Motorists turning to two wheels

The ravages of the credit crunch and ongoing high fuel prices are prompting motorists to swap four wheels for two, new figures have revealed.

Sales of motorbikes soared by 22% in July to 14,306, according to the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI), with smaller engine bikes for commuting proving especially popular.

This compares with a fall in the number of new cars sold in July of 13%, compared with last year.

The MCI's Craig Carey-Clinch said: "Against the backdrop of the credit crunch, inflation and economic uncertainty, this has been an up and down year for the market. But there are signs that people are switching to two wheels in order to make daily travel and commuting easier and cheaper.

"Dealers report very high interest from new customers in practical commuter-type bikes, and test centres are booked solid with people wanting to take bike tests ahead of the test changes due to take effect in October. The July figures are good and the industry is cautiously optimistic that people are looking seriously at two-wheeled alternatives to cars and public transport."

The biggest selling bikes in July were two Yamaha 125cc models - the YZF R125 and the YBR 125 - reflecting an increasing demand for smaller-engined machines.

Registrations of bikes of up to 50cc increased by more than 35% and engines from 51cc to 125cc increased by almost 31%. Bikes with engines from 651cc to 1,000cc increased by 40%.

Copyright © PA Business 2008