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RETURN TO NORMALITY FOR REGISTRATIONS

Best to ignore MCIA promotional hyperbole about “rocketing registrations” and “incredible growth” in January 2022, set against what it admits was another government-imposed partial lockdown in January 2021.

A 61.4% advance to 6187 bikes is actually meaningless in that context. But compared to the numbers in pre-Covid January 2020 (6146) and January 2019 (5976) we are simply looking at a dose of refreshing normalisation, focused on relatively slim pickings perennially available to the trade at this time of the year.

Factoring Covid out by sticking to the comparison versus January 2020, the overall 2022 tally was 0.7% up to 6187. Motorcycles fell by 3.4% to 4233. Scooters rose by 17.3% to 1556. Mopeds were 7.3% down to 369. Trikes plunged by 25.6% to 29.

Continuing this alternative reality through capacity classes, The 50cc sector has prospered by 63.1% to 708 machines — unsurprising given input from 1-4kW electric steeds which were still fairly peripheral and uncounted two years ago. Bikes in the 51-125cc range have made less progress, just 3.2% higher at 2121.

But moving from mobility towards leisure, the 126-650cc band did better, 15.2% up to 1602. Back in January 2020, Royal Enfield’s highly credible Interceptor 650 roadster ruled that particular roost. Now, an unlikely but much larger squadron of Honda CRF300L soft enduros (we used to call them trail bikes), masquerading as luggage-lite adventure weapons, claimed leadership.

Bigger machines were seriously on the back foot,  with a 13.6% decline for 651-1000cc to 1030 and over-1000cc sinking by 32.4% to 726. So much for “incredible growth”. How about weak demand you’d expect in the middle of our winter of discontent, as the cost of living spirals out of control?

Only BMW Motorrad deserves a minor uptick. Its R1250GS headed up over-1000cc registrations on both occasions, adding a rip-snorting three extra units in 2022.

Examining the relative positions of major brands in January 2022 against two years ago is also an interesting exercise. Honda reinforced hegemony, 7.4% up to 1375 registrations. Runner-up Yamaha fell by 4.8% to 672, despite 163 samples of its fleet-favoured NMax 125 topping highest-registered scooter and 51-125cc classes. BMW came third — rising from sixth spot in 2020 — but also declined in volume, 14.7% down to 371.

Fourth-placed Lexmoto lost both ways, down from third in 2020 and 29.5% in arrears at 347. Triumph also slipped, from fourth to fifth, on a 37.1% plunge to 305. KTM went from fifth to sixth, losing 33.6% to 296. Kawasaki rose from ninth to seventh but registered 23 fewer bikes at 191, equating to a 10.7% shortfall.

Royal Enfield rose from tenth to eighth, gaining 17.6% to 174. Ducati, which had failed to earn an appearance in the 2020 chart, took ninth, registering a seasonally impressive 155 machines. MotoGB brand SYM crept into tenth spot on 139. The latter pair ousted Suzuki and Harley-Davidson, both of which had featured in 2020.

Monitoring the course of registrations will be a confusing and often haywire experience for several months to come. By halfway through this year, we may have a firmer picture of the market’s direction. Or possibly not.   

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