May 8 2009.

New registrations of motorcycles are just 6.5 per cent down on April 2008, according to figures issued by the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA) today (8th). While the overall powered two wheeler (PTW) market is 12.4 per cent down on the same month last year, this is a far stronger performance than the car market which dropped 24 per cent in April. April's results demonstrate the continuing relevance of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters as a transport option which offers affordability, freedom and fun.

In April 2009 12,045 motorcycles, mopeds and scooters were registered, 1,702 fewer than in April 2008. 39,017 PTWs have been registered so far this year, down 12.2 per cent on the same period last year. Within the overall market, the motorcycle sector was 6.5 per cent down in April and 7.7 per cent down in the year to date. 954 fewer mopeds were registered this month, a fall of 42.6% on April 2008.

Bikes between 651 and 1000 cc, the naked style and custom bikes defied the trend and recorded increased registrations. Naked and custom styles showed gains of 32.4 and 2.6 per cent respectively with the Honda CBF 125 M and Harley-Davidson Dyna Fat Bob the biggest sellers in these categories. The biggest selling manufacturer in April was Yamaha, followed by Honda and Suzuki.

"The market is demonstrating its resilience in the face of continued economic uncertainty," said Sheila Rainger of the MCIA. "The continued popularity of the naked motorcycle, and the dominance within that category of a learner-legal practical machine, suggests people are looking for multi-purpose bikes that combine fun with utility, and can take the place of a second household car.

"The double whammy of a 2p rise in fuel duty in September, coupled with the reintroduction of the fuel duty escalator from next Spring will make PTW use even more attractive as an economic alternative to a wallet-draining commute by four wheels or by public transport. There's probably never been a stronger reason to switch to two wheels."

A major factor likely to influence the market for the rest of the year is the introduction of the new motorcycle test, run for the first time at the end of April. The new test is part of a package of changes that will make it more complex to gain a PTW licence. MCITA, the Motorcycle Industry's Training Association, has made space available on its website* to host a DSA video which explains the new test in more detail to anyone hoping to get their licence this year.

To highlight the benefits of motorcycling, the MCI will once again co-ordinate the popular National Motorcycle Week campaign. National Motorcycle Week 2009 will run from July 12 - 18th, with Ride to Work Day on July 15th.