Motorcycle sales grew in 2019 thanks to commuters

Smaller motorcycles and scooters helped the UK bike market grow 1.5 percent in 2019, continuing an upward trend

Scooter commuter in London

Unlike new car sales, UK new motorcycle registrations grew in 2019, partly thanks to commuters and youngsters buying ever-greater numbers of scooters.

107,408 new motorcycles were sold in Britain last year. That’s a fraction of the 2.31 million new cars sold, but the figure is still growing, albeit at just 1.5 percent.

High-powered superbike riders aren’t driving the growth, though. Sales of such extreme machines were down an eye-watering 16.9 percent during 2019.

Instead, it’s the gradual growth of three key sectors that’s helping the motorcycle sector expand – with Britain’s second-favourite type of motorcycle, the scooter, up 2.1 percent.

Yamaha NMax 125

So-called ‘naked’ bikes – stylish machines with minimal bodywork – are our top ride of the moment, with 2.2 percent growth taking the numbers sold last year to over 34,000.

Adventure sport bikes, such as the BMW GS used by Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in the Long Way Round, are the fastest-growing sector, up 5.9 percent last year, and Britain’s third-favourite type of bike.

Motorcycle trade body the MCIA believes it will be further growth in the scooter sector that powers the industry in the near future.

“With their light weight, ease of parking, and ultra-low or zero emissions, more and more people are realising that powered light vehicles (PLVs) represent a perfect alternative to traffic-bound cars and vans,” said MCIA spokesman Nick Broomhall.

“In addition, many electric PLVs feature removable batteries that can be charged at home or work, from a conventional wall socket.”

Yamaha NMax 125

In December 2019, the best-selling scooter in Britain was the Yamaha NMax 125, pictured above. It can be bought new from £3,174, officially averages 122.8 mpg and emits just 52 g/km CO2. 

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Richard Aucock
Richard is director at Motoring Research. He has been with us since 2001, and has been a motoring journalist even longer. He won the IMCO Motoring Writer of the Future Award in 1996 and the acclaimed Sir William Lyons Award in 1998. Both awards are run by the Guild of Motoring Writers and Richard is currently chairman of the world's largest organisation for automotive media professionals. Richard is also a juror for World Car Awards and the UK juror for the AUTOBEST awards.


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