New bike sales are down, but used bike sales are up, and for higher prices.
One trend in 2020 is that sales of new motorcycles overall have been down compared to recent years. Ducati and Indian have reported slumps, and despite KTM's initial optimism, they've fallen victim to this as well. Used motorcycles, on the other hand, are seeing a bit of a boom in popularity, and rising prices reflect that.
Consider, if you will, this 1999 BMW F 650 currently listed on CycleTrader for $7,900. Yes, that's nearly $8,000 for a 21-year-old BMW. As the ad says, "There's nothing fancy or nonessential on this bike." It's just a good honest dual-sport that costs nearly four times what I bought my slightly newer Kawasaki KLR 650 for a year ago.
Sure, a BMW is going to command a premium over a Kawasaki. It's a more premium brand. That much, though? I searched my local Craigslist for KLR 650s to compare apples to apples. The least expensive one I found is a 2001 example, with more miles and fewer upgrades than my 2005, for $2,500. A 2006 model with no mods and lower miles is listed for $3,800.
What's going on here? As with everything these days, the coronavirus is to blame. Prices on outdoor recreation items—not just motorcycles, but kayaks, bicycles, RVs, and jet skis as well—have shot up this summer, because many other recreational outlets have been closed for the pandemic. When I took my camper van to New Hampshire's White Mountains a few weeks ago, the campgrounds were completely full, not almost vacant like they were during my May journey. I spent the night in a rest area parking lot instead of by a relaxing campfire. (Actually, it may not have been so relaxing if other campers were packed in like sardines all around me.)
Additionally, adventure and dual-sport motorcycles are particularly popular right now. The way they enable you to leave the road and get further into nature and away from everyone else is something people are craving right now, and turning to motorcycles to find.
This is actually good news for owners of motorcycles and other outdoor recreation items that may be a bit hard up for cash because of the pandemic. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so if you have to sell your bike, now is a good time to do it. Demand is up, and you'll get more money for your ride, which will help get you by a while longer.
Meanwhile, I'm glad I bought my KLR last year when I did. There's no way I'd get as good a deal on it today.