Top 10 European best sellers

Which bikes are big on the continent?

WE’RE often fed with figures telling us about the best-selling bikes in the UK but the range of bikes we’re actually offered here depends entirely on which models manufacturers see fit to design with Europe-wide homologation rules in mind.

And that means the line-up of new models on sale in your local dealer is shaped by our cousins across the Channel as much as it is by our own domestic demands. So how closely do their wants and needs match up with our own? Digging into the list of best-selling bikes across the whole of Europe reveals where we agree – and disagree – with the rest of the EU.

All the figures here relate to the full sales figures for 2014, taking into account bikes sold across the EU and European Free Trade Association’s biggest bike markets but excluding those nations which  hadn’t reported their final end-of-year figures when the numbers were collated (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Hungary, Malta, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Iceland and Lichtenstein.)

It’s worth pointing out a couple of interesting points here (spoiler alert). First is that Honda has nothing on the list that isn’t a scooter, despite the fact that six of the 10 bikes on the list are ‘proper’ motorcycles. The second is that Suzuki has no entries on the list at all. OK, so nor does Triumph, Harley-Davidson or Ducati, but Suzuki? Digging deeper still, in the top five individual markets in Europe, Suzuki makes only one top 10 entry – the Burgman 125 made number 5 in Spain – putting it below the likes of Kymco in terms of its number of ‘hit’ sellers.

The main figures come from ACEM.

10: Kawasaki Z800, 6,235 registrations

Whether it’s down to its affordable price or the fact that Kawasaki made the smart move to create the ‘e’ version with 94hp instead of 111hp, allowing it to be legally restricted to an A2-licence-friendly 47hp without breaking the weird rule that makes it illegal to restrict machines that make more than twice the 47hp limit in derestricted form, Kawasaki’s efforts with the Z800 have paid off. It might not be a bike that makes a lot of waves in the UK but it’s a regular top-10 seller in the biggest European markets of France, Germany and Italy.

9: Honda SH300, 6,281 registrations

The biggest Honda on the list, and it’s still only a scooter, the SH300’s place here, like the SH150’s higher up the table, comes largely thanks to being one of Italy’s top sellers. In fact, the ACEM figures are at odds with Italy’s industry group ANCMA, which says 6,498 SH300s were sold in Italy alone during the year. Someone has got the wrong number, but either way the SH300 is definitely a top 10 seller for Europe.

8: BMW R1200RT, 6,625 registrations

BMW’s R1200RT is unusual in that despite it’s place in the overall top 10 for Europe it doesn’t appear in the top 10 charts for any of the biggest markets in Europe. The implication is that it’s either selling in massive numbers in smaller markets (unlikely) or it’s simply a quietly popular machine that sits just outside the top 10 in several countries.

7: Piaggio Zip 50 2T, 7,161 registrations

In contrast to the R1200RT, the Zip is a big seller in one specific country, being second only to Peugeot’s Kisbee 50 in France, where small two-stroke mopeds are still massively popular. In this case there’s no mystery as to where it’s place in Europe’s top 10 stems from.

6: Yamaha MT-09, 7,562 registrations

If there’s a surprise about Yamaha’s MT-09 being on this list it’s only that it’s ‘only’ managed sixth spot. The MT-09 manages to be a big seller in the traditional mainstream European markets – France, Germany and Italy – where naked bikes have traditionally done well, but also made massive inroads in the UK where we have previously tended to prefer our bikes to come with bodywork. Good work, Yamaha.

5: Yamaha T-Max, 7,846 registrations

If some firms are underperforming at the moment, that’s not a criticism that can be levelled at Yamaha, making its second of three appearances on the list here with the T-Max. Perhaps predictably, many of its sales come from scooter-mad Italy, which accounts for more than 3,500 of the 7,846 registrations in 2014, and in France where it’s also a top 10 best-seller.

4: Honda SH150, 8,754 registrations

As with the SH300, the smaller SH150’s biggest success comes in Italy, where it’s the runaway best-selling thing on two wheels. According to Italy’s national motorcycle association, ANCMA, 8,457 SH150s were registered there in 2014, leaving virtually none to be sold anywhere else.

3: Peugeot Kisbee 50, 12,561 registrations

If Honda’s SH150 gets its place thanks to runaway sales in a single market, Italy, then there’s a good chance that the Kisbee 50’s position here is held largely thanks to the huge market for mopeds in France, where the homebrewed machine is the clear number one seller.

2: Yamaha MT-07, 13,125 registrations

It’s hard to overstate the impressiveness of Yamaha’s sales performance with the MT-07, not least because it managed to grab the number two spot in 2014 sales despite not even being available for the first couple of months of the year. It’s overall second place comes as a result of being third-best-seller in France overall, fourth most popular motorcycle in Italy (not including scooters), fourth-best-seller overall in Germany and a huge hit in the UK (despite not quite squeezing into our own top 10).

1: BMW R1200GS, 18,013 registrations

What? Did you really think it would be anything else? The really scary thing is that most countries count the R1200GS Adventure as a separate model to the normal GS, and if combined its runaway lead would look even more unbeatable. Also notice that despite the fact virtually every manufacturer offers a rival to the GS, the BMW is the only adventure bike to make Europe’s top 10. It’s outright best seller in Germany, best-seller over 125cc in the UK (with the Adventure taking runner-up spot), and best selling non-scooter in Italy. Will anyone be able to beat it in 2015?

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