Dirt bikes: Off-road motorcycle sales way up as people seek outdoor recreation

As people get away this summer with restrictions lifted, a lot of them are taking to off-road motorcycles — to the point that dirt bikes are cleaning up on the sales charts!

“It’s like a tsunami. It hit us, and has yet to crash,” said Kevin Wray, general manager of Bert’s Mega Mall in Covina

It’s hard to find a larger retailer of motorcycles than Bert’s. They carry every popular brand. Yet their sales floor for off-road motorcycles is somewhat bare these days.

“Bert’s Mega Mall has been around for 60 years. And in those 60 years we’ve never sold out of inventory, and we’re currently going through that process,” noted Wray.

While they recently had a small number of motorcycles on display in their off-highway area, they’re waiting for more bikes to come in. Those will then help fill up empty floor space, which used to be handlebar-to-handlebar, many rows deep.

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It’s not just a local thing. Americans are snapping up off-highway motorcycles across the country. In the first quarter of 2021, sales were up over 45% compared to last year. Oh, and if you think that’s because 2020 was an off year due to COVID-19? The opposite is true. For the entire year, sales were up in 2020 more than 46% over 2019, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

And this month marks 50 years since the 1971 Bruce Brown documentary “On Any Sunday” hit the big screen to rave reviews. It helped bring motorcycling into the public spotlight like never before. Having Hollywood superstar Steve McQueen on board probably didn’t hurt.

Now, all these years later, new generations are discovering going off the beaten path for some family fun.
“I’ve been riding for probably almost 50 years and it’s just a great fantastic lifestyle. People gotta do it,” said riding enthusiast Dave Evans of Granada Hills, who also owns a home in the desert where he and his family often ride.

When it comes to safety, there’s definitely a way to ride off road it as safely as possible.

Classes are taught all the time at the Honda Rider Education Center in Colton, for nearly all ages. The center offers pragmatic instruction to teach proper technique in a structured environment. I took the class myself some years back, and learned the dos and don’ts of riding in the dirt, sometimes very different than skills used on pavement.

As people get outdoors and back out into the sunshine this summer, many will consider this sport to be a great way for the family to connect with each other, and disconnect from staring at a screen.

“They’re getting back with their families, they’re getting outside again,” said Wray.

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