Impact of Covid-19 on the used motorcycle market - demand for two wheels surging

UK’s second-hand motorcycle market is more in-demand than ever, used motorcycle sales are up compared to last year (and by quite a bit). 

COVID-19 has brought many complications to the motorcycle industry, from the disruption to buying new bikes and motorcycle gear, to the demand (and subsequent shortage) it has placed on the used-bike market. 

One of the many slogans dreamt up by the UK Government during the pandemic has been ‘Hands. Face. Space.’ which conveniently translates into: ‘Helmet. Gloves. Motorcycle.’ This is despite the apparent lack of motorcycles being thought about in transport policies, and it’s only now that the CBT scheme is being discussed to temporarily extend past the current 2-year limit whilst training centres remain closed. 

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But, due to the independent nature of two-wheels compared to public transport, commuting by motorcycle and/or scooter has proven to be increasingly popular in the last year - and the resulting rise in sales seemed to counteract any anticipated drop-off, leaving the motorcycle industry in a surprisingly good state for new motorcycle sales. Dealerships remained for the most part shut, but they were as busy as ever.

It appears that the obvious answer to many of life’s questions is two wheels.

The used market seems to have been on the up too. In the British Dealer News newspaper, Auto Trader reported that:

“The median speed of sale of machines advertised on Auto Trader Bikes was 44 days over [the period of November to January 2021], compared with the 56 days it took 12 months previously.”

Consider that this is just the findings of one used-motorcycle marketplace, there’s plenty of alternatives out there.

We spoke to Doble motorcycles manager Paul Styles back in July, to find out what the downsides - and upsides - of Covid-19 had been at that point.

“Here’s a stat that I’m pretty proud of actually. In the last two months (mid-May to mid-June 2020) I have sold 411 bikes. So with a dealership that is closed to the public, shutters down, and staff working from home I’ve sold 411 bikes. Compare that to the same period for 2019 and I sold 399. So, we sold more units with the doors closed to the public than we did when we were fully operational! You can only do that if you and your staff put in the hours.”

Paul Styles also confirms the above, when it comes to used bike sales:

“Used bikes are literally selling within a couple of days of being put on the showroom floor. It’s unbelievable how quickly the bikes will sell.”

That’s good news then, right? Well not exactly, the fundamental business phrase ‘supply vs demand’ rings true here:

“The downside is that used bikes will dry up, it’ll get to the point that the used bike market sees a drought.

‘I went to an auction the other day, one I go to quite a lot and that I normally come away from with a large number of nearly new bikes. I couldn’t buy anything. There were dealers there paying full retail price for auction stock.
‘I can see why they are doing it; an empty showroom is a dealership manager's worst nightmare, people just need units for the shop floor, but I just can’t pay those prices.”

Of course, demand will start to outweigh supply, and not everyone is after a new motorcycle, so dealers may not always be in on the sales. But this is good news for the industry as a whole long-term, particularly in a time where we’re not exactly all out on our bikes for fun.

Do you own one of the UK’s fastest-selling motorcycles? 

30 top-selling used motorcycles, according to data from Auto Trader (in brackets: average days to sale)

1Honda CRF250L (6.5)
2KTM EXC (9)
3Honda Vision (13)
4KTM 1290 Super Adventure (13)
5Peugeot Speedfight (14.5)
6Honda PCX125 (15)
7Yamaha NMAX (15)
8Yamaha YS12 (15)
9Yamaha MT-125 (16)
10Triumph Thunderbird 1700 (16)
11Ducati Scrambler 800 (20.5)
12Honda SH300 (21)
13Honda SH125 (21.5)
14BMW R1250GS (22.5)
15Honda CBF125 (23.5)
16Suzuki GSX-S1000 (24.5)
17Honda CBR650R (24.5)
18Yamaha YZF-R125 (25)
19Yamaha X-Max (26)
20Yamaha MT-07 (27)
21Suzuki GSX1400 (27)
22KTM 125 Duke (27)
23Honda MSX (27)
24Ducati 1199 Panigale (27.5)
25Triumph Bonneville 865 (28)
26Yamaha XJR1300 (28)
27Suzuki GSX-S125 (28)
28Honda CBF600 (29)
29BMW R1150 (30)
30Honda CBR125 (30.5)

Source: British Dealer News Feb 2021

Of course, the majority of the list is populated by 125cc machines, but there are some interesting inclusions on there as well - I certainly wasn’t expecting a Triumph Thunderbird 1700 at number 10.

If you’re looking to sell a bike, now is probably a good time - if you can do it safely. It seems demand has never been so high, and with the frosty & snowy weather slowly transitioning into those crisp spring mornings, with lockdown plans showing signs of finally easing (hopefully!) it’s probably time to dust off the leathers, suck in the lockdown-gut and start making plans.

Check out the Visordown Marketplace and see if you can find yourself a bargain - or, if you’re selling your motorcycle, that should read: *buy for loads and loads of money.

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