The true cost of biking: MCN investigates whether motorbikes really are getting more expensive

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It’s a common complaint in the motorcycle industry that motorbikes have got too expensive. And it’s easy to see why, with prices for flagship models regularly topping £20,000 and limited editions or homologation specials north of £30,000.

But it’s not just motorbikes that have got more expensive: over time, everything has. Thanks to soaring rates of inflation, some supermarket staples have more than doubled in price since this time last year. You’ll be lucky to get a pint for under a fiver anywhere you’ll enjoy drinking it, too.

To find out if bikes really are more expensive, we’ve taken a look at some classics that have modern equivalents you can still buy today and adjusted the original price for inflation according to the Bank of England’s online calculator.

Ducati Monster M900

Let’s start with the 1993 Ducati Monster. The M900 is often credited with saving the firm and, with a launch price of just £7500 in the UK, it offered a more affordable way for the masses to own a piece of Italian exotica.

If you put £7500 into the inflation calculator, it spits out a modern equivalent of £14,943. Yes, you read that right, for the equivalent cost of an M900 Monster in today’s money, you could buy the latest 2023 SP version and have enough change left over to buy a full set of bike kit. Nice bike kit, too.

Sticking with naked bikes, let’s take a look at the latest Honda CB750 Hornet and compare it with the CB600F of 1998. A new Hornet back then would set you back £5245, for which you got a 97bhp, carbed four-cylinder roadster with budget suspension even for the time. In today’s money, £5245 becomes £9425, which means that, if anything, the latest Honda Hornet is over two grand less expensive than it should be.

2023 Honda CB750 Hornet

At the other end of the biking spectrum, a Ducati 916, the apex predator of superbikes in the mid-nineties that adorned the bedroom and office walls of many an aspirational biker. When it was launched in 1995, it cost an incredible £12,000 or £22,841 in today’s money.

Obviously, you can’t buy a 916 anymore but a base spec Ducati Panigale V4 costs £22,295. But actually, pound for pound, a current Ducati Panigale V2 is more similar in spec to a 916 and one of those can be yours for just £16,795!

You get what you pay for

Unsurprisingly, not everything has got cheaper in real terms over the years. But when you consider how much more you are getting for the money in terms of power or technology or comfort, depending on the model, it’s mindboggling.

2023 BMW S1000RR

Consider the BMW S1000RR. A 2009 model cost £11,190 (unless you wanted ABS and traction control, then it was £12,500) and rocked the superbike world. As first attempts go, BMW knocked it out of the park.

Translate that price to modern money and you end up with £16,243, which is admittedly less than a 2023 S1000RR Sport costs – but only by £900. So BMW are only charging £900 for 14 years of refinement, an extra 17bhp, lean-sensitive everything, a shiftcam engine, full colour TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity. Not bad really!

It doesn’t end there either, a Ducati Multistrada V4 S is less than £4000 more expensive than an original Multistrada 1000. A Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade is less than £5000 more expensive than a 1992 CBR900RR FireBlade (although it’s not as pretty) and a Yamaha Tracer 9 GT is over £1100 cheaper than an 2000 FZS1000 Fazer!

How about new riders?

Yamaha R125

Learning to ride has become more and more complicated and expensive over the years, but how about the actual bikes? Yamaha launched their race rep YZF-R125 back in 2008 for £2999. That’s the equivalent of £4526 in 2023 money, which falls just short of the £5302 you’d need for the latest version.

But considering the spec you get on the new one including a 5-inch TFT dash, Bluetooth connectivity, VVA engine, LED headlights, traction control… and £800 extra doesn’t seem so bad.

Plus, young riders have got a burgeoning selection of Chinese imports to serve out their time on L-plates these days. A Lexmoto LXR 125 costs £3000 now, which is the equivalent of under £2000 back when the R125 was new!

The cost of money

One thing that hasn’t got cheaper, especially over the last couple of years, is borrowing the money you need to buy a bike. One of the ways the Bank of England can try to control inflation is by raising interest rates which means you pay more in interest payments on your loan, HP or PCP deal.

Honda Fireblade 30th Anniversary and original Honda FireBlade ridden on track together

Back in 2008, the UK base rate of interest plummeted from around 5% to 2% and was just 0.5% by March 2009. It’s hovered around below 1% and hit a low of 0.1% between March 2020 and December 2021. But since then, it’s been climbing steadily and has now reached 4.25% which has a knock-on effect to the cost of credit for everyone.

The next rate review is set to happen next month and with inflation still soaring over 10% – 8% above the Government’s 2% target – it’s possible they will rise further still.

What the industry says

Tony Campbell

CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association said: “Research shows that in the main, the cost of new motorcycles in today’s market has not changed with all things considered (inflation and exchange rates etc).

“Whilst we fully appreciate motorcycling can be an expensive hobby, it must be noted that costs have significantly increased for manufacturers, these include increases in development costs to meet the latest safety and emissions standards, the introduction of many new technologies that are found on new bikes and of course the increase in cost throughout the supply chain.

“Manufacturers have worked hard at supporting buyers by offering innovative finance packages that suit today’s customer. We must also not lose sight of the strong residual values of used bikes meaning the actual cost of ownership is relatively low when compared to years gone by.”