50 States Ranked for Highest Motorcycle Ownership: You Won't Guess Who's No. 2

The No. 1 state for motorcycles is a no-brainer, but second and third may come as a shock.

Feb 16, 2014 at 10:30AM

As of the most recent report by the Department of Transportation, there were 8,410,255 motorcycles registered in the United States by private citizens and commercial organizations in 2011. To put this staggering number into perspective, out of every 36 people you meet in the U.S., one of them probably has a motorcycle. For ranking purposes, we won't be looking at total bikes in a state, but rather people per motorcycle (the lower the number, the more common bikes are). So what states in America have the most die-hard moto-enthusiasts?

3. Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain -- Iowa


Iowa is now home to the production of the famous Indian motorcycle. Image: WikiCommons

Iowa comes in third with 18 people for every motorcycle, beating the national average by 50%. In 2011 the state had 172,929 motorcycles registered, representing 2.1% of all motorcycles in America. Iowa is also home to production of Polaris(NYSE:PII) Victory and Indian brands, and has the famous Iowa Grand Motorcycle Rally. This Midwest state's wide-open spaces make for a perfect landscape for Polaris' and Harley-Davidson's (NYSE:HOG) famous cruisers.

2. Live free or die -- New Hampshire


The 90-year-old Laconia Motorcycle Week. Image: WikiCommons

New Hampshire comes in second with 17 people for every motorcycle beating the national average by 53%. In 2011 the state had 79,266 motorcycles registered, representing 0.94% of all motorcycles in America. New Hampshire also happens to be one of 31 states without a mandatory helmet law.

The state is also home to Laconia Motorcycle Week, which dates back to the early 1900s and is one of the countries oldest rallies. Some sources quote attendance as high 300,000-400,000 bikers for this rally, and it is frequently ranked as one of the best rallies in the country. 

The combination of no helmets, great natural terrain, and the famous Laconia Motorcycle Week make New Hampshire a top spot for motorcycle enthusiasts.

1. Under God the people rule -- South Dakota


416,272 riders made there way to Sturgis in 2011. Image: WikiCommons

South Dakota comes in first with 12 people for every motorcycle beating the national average by 66%. In 2011 the state had 69,284 motorcycles registered, representing 0.82% of all motorcycles in America. South Dakota is famous for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which attracted 467,338 riders in 2013.  

With 77% of surveyed riders riding a Harley-Davidson, this event is crucial for Harley to not only show off its newest products, but also to monitor its core customer. Investors in Polaris and Harley Davidson would do well to monitor how their brand's present themselves at Sturgis to see if they're gaining market share or losing it. 

Since South Dakota hosts the country's largest motorcycle rally and has a small population, it's no surprise this rather thinly populated state takes the No. 1 spot.

Wrapping up the 50 top states
In 2011 the Department of Transportation began more accurately collecting data for states, so for the first time motorcycle enthusiasts can truly see in which states they have the greatest chance of passing by a fellow rider. For the motorcycle companies this data gives them valuable information on where they can most easily reach the greatest amount of riders and customers.

For a complete list of the most popular states for bikes, please scroll down.

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RankState# BikesPopulationPeople per bike
1 South Dakota 69,284 816,598 12
2 New Hampshire 79,266 1,316,807 17
3 Iowa 173,929 3,050,202 18
4 Wisconsin 317,276 5,691,659 18
5 Wyoming 30,351 564,554 19
6 North Dakota 32,654 674,629 21
7 Vermont 30,070 625,909 21
8 Montana 46,996 990,958 21
9 Minnesota 240,288 5,310,658 22
10 Alaska 30,983 714,146 23
11 Idaho 62,576 1,571,102 25
12 Maine 50,318 1,327,379 26
13 New Jersey 330,470 8,799,593 27
14 Colorado 173,120 5,047,692 29
15 Delaware 30,494 899,792 30
16 Ohio 390,494 11,537,968 30
17 Oklahoma 127,140 3,760,184 30
18 Washington 220,856 6,742,950 31
19 Pennsylvania 404,164 12,717,722 31
20 Indiana 204,402 6,490,622 32
21 New Mexico 64,863 2,065,913 32
22 Rhode Island 32,989 1,052,528 32
23 Michigan 308,338 9,877,143 32
24 Florida 574,176 18,838,613 33
25 West Virginia 56,210 1,854,368 33
26 Kansas 81,354 2,859,143 35
27 Oregon 108,313 3,838,332 35
28 Nebraska 51,371 1,830,141 36
29 Arizona 178,890 6,413,158 36
30 Connecticut 97,960 3,575,498 36
31 Illinois 350,193 12,841,980 37
32 Alabama 127,255 4,785,401 38
33 Tennessee 168,408 6,357,436 38
34 Arkansas 76,293 2,921,588 38
35 Nevada 68,951 2,704,283 39
36 Virginia 195,722 8,023,953 41
37 Massachusetts 159,000 6,555,466 41
38 Missouri 140,936 5,995,715 43
39 North Carolina 223,209 9,560,234 43
40 South Carolina 107,864 4,637,106 43
41 Kentucky 98,475 4,347,223 44
42 Hawaii 30,098 1,363,359 45
43 California 801,803 37,338,198 47
44 Utah 59,355 2,775,479 47
45 Maryland 120,069 5,785,681 48
46 Georgia 199,586 9,712,157 49
47 New York 345,816 19,395,206 56
48 Texas 438,551 25,253,466 58
49 Louisiana 67,486 4,545,343 67
50 Mississippi 28,067 2,970,072 106
51 Dist. of Col. 3,523 604,912 172

Blake Bos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Polaris Industries. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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