January 12 2008.

Motorcycle, moped and scooter registrations were up 8.6 per cent last year to record the biggest increase in seven years. Registrations of all powered two wheelers (PTW) totalled 144,583 in 2007 - the highest figure since 2003 and well ahead of the 133,076 registrations in 2006. Passenger car registrations last year increased by only 2.5 per cent.

Motorcycle registrations in 2007 increased by a hefty 9.7 per cent, while mopeds increased by 4 per cent and scooters by 9.1 per cent. The biggest-selling PTW of the year was the Yamaha YBR 125 with 2,272 registrations.

Craig Carey-Clinch, director of public affairs for the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA) said: "This is a great result for the motorcycle industry despite rising interest rates, falling house prices, record oil prices, the credit crunch and even poor weather. Perhaps it is because of all these factors. Motorcycling makes increasing transport and economic sense and an ever-growing number of people are realising that they provide low cost, congestion-beating alternatives to cars and public transport.

"Powered Two Wheeler ownership costs are relatively low. They are also part of the solution to the pressures on the environment. They help to ease congestion and parking problems; journey times are shorter and predictable; fuel consumption and carbon footprints are lower; and they represent freedom and can be great fun. PTWs are reliable, practical and very efficient forms of transport and market growth reflects this."

PTWs with engines of 51 to 125cc took the biggest share of the market, suggesting growing use of these smaller-engined machines by learners, novice and commuter riders. Three bikes of less than 125cc made it into the top ten best sellers last year.

Another factor in the popularity of smaller-engined bikes is the growing number of people gaining a motorcycle licence ahead of new regulations that later in 2008, will make it more difficult, expensive and time-consuming to get a bike licence.

A 13.4 per cent gain in naked bike registrations also indicates increasing commuter and practical use of PTWs.

The biggest growth, of almost 32 per cent , was in the adventure sport sector, led by the BMW R1200 GS - similar to the bikes used by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman in their Long Way Down trip through Africa. The custom and touring sectors also made gains of 6.5 and 11.2 per cent respectively, reflecting the use of bigger bikes for leisure and longer distance touring.

Craig Carey-Clinch added: "Motorcycles are now more relevant than for many years. People are reviewing their personal transport in an effort to lower costs and reduce the hassles of going anywhere. They also recognise the sense of freedom that comes with PTW ownership and want an alternative to crowded, expensive public transport and the restrictions and costs of car use. With more people taking their bike test and clear signs of more women taking to two wheels, the industry is looking to build on this growth in 2008."