Despite the welcome news that the number is the lowest since 1996 (440), it still means 493 motorcyclists were killed in 2008. However, the official figures now show that over the same period motorcycle use has increased over 44%, which, put another way, mile-for-mile, motorcycling is becoming safer.
This good news is backed up when looked at in percentage terms, 16% in the number of motorcycle fatalities is a greater reduction than for all road users, where fatalities have fallen just 14%. The actual number of riders killed or seriously injured is down 10%, while the total number of motorcycle casualties is 8% down on 2007 figures. The UK’s Motorcycle Industry Association believes that this welcome fall is a result of many organizations working together and recognizing the vulnerability of motorcyclists, as well as better rider training and safer machines. However, they also point out that there is no room for complacency as the Government will be soon setting new targets.
Vintage motorcycles seem to be a decent investment with some classics selling higher than expected! So dust off those classics in your garage.
As well as good sales figures for new machines, interest in the classic bike market, both for actual use and investment continues to rise. Leading Auctioneers Bonham’s’ Motorcycle Department continues to report a lot of positive interest, with a recent sale seeing 98% of lots sold and a total of £399,410 achieved.
Over 1,000 enthusiasts attended to view the collection of bikes recently found untouched in the rear of an old bike dealer who had ceased trading. Of the 400 who registered to bid, 200 were new bidders, according to staff. Highlights of the mixed bag show the top price was made by a 1922 Brough Superior MkI, which sold for a premium-inclusive £35,050. Vincent’s too continued to do well with a 1947 Vincent Rapide racking up £26,450 and a circa 1971 Egli-Vincent sold for £23,000. While on the earlier bike front a 1903 Excelsior Motorcycle Combination made £21,850, a 1905 Invicta-Forecar £20,125 and 1954 Norton Model 40 Manx cost its new owner £19,550. It seems bikes are better than money in the bank!
France & Germany
The Pannoriaring circuit, near Savar Hungary will play host to a Ducati Speed Week organized by the Italian Motoclub Aquile Desmo. Seven classes will be run in conjunction to a classic event for bikes manufactured between 1950 and 1980.
Benelli’s 2ue 756 is looking like a reality this year with the Chinese owners moving forward with production.
The official industry body in Italy the ANCMA has reported a fall of 10.3% for the first four months of this compared to last. In addition scooters also fell by 2.7%, this is despite the recent positive announcements made after the 500-Euro new bike incentive launched by the Government. However, insiders state that this will only really show a positive trend in the next set of figures, when it has had time to show an influence on buying trends.
It is now almost certain that the Benelli 2ue 756 will be available to buy if not by the end of this year, certainly early next, having been seen undergoing final testing. Also close to production are some off-road machines waiting to be signed off by the Chinese owners. However, the proposed hub-center steering four-cylinder machine remains a paper concept at present according to sources.
MV is playing down suggestions in Italy’s Motociclismo magazine that they are looking at adding ‘Superscooter’ to their range. It seems that an interview conducted in English with Matt Levatich prior to him moving back to Harley became a little more specific than his original answer – that it might be something that could be considered in the future!
Spanish manufacturer Rieju has just launched another new model called the Marathon 125 Pro. Available in two versions Enduro or SM, both are powered by the well proven six-speed Yamaha four-valve water-cooled engine, as used in its own WR125/YFZ-R125 models. However, thanks to using quality European components they have managed to trim the weight to a class-leading 117 kg (258 lbs) compared to the Yamaha’s 133kg (293 lbs).
The bike comes with all the things a new rider would want for street credibility. An alloy swing-arm, 40mm inverted Marzocchi forks, radial caliper twin piston brake with 300mm Galfer Wave disc, a PRS rear link suspension system with remote reservoir rear shock and an alloy end can. Available in Blue or white it costs £3099
Royal Enfield are continuing on a crest of wave, with interest still running high in the classic machines despite the move to the new fuel injected unit construction engine. At a recent open weekend at the importers factory in Gloucestershire an estimated 2000 visitors took the opportunity to look at the new models, with many taking the opportunity to take a free test ride on them, to the point over 1600 miles were covered during these rides!
MCIA hopes to show the world how much people enjoy the motorcycle lifestyle with National Motorcycle Week.
UK registrations have recently shown a fall of 12.2% over the first four months of this year. Most classes showed a substantial fall, aside from naked machines which actually rose by 10.9%!
The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) hopes to encourage riders to do more with their bikes and their riding skills and persuade non-riders to take to two wheels by running a National Motorcycle Week on 13th -17th July with a Ride to Work Day on July 15th.
“The Association is encouraging all motorcyclists and even non-motorcyclists to participate in an activity during the week to demonstrate to the public, press and politicians the number of people that enjoy riding motorcycles and scooters and why they have made the motorcycling choice,” said a spokesperson.
Rest of the World
Suzuki India seems to be bucking the trend with its GS150R which is leading a positive sales rise. The company reports a 33% sales increase for April with 13,548 machines finding new owners.
The Japanese press continues to be full of various financial releases from the big four motorcycle manufacturers.
Yamaha is now projecting a 30 billion yen group operating loss for fiscal 2009, which ends December, its first negative result in 26 years, according to the Japanese press. Long-term debt has also grown to more than 36% of Yamaha’s interest-bearing liabilities and the motorcycle manufacturer has now topped up its working capital with loans.
The same source reported Yamaha’s debt has more than doubled to 505.1 billion yen – the most in 10 years. Yamaha borrowed more from domestic banks and took advantage of low-interest government financing. Due to the uncertain demand for all types of motorsports equipment the company is apparently currently restructuring.
Kawasaki is pulling out of the Tokyo Motor show due to economic difficulties, a growing trend in the motor industry.
However, rumors supported by patent applications suggest that the Japanese manufacture will be the first to produce a hybrid machine using petrol and electric power next year, beating Honda to the market who are known to be working on a similar machine. The same source suggests that the tilting four-wheeled motorcycle, the Tessercat, also a hybrid shown at the Tokyo show in 2007 will also become a production reality, but with a conventional IC engine as the motive power.
Kawasaki has recently announced that it will not be taking part in the 41st Tokyo Motor Show, seen as the premier Japanese showcase, later this year, citing economic difficulties. Having just posted a sales drop of 10.8% and a 66.6% loss in net income with predictions of even more losses in the forthcoming months, the announcement is not surprising.