Top 10 most common bikes on UK roads

Government figures throw up some surprises

Top 10 most common bikes on UK roads

IT'S always easy to find out the best-selling bikes each year but that information gives us no insight into how well those machines will last.

So we’ve turned to the Department for Transport’s in-depth breakdown of vehicles that are currently licenced and on the road to get an idea of exactly what’s out there. As well as reflecting what’s selling, the figures tell us how well bikes are faring as they mature into old age.

While some of the machines on the list come as no surprise – yes, the BMW R1200GS is on there – there are others that we would never have guessed would make it into the top 10. Read our countdown to see which they are. Starting with...

10: BMW R1200 RT (6,166)

No surprise to see BMW cropping up on this list, although the R 1200 RT isn’t the first bike to spring to mind in terms of outright commonness. The single most common model year, as of the end of 2016, was the 2015 version with 658 on the road, but with at least 300 of every model year since 2005 still in use, there’s clearly some longevity on display here.

Read our BMW R1200 RT first-ride review.

You can see why there are lots of Honda NSC 110 Vision scooters out there; they’re cheap, capable and do everything that most buyers want. The vast majority in use are less than three years old, though, so it’s hard to draw many conclusions about the bike’s longevity from the number that are still on the road.

The GSX-R1000 might have been going through a fallow period prior to its reinvention for 2017, but overall its always been a strong superbike contender. Ask most people and they’ll tell you that the 2005 model was the absolute high point – it destroyed its rivals that year. And it looks like the same bike also has some longevity, as GSX-R1000s registered in 2005 are the most common ones in use today, with 847 on the road at the end of 2016.

Read our 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000R first-ride review.

It’s easy to see the GS Adventure as little more than a trim level of the normal GS, but BMW classes them as separate bikes and given the different bodywork and intentions it makes sense to do so. Given the Adventure’s high cost, there are a hell of a lot of them out there. Unlike many bikes on this list, the Adventure’s recent popularity is reflected in the age of the models on the road. The single most common version at the end of 2016 was… the 2016 model, with 1,448 of them in use.

Read our BMW R1200GS Rallye first-ride review.

The R125 has been with us for nearly a decade now and shows that small sports bikes have an enduring popularity. It’s often a best-seller in its class and is showing a remarkable longevity. It’s no surprise to see that, come the end of 2016, the latest 2016 versions were the most commonly in use – 1188 on UK roads as of December 31 2016 – but there’s nothing like the attrition rate that might be expected for bikes that are likely to be used by learners and youngsters. There were still 702 of the first-year, 2008-model machines in use, and 855 2009 bikes on the road.

Read our Yamaha YZF-R125 first-ride review.

The CBR600F was the king of UK sales charts for years in the 1990s and made a bit of a comeback with the more recent revival of the name (since reworked as the CBR650F). So the fact there are a lot still out there is no big surprise, although given the age of many of them, that they’re still number 5 on the list with 9,284 in use is impressive. The single most common CBR600F still in use today is the 1999 model, with 1170 of them on the road in the UK. Those first-gen jellymould bikes are getting rare, though – only 41 of the 1987 models were in use at the end of 2016.

We like our R1s in the UK. In total there were 9,901 licenced and in use in the UK during the first three months of 2017. Once again, though, there’s a hint that they don’t make ’em like they used to; the single most common vintage are 1999 models. Yes, despite being old enough to drink, a full 865 of the R1s on the road date back to the second year of the bike’s production.

Read our 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M first-ride review.

The learner-tastic YBR125 was always bound to appear on this list, but there is a surprise here. Despite the fact that most of them are thrashed to within inches of their lives by learners with all the mechanical sympathy of a silverback gorilla, it seems the little Yamaha can stand up to it and ask for more. Checking the year-by-year figures reveals that there are still 1,154 2009 models in use, 1,197 from 2010, 1,170 from 2011, 1,172 from 2012, 1,180 from 2013 – and so on. There’s just a plateaux that seems to suggest the YBR doesn’t suffer from anything like the attrition you might expect L-plate machines to undergo.

If we’d combined the figures for the R1200 GS and the Adventure it would be the easy number one most common bike on the road. Add the 1100 and 1150 versions and it would pull even further ahead – although not by much as they never sold anywhere near as well as the 1200. But consider the Adventure to be a stand-alone model, as BMW does, and it slots into second place. The bike’s recent popularity is reflected in the fact that models from the last five years account for half the total number on the road.

Read our BMW R1200GS Rallye first-ride review.

Although the undeniable top dog superbike back at its launch in 1992 (pictured), the Blade has rarely been the outright fastest and meanest in more recent years. Nor has it been the most high tech. But that hasn’t put buyers off, and there are more of them still in use than most other bikes. 2008 models seem to be particularly favoured, with 927 of the bikes registered that year still in use at the end of 2016. Early, 1992 bikes are getting rare – only 24 were on the road at the end of last year, although no doubt there are many more hiding in sheds and garages.

Read our 2017 Honda Fireblade and Fireblade SP first-ride review.

Want more? Check out our top 10 dream V4 bikes. Find more great top 10s here.