A 2015 US motorcycle industry study found that the availability of demo rides not only improved customer satisfaction of dealerships but also increased motorcycle sales.
The ninth annual Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) US Motorcycle Industry Benchmarking Study found that test rides were offered 63% of the time to mystery shoppers compared with 34% five years earlier.
It also found sales staff encouraged customers to sit on a bike 81% of the time, up from 70%.
A good dealer experience also translated to improved sales, with dealerships ranking in the top quarter selling 22% more motorcycles than dealerships in the bottom quarter.
It found Harley-Davidson, BMW and Ducati the most aggressive in offering test rides.
It is no coincidence that every Pied Piper study for the past decade or more has been led by those same three companies.
Aussie test rides
While there is no equivalent study in Australia, the results are perhaps indicative of strict global manufacturer training standards of dealer staff and attitudes to offering demo rides.
The lack of demo rides is one of the biggest complaints about dealerships we receive at MotorBikeWriter.com.
But many of these are for popular new models where demand outstrips supply and every bike that comes into the dealership is already sold.
Perhaps the most aggressive brands offering test rides in Australia are Harley-Davidson, BMW and Indian.
Harley not only offers test rides to licensed riders, but also offers a static ride to unlicensed riders with their Jump Start program.
It’s rare for any dealer to offer test rides of off-road or adventure bikes because of the risk of damage, but BMW even hosts annual GS demo ride days around the country.
And Indian throws in free fuel and accommodation on their weekend demo ride offers!
We only have our own experiences and anecdotes of readers to go on, but it seems Japanese brands are the worst at allowing test rides.
Maybe that has to do with complacency because they are the four biggest sellers.
But with their sales down between 6.8-17.4% in the first quarter, they need to pick up their act.