Quantifying Classic Motorcycle Emissions 2023 (loop)

Honda C90 and Triumph Bonneville top the charts for classic motorcycle enthusiasts, new emissions report from loop reveal

The humble Honda C90 and trusty Triumph Bonneville are the most popular classic bikes with British enthusiasts according to a new report that details the carbon footprint of the UK’s historic motorcycles.

Following on from its earlier report that quantified the carbon footprint of the UK’s classic cars, awarding-winning automotive PR and communications agency loop has turned its attention to classic motorcycles.

Its latest report analyses historical data stretching back more than 100 years to conclude that riding a classic motorcycle for a year has roughly the same impact as a single roundtrip flight from London to Portugal[1], or little more than drinking a latte a day for a year[2]. In total, the entire classic motorcycle fleet accounts for just 0.05% of the UK’s overall transport emissions[3].

Quantifying classic motorcycle emissions 2023

While famous brands such as Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki dominate the sector, early pioneering marques such as Velocette, Matchless and AJS aren’t far behind, suggesting bikers are proud of their motorcycling heritage and are keen to see it preserved.

Honda is the most popular make overall, with almost 36,000 classic bikes registered for use on our roads. In second place, however, lies BSA, makers of the iconic Gold Star and Bantam, with nearly 29,000 bikes puttering about the countryside.

The report also reveals the popularity of the ‘young timers’ – relatively modern classic bikes parked up in storage, waiting to be awarded historic status by the DVLA. There, behind the omnipresent C90, lies the legendary Honda VFR750F, with more than 2,500 currently on SORN.

Drawing on years of data from official sources such as the DVLA and Department for Transport, the report offers fascinating insights into the make-up of the country’s classic motorcycle sector, how fuel efficiency and bike use have changed over time, and the part global events have played in shaping the industry.

Alex Kefford, loop’s Technical Writer and author of the report, said: “By trawling through millions of datapoints and delving into decades of archive data, we’ve been able to paint a fuller picture of the UK’s classic motorcycle scene.”

As a result, we’ve seen the effect popular culture has had on the rise and fall of the powered two-wheeler, as well as the impact of the occasional oil crisis. But what’s surprising is how intent bikers are on keeping their motorcycling heritage alive and on the road. In fact, the average age of a UK motorcycle is now more than 15 years – the oldest figure on record.”

Based at Bicester Heritage, the heart of the UK’s classic automotive scene, loop delivers a full service for clients stretching throughout the automotive, engineering and technology sectors. With a unique understanding of the classic market and unparalleled connections within the automotive industry, loop produces award-winning work for clients across Europe and internationally, from compelling story-telling to complex whitepapers, launch events to press office support.

[1] SAS, Flight Emissions Calculator

[2] UCL, Carbon cost of your daily coffee

[3] Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics

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