Top 10 most popular bikes [2019]

Phil West
By Phil West
PhilWestNew Former Editor of Bike, ex-Road Test Editor of MCN, ridden more bikes than he can remember. Likes: GTS, Paso, Mantra. Dislikes: own rust bucket LC and 900 T-Bird daily driver.

 

When it comes to choosing the best of any type of bike there’s one barometer of motorcyclists’ taste that simply can’t be ignored – the bikes that are the most popular.

By that, of course, we mean the best sellers – the model in any given motorcycling category that outsells all others.

No, that doesn’t necessarily mean any such bike is the best. ‘Best’ is a very subjective term, after all. Different people have different criteria for what they want from a machine and in different categories factors such as price or economy might outweigh performance or comfort. For example, when it comes to 50cc scooters, as traditionally bought by cash-strapped 16-year-olds, price may outweigh nearly everything else. By contrast, when it comes to cruisers or tourers things like brand credibility or proven long-distance comfort become paramount.

But it’s also certainly true that the best-selling bikes in any category have a lot going for them and are worth further consideration. But what bikes are we talking about, exactly, and what do they offer.

To answer just that we’ve looked at the current best-selling motorcycles in Britain according to statistics published by the UK’s primary motorcycle trade organisation, the MCIA – or Motorcycle Industry Association.

Each month the MCIA publishes a list of the best-selling bikes in each of a comprehensive list of motorcycling categories, defined both by engine capacity and type. It’s worth saying here that these figures are skewed sometimes by when particular models become available and it’s also true that some bikes don’t neatly fall into their categories. But there’s also more than enough data available to get a solid idea of which bikes are selling best. Here we highlight the standout models and give our view on what makes them so great.

 

No.

Make and Model

Price

1.

Lexmoto Echo

£1099.99

2.

Honda CB125F

£2829

3.

Honda PCX125

£2929

4.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

£5499

5.

Yamaha MT-07

£6349

6.

Honda CBR650R

£7729

7.

Kawasaki Z1000SX

£10,299

8.

BMW R 1250 RT

£14,415

9.

BMW R 1250 GS/GSA

£13,415/£14,415

10.

Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200X Forty-Eight

£9995

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Lexmoto Echo, £1099.99

There’s probably no new motorcycle category where price is more important than that of the 50cc scooter. If you’re 16, likely at college or school, almost certainly with a limited budget yet still want the reassurance and warranty a new machine provides, the cheapest credible offering has huge appeal. Which is why the Chinese-built, UK marketed but still sporty-looking and adequate Lexmoto Echo, at just under £1100, has been a UK best seller in the category for a number of years. With approaching 100 unit sales UK-wide every month throughout 2019 the Echo is not just the best-selling 50cc scooter, it outsells most full-blown motorcycles as well – and it’s not hard to see why. Sure that ticket price is a big temptation but there’s much more to it, too. Over the last 10-15 years Lexmoto have steadily grown to become a credible UK brand with a decent network of, albeit fairly small, dealers. There’s a standard, UK-wide, 12 months parts and labour warranty (its 125+ bikes now have a 24-month one), important for peace of mind. While, best of all, Lexmoto also offer their own PCP scheme which means you can buy a new Echo 50 currently for just £21.20 per month. That’s right, just over 20 quid a month, which, surely, most 16-year-olds can afford.

And all of that is on top of the fact that the Echo itself is, if not stunning and sophisticated (that would be too much to expect from such a budget machine) then certainly stylish, credible and adequate which, when all 50cc scooters are limited to 30mph by law anyway, is no great loss. The four-stroke single produces 2.4bhp and is good for nigh-on 30mph; there’s a disc front brake, 10in cast wheels, sporty styling, useful underseat storage, faired-in indicators, the usual, idiot-proof, twist n’ go operation and a choice of three colours – pretty much everything most scoots of this type have, in fact. And, if you want a little more, Lexmoto also now offer the Echo+ for £100 more, which has larger, more stable 12in wheels. Yes, quality isn’t Honda-crisp and the spec isn’t flash but for a new way onto the road at 16 there’s none more popular.

