Buying A Motorcycle? This Is A Must Read

There is a battle fought in dealerships across the United States with Ducati taking the latest victory, leaving Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles fighting for second place.

These are the results of a study that measures the treatment of motorcycle shoppers by dealerships. The latest study celebrates the tenth year the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index have used its patent-pending process, tying ‘mystery shopping’ measurement and scoring to industry sales success to rank the different motorcycle brands. This is also the third consecutive year Ducati, seen above, finished at the top.

Why this is interesting to anyone who has recently bought a motorcycle or are thinking about a new ride is the glimpses it gives into why they felt good with their purchase or what would-be buyers should expect. Will you be offered a demo ride? Will the sales person want to sit down and discuss numbers?

All of these questions and more are uncovered in this study. Clutch and Chrome even offers some motorcycle-buying tips based on this study and just general biker-wisdom.

Before we delve into who did what, a quick overview of what the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index is. The 2016 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index U.S. Motorcycle Industry Study was conducted between July 2015 and April 2016 using 2,140 hired anonymous “mystery shoppers” at dealerships located throughout the U.S. The mystery shoppers rated the dealership on a variety items, whether a test ride was offered, were reasons given why the shopper should buy the motorcycle as well as discussing trade-ins or offering brochures to take away.

It’s fair to say this study is scrutinized by both dealers and motorcycle manufacturers with those falling below a magical number more upset than those above it. More of that in a moment.

As mentioned, 2016 marked the tenth year of the Pied Piper PSI motorcycle industry study and it appears the shopping experience is getting better for buyers.  For example, compared to ten years ago, dealers today are almost twice as likely to offer motorcycle test rides, ask about trade-ins and to request shopper contact information for follow-up calls. 

Winners and Losers

Outside of Ducati enjoying the top position, Harley and Victory tying for second, BMW Motorrad and dealers selling Polaris’ Slingshot three-wheeler finished tied for fourth. Brands showing the greatest overall improvement from 2015 to 2016 were Polaris’ Indian brand, Aprilia, Honda, Victory, BMW, Moto Guzzi and Yamaha.

Brands with declines from 2015 to 2016 were Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Can-Am and Triumph. 

An average was calculated from all the scores resulting in an industry average Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) score. The table below shows seven brands enjoyed a place above that standard with the remaining falling underneath.

The study also showed the brand a rider’s shopping for could influence whether they’re offered a demo ride. Dealers selling Can-Am, BMW, and Ducati offered test rides either immediately or in the future more than 75% of the time.  In contrast, dealers selling Husqvarna, KTM, Suzuki, Honda, Star and Yamaha only offered test rides of any type less than half the time.

From 2015 to 2016, the biggest industry-wide increase came from sales people ‘asking for the sale’. The study found salespeople suggesting sitting down at a desk increased from 41% to 49% of the time; Salesperson did anything at all to attempt to forward the sale increased from 62% to 69% of the time; and salesperson mentioned availability of financing options increased from 62% to 65% of the time.

One of the few areas which declined over the last ten years was salespeople offering printed materials for the shopper to take with them, which dropped from 67% to 49% of the time. In this age of smartphones and well-built websites, this is something that should continue its downward trend.

The study gives a special nod to Zero Motorcycles and generally speaking, the 2016 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index found they have the most polite salespeople in the motorcycle industry.

The electric motorcycle brand was included in the study for the first time and finished right at the industry standard with a PSI score of 109. Areas where Zero salespeople were most likely to outperform the industry included offering a test ride, mentioning maintenance program and discussing features unique to brand. 

However, it seems Zero salespeople were less likely to ask about trade-ins or more importantly, ask for the sale.  Zero salespeople were also more likely to suggest that shoppers consider a different brand instead of Zero.

Zero Motorcycles salespeople - The nicest in the study?

Some of the points and tips bikers shopping for a new ride should take away from this study are;

Know what you're shopping for. Whether just your riding style or a specific type of motorcycle, let the salesperson know so they can guide you through the crowded showroom floor.

Give reasons why you're looking for what you've described. Let them know and then ask their opinion or experience. This will tell you if the salesperson is not only listening or understanding what you want, but if they have the knowledge to help with this style of motorcycle.

Ask about service costs and their facilities. This is a larger concern for smaller cities or towns who may be limited in their choices of dealerships or service locations. Not only does a rider need to know what a motorcycle will cost to keep in the road, but whether it can be successful serviced or not. You could even ask to see the service area.

Test Ride, Test Ride, Test Ride. This isn't just a sales technique to nudge buyers towards signing a contract, its needed to ensure the motorcycle is everything the buyer thinks and wants it to be.

Its your hard-earned money. Understanding sales people need to make commissions, make sure you're riding out with the best price. This includes bringing up any trade-in credit, special financing offers or other incentives. Many dealerships will offer gift cards toward equipment purchases such as helmets. Speaking of financing, always get pre-approved for a motorcycle loan by your bank or credit union before shopping. This will help when discussing the dealer's financing.

Finally, be prepared to field numerous calls and texts after your visit. Just as you have a job, so does the salesperson and theirs is to get you back to the showroom to buy a motorcycle!

While all these findings are helpful to those looking to buy a motorcycle, they’re crucial to dealership and by extension, the manufacturers themselves.

“Pied Piper has found that on average, when motorcycle dealerships are ranked by their PSI score, dealerships in the top quarter sell 22% more motorcycles than dealerships in the bottom quarter,” said Fran O’Hagan, President and CEO of Pied Piper Management Co., LLC.  

What do you think about the findings? How was your last motorcycle buying experience?

Share this article


  • Comment Link ZeroLover



    Zero is a unique ride which needs to be experienced rather than explained. So scoring them high from offering demos is kinda favoritism. Oh and plus they are so cheap per mile, demos cost very little to share. So everyone "Go test drive a Zero".

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

About us

Clutch and Chrome covers every aspect of the motorcycle lifestyle. Daily news, in-depth articles, reviews and anything that would interest a rider.


We not only produce our own motorcycle related videos but scour the internet to bring our readers the latest, greatest two-wheeled hits online.

Last posts


Want to really stay in touch? Here's our newsletter!