What Are Motorcycle Aftermarket Parts?

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The motorcycle industry has grown exponentially over the past few years. The motorcycle aftermarket parts industry has expanded right alongside it, together with the motorcycle accessories market.

Motorcycle aftermarket parts are a type of part that is available as an upgrade or replacement to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Motorcycle accessories are parts that can be installed or used as additional features on a motorcycle that provide safety, convenience, or comfort. Online sales for both have skyrocketed in the last year, mainly due to the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of this means that it is a good time to consider opening up your own online store for selling motorcycle aftermarket parts. Here is everything you need to know about bike parts before you decide to start your own business.

Replacement Part Types

Replacement motorcycle parts are used, as their name suggests, to replace parts on a motorcycle that are worn-out, damaged, or otherwise not functioning correctly. There are three main types of replacement parts a consumer can buy:

  • OEM parts – OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturer.” These are the original parts that came with the motorcycle. They can be bought as replacement parts as well, but they are costly since they come from the original manufacturer. OEM parts are of the highest quality, but their price points can be out of reach for many.
  • Aftermarket parts – Aftermarket parts are sold by third-party providers. They are not manufactured by the original manufacturer but by an independent motorcycle manufacturer. Aftermarket parts are not “fake,” nor are they used. These new parts need to meet certain specifications to fit a particular motorcycle model and brand. They represent a good balance between quality and price as they are quite durable but not as expensive as OEM parts.
  • Used parts – Used parts are the more affordable option for customers who want to update their motorcycle but can’t afford new parts (OEM or aftermarket). They come from motorcycles that have been sold and used by someone else, so they may not be in perfect condition or meet all required specifications. However, they can be a good bargain if the customer is on a budget.

Most motorcycle part retailers offer a variety of motorcycle aftermarket parts for their potential buyers. Used parts are generally restricted on eCommerce platforms, meaning not every platform will accept them.

Universal Parts

When bike owners ask whether motorcycle parts are universal, it is difficult to gauge what they mean. Usually, they want to know whether parts of another bike can fit into theirs or whether motorcycle parts are interchangeable.

The answer to this is a simple No. Most motorcycle parts are not universal. Even if a part is labeled as ‘universal,’ some motorcycle owners will have real trouble fitting them onto their favorite rides. At the same time, certain components, such as chains, calipers, headlights, sprockets, and mounts, can be interchangeable.

Some manufacturers support internal standardization – meaning many parts are interchangeable between bike models of the same brand. Suzuki is a prime example of this. Even some engine parts can be placed from one Suzuki model onto another.

Incompatible Parts

Just like there are a few motorcycle parts that can, at least in theory, fit on any model of any brand, on the other side of the coin are aftermarket parts that are incompatible with other aftermarket parts.

Most aftermarket manufacturers produce components that fit OEM machines. They cannot possibly account for all the other aftermarket parts the motorcycle owner will install. For example, aftermarket saddlebags are incompatible with a high-mount exhaust on a sportbike. You can either have one or the other, but not both at the same time.

Some aftermarket parts are incompatible with one another, but others will work only with other aftermarket parts. Take the example of a Harley four-speed main shaft bearing support. Harley Davidson doesn’t manufacture this configuration. If you want to run it, you need to build it yourself with aftermarket parts.

This is why it’s essential that the buyer knows what they need when looking for motorcycle parts. The question of compatibility has two sides: what will work together and what won’t; what are the goals when it comes to outfitting their ride? Factors taken into account here should include the riding style and what their dream bike configuration may be.

Fake Parts

We mentioned above how aftermarket parts are not fake parts.

But fake parts are still very much a real problem in the aftermarket motorcycle parts industry. So-called “knockoff” parts are not just a problem with cheaper, third-party manufacturers of aftermarket motorcycle parts. They can be found in the dealerships and catalogs of motorcycle industry leaders.

Knockoffs often present themselves as an original part; they look identical to that brand’s actual product, right down to the product packaging. However, they are made from cheaper materials, which means they are not as durable, safe, or well-performing as original parts.

In the worst cases, knockoffs can cause severe injury or death to motorcyclists who unknowingly use them on their machines. This is because cheap parts don’t work like quality motorcycle aftermarket parts should; instead of being able to handle wear-and-tear, they will stop working after only a short while. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), thousands of motorcycle injuries and fatalities can be associated with defective counterfeit parts.

What Parts Should You Sell?

After examining the different aspects of the motorcycle aftermarket industry, the question of which parts you should start selling is a big one.

Here are some advantages of selling new parts:

  • Easier to find suppliers – In general, there are more aftermarket part suppliers than used part suppliers. More suppliers of aftermarket parts mean more variety and prices. Used parts may not always be available for stocking up.
  • Reassuring your customers – Plenty of people are concerned with getting low-quality, unsafe parts that will cause damage to motorcycles or the riders. It is difficult to tell the quality of a part if it is used. By selling new aftermarket components, you will provide peace of mind to your customers; they can ensure that your parts are from a reliable source and made from quality materials, creating a more relaxed shopping experience overall.
  • Higher prices – OEM parts are definitely pricey, but when compared to used parts, so are aftermarket parts. You can hope to earn more by selling new components vs. used ones.

You should also consider these advantages of selling used parts:

  • Niche market – Used parts may also mean vintage parts. There is a specific niche of enthusiastic motorcycle owners who only want what’s best for their vintage machines. They could even be working on a restoration project as bike builders, restoring a vintage bike to its former glory. Catering to these niche markets can be incredibly rewarding. It’s often difficult to find sellers who have a high volume of vintage components available at any given time – this means you can charge higher prices than regular used parts and still get more customers interested in what you’re selling.
  • Lower prices = more customers – Just because you may not earn as much from a purchase of a used part as you would of a new part, it doesn’t mean your store can’t do well. In fact, lower prices attract more customers – which can lead to more sales and more profits.

Ultimately, it is up to you what you will specialize in. It would help if you chose one path for a start – either new parts or used parts – so that your customers know where to turn if they want a specific part. It won’t do anyone any good if they’ve been buying new parts from you only to come back and realize you’ve started selling (only) used parts.

Choose a lane and stick with it. Later, you can expand your business when it’s the right time.

Conclusion

Before you start developing your motorcycle parts business, it is vital to understand what aftermarket parts are and how they are different from OEM parts, used parts, fake parts, and others.

It is also essential to know how they work – whether they are compatible with other aftermarket parts or only with other aftermarket parts.

Finally, which type of components your motorcycle part store will sell is a decision you should make early on. It will determine what suppliers you’re looking for, what your profit margins will be, how high the demand for those parts is, whether you can open a business on an eCommerce platform, and more.

If you have any more questions, please reach out to MyFitment. We’d love to help you set up your motorcycle part business in a way that guarantees success.