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Honda CB125F, £2829

Honda’s no-frills, straightforward, CB125F roadster has been the best-selling 125cc motorcycle in the UK ever since it was introduced as the replacement for the previously best-selling CBF125 in 2015 and, again, it’s not hard to see why. Although most assume this category appeals only to 17-year-olds in reality, as the A1 licence classification enables anyone over that age to get on the road on a 125 if they have a CBT certificate, 125s are also hugely popular with more mature riders as cheap commuters – hence the popularity of 125s such as Yamaha’s YS125 and Honda’s CB. (It’s probably worth saying here that, yes, sports 125s are also popular, primarily with 17-year-olds, of which Yamaha’s recently updated YZF-R125 stands out, running the CB close for overall sales in July. Overall, though, the CB is top dog.)

The CB, although not the cheapest of its type, has an awful lot going for it, not least Honda’s peerless reputation for commuter quality and reliability. It’s powered by a two-valve, air-cooled, fuel-injected four-stroke single that’s claimed to deliver 10.5bhp which is just about good for 70mph plus, even more impressively, a massive, claimed 155mpg – although in our experience that was more like 110, although still not to be sniffed at. To ride it’s brilliantly simple and straightforward: being light, low and manageable it’s a doddle to ride but at the same time has an aura of quality and a few neat styling touches. There are ‘proper’ twin dial clocks including a fuel gauge and gear indicator; its reliability record is impeccable; Honda’s dealer network and experience is better than most and PCP deals and assembly in India help make it eminently affordable and easy to buy. If you want a fuss-free, affordable, reliable and economical commuter, the CB makes brilliant sense – no wonder it’s such a good seller.

Check out our Honda CB125F review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Honda PCX125, £2929

The PCX125 is not just the UK’s best-selling 125cc scooter it’s its best-selling 125 and most impressively of all, the UK’s best-selling powered two-wheeler of any type and capacity. Well over 18,000 have been sold in the UK all told since its introduction in 2010 and, with a styling makeover in 2014 followed by a further refresh in 2016 to meet Euro4 it remains ahead of the pack.

Again, the reasons why, once you give it a bit of thought, are not hard to discover. As a 125cc scooter it has huge, hassle-free, affordable commuter appeal as it can be ridden with just a CBT certificate. Being a twist ‘n’ go scooter with luggage space and a degree of weather protection means its easier to ride, more practical and comfortable than, say, Honda’s CB125F geared motorcycle and, being a Honda, the PCX delivers plenty of peace of mind and reassurance.

Best of all, though, the PCX, more even than Honda’s other 125cc scooters such as the SH125 or Forza, delivers a brilliant blend of abilities. With semi-sporty styling it’s good-looking; with ‘stop-start’ technology, LED lights all round and smart LCD digital dash it has a premium, luxurious feel; its liquid-cooled engine is both brisk enough yet impressively economical (Honda claim 134mpg) and it’s both easy to ride yet handles well enough to be more engaging and enjoyable than many more basic scoots. All of that, along with an affordable price tag has made the PCX simply THE go-to 125cc scooter, and not just in the UK but across the whole of Europe, too.

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, £5499

Enfield’s all-new, twin cylinder 650 was hugely anticipated before its arrival in the UK this year and attracted massive crowds at Motorcycle Live at the end of 2018 so perhaps it’s no surprise that it has become the UK’s best-selling bike in the 125-650cc motorcycle category. It has an awful lot going for it, too. First, as an easy-going retro roadster it has genuine, credible heritage appeal of the sort which is hugely popular right now. Its all-new, 649cc, air-cooled twin not just looks authentic it delivers the double-whammy of easy, lively-enough performance virtually the equal of rivals like Triumph’s T100 Bonneville or Street Twin yet, by delivering 47bhp, is also A2-licence compliant which broadens its appeal to more riders. Its Harris Performance developed twin loop frame (Royal Enfield bought the British chassis specialists in 2017) gives neutral, entertaining handling; there’s plenty of neat, retro touches such as its wire wheels and ribbed seat and, with its Royal Enfield badge (although Enfield is Indian company, set up as a spin-off of the original, British Royal Enfield in the 1950s, it acquired the Royal Enfield name in 1999), it has just as much heritage authenticity as today’s Triumph and Norton. Best of all, though, by being built in India and with a fairly basic spec and slightly rustic build quality it’s brilliant value as well. At £5499 the base Interceptor is a whopping £2500 than the cheapest Triumph equivalent plus there’s also a café racer version (the Continental GT, from £5699), lots of accessory options, decent dealer network and more. Yes, it’s worth saying that the Enfield is flattered here slightly by the MCIA’s category definitions (Yamaha’s MT-07 and the 900cc Triumphs simply don’t fit into this category) but a new, easy, affordable entry into all things retro roadster they simply don’t come any better.              

