Most of the world is currently paralysed with billions of people under self-imposed house arrest. In the UK the majority of shops are closed and there are strict guidelines on what you can and can’t do. But what if you’re relying on your bike for vital transport and need to buy a new one or get work done to keep one on the road?
We polled the biggest players in the UK motorcycle industry to see what their policies are when it comes to buying bikes, getting parts and meeting servicing requirements during this unprecedented time, and while it’s far from ‘business as usual’ the bike market is still working to keep those who need to be on the road, on the road.
While buying a new bike might not be at the forefront of many people’s minds at the moment, for some keyworkers – including delivery riders, of course, but also many others who rely on two wheels to get to their jobs – it’s vital. Others who have spent years saving with the plan to get a specific machine this year may also be keen to get the process underway.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, many manufacturers and dealers are still providing the means to get a new (or used) bike despite the fact their public-facing showrooms aren’t currently allowed to be open to normal business.
Honda is focussing on keyworkers and told us: “Our dealer network will be operating in the best interests of their customers and their employees, and like Honda (UK) will be following government advice and guidelines to ensure everyone remains safe.
“Under government guidelines, dealer showrooms are now closed to the public until further notice. However, most will remain contactable by telephone and email should you wish to speak to them about future motorcycle collections, purchases or service, MOT and repair requirements.”
Yamaha has a similar position, so normal sales are currently suspended but keyworkers and carers are catered for. The firm said: “The majority of our dealer’s showrooms are currently closed – a very limited number of dealers mostly in large cities remain open or partially open. Therefore normal ‘leisure use’ purchases are currently not possible, excluding those who use a two-wheeler for their work. Special arrangements are in place in certain areas for key/care workers who wish to purchase a new motorcycle or scooter. Customers can of course try contacting their local dealership or view their dealer’s website or social media sites to check in case they are open or they can contact YMUK on firstname.lastname@example.org to find their nearest open dealership.”
Suzuki takes a slightly more open approach. The firm told us: “Yes, customers are still able to purchase new bikes, with the majority of dealerships taking orders over the telephone or online, and delivering sold machines to the customer. Social distancing is being adhered to when the paperwork is being signed, and physical showrooms remain closed based on current government restrictions. Customers can still take advantage of the current 0% HP finance offer, which runs until the end of June. There is also an additional £500 off available on selected models registered and delivered by 30 June, to help both customers and dealerships.”
Kawasaki is also working to make it possible to buy bikes. The firm explained: “In essence, yes, customers can purchase a bike. Whilst our dealers showrooms are closed as per government legislation, some dealerships are open in the "virtual" sense and able to take orders over the phone or online. Government legislation changed on Thursday [23 April] to allow deliveries to be made whilst of course following social distancing guidelines. So new bike purchases can be delivered direct to the customers home address.”
Ducati’s position is that “Yes, you can buy bikes, dealers are taking orders over the phone and taking deposits.” However, the firm explained that since not all of its dealers’ workshops are open “PDIs [pre-delivery inspections] can only take place if the workshop is open.” As with every other brand, all the firm’s showrooms are closed at the moment.
BMW says: “In line with government guidelines all Motorrad showrooms are closed at present. Some individual dealers do have an online sales/remote selling capability.”
Overall, regardless of what manufacturer you’re hoping to buy from, the best bet right now is to try to contact your local dealer, either by phone or email, and see what their specific situation is. Some will be better able than others to deal with supplying a bike and being able to make a safe, socially-distant handover.
Of course, some of the usual elements of bike shopping – browsing showrooms and taking test rides, for example – are simply not possible at the moment, at least until government social distancing and lockdown rules are scaled back.
Triumph said: “Please contact your local dealer to discuss purchase options, as they may be able to facilitate a remote purchase all offers are subject to the associated terms and conditions” but added “It will not be possible to view a bike or book a test ride until restrictions have been lifted.”
There’s no rule that says you can’t buy a used bike under lockdown, particularly if it’s essential to your ability to work. However, buying secondhand without inspecting your purchase is a risky business and traipsing around the country to look at multiple machines isn’t likely to be viewed kindly. If you’re buying purely for leisure use the best advice is to wait until the lockdown is lifted.
