April 15 2009.

UK registrations of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds last month were just 10 per cent down on March last year, according to the latest figures issued by the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI). 16,754 powered two-wheelers (PTWs) were registered in March 2009, a fall of 1,870 on March last year.

The combination of new registration plates and improving weather has lead to March showing a much better performance than the 25 per cent downturn suffered by the PTW market in February. Naked bikes have done particularly well, with 1.5 per cent more registrations this year than last. The highest registering model within this group was the Honda CBF 125 M, suggesting continued demand from consumers for economical, fuel efficient transport.

The industry has re-emphasised the benefits of motorcycling and is urging the chancellor to use next week's Budget speech to announce a VED holiday on all new PTWs in recognition of their congestion-busting power.

All categories of PTW except for the naked and supersport styles suffered declines in March. Registrations in the naked style were up 1.5 per cent while supersports registrations increased 0.8 per cent. Over the first quarter of this year, 26,973 PTWs were registered, a drop of 12.1 per cent over the first quarter of 2008.

The Kawasaki ZX10 R Ninja was the highest registering model in March. Honda was the leading manufacturer, followed by Yamaha and Kawasaki.

The UK motorcycle industry employs over 15,000 people, predominantly in small and medium-sized businesses, and turns over more than £3 billion a year.