YOU ONLY have to look at the new models launched over the last couple of years to see that retro bikes are hot property at the moment.
At least, that’s the impression that the scrum to get into that market suggests. But are they really as popular as it makes them seem? We’ve had a look at the best-selling retro machines in the UK this year to see how they’re fairing.
All the figures are based on registrations in the first three months of the year, from January to March, as recorded by the DfT.
10: BMW R nineT Urban G/S: 52 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
Given the fact that the R nineT Urban G/S is a homage to the uber-desirable R80 G/S, and combines its retro appeal with an adventure bike attitude, we expected to see it higher on the list. It’s not even terribly expensive compared to some retro machines, starting at £10,900. Could it be that the retro scene isn’t as strong as manufacturers hoped?
9: BMW R nineT: 61 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
The oldest model in BMW’s heritage range, the R nineT might have the shortest name but it’s not the ‘basic’ model, with a price of £12,300 it’s actually one of the more expensive ones. The entry level bike is the Pure, at £10,100, but it doesn’t make this top 10 with just 26 registered in the first three months of the year.
8: BMW R nineT Racer: 62 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
Another spot on the list, another variation of the BMW R nineT. This time it’s the attractive-looking Racer, which scored 62 registrations. While that means the overall R nineT range has done pretty well (the Scrambler and Pure don’t make the top 10, but both add to the total), the numbers registered are a long way down on 2017’s figures.
7: Yamaha XSR700: 76 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
Yamaha’s MT range seems able to do no wrong, with virtually all the variants appearing in our top 10 naked bikes list this year. But the retro XSR machines don’t fare so well. The XSR900 doesn’t appear in this top 10 at all, with just 58 registrations in Jan-Mar 2018, and the smaller XSR700 only scrapes to 7th with 76 sales in the same period. Where’s the retro bike love here?
6: Triumph Bonneville T100: 82 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
Triumgh’s Bonneville is perhaps the bike that’s most likely to spring to mind when you think of retro machines, so it’s a little surprising to see the most accessible, entry-level version of the classic-looking Bonnie this far down the list. Perhaps that’s because, particularly under the PCP-heavy bike-buying market in the UK, the more expensive versions are currently available for relatively little additional monthly outlay.
5: Triumph Street Scrambler: 91 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
Another Triumph, this time the Street Scrambler, hits 5th place on the list. It’s not a bad showing, but again the combination of retro looks, fashionable off-road elements and the Bonneville ties might have been expected to add up to more sales overall. They certainly did last year, when the Street Scrambler sales were in three figures during the first quarter.
4: Triumph Street Twin: 105 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
During the first quarter of 2016, when the Street Twin was brand new, it achieved nearly 300 registrations in the UK, which makes the 105 sold in the first quarter of 2018 look relatively weak. However, it’s not far off the number achieved in the same part of 2017, suggesting there’s steady demand for the entry-level Bonneville derivative.
3: Triumph Thruxton: 131 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
The Thruxton comes right at the other end of the Modern Classics range for Triumph, and its relatively high sales show that price doesn’t seem to come into play in deciding how well a bike does. Indeed, the high-end ‘R’ version accounts for the majority of Thruxton sales, making up 107 of the 131 registrations in the first quarter of the year.
2: Triumph Bonneville T120: 137 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
The Bonneville T120 is pretty much the ‘normal’ Bonnie these days, and it’s the most successful derivative as well, with 137 registered in the first quarter of the year. Of them, 81 were normal T120s and 56 were the T120 Black. But while we might have expected the Bonnie to take the number one spot in any retro bike list, this year it’s been comprehensively knocked off that position…
1: Kawasaki Z900RS: 279 UK registered, Jan-Mar 2018
And this is the bike that’s taken the wind out of Bonneville sales, the Kawasaki Z900RS. With some 279 registered in the first three months of the year, it’s far outstripping any of its rivals. And that’s not counting the part-faired Z900RS Cafe, which barely reached dealers in time for our March cut-off date (just 18 were registered in the Jan-March period, but bank on that number rising significantly when the numbers for Q2 are confirmed).