2020 was a tough year for the automotive industry. Dealerships were forced to close indefinitely while road traffic fell to its lowest levels in over half a century as Brits were ordered to stay at home as much as possible. Yet motorbike sales weren’t as heavily impacted as their four-wheeled counterparts.
New bike sales dropped by just 2,796 compared to 2019, likely driven by a desire for Covid-friendly transport solutions and solo adventure. Some segments even saw demand increase year on year as people and businesses adapted to a new way of life, while overall bike sales in December increased by 58%.
So what micro-trends emerged amid a relatively successful year for the motorbike industry?
Scooters and mopeds put to work
Did you spend a lot of 2020 listening out for delivery drivers? As all types of businesses adapted to shifting consumer habits, many acquired extra scooters and mopeds for delivery drivers to cater for our increased demand. Scooter registrations rose by 11% in 2020, compared to a 7% drop for motorbikes overall.
Cafes and restaurants in particular were behind this trend as people treated themselves on weekends or while working from home. Many consumers will also have invested in scooters as an alternative to packed public transport for commuting.
Off-road bikes perform strongly
From trail bikes to quad bikes, off-roaders also had a strong year as people looked for different ways to entertain themselves, get outdoors and blow off steam in their spare time. Trail bike sales dropped by less than 1% in an extraordinary year, with manufacturers such as BMW performing particularly strongly.
This segment performed even better in the US where off-road bike sales surged by a huge 47%, while the Australian market recorded similar patterns. The number of people taking out specialist insurance policies for quad bikes and other off-road vehicles is also likely to have boomed as a result.
More riders switch on to electric
It’s no secret that electric vehicles are the future as the UK government aims to eliminate petrol and diesel car sales by 2030. It seems the electric bike market is finally catching up, with sales increasing by over 51% compared to 2019 and by almost 112% in December.
This trend is only likely to continue as more manufacturers release all-electric models and the UK’s charging infrastructure is expanded, boosting confidence among riders.
With the road ahead looking a little less bumpy for the UK, could the motorbike industry bounce back further in 2021?