As with new bikes, some dealers are still operating via email and phone, even with their showrooms closed, and many will be more than happy to send you extra photos and details – or even videos – of a potential purchase if you ask. Some will also be able to help with contact-free delivery, while others may be open to holding on to bikes themselves until after the lockdown has been lifted and you’re able to collect.
When it comes to private sales, it’s trickier to make such arrangements and the relative lack of consumer protection means that buying a bike unseen from a private individual is a risky business.
Your best bet, unless you really need a new bike for genuine reasons, might be to spend lockdown doing your research rather than trying to make a purchase.
Although dealer visits to buy a new bike are a rare treat for most, more regular treks to official outlets are inevitably more regular when it comes to getting services done or simply buying parts to do your own wrenching.
Even under lockdown, many are still using their bikes for essential journeys. For key workers and those with jobs that can’t be done from home they’re often needed for commuting, and for some a bike is a vital for work itself. That means miles are still getting piled on, and parts and servicing are going to be needed.
Under government guidelines garages are allowed to be open under lockdown, and as such it’s no surprise that many servicing facilities and parts departments are still operating. Check before travelling, though, as many are giving priority to key workers.
Honda said: “A proportion of our dealer network will remain open to support the ongoing service, repair and MOT of emergency motorcycles, essential service motorcycles and the motorcycles of key workers. We would advise you contact your dealership prior to your visit to ensure it is open.
“Please discuss with your local Honda dealer if they are offering servicing, maintenance and repair for customers other than key workers.”
Yamaha’s position on servicing is: “Some dealers do have their workshop open and can book service work for key/care workers or commercial and fleet customers. The number of dealer workshops who are open is increasing but in many cases special arrangements or restrictions are in place to maintain the safety of staff and customers, so always contact a dealer in advance before going to a dealership.”
And when it comes to buying parts, the firm told us: “Parts can still be supplied by Yamaha but only to dealers who are open. There are a number of dealers who offer mail order and on-line ordering for parts so this is probably the easiest route if you need to purchase a part.”
It’s a similar story for Kawasaki, which said: “Dealer workshops are allowed to remain open, and many have. So whilst of course you should check before travelling, you are able to visit your local dealer to get essential work and servicing carried out… parts departments are open so you can either buy parts for your bike at the dealership, or indeed purchase over the phone or online for home delivery.”
Suzuki explained that a “number of workshops remain open by appointment for service and recall work. Customers are advised to contact their local dealership directly, or if they are unable to make contact, call our customer services team on 08085 011959 for help locating their nearest operational dealership.”
When it comes to parts, the firm said: “The Suzuki GB warehouse continues to operate in accordance with the guidelines, and customers are able to purchase parts via their local dealership - by ordering online or over the phone, with parts delivered by the dealer - or by ordering directly from Suzuki GB’s website and eBay store
Ducati said: “Some dealers have their workshop open but very few at the moment, the ones that are open are carrying servicing and warranty repairs but key workers take preference… you can buy parts from dealers – again dependent on the level of service individual dealers are offering.”
BMW is prioritising key workers for servicing, saying: “Where possible, our UK retailers are carrying out service work for emergency services and key workers, some of these centres will take bookings for normal service work via the contact email address on their website. Customers can check their preferred retailers website to see if they are operational, otherwise they can contact customer service to find the nearest operational centre. Parts sales remain available online from some of the retailers’ online stores.”
It’s a similar story for Triumph. The firm told us: “Some workshops remain open for essential maintenance for keyworkers, in line with Government guidance. Please check your local dealers’ service availability by telephone or by visiting their website. Find contact details for your local dealer with our dealer locator.
The firm added: “Spare parts continue to be available, and a number of dealers are offering mail order services.”
Triumph suggests calling dealers or checking their websites to see which are offering parts, but added: “For urgent parts requirements, or if you have any other warranty or service-related concerns, please email email@example.com.”
Since garages are still allowed to open under lockdown rules, many tyre fitters are still operating. Of course, it’s vital to call first rather than just dropping in to make sure you can comply with their social distancing arrangements.
With limited dealer services available during lockdown and people encouraged to stay at home whenever possible, warranties and recalls throw up a couple of questions.
One is simply what you should do if you need to make a warranty claim or your bike has a recall? The second is more nuanced; given that it’s hard to get servicing done, are manufacturers adding leeway on their warranties to account for missed or late servicing work?
