How many H-D M8 engine motorcycles have been sold?

The other day, I was trying to compare and contrast manufacturer performance whilst researching an upcoming LIVE show on YouTube and Twitch, when I got to thinking how many bikes have been sold with the M8 engine since they were first introduced in 2017 for the Touring line up.

With this new found inquisitiveness, I set about digging into the financial records of Harley-Davidson since 2017 to see if I could get a definitive figure…and it’s not as clear cut as I hoped it would be.

Year on year, H-D produce total sales figures for the different markets they sell their motorcycles, but these include all motorcycles with different types of engines. Hence over the last 5 years these would include the Milwaukee Eight engine Cruisers and Tourers as well as the ‘old Sportsters’ and the new Revolution Max engine bikes such as Sportster S, Nightster and Pan America.

However motorcycle shipments is another set of figures which is proudly listed. These are the numbers of vehicles that leave the assembly plant and delivered to dealerships around the world. These are not necessarily motorcycles that end up being sold but it is as near as we can get from the provided figures.

Just for illustration; Motorcycles shipments for 2022 were 193,500 whilst sales were 178,500. This means there is an inventory surplus of around 15,000 motorcycles that occurs every year. Now, these are made up of carry over unsold bikes from the previous year, carry over bikes of new model year without any significant changes and the delivery of new model year bikes too. So just keep this in mind when the following figures are read.

For Tourers since 2017 using the M8 engine; 532,582 motorcycles have been shipped worldwide…or as best as can be determined.

2017: 99,745

2018: 101942

2019: 91018

2020: 56067

2021: 93961

2022: 89849

Like rings on a tree trunk we can see the lean years and the fruitful ones too. 2017 & 2018 were introduction years with good figures. 2019 saw a small drop in sales, whilst 2020 saw a dramatic drop due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. 2021 saw a bounce back year and the world reopened its doors, whilst 2022 saw a slight drop due to rising economic factors such as inflation and lending rates.

Similar trends are in the Cruisers but with much less of a recovery.

2017: M8s not introduced in the Cruiser line up

2018: 78529

2019: 76052

2020: 55229

2021: 59033

2022: 59010

For the first two years, the M8s made good sales in the cruiser line up but 2020 saw a big drop due to the pandemic. However in terms of percentage drop not as much as the Tourers. I would presume this being due to the cruisers being at a lower price point and making them more attractive than more expensive motorcycles. That being said, both tourers and cruisers had similar shipped figures.

However what is interesting here is that since 2020, the amount of cruiser motorcycles shipped has hit a plateaux, whereas the tourers saw much great bounce back. This could be more to do with the renewed sense of freedom that post pandemic customers were feeling as wanted to go for the longer touring rides rather than local…it’s a theory at least.

Since 2017 there has been a general decline in sales from H-D and shipped motorcycles have reduced slightly also. However the introduction of the Revolution Max engine bikes may improve the picture for 2023 and potentially with the small displacement X350 and X500 for the Far East & India market may see big numbers once again, not seen for over 10yrs or so. However there is no doubt that the gradual phasing out of and eventual total deletion of the Sportster motorcycles has has a big impact on overall numbers and in which the company has yet to recover from.

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