Tristin Burdick | September 12, 2023
It’s an important time of year for powersport consumers.
We’re in a transitioning period as we move from summer into fall. The memories of sunlit rides and water adventures linger. Yet, there’s growing excitement amidst consumers when they see the colorful foliage emerge and experience a sudden drop in high temperatures. This period not only offers a shift in the landscape but also in the very essence of the powersports experience.
We conducted a survey of our consumer panel to deepen our understanding of this transitioning period – asking consumers to reflect on their summer experiences and what they're anticipating this fall. Based on our findings, a few key things emerge.
Summer: A Season of Rallies and Watersports
This year, it was evident that many powersport consumers soaked up every ounce of sun, especially on two wheels. A significant 83% of respondents reported motorcycles as their primary vehicle used this summer. But it wasn’t just summer motorcycle rides down open roads; motorcycle rallies were often attended this summer.
Nearly 1 in 3 motorcycle riders attended a rally or motorcycle-related event this summer. These weren’t just your run-of-the-mill gatherings. Major rallies drew in 19%, while nature/location-based rallies, reflecting a blend of thrill and scenic beauty, captivated an equal share. Clearly, this summer was full of fun and adventures for motorcycle consumers.
While rallies and events were popular, another favorite summer activity was equally popular among consumers: watersports.
For the consumers who owned watercraft (boats and PWCs), watersport activities were often a favorite past-time (aside from cruising and relaxing on the water). Over half of them frequently participated in watersports this summer, while 15% missed out this summer. Tubing was the most preferred watersport activity, followed by water skiing, kayaking, and wakeboarding.
Boating, often seen as a ‘family-oriented’ or ‘socially-oriented’ sport – compared to other types of powersports – was found to be at the center of social bonding engagements. A heartwarming 79% recalled having a bonding moment this summer while boating, cherishing time with family and friends. Whether it was casual conversations or shared laughter, these moments are forever remembered by boating consumers.
Overall, this summer was seen as a success for most. 42% maintained their level of engagement in the sport (compared to last year), while 21% increased their engagement in powersport activities. However, there was a noticeable drop in engagement for some, as 32% indicated that they noticed a decrease in their summertime activities compared to last year. Regardless, this summer was filled with many adventures and bonding moments that will be remembered forever.
Fall Preparations: Between Continuation and Winterization
Looking ahead to fall (or autumn), the landscape will slowly begin to change. Leaves will begin to change (due to temperature and moisture) and will transform into colorful hues ranging from yellow to red. To the powersports consumer, this shift signals more than just a changing season; it’s a call for preparations, reflections, and decisions.
Time to winterize? Or time to ride a little longer?
These are the questions consumers are asking themselves. The answer will depend on what type of powersport vehicles they own.
Meticulous winter preparation is in full swing for those who own boats and jet skis. For them, the onset of cooler temperatures signifies the end of lakeside adventures and the beginning of maintenance routines. Draining water from engines, adding fuel stabilizers, and ensuring that every part is protected from the potential damage of frost are just a few of the steps in the winterization process. This ritual isn't just about preserving their investments, but it's also a way of showing respect to the machines that provided endless summer fun.
On the other hand, for motorcycle and ATV consumers, the allure of fall rides is irresistible. For them, fall offers a unique experience that many cherish with them. This time of the year offers milder temperatures, especially if they live in areas down south, providing them with a more comfortable riding experience. This makes riding during fall preferable, in some cases, to riding during the summer. You can expect to see motorcycles and ATVs cruising down leaf-covered trails and roads in the coming months.
This period also becomes an opportunity to reflect on past adventures experienced this summer and plan future ones this fall. They might share stories with friends and family about that thrilling ride up the mountain or that unforgettable day on the lake. Photos might be browsed, videos re-watched, and laughs shared over memories of summer mishaps or surprising encounters.
As they reflect, many also start looking forward to what fall has in store (mentioned next).
Anticipating Fall: Destinations, Challenges, and Excitements
Our research found that a notable 41% of consumers have trips planned this fall with their powersport vehicles. These adventures will predominantly be focused on natural and outdoor destinations (such as national parks, local rallies, or mountain trails), indicated by 21%. Those were the main categories we identified from respondents. 51% chose ‘other’ locations, indicating a broad range of plans set for this fall.
Motorcycle rallies, though integral to many bikers' summer experiences, continue to be a focal point in fall. The survey indicates that 27% of respondents are considering attending such events, with a significant 48% preferring local events. This local preference suggests a communal element to these gatherings, as bikers probably want to engage with their immediate community and explore nearby offerings. Additionally, major and nature/location-based rallies also remain on the radar, with 17% and 15% respectively keen on these.
The changing seasons also bring about changes in vehicle use and care. A considerable 31% are making specific preparations for their powersport vehicles. The major tasks include boat preparations (27%), tire replacements (24%), and general maintenance (23%).
However, not everything about fall is about preparation. There's excitement in the air. 39% are eagerly awaiting more riding opportunities, and 24% are excited about the upcoming fall weather. It's evident that the milder temperatures and scenic beauty of fall are drawing powersport enthusiasts outdoors.
Seasons Shift, So Do Consumers
Powersport consumers are always evolving in their preferences and activities. The transition from summer to fall reveals an array of preparations, excitements, and plans. Whether it's the thrill of a motorcycle rally, the serenity of a nature trip, or the meticulousness of vehicle maintenance, these consumers embody passion. And as the seasons change, so do their adventures, echoing the ever-dynamic nature of the powersport world.