July 13 2004. Figures from the Motor Cycle Industry Association show a significant reduction in new motorcycle registrations during the month of June 2004 (15,189 compared to 26,947 in June 2003), but come with a clear warning that this is a reflection of events 12 months ago and does not indicate declining interest in motorcycling.

According to MCI's Director of Public Affairs, Craig Carey-Clinch, June 2003 saw the registration of thousands of unsold machines not certified under new European 'Type Approval' regulations.

"Type Approval is simply a way of approving any new bike for sale and use anywhere within the European Union. From 17th June of last year it became difficult to register non-Type Approved bikes even though they met with UK regulations, so dealers found themselves having to register any unsold stock at the last minute" he explained.

This concentration of activity in early June 2003 was very much a last resort. Throughout the first half of 2003 many popular models were being heavily promoted by manufacturers and dealers keen to make space for new Type-Approved versions of these bikes later in the year.

The effect of this can be seen in the sharp decline in monthly registration figures for the past 12 months; many bikes sold in the latter half of 2003 had already been registered so did not appear in the monthly reports after June, whereas the number of bikes being sold and then registered in early 2004 has inevitably been compared against the boom in pre-Type Approval registrations the previous year.

MCI estimate that, through both early promotion and last-minute pre-sale registration, around 13,000 non-Type Approved bikes were registered in the first six months of 2003 that would otherwise have been registered after 17th June.

In fact, there is good evidence of the continued underlying strength in the market. The effect of Type-Approval was felt mostly in the small bike market while registration figures for new bikes over 650cc in June 2004 (5,544) are slightly higher for than they were in June 2003 (5,419) - perhaps not surprisingly, early indications are that even in the small bike sectors registration figures since mid-June 2004 have been higher than those seen in late June 2003.

Although poles apart, Scooters and SuperBikes continue to dominate the sales figures, but there is clear and growing interest in other sectors as the public look for a wider range of things they can do with their bikes.

Used-bike transactions have been growing year-on-year, as have the number of riders on the road and the total number of miles ridden, while attendance at major biking events and sport meetings is also up.