in the vast Indian market - which makes up around 80% of its overall sales -  are ultimately integral to Royal Enfield’s overall figures, the combination of an industry-wide rebound in its native land and a big jump in overseas sales have spurred a +13.4% rise year-on-year globally.

Stimulated by the successful launch of the critical Meteor 350 - which toppled the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure from the head of the year-to-date UK sales charts (126cc and above) at the end of July - Royal Enfield has accelerated its fortunes in Europe especially.

Up +47.9% in the UK - where models like the Interceptor 650 have been popular for some years now - Royal Enfield also posted +134% gains in Italy, +80.9% in Germany and - rather extraordinarily - +609% in Greece.

- Triumph is on a roll at the moment as its sales for the first seven months of 2022 put it comfortably on course for another record annual total come the conclusion of the year.

Having embarked on a thorough range overhaul that sees the Triumph Rocket 3 - updated only three years ago - listed as its oldest model, the British marque has also benefited from the successful addition of brand-new models, notably the Trident 660, Tiger Sport 660 and Speed Triple 1200 RR.

As a result, sales reached a new record peak in 2021 with 78,365 shifted units representing a massive +31% over 2020.

Into 2022, however, Triumph is well on course to surpass this with sales up +5.6% compared with the same seven month period in 2021. 

- Suzuki also finds itself top of the class after posting - perhaps surprisingly - an impressive +8.8% boost to sales during the first half of 2022.

Better still, the gains come after its particularly strong bounce back to prominence in 2021 when - helped a little by the market’s recovery from COVID but also helped a lot by almost doubling its sales in China - Suzuki posted its first big gain in a decade that had seen sales decline to 1.3m in 2020 from a high of 2m in 2012.

Suzuki’s performance will come as a surprise given its lethargic response to the growth of the electric market, which is becoming an increasingly popular and competitive segment at scooter level in the firm’s predominant Indian market.

Moreover, it comes at a time when Suzuki - despite updates to the GSX-S1000 and GSX-S1000 GT - has persevered with an increasingly ageing range. However, this has consequently allowed it to reposition itself as a more value-orientated option, a shift that is clearly finding favour among buyers.

- BMW Motorrad has certainly gotten used to seeing its models - namely the R 1250 family - lead the way at the top of sales charts across Europe, but while it continues to be seen as a default option for many customers, the company itself is enduring a bruising 2022 thus far with sales down -6.8%.

With 124,597 units sold during the first seven months of the year, while BMW remains a huge player in the global market, its dip comes in line with a general -5% downturn in European sales.

The decline puts BMW on course for its first annual sales drop in ten-years following a sustained period of record growth that put it tantalisingly close to the magic 200,000 sales mark for 2021.

Despite this, while BMW - like Ducati (see below) - might gripe at the number of motorcycles heading out of the showrooms, it can take solace from the fact profits rose having utilised the slowdown in parts supplies and the impact of the Ukraine War - which prompted it to pull out of the lucrative Russian market - to justify a series of price increases to cushion the impact to sales

- Ducati is teetering on ending 2022 with a fourth sales decline in five years after posting a drop of -2.8% for the first half of the year.

Again, the slip is largely in line with a downturn across its crucial European market overall, but while Ducati has posted more negative results than positive ones in recent years, it is coming in off the back of a bumper 2021 when a significant increase in sales saw it not only reverse a trend but rebound to record figures.

Despite the lower sales, which Ducati still has time to reverse by the end of the year, the Italian firm strengthened itself financially with a rise in profits.

- Harley-Davidson is another company that has experienced more downs than ups over the past decade, but its newest decline will come as a surprise and disappointment for the American firm.

Indeed, while a dated range and inflated price tags were blamed for a sustained period of declining fortunes for Harley-Davidson over the past two decades, it appeared the arrival of new CEO Jochen Zeitz and his bold ‘Rewire’ strategy was having a desired effect.

Stimulated by having the Pan America ADV in its first full year on sale and the arrival of the new Sportster S, the company flicked back up to 194,000 sales for 2021, a gain of +7.5%.

However, Harley-Davidson has not sustained the momentum in 2022 with an alarming global sales drop of -14.7%, despite the arrival of the more affordable Nightster

Its native North American market was to blame with sales down a vast -22%, though a rise in Europe - largely thanks to popularity of the ADV market - has helped cushion the blow.

Some of the drop can also be attributed to Harley-Davidson stopping production for a time to level out production in the wake of the semi-conductor/parts shortages