Check out our Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Yamaha MT-07, £6349

With well over 100 examples sold virtually every month this year, Yamaha’s enduringly popular MT-07 roadster remains Britain’s best-selling bike in the 651-1000cc category. We shouldn’t be surprised: ever since this perky, accessible and affordable roadster was first introduced as twin cylinder version of Yamaha’s all-new MT-09 triple in 2014 it’s been a Europe-wide phenomenon while updates in 2017 including a called-for suspension tweak plus styling improvements have kept it on top ever since. The key to its success is its simplicity, performance which has a broad appeal and brilliant value – after all, name me one other credible Japanese 74bhp bike you can get for under £6500? The heart of all that is Yamaha’s brilliant new modular MT engine: launched in 2013 in the MT09 as a 115bhp, 847cc triple, the MT-07 basically uses a version with one cylinder hacked off taking it down to 698cc and still delivering a still perky 74bhp (but slashing development costs). That, held in a fairly budget but decent chassis, particularly when it comes to its uprated suspension, brakes and fat performance tyres, adds up to an affordable, easy to ride roadster that’s bags of fun both as a first big bike for novices and as a second ‘Sunday toy’ for more experienced types – no wonder it’s sold, and continues to sell, so well. Downsides are few. As a naked roadster it’s not particularly practical over distance (but Yamaha have the faired Tracer 700 for that) and as it’s built down to a price it’s spec and quality is a touch basic. None of which really matters. As a fun, friendly middleweight, for the money nothing comes close.

Check out our Yamaha MT-07 review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Honda CBR650R, £7729

When it comes to best-selling sports bikes, going by the MCIA figures there are no dominant machines in a category which includes everything from Yamaha’s YZF-R125 to Ducati’s latest Panigale V4S. But of a mixed bunch, Honda’s updated CBR650R stands out by being a monthly best seller more than once. ‘Newness’ always adds to a bike’s appeal and significant updates for 2019 have undoubtedly enhanced the appeal of Honda’s affordable, novice-friendly, middleweight, four-cylinder all-rounder for 2019. First introduced as the CBR600F in 2011, a fully-faired, more sporting but still accessible version of Honda’s then 600 Hornet, it was intended to rekindle the all-rounder appeal of its brilliant 1990s namesake. And although that version didn’t quite achieve that, it's been updated three times since to now do just that. Its smooth four-cylinder motor now produces a healthy 90bhp, its chassis and spec have been uprated to include a new, slick LCD dash while handling and ergonomics are a brilliant blend of sports, practicality and comfort while styling and detailing has been uprated to mimic that of its big brother Fireblade. All of that is not just virtually unique as a middleweight, four-cylinder sportster, the CBR’s also a great all-rounder, durable, desirable and, still, very tempting value. No other middleweight four-cylinder offers so much for the money.

Check out our Honda CBR650R review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Kawasaki Z1000SX, £10,299

Another bike which slipped under the radar at first then was quickly appreciated to deliver a brilliant blend of performance, practicality and value. All of which is also why the enduringly popular SX has been, not just a best seller for nearly a decade but, partly thanks to a series of succinct and successful updates since, remains a UK best-seller in both the MCIA’s ‘Over 1000cc’ and ‘Sports-tourer’ categories. First introduced in 2010 as little more than a faired, sports-tourer version of the then Z1000 super naked from the outset the SX was both versatile and, at under £10,000, brilliant value. Over time, however, it evolved to much more than that. The 138bhp engine grew to 140, was flexible, fast and, through a series of updates, gained a decent spread of electronic rider aids. The chassis, already commendable, was boosted with adjustable suspension front and rear. The looks were updated and refined, the dash improved and luggage options became slicker and better quality. In short, as a big, four-cylinder all-rounder, the SX delivered it all – and for a mouth-wateringly affordable price as well. All of that is still true today, even if the price has inevitably now risen to a smidgeon over £10,000. No matter, it’s still brilliant, still a bargain, three tempting Performance, Tourer or Performance Tourer versions are now also available with combinations of luggage and performance goodies making the SX still every bike you actually need. The SX isn’t just brilliant for the money, it’s brilliant period.

