1 million UK households likely to own motorcycles by 2034

What some thought would be a temporary surge in motorcycle and moped use at the height of the pandemic has now turned into sustained growth for two-wheeled vehicle ownership in the UK, according to MCIA data. The cost of living crisis and an increase in average temperatures throughout the year look to be substantial factors in the ongoing uplift, a trend which we believe could see more than 1 million UK households in possession of motorcycles, mopeds, and/or scooters by 2034.

On seeing a dramatic increase in the number of new visitors coming to this site in search of motorcycle insurance so far this year, along with a corresponding increase in those looking for moped and scooter insurance, we decided to investigate what’s been driving the UK’s desire to move to two-wheeled transport. Here, you can see the key findings from that review, along with what the future of motorcycle and moped use could look like if the growth continues.

The ongoing trend

More than 67,000 motorcycle tests were taken between April 2021 and March 2022, according to Department for Transport figures released in October, the highest number in any year since records began in 2009. Among them, more than 50,000 new bikers passed their tests to take to the road – another record high, amounting to 34% more new bikers on the road in the course of a year than pre-Covid figures, and a 203% growth on the 2020/21 year of lockdowns. 

Sales of new bikes have also boomed throughout 2022, with MCIA data showing that:

  • The UK motorcycle and moped market grew roughly 10% in 2021 after years of stagnation and decline 
  • Early 2022 saw motorcycle and moped registrations up 32% year on year for the busy January-April period, though the overall trend for the year so far sits at around a 6% growth for mopeds and around 3.6% growth for motorcycles 
  • Electric motorbike registrations are up 20% year-on-year so far in 2022, following the 68% YTD increase seen in April 

During 2020, government statistics around vehicle ownership estimated that around 1.8% of UK households – approximately 500,400 – owned at least one motorcycle or moped. Since then, 114,371 new motorcycles and mopeds were registered in 2021 along with 95,958 registered between January and the end of September 2022.

Accounting for typical levels of multi-bike ownership and scrapping of some previously registered models among over 200,000 registrations since 2020, confirmed growth so far suggests that there are now around ~570,000 households in the UK in possession of a motorcycle, moped or scooter. 

Even assuming that the number of households in the UK didn’t grow at all in the next decade, if a 5% growth rate in motorcycle and moped registrations is maintained annually there will be over 1 million UK households in possession of motorcycles or mopeds by 2034 (around 1,018,561 to be more precise), assuming that the ratio of multi-bike to single-bike households remains the same. 

At a more conservative estimate, even if just a 2.5% growth rate is maintained each year from now the UK would still reach 1,000,840 motorcycle and moped-owning households by 2045. 

Year Households (if 5% growth from 2023 on) Households (if 2.5% growth from 2023 on)
2022 567,173 567,173
2023 595,532 581,352
2024 625,308 595,886
2025 656,574 610,783
2026 689,402 626,053
2027 738,872 641,704
2028 760,066 657,747
2029 798,069 674,190
2030 837,973 691,045
2031 879,871 708,321
2032 923,865 726,029
2033 970,058 744,180
2034 1,018,561 762,785
2035 1,069,489 781,854
2036 1,122,964 801,401
2037 1,179,112 821,436
2038 1,238,068 841,972
2039 1,299,971 863,021
2040 1,364,969 884,596
2041 1,433,218 906,711
2042 1,504,879 929,379
2043 1,580,123 952,613
2044 1,659,129 976,429
2045 1,742,085 1,000,840


Why are people switching to two wheels?

Government data shows that unleaded petrol pump prices have risen 16% since January – from 144.80p per litre then to 167.72p per litre in September. The same figures show diesel prices at the pump rising 23% in the same period, from 148.65p per litre to 182.3p, having peaked at a record high of 199.22p per litre in July. 

With the cost of living as a whole up more than 10% so far this year and wage growth predicted to reach just half that figure, some road users are simply looking for more economical ways to get around. Industry-wide figures from Compare The Market show that the typical insurance premium for a motorbike or moped is approximately 51% lower than that of the average car.

“Many small capacity motorbikes get around 50% more miles to the gallon than most cars.” says Andy Goodson, Sales & Marketing Director at Lexham Insurance, “Given that running costs are all typically lower for scooters, mopeds and small motorcycles, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a sustained growth in registrations now that people all over the country are looking for ways to reduce their outgoings.”

Free and cheap parking is also far more widely available for drivers on two-wheeled vehicles throughout the UK, and at the time of writing motorbikes and mopeds are exempt from the fees for various toll roads, as well as some emissions zones. Find out more about the myriad ways you can cut costs by switching to a scooter, moped or motorcycle here.

Of course, it isn’t just the steep incline in living costs and fuel costs that experts say is driving the boom. The UK has seen record-breaking temperatures throughout the year so far, including the warmest New Year’s Day on record. As the local climate gradually shifts to see warmer temperatures for larger periods of the year, figures support the possibility that road users who have previously been deterred from motorcycling by the cold and rain are reconsidering that option.


Sustainability and a shift towards electric models

The UK government has been consulting on a potential ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered motorbikes and mopeds, which could be brought in as soon as 2035. No wonder then, that electric motorbike registrations are growing at a faster rate than those of petrol-powered models.

At Lexham Insurance we’ve seen that the number of new shoppers looking specifically for electric motorcycle and moped insurance has grown enormously so far in 2022, as a growing number of shoppers look to buy vehicles that are free of emissions charges and come with money-saving road tax exemptions.

Plus, while the average electric car costs around £54,000 to buy new, brand-new electric motorbikes and mopeds range between £1,500 for budget models to £20,000 for the most high-end options, meaning they’re also a more accessible entryway into emission-free vehicles than current four-wheeled counterparts.

Expert tips and insight for new riders

Whether you’re a totally new road user looking for an economical first vehicle, or an experienced rider contemplating a greener mode of daily transport, we’ve got plenty of expert tips to help you feel confident in your decisions.

More information about this data

Data sources referenced in this article are as follows:

  • https://www.mcia.co.uk/press-statistics (inc Dec 2021, April 2022, July 2022, August 2022 and Pocket Guide)
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/nts02-driving-licence-holders (NTS0207)
  • https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2020
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cost-of-living-support/cost-of-living-support-factsheet-26-may-2022
  • https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/weekly-road-fuel-prices
  • https://www.comparethemarket.com/motorbike-insurance/content/cheaper-to-run-motorbike-or-car/
  • https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/average-mpg-motorcycles-uk
  • https://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/environment
  • https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/binaries/content/assets/metofficegovuk/pdf/weather/learn-about/uk-past-events/interesting/2021/2021_09_high_temperatures.pdf
  • https://ev-database.uk/cheatsheet/price-electric-car