During the last 30 years, the UK climate has seen a gradual change to warmer conditions and despite a cluster of cooler, wetter summers and colder snowier winters between the years of 2007 and 2013, the seasons during the last 20 years have experienced something of a shift. Heatwaves have increased with numerous temperature records tumbling including the UK hitting 100f for the first time in recorded history, whilst winters have become milder with a reduction in the occurrence of frost and snow. The majority of scientists are now in agreement that Human activity is the main culprit for this warming and it is likely to continue for many years to come, even with a significant reduction of Co2 emissions.
It is well known that weather plays a particularly big role in the motorcycle industry, so climate change is a very important factor to consider. Traditionally there have been marked seasons for the industry. As spring approached, rising temperatures and lengthening daylight hours have encouraged riders to look forward to getting out on their bikes and enjoy a spring and summer of riding. However, once September drew to a close and the weather became cooler and wetter with the nights rapidly drawing in, many riders started to think about locking their bikes away for winter and eagerly awaiting the following spring.
During recent years, the seasons have become less well defined with summer like weather often extending through September and into October, whilst milder weather in November and December has made for an extended riding season. Indeed, a number of dealers have stated this year that the season seems to be less marked now than it once was. December 2015 was the warmest on record by a considerable margin which helped new and used sales remain buoyant until the end of the year and although the weather did cool during the first few months of 2016, there were still some decent riding opportunities that probably helped promote stronger sales which saw 2016 get off to a great start. Whilst December 2015 was an exception to the rule, and there will always be seasonal variability as despite winters becoming milder, they are also likely to become wetter and the UK will always experience colder seasons from time to time and unsettled summers. However, moving forward there is a fair chance that the riding season will continue to lengthen.
Whilst a longer season is obviously great news for the industry among current riders and enthusiasts, which in itself would boost sales, there is a high chance that warmer weather could also tempt more newcomers into the market. Many of those who were previously discouraged from riding due to the unpredictable nature of the British climate, could be tempted due to the prospect of a higher frequency of warmer and drier periods. This could be two fold as there would be those who enter the market and progress through to become lifelong enthusiasts progressing from scooters through to larger more powerful machines. Secondly, some would enter the market as a means of commuting and a cheaper alternative to a car but may not have any interest in riding as a hobby. However, this would still be a huge benefit to the market and the British roads as it would help ease congestion particularly in towns and cities with more bikes and less cars on the road. It would also help make for safer riding, too and may even help ease pollution.
There have been concerns during recent years about a lack of newcomers entering the market due to stricter and more expensive test regulations. However, a warming climate could perhaps help counteract some of these hindrances.
Interesting times ahead for the industry!