Check out our Kawasaki Z1000SX review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

BMW R 1250 RT, £14,415

Of all the motorcycling categories, no bike has dominated its type in the last decade or so more than BMW’s peerless touring bike, the RT. Which is almost certainly why, even though not cheap, the latest version, the new R 1250 RT is Britain’s best-selling touring bike.

None of this is news, either, to be honest. The R 1250 RT’s predecessor, the R 1200 RT, as introduced in its latest form in 2014 following previously dominant 2010 and 2005 versions, was already well-established as ‘The’ best touring machine, mostly due to its combination of peerless comfort, surprisingly flexible and adept boxer performance and handling and all-conquering BMW prestige and classy options. Simply: if you wanted a touring bike there was none better. Amazingly, however, BMW has raised the bar again in 2019 with this new R 1250 RT, which is undoubtedly why it’s sold so well. Although much of the bike is unchanged and, sadly, the RT still lacks the fancy new 6.5in colour TFT dash BMW’s other 1250s have gained, the increase in performance thanks to the new engine more than makes up for it. The 84cc capacity boost is just half of it (although it no doubt contributes to the healthy boost in peak power from 125 to 134bhp). Instead, the bigger story is its adoption of BMW’s crafty ‘ShiftCam’ variable valve timing system where a third camshaft means intake can be maximized at both low and high revs giving a boost not just to top end but to low and midrange as well.

Add that to a more than adept chassis, class-leading weather protection and comfort, a premium aura few brands can match and accessories options which include BMW’s usual heated grips, quality luggage, its brilliant ESA electronic suspension adjustment, adjustable seats, on board computer and much, much more and it’s clear why the RT remains the go-to tourer.

Check out our BMW R 1250 RT review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

BMW R 1250 GS/GSA, £13,415/£14,415

BMW’s class-defining adventure bike, the GS, has long been famous also for being one of Britain’s best-selling bikes overall and, with the introduction of the much improved 2019 version, the same remains true this year. In truth, however, it does benefit from both sales of the standard GS and Adventure (big-tanked, off-road styled) ‘GSA’ version being grouped together while it also has to be said that it hasn’t always had everything its own way. Honda’s CRF1000 Africa Twin was a monthly best seller in the Adventure class, too, as has been Yamaha’s new but late-arriving 700 Ténéré. On balance, however, the BMW remains on top and in March alone, when it first became available, a staggering 582 were sold, almost twice the sales total of any other machine.

It more than deserves it this year as well. Like the RT tourer and R roadster versions of BMW’s boxer, the GS has gained the new 1250 ‘ShiftCam’ motor for 2019 which delivers a healthy boost in power and torque but in addition it also now has, as standard, BMW’s classy new colour TFT screen which is simply a joy to use. On top of that there’s the usual adept GS handling, flexible performance, striking presence, enviable options, classy build plus of course the monster Adventure version, too. It might not be exactly exclusive – the GS today is one of the most common motorcycles on Britain’s roads – but no bike does more for more people.

Check out our BMW R 1250 GS review here

 

Official stats showing 2019’s best selling motorbikes in the UK

 

Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200X Forty-Eight, £9995

Compared to, say, the USA, the cruiser or custom category in the UK remains something of a niche class with comparatively small overall sales but one brand, an American legend who’s whole DNA is cruiser, inevitably stands out – Harley-Davidson.

Collectively, although sometimes quite pricey, Harleys remain the most desirable and best-selling cruisers of all and it’s natural that its entry-level offering, traditionally its smaller, more affordable Sportsters although Harley are trying to further widen its appeal with its recent ‘Street’ family, remain the best-selling of all. The category is so small and Harley’s variety of bikes so big that no one model stands out, but it’s the Forty-Eight, the most affordable version of the 1200cc Sportster (which is generally regarded to be superior to the 883cc version) which makes the biggest impact on the sales charts. At under £10,000 (unless you go mad with the accessories catalogue) you get the punchier version of the ‘small block’ Harley V-twin in a bang-on-trend, bare bones, fat-tyred bobber/roadster chassis and a bike that’ll be the envy of all your (non-biking) friends. The Forty-Eight is good looking, easy to ride, solid, performs adequately, sounds great and is a great ‘blank canvas’ for further customization. What’s more reliability and residuals are beyond question and you’ll have one of the greatest brands of all in your garage. At under £10K it’s no wonder, really, that it sells so well.

Check out our Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special Review

 

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