We put those questions to each brand to see what their position is. Here’s what they had to say.
When it comes to warranty claims, Honda told us: “In the event customers cannot gain access for a warranty repair to be completed under the Honda Manufacturer Warranty and the fault was not logged with the dealer in the warranty period, please contact your local Dealer once restrictions have been lifted and it is convenient for you to do so.
“Honda will ensure, following adequate checks, that any legitimate claims made for such repairs will be accepted following the reopening of our dealers. To reflect the changing nature of the Covid-19 situation, this criteria will be reviewed every 30 days.”
On the subject of leeway on scheduled servicing, Honda said: “We would advise customers to arrange for their products to be serviced at their earliest convenience once the current COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and our customers are happy to do so.
“If the customer has a Honda Service Plan, claims will be considered and supported due to any delay due to the current restrictions.”
Yamaha’s position on warranty work is simple – it’s on hold at the moment unless you’re a key worker or care worker. The firm said: “New warranty work for leisure users is currently suspended. Dealers will be able to do this work once current lockdown restrictions are lifted in line with Government advice. Any claims made for a key/care workers should be processed as normal by one of the open dealerships.”
The company also announced in early April that it was adding a three-month extension to any factory warranty or extended warranty that expires between 1st March and 31st May.
Kawasaki says in regards to warranty claims: “In the event you cannot gain access for a repair to be completed under the Kawasaki Manufacturer Warranty and the fault was not logged with the dealer before the lock-down period, please contact Kawasaki Customer Service to log the issue. Contact your local Kawasaki Dealer once restrictions have been lifted and it is convenient for you to do so. The dealer will then contact Kawasaki for support.”
If your warranty expires during the lockdown period and you need to make a claim when it ends, the firm says: “Careful consideration will be given to support each claim as long as the vehicle is booked in for the repair at the earliest convenience and your machine is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
“If your machine’s warranty was valid during March 2020, Kawasaki will extend it to help with any restrictions you may face as a result of the government’s instructions to stay at home. The warranty extension period is as yet to be confirmed, but is intended to match the period during which the use of your motorcycle was restricted by the confinement instructions. Kawasaki will monitor closely the restrictions in place and confirm the extension period as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted.”
Suzuki has some workshops open for servicing – and hence warranty – work, but says: “If a customer is unable to get their motorcycle serviced during this period Suzuki GB will extend the interval by either three months or 2,000 miles, whichever occurs soonest, whilst not affecting the warranty.”
Ducati also has some workshops open, so the firm said: “Warranty work and recalls can be done depending on the level of service the dealer is able to offer and who it applies to.” Of course, key workers will get priority.
On the subject of riders unable to get their bikes serviced on schedule, the firm told us: “Considering people should be only making essential journeys it shouldn’t effect mileage on the service schedule to much, with the time schedule we would operate some sort leeway within reason. Again this would be dependent on individual circumstances. For example if someone failed to get their bike serviced months after lockdown ended, then we may not be so lenient.”
BMW will also be doing at least some warranty work, saying: “Yes, the same retailers offering service work will carry out recalls and complete warranty work, although if it is cosmetic it will be placed as lower priority.”
The firm has also laid out extended its warranties and loosened some servicing requirements during the lockdown. In the case of overdue services, the firm said: “Any BMW motorcycle which was due a service on or after 14th March 2020 will not affect its warranty policy cover by becoming overdue during the current crisis period. This relates to Manufacturer Warranty and BPMS (Approved Used Bike) cover.
“For any BMW motorcycle that is due a 600 mile running-in service during this period we have extended the mileage allowance to 1,200 miles (2,000km).”
BMW warranties expiring during lockdown are also being extended. The firm told us: “For any customer whose BMW motorcycle warranty expires during the COVID-19 period (from 14th March 2020), that cover will be extended to 30th June 2020. This relates to Manufacturer Warranty and BPMS (Approved Used Bike) cover.”
The same applies to BMW’s ‘Service Inclusive’ packages. BMW said: “Any overdue service that was due since the start of the COVID-19 period (14th March 2020) and would have been covered under a valid Service Inclusive Package will be honoured under an extension to that SI Package, valid until 30th June 2020.”
