The British motorcycle market is naturally an order of magnitude smaller than the new car market. However, things are proving particularly tough during the first months of 2018, due to one major factor – bad British weather.
Year to date, sales are just 0.5 percent better than 2017, and even this may be misleading, due to early-year incentives: registrations totalled just 9,095 bikes in April, a 13.1 percent decline over last year. Experts at Glass’s described the overall picture as “very disappointing”.
Reports from dealers blamed a cold March 2018 for a slow start to the motorcycle season, and it was hoped things would improve in April. However, the wet weather spoiled this, meaning the pressure is now on for May 2018 to kickstart the year for British bike dealers.
Glass’s does, however, add that “it would be naive to blame the weather entirely for the supressed market. Economic uncertainty continues to linker and hinder consumer confidence…. Thefts, particularly in cities, and rising insurance premiums, are also having a negative effect.”
Last year, 104,655 motorcycles were registered in the UK (compared to 2.5 million cars). 2016 was better, with sales of 127,702 bikes, up from 114,160 in 2015. It had been hoped that 2018 would better 2017, but now hopes are more guarded – and “to achieve similar levels as 2015 would now be a tall order,” said Glass’s editor Paul McDonald.
Britain’s favourite motorcycles: April 2018
The best-selling bike category so far this year is the Touring sector, with sales growing a hefty 54.8 percent. Trail and Enduro bikes were up 27.4 percent and the growth of Scooters continued, up 7.2 percent.
In contrast, Adventure Sports fell 19.4 percent (after a strong period of growth), Naked bikes fell 14.1 percent and Mopeds continue to fizzle out in Britain with registrations declining 31.4 percent.
Hot bikes at the moment include the retro-look Kawasaki Z900 RS (pictured top), which dealers say “sells itself”, the Yamaha MT-10 (pictured above) and Triumph Speed Triple RS. Suzuki’s GSX-125 is also winning fans.