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Motorcycle futures

Future values depend on several factors that affect values in the long term. There are major ones that can have significant effects on prices, and these tend to be supply, demand and the economic environment. Less predictable changes in the desirability of a particular style or model can also have significant impacts on prices, but are more difficult to foresee.

The first major factor, supply, especially on new bikes, is easily trackable using new registration figures from the MCIA. The difference over the last two years is that even with overall numbers remaining relatively level, it is not the whole story. With demand for commuting and delivery machinery increasing the market for sub-125cc bikes, it follows that if total registrations remain fairly constant then the number of larger size new machines sold will reduce and therefore will possibly be in short supply in the future, leading to elevated prices. Demand again can be affected by many factors, including an ageing rider population stopping riding and cost of living increases leaving less free cash for “big boy’s toys” amongst many.

What is apparent is that even if some are leaving riding completely or not replacing their bikes due to financial concerns, the exodus of stock into the Euro Zone over the last decade or more has continued as the exchange rate has reduced, leaving a large hole in UK domestic used stock. The amount lost to Europe is difficult to quantify, but estimates from around the industry suggest that the number of predominantly larger capacity exports could amount to the equivalent of ten years’ worth of new registrations of the same motorcycles. It should therefore come as no surprise that this is the biggest factor in the strong pricing of used bikes, and has been for some time, with no signs of an end in sight.

Then on to desirability. Used examples of many machines are holding strong prices as buyers move to recent clean purchases when new are not available. Perhaps there is a “cause and effect” situation here, as dealers are also keeping part-exchange machines to fill sales floors. Dealers have also commented that non-franchise models that would commonly be traded are being kept and retailed. Again, this affects the pool circulating in the trade system and compounds shock shortages and increasing prices. It’s a vicious circle.

Some recent used models are also gaining popularity as emissions legislation changes have seen the end of production, or they have been replaced with a newer model to keep relevant in the market.

During pandemic lockdowns, spending on holidays was reduced, leaving spare funds that, for a particular age group, meant eyes turned back to lusted-after bikes that age, wallet size and subsequently families once excluded. This market is now buoyant with continued interest in older and modern classics, with many dealers increasing stock and even opening dedicated shops. Remember the popularity of Ducati’s 999 when it was launched? Compare that to now. And this effect is not restricted to exotica. Suzuki’s GSX1400 was a difficult sell when new at around the £5k mark, even  with 0% finance as a tempter. Try getting a clean example for that sort of money 12 years later! Honda’s Fury, amongst many Japanese customs, and Buells of any variant, are just the tip of an extensive list of bikes that are more sought after a few years later. More up to date, it looks like 600cc sports bikes will soon be joining the list, as many brands are leaving the sector in the new market.

In all this, one thing becomes apparent: tell the public they can’t have something and they will want it even more. Prices in the coming few years are not currently expected to lower.

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