Triumph is continuing to log warranty claims with the aim of doing work once lockdown restrictions are lifted. The firm said: “For motorcycles covered by the 24 Triumph warranty, customers who identify a fault with their motorcycle whilst the warranty is still live should report this to their dealer, or our ourselves, via firstname.lastname@example.org. Providing this is done, we will look to process any claims in line with the terms and conditions of the warranty once dealers reopen.
“For approved preowned motorcycles, customers who identify a fault with their motorcycle and who have a policy in force are advised to contact the warranty administrator on the number shown in their warranty booklet. Failure to do this may invalidate a claim.
“The administrator will record the details of the fault and the customer will be able to progress the repair, once the repairer is able to diagnose the fault and schedule the work. We must advise customers that motorcycles should not be ridden in an un-roadworthy condition.”
Given the difficulty getting servicing done at the moment, Triumph is offering a period of grace of two months or 2000 miles on service schedules during the lockdown period, saying: “Under current restrictions, we do not anticipate many of our customers will exceed the mileage intervals of the due service significantly. As a result, we have relaxed the servicing requirements for the time based services (1month/3month or annual based services) for your motorcycle without it affecting your warranty, providing the relevant service is carried out in a timely fashion once dealers reopen.”
If you own a bike from another manufacturer, make sure you check the individual situation with that company. For instance, MV Agusta has announced a unilateral three-month extension on all bikes currently covered by warranties. The firm’s Claudio Quintarelli, head of after sales service, said: “In these particularly difficult times, it is important for MV Agusta to express its attention towards its owners community in some practical and tangible way. With this move, we want to make sure owners don’t lose out because of the crisis and are able to fully enjoy their bikes with complete peace of mind once the restrictions are lifted. This warranty extension is of course completely free and applies to all bikes currently covered by our standard 3 years warranty and registered before 30.04.2020.”
One of the first concessions made during the lockdown was a six-month extension on any MOT that expired after 29th March 2020, so at the moment there’s no urgent rush to get an MOT done even if you’re still using your bike.
The government says that the MOT expiry date will only be updated about a week before the MOT is due, so if your certificate expires in more than a week’s time, don’t worry if the official records (here https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history) still show that it’s due on its original date. However, if the date doesn’t get extended and you get within three days of the expiry, you should email email@example.com. Include details of your MOT expiry date and vehicle registration number so the DVSA can update the records.
You won’t be sent any paperwork to reflect the MOT extension, so make sure you note down the new due date so you’re not caught out without an MOT in six months’ time.
The MOT situation has a knock-on effect on vehicle tax. If your tax is due at around the same time as the MOT, you’ll need to wait until the renewal date of the MOT has been extended before you’re able to renew your tax.
Remember that despite the MOT extension, rules about roadworthiness still remain – so using a vehicle that would fail the test would still be illegal. You can be fined up to £2500 and get three points on your licence for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.
Since a lot of people keep their bikes off the road during winter, there’s a chance your MOT expired before the lockdown started on 29th March. That means you won’t have the benefit of the six-month extension, and if you have to use your bike then a fresh MOT is needed.
Since many garages are still open during the lockdown for vital repairs, it is still possible to get an MOT test done. The DVSA says “If your vehicle’s MOT expired on or before 29 March 2020, you must book an MOT as usual” but warns not to do so if you’re self-isolating due to having coronavirus symptoms or living with someone with coronavirus symptoms. Those who are self-isolating due to age or health conditions that put them in the ‘vulnerable’ category are also asked not take their vehicles for MOTs.
But even so, don’t let it slip your mind entirely. If you decide not to fork out for VED, for instance, make sure you apply for SORN and keep an eye on key dates like insurance renewals. Remember that theft is still a risk, so it’s best not to let your insurance lapse, but do tell your insurer if you’re going to be covering fewer miles than usual this year – it could bring your premium down.
If you’re keeping your bike off the road for the duration of the lockdown, follow the usual practices for winter storage to make sure it doesn’t suffer. Good ideas include trying to get it off the ground if possible (eg on paddock stands) or rolling it around regularly to make sure the tyres don’t get flat spots. A maintenance charger is a good idea, as is starting the bike regularly and warming it up. Read more advice here.