Top 10s

Top 10 best-selling motorcycles, 2017

Who’d have thought it?

BLAME economic uncertainty, Brexit or bad weather but there’s no question that bike sales in the UK this year have fallen off a cliff.

The latest stats show the market is down by over 15% year-to-date compared to last year and some segments are even worse-off.

Mopeds (motorcycles or scooters under 50cc) are down over 20% year-on-year, while scooters as a whole are down nearly 30%.

The already-suffering supersports sector has dropped by over a quarter, as has the sports-touring segment. Cruisers are down by 18% and even supposedly strong parts of the market are looking shaky. Naked bikes – the biggest part of the market now – are down by nearly 10%. Only the ever-buoyant adventure bike market is up, and only by 0.5% for the year-to-date.

But among the doom and gloom, some bikes are still finding droves of buyers – and not necessarily the kinds we’d traditionally expect to be chart toppers.

The registration figures for the first half of the year (the latest available from the DfT) show which are winning in 2017.

We’re only looking at bikes over 125cc, but even so, it’s worth noting that despite a raft of new sports bikes this year – the new Blade and GSX-R1000 in particular – none are troubling the top 10. In fact, the highest-selling superbike is the BMW S1000RR, which would be in 12th place on this list.

Here’s the top 10 countdown, starting with…

10: BMW S1000XR – 496 registered

When it first appeared the XR looked like a bit of an oddball. Not quite a sports-tourer, not quite an adventure bike, its jack-of-all-trades nature has actually made BMW’s best-selling four-cylinder this year. It was last year as well, but in the first half of 2016 rather more were sold – 626 of them to be exact – so it’s a bike that, despite reaching the top 10, illustrates the overall drop in the bike market pretty clearly.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE BMW S1000XR.

Yamaha’s MT-10 has clearly beaten its first-half sales record from last year (330 sold in Jan-Jun 2016), but that’s largely because it wasn’t available at the start of 2016. Even so, it’s clear that Yamaha’s MT formula is a success. The higher-spec SP model has sold an additional 261 so far this year. Yamaha has clearly made a huge push on the base-model MT-10, though. In the first quarter of 2017 only 82 were registered – compared to 92 SPs – but in the second quarter the figure was 422!

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE YAMAHA MT-10.

Yamaha’s MT-09 has been one of the biggest hits for the firm in recent memory. After a lull in new model development for several years, the 115hp, 847cc triple was a return to form for the firm. There’s little out there with the same combination of price, performance, practicality and character. The facelift Yamaha gave the bike for 2017 is clearly a success, as its 562 registrations in the first half of 2017 clearly outstrip the same period last year (376).

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE YAMAHA MT-09.

If the MT-09 is a hit, the Tracer version with the added bonus of a fairing is even more attractive. It’s reflected in sales – 564 registered in the first half of 2017 in the UK. That’s a little down on the equivalent 2016 figure (662) but bear in mind that the Tracer didn’t get updated for 2017 like the MT-09 did. There’s a strong chance it will get revisions for 2018, which could push it back towards the top of this list.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE YAMAHA TRACER 900.

The success of the Street Triple isn’t reflected in full in this figure. It wasn’t available right at the start of the year, so the vast majority of its sales have taken place in the second quarter. By the end of 2017 we’d expect it to have risen ever further on the best-seller chart. It’s interesting to see that the top –spec RS model is the Street Triple that’s hit the mark with buyers since the introduction of 2017’s 765cc model, not the cheaper S or R versions. And it’s not even a close contest – the lower spec models have achieved sales hundreds lower than the RS.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE 765 RS.

Due to the way registration figures are counted the Africa Twin is classed as two models – the semi-automatic DCT version is a separate bike to the one with the conventional transmission. The figure above relates to the one with the normal, manual transmission. If we were to add the DCT version – worth an additional 374 registrations – the Africa Twin would be in 2nd spot on this list. Either way it’s encouraging to see an adventure bike that isn’t a BMW R1200GS doing well. On the down-side sales have dropped off since last year, when the Africa Twin had the benefit of being a brand new model. In the same period in 2016, 733 were registered.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE HONDA AFRICA TWIN.

Blimey. Triumph’s been doing well with its all-new Bonneville range over the last couple of years, but it’s a surprise to see that the Bonneville Bobber is the best-selling variant. And by a mile! What’s more, supplies were limited in the first quarter of the year, so most of those registrations (564) were in Q2, making it the UK’s second-best-seller in that period. The next best-selling Bonnie derivative is the Street Scrambler (329 registrations). Notably, that’s another new version. The earlier derivatives, like the T120 and Thruxton, have seen distinct drops in registrations compared to 2016.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE TRIUMPH BOBBER.

Kawasaki’s Z1000SX is another of those bikes that sits in a traditional all-rounder mould, and shows that it’s still a successful formula. It was revamped, albeit in a fairly mild way, for 2017, and it’s got a big boost in sales as a result – the 2017 first-half figure is around twice that of the same period in 2016. Combine an attractive price, strong technology and a big dollop of usability and the result appears to be strong sales. It’s not black magic.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE KAWASAKI Z1000SX.

Or maybe it is black magic. BMW’s continued domination of the sales charts is almost incomprehensible. The R1200GS Adventure is in second place. This time 12 months ago its registrations were just a fraction ahead of the normal R1200GS, but it’s dropped behind this time around. Even so, sales are up (from 748 this time last year.) That will partially be down to the fairly minor revamp the bike got for the 2017 model year, but also due to the fact British riders just can’t get enough GSes.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE 2018 BMW R1200GS ADVENTURE.

No prizes for guessing the number one bike. With the GS Adventure in second place, the R1200GS had to be in the number 1 spot. Like the Adventure, it had a tuck and a tweak for 2017, which partly explains the increase, but even so the fact that the R1200GS seems to be impossible to knock from the top of the sales charts must be a frustrating puzzle for its rivals. The increase in sales for the GS is actually pretty spectacular – in the first half of 2016 it managed 743 UK registrations, so the uptick (371 extra registrations) represents almost exactly a 50% boost in sales. If BMW continues at this rate, soon all motorcycles on UK roads will be GSes…

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR REVIEW OF THE 2018 BMW R1200GS ADVENTURE.

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