Economy, Politics Take Toll On Motorcycling: Events & Industry

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By: Pete Crusoe

Motorcycle enthusiasts will be saying goodbye to some long-time events this year and the future of some other big events is still hanging in the balance.

The end of an era

Last month American Honda announced that the 2008 Honda Hoot was the last one. This brings to a close 15 years of what has been arguably one of the most successful motorcycle rallies in history. Honda attributed the move to current economic conditions and said “based on the current economic crunch which may have significant impact on our customers during 2009, American Honda will take this time to seek out new and innovative ways to engage with our customers so that we can continue to ride together”.

Other events having difficulty or announcing cancellations include:

Tampa Bay Motorcycle Rally. Earlier this year CC Productions issued a release stating that the event was “cancelled due to lack of community support”.

Lone Star Rally. As of this writing, the organizers of Lone Star Rally in Galveston, Texas are still negotiating with Galveston officials. They have not been able to release even a tentative date for their rally and are threatening to leave if progress is not made.

Concours d’Elegance. While taking a softer approach in breaking the bad news, the Legend of the Motorcycle has nevertheless cancelled the 2009 “Concours d’Elegance.” The Concours d’Elegance, which takes place the first weekend each May, will be not be held in 2009 but is scheduled to resume in 2010. The decision is attributed to “the effect the world economy has had on many sponsors”. Said co-founder Jared Zaugg: “We’d rather suspend the event than see it done halfway”. The good news is that plans are already underway for May 2010.

Hollister Independence Day Rally. The event, which was tentatively scheduled for July 10-12, 2009, remains “officially” cancelled. This is the second time in three years city council members cancelled the Rally. The Horse Power Promotions website announcement states; “The city council has decided not to sanction the 2009 Hollister Motorcycle Rally. There will be no motorcycle activity in 2009.”

Lawmakers set their sights on bikers

Other potentially significant news for motorcyclists is pending legislation intended, in part, to limit motorcycle rallies. Back in September of 2008, the Myrtle Beach City Council passed 15 ordinances aimed at motorcycles and motorcycle events (See article). These ordinances include a curfew for underage individuals, administrative processes to address parking issues, new rules for checking into a hotel or motel, and a mandatory citywide helmet law. While these ordinances will not become law unless they are passed in a second reading, the potential is significant and Motorcycle Rally supporters have fired back with lawsuits (see article).

The communities and the many businesses that have relied on these events over the years will no doubt find they must reinvent themselves and will certainly face significant challenges ahead. Far away from these communities, some see the cancellation of these major events as a chance for other competing events to maintain their base or even provide a window of opportunity for smaller regional events to grow as a result. Others, still, view this as a sign of things to come and predict more events to pull back or cancel.

Manufacturers respond to the issues

The painful truth is that in addition to the current economic uncertainty, we are also seeing a convergence of issues, which have bubbled up to the surface at exactly the wrong time.

Issues and concerns such as “loud pipes”, “wheelies and stoppies” being performed on city streets, and resort communities being overwhelmed by non-stop summer-time motorcycling events have caused a backlash.

These seemingly unrelated concerns have created quite a complicated if not volatile situation for the motorcycling industry. Manufacturers, who absolutely recognize that motorcycling has always been based on freedom and the philosophy of “live and let live”, are being forced to divert resources. They find themselves in a position of having to take sides on the issues and to stave off criticism, they run campaigns on issues like “loud pipes” when they would rather be focusing on R&D, sales and marketing.

Motorcycling has been dealt somewhat of a cruel blow

Where high gas prices were recently driving up sales and expectations were high, we now see events being canceled and motorcycle sales plummeting due to economic conditions as well as communities actively pursuing new laws aimed squarely at motorcyclists.

Ultimately, just like riding the bikes they make, the motorcycling industry must keep going forward in order to keep its balance. This industry has seen its share of hard times and with the economy showing no signs of easing up any time soon certainly, more big changes are on the way. However, when the dust finally settles, though focused efforts and diligent planning, motorcycling and motorcycling events can no doubt emerge stronger and better.

Related Links:

Visit the Motorcycle Cruiser Links – 2009 Events Directory

2 comments:

  1. Blogsvine (Trackback), 2. January 2009, 12:32
     

    Economy, Politics Taking Toll On Motorcycling: Events & Industry | Motorcycle Cruiser Links…

    Great article on the state of the motorcycling industry and events as well as a insightful view of the current political environment as it relates to motorcycles….

  2.  

    […] Economy, Politics Take Toll On Motorcycling: Events & Industry […]

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