Since the pandemic took hold, new motorcycle and scooter sales have mostly risen in markets around the world. There are plenty of reasons for this, not the least of which is that bikes and scooters are fun. During tough times, isn’t fun something you want to seek out when you can? Beyond that, of course, they’re a practical, safe way to get around while maintaining physical distance.
We saw that some motorbike sales rose in 2020, but as vaccines rolled out and the world shifted anew in 2021, what changed? For our purposes, we’re using the word “motorbike” to refer to both motorcycles and scooters. While we’re a U.S.-based website, in most markets outside of North America, scooters are an extremely popular form of transportation. As we’ll see in some 2021 numbers, new scooter sales outpace new motorcycle sales in some markets.
Throughout 2021, Australian riders bought a total of 123,530 motorbikes of all kinds, which represents a 13.4 percent increase over the number sold in 2020. Just about 43 percent of those sales were off-road bikes, which is not surprising given the many and varied places throughout the country that are best (and maybe only) seen on an off-road bike.
In the French market, 194,552 new bikes were registered in 2021, representing a 9.2 percent increase over 2020 sales. France in particular noted supply chain bottlenecks that affected motorbike sales, and speculation remains high among local observers that even more registrations would have occurred, had the number of available bikes on the ground been greater.
Before learning the 2021 numbers, it’s important to understand 2020 numbers for context. In 2020, new bike registrations rose by 32 percent over 2019 numbers, in large part because the preference for individualized transport grew massively due to the pandemic.
That said, a total of 197,387 new motorbike registrations were tallied in Germany for 2021, which represents a 9.72 percent decrease in registrations as compared to 2020. Still, if you jump up 32 percent in one year and then backpedal just under 10 percent the following year, it seems more like a correction than something truly negative.
Numbers dipped slightly in Italy for 2020, but surged beyond even 2019 numbers in 2021. An impressive total of 290,255 new motorbikes were registered, which is a rise of 14 percent over 2019 numbers. Of these, 119,079 motorcycle registrations and 151,153 scooter registrations made it into the books.
Those who pay attention to motorcycle racing in most disciplines know that Spain nurtures its racing talent like Americans nurture football talent. With that in mind, it’s probably not incredibly surprising to note that new motorbike registrations in 2021 totaled 193,324 units. That’s a five percent increase over 2020, but still remains below 2019 pre-pandemic figures. Above all, 125cc models reigned supreme—and in Spain’s top 10 models sold in 2021, eight of these were 125cc scooter models.
Overall, sales of motorbikes rose by 13 percent in 2021 over the previous year, coming to a total of 56,375 new registrations by the year’s end. Notably, new legislation allowing riders aged 16 and over to operate 125cc motorbikes seems to have positively impacted sales.
Prior to 2021, while 16-year-olds could do this in other European countries, it was not allowed in Switzerland. Thus, a 19.4-percent rise in sales in the 125cc segment alone occurred in 2021. In fact, with 8,480 125cc bikes sold, those sales outpaced the 8,177 registrations for larger-displacement bikes throughout the country.
A total of 114,371 motorbikes found their way into new U.K. homes in 2021. That represented an impressive 9.3 percent increase over registrations in 2020. Impressive gains were also noted in electric registrations, with electric two-wheelers now representing 5 percent of the total U.K. motorcycle market according to the Motorcycle Industry Association.
As of January 20, 2022, new motorbike sales totals for 2021 aren’t available yet. However, they will be interesting to see given 2020’s figures. In 2020, a total of 780,000 new motorbike sales were noted in the U.S. Considering that just 467,780 new bike sales were noted in 2019, it will be fascinating to see if the trend continued in 2021.
While this roundup is primarily about data, anecdotally speaking, many new bike dealers in the U.S. seemed to experience difficulty keeping new bikes in stock throughout 2021. Additionally, many bikes seemed to sell almost as quickly as dealers could get their hands on them. We look forward to updating this section with the most current numbers once they’re available.
Incidentally, that 780,000 number is the highest number of new bike sales recorded in the U.S. since 2008. Back then, a total of 879,910 bikes were sold. Peak new bike sales in the past 20 years came in 2006, when 1,190,000 bikes made their way into American homes according to Statista.