Top 10 most SORNed bikes

What’s most likely to be lurking behind that garage door?

BACK when it was introduced, the Statutory Off-Road Notice – SORN – wasn’t terribly popular. It’s still a pain if you prefer to only tax your bike for part of the year. But on the plus side it does provide access to some intriguing information.

The latest set of detailed figures, just released by the government, reveals exactly what bikes were listed as SORN during the second quarter of 2015. The second quarter numbers are particularly interesting since they shouldn’t reflect bikes that have just been garaged for winter – these SORN machines are off the road in the middle of the riding season, eliminating those that are simply tucked away during winter.

It’s also interesting to see that the list of SORNed bikes doesn’t reflect the list of bikes that are most commonly found on the road.

So, what is likely to be tucked away in that neighbour’s garage?

10. Kawasaki ZX900 (3189)

The 'ZX900' name might be an odd one to use but it’s the title usually put on the registration document of a ZX-9R, and that’s what most of the bikes here are likely to be. Some may also be GPZ900s, which are also sometimes listed as ZX900s on their documents. Given that the youngest ZX-9Rs are now 11 years old, it makes sense that a lot are reaching the ends of their lives, or perhaps waiting to be refreshed, behind closed doors.

9. Suzuki GSX-R600 (3849)

There are lots of GSX-R600s still on the road, but the model’s popularity means there are plenty that either don’t get used or can’t get used, too. While the name dates back to 1992, the GSX-R600 didn’t appear over here until the 1997 SRAD model was launched. Most of the SORNed bikes are likely to be these older models.

8. Piaggio Zip (4063)

Scooters don’t appear much on the list of bikes that are currently registered and taxed, and the Piaggio Zip certainly doesn’t. It’s interesting that while over 4000 languish on SORNs, there were only 5899 taxed and on the road at the same time. So 40% of Zips are currently undone.

7. Suzuki SV650 (4212)

The SV650 has a much better hit rate. While there are over 4000 SORNed ones out there, more than 10,000 were still in use on the road at the same time.

6. Yamaha YZF-R1 (4666)

Yamaha’s R1 was another bike to feature on our list of the most popular machines currently on the road, so it’s no surprise that there are quite a lot of SORNed ones as well. Again, the ratio isn’t bad – over 12,000 on the road compared to 4666 off it – and one hopes that many of those SORNed machines are being prepared for a comeback.

5. Suzuki GSF600 (5028)

The Bandit 600’s figures show that around a third of the surviving machines are currently off the road, which isn’t too surprising given how old many of them are. But there are still twice as many in use as out of circulation.

4. Honda CBR600F (5168)

We were surprised that the CBR600F no longer ranks as one of the top 10 most common bikes on British roads, but since even the youngest ones are knocking on for double figures it perhaps shouldn’t come as a shock that their quantities are diminishing. The high figure for SORNed models (5168 off the road compared to 9462 on it) reflects that these are pretty old bikes now.

3. Kawasaki ZX600 (5723)

As with the ZX900, the ZX600 nomenclature actually covers a few machines including the ZX-6R and the old ZZR600, so the high SORN reflects many years of different models going under the same title. There are still more on the road than off it, though, with some 9630 listed as being taxed.

2. Piaggio Vespa (5937)

Given that there’s an amazing 24961 Vespas listed as being taxed and on the road, it’s quite surprising that the SORN figure is this low, even though it’s still high enough for second place. However, its closest rival in terms of on-road popularity is the BMW R1200 (all models, with 24,389 in use) and only 1581 of them are listed as SORN, showing that BMW reliability might not be a myth after all.

1. Peugeot Speedfight (6477)

In our list of the top 10 most common bikes to still be on the road, we wondered why scooters were so few and far between, particularly given their massive sales. The Speedfight was the UK’s best seller for years, and it seems that most have either disappeared from the records entirely or been tucked up in garages. It’s the only model on this list where more are SORN than remain on the road (5840 were listed as being licenced at the same time).

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