1. Motorcycles, motorcycle ownership, training
Since 1995 to 2010 (quarter 1) the number of licensed
motorcycles (by body type) has increased by 77 per
cent. There is a considerable amount of seasonal variation
within the years. Since 1994 there has been, on average,
7.6 per cent more licensed motorcycles on the 30th
June than there were on the 31st March that year.
This figure has fallen from about 10 per cent in the
early years to 5 per cent in the later years. This
could be due to the improvement in clothing and motorcycling
equipment resulting in greater usage during the winter
As at the 31st December 2009 there were 1.3 million licensed
motorcycles (by body type) in Great Britain.
Number of licensed motorcycles by tax class and body type:
Great Britain, Q4 1994 to Q3 2010
There were 114.9 thousand new motorcycle registrations in
2009 (by body type). This is the lowest annual total since
body type statistics began in 2001. By tax class, there were
111.6 thousand new registrations, the lowest annual total
The proportion of licensed motorcycles with engine sizes
over 500 cc has increased from 45 per cent in 1999 to 75 per
cent in 2009. Conversely, 11 per cent of licensed motorcycles
in 2009 had an engine size of 50 cc or less, down from 14
per cent a decade earlier.
The proportion of licensed motorcycles in each Government
Office Region has remained static for decade up to 2009. In
2009, about 87 per cent of licensed motorcycles were registered
in England with 6 per cent in Scotland and 4 per cent in Wales.
The locations of the remaining 2 per cent were unknown.
New motorcycle registrations by style: Great Britain, 2009
(Vehicles web table VEH0320)
Of the new motorcycle registrations in 2009, over 50 per
cent were scooters or sports motorcycles.
Motorcycling test pass rates remained steady between 64
and 68 per cent from 1997/98 to 2008/09. However, the number
tests undertaken each year has varied. In 2008/09 105 thousand
motorcycles tests were undertaken and a pass rate of 66.4
per cent was achieved. Over 90 thousand of these tests were
taken by males at a pass rate of 68 per cent. Only 15 thousands
tests were taken by females at a pass rate of 55 per cent.
About 47 per cent of all the tests were taken by people aged
30 or younger.
In 2009/10, 948 thousand MOT
tests were carried out on motorcycles. Including those
that were retested after rectification at the testing station,
87 per cent of the tests resulted in passes. However, the
initial pass rate before rectification of defective vehicles
was only 79 per cent.
The most common cause of MOT
failure was from lighting and signalling problems.
These components caused nearly 12 per cent of failures in
Traffic, speeds and travel
In 2009, motorcycles drove about 3.2 billion vehicle miles
in Great Britain. They accounted for about 1 per cent all
vehicle miles driven during the year. This figure is about
0.4 billion miles higher than it was ten years earlier, though
is considerably lower than the 6.2 billion vehicle miles achieved
when motorcycling was at its peak in 1960.
The use of motorcycles is highly seasonal. Between 2005
and 2009, there was roughly twice as much motorcycle usage
in the summer months of June, July and August in comparison
with the winter months of December, January and February.
Roughly 50 per cent of motorcycles exceeded the speed limit
on motorways, dual carriageways and 30 mph limited roads in
Percentage of motorcycles exceeding the speed limit by
road category, Great Britain: 1999 to 2009
Recent Statistical History
are around 1.52 million motorcycles (excluding mopeds) in
Great Britain7. In 2004, 2.3% of households owned a motorcycle,
the majority of whom also owned one or more cars. In fact,
motorcycles are more common in households that own at least
one car than in households that do not own a car. The highest
ownership rate was in the South West of England and the lowest
Around half of motorcyclists are aged between 30 and 49 years.
Less than 10% of motorcyclists are aged 19 years or young,
and 15% were aged 20 to 29 years. Just over one quarter are
aged 50 years and over.
Transport statistics8 show that after long term fall in motorcycle
use, the trend has reversed, leading to an increase in the
level of motorcycling. Over the last decade, motorcycle traffic
has risen significantly, with most of the increase occurring
between 1998 and 2003.
trend is echoed by the change in the number of motorcycles licensed
over the same period. There were over 1.1 million licensed motorcycles
in Britain in 2004, compared with only 721,000 in 1994. These figures
exclude unlicensed and tax exempt motorcycles.
The largest increase has been in motorcycles with an engine size
of 500 cc and above. An overview of motorcycling safety issues9
found that stocks of motorcycles over 500 cc had been rising since
the late 1980s, and by 1997 accounted for 72% of licensed motorcycles
in Britain. However, in more recent years about 45% of new registrations
have been machines up to 150 cc and about 45% have been machines
over 500 cc.
contrast to these trends, the number of people taking the motorcycle
test fell to 78,000 in 2004/05, which was the lowest number for
seven years. The pass rate for the motorcycle test was 64%.
In 20047, around 5.2 billion vehicle kilometres were travelled on
motorcycles, which is roughly 1% of the distance travelled by motor
vehicles on Britains roads. This was a fall from the 5.6 billion
kilometres motorcycled in 2003, a year which saw higher than average
temperatures and lower than average rainfall. Motorcycle travel
peaks during the summer months, and in August for example, there
is over twice as much motorcycle travel as in February.
Nearly two-thirds of motorcycle trips are for work, business and
education purposes (accounting for over half of motorcycle mileage).
Although the number of motorcycle trips appears to have fallen by
over time (from 11.2 trips per rider per week in 1985/86 to 7.8
trips per rider per week in 2004), the distance travelled has increased
(from 62.9 miles per rider per week in 1985/86 to 88.9 miles per
rider per week in 2004).
Riders of larger motorcycles (over 500 cc) tend to have higher average
mileage than riders of smaller machines.