General

Peculiar motorcycling habit figures

Are we having 'bike swapping parties?'

THE Department for Transport has just released a rash of new figures about our motorcycling habits in the UK which seem to throw up more questions than they answer.

Some of the numbers are pretty reassuring; despite the dramatic drop-off in new bike sales over the last couple of years, the actual number of bikes on the road isn't much lower than it was a couple of years ago. In 2010, there were 1,234,369 licensed, road-legal bikes in the UK, down from 1,275,641 in 2009 but still higher than any year between 1996 (when records began) and 2006 – all 'boom' years in terms of the economy.

Other figures are plain confusing. Why, for instance, did 20,305 bikes have more than four changes of ownership during 2010? Are people having bike-swapping parties that we don't know about?

The government figures say only that these machines had their registration documents transferred 'over 4' times during that 12 month period, but since those 20,305 machines accounted for some 137,654 registration transfers, on average they actually had nearly seven owners each – all during one 12-month period!

In comparison, there were only 12,096 cars with more than four owners during 2010, despite the fact there are around 20 times as many cars as bikes registered in the UK.

In total there were 718,539 bike 'transfers' (used bike sales to you or me) during 2010, of which 318,040 were sold just once, 74,797 got two new owners, 22,857 went through three pairs of hands and 11,170 found buyers four times.

If you've got any idea how the other 20,305 managed to get sold, on average, once every 53 days, please let us know... Or has the government got its figures wrong?

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