Motorcycle Tyre Market Revs Up
In contrast to car tyre sales, the UK motorcycle tyre market continued the pattern of growth it has demonstrated in recent years in 2006. Europool figures put the total market size at about 775,000 units (not including non-EU produced tyres and grey and parallel imports), up around 2.2 per cent on 2005. But industry sources are expecting more next year and are projecting that European produced tyre sales will reach 800,000 units (up 3.22 per cent).
As far as sizes are concerned the top selling dimensions of 2006 are reported to have been: 180/55ZR17, 120/70R17, 19/50ZR17, 160/60ZR17 and 120/60ZR17.
This all comes on the back of a positive December and a reasonable 2006 as far as motorcycle registrations are concerned. Last year 109,527 new motorbikes and scooters above 50cc were registered (up 1 per cent). 5094 of these came in December alone (registrations in the month of December were up 11 per cent).
The figures are even more telling when broken down into the respective segments and show that sales of Custom and Sport/Touring machines have grown fastest. There were 9131 new Custom registration in 2006 (up 21 per cent year-on-year); while 9736 (up 11 per cent) Sport/Touring bikes were registered in the same period. And, just to clarify, the Motorcyle Industry Association (MCI), who compiled the statistics, define a Custom bike as: “Cruisers and Choppers…that typically feature high handlebars, low seat height and forward footrests. Body panels and fittings contain high polished chrome content.”
Adventure Sport and Trail/Enduro registrations fell 9 and 10 per cent each to 9,212 and 11,013 units respectively. Registrations in the Supersport segment also dropped 5 per cent to 24,134, but remain the most registered type of motorbike in 2006.
According to the data Tyres & Accessories has seen, the largest market segments for tyre sales are premium sports and sports touring, accounting for 25 and 35 per cent of the market respectively. Little wonder Michelin and Avon chose this year to launch their new Sport/Touring tyres, both of which claim to blow away the field in terms of mileage.
Budget, Scooter and on/off road tyre sales, representing 10, 8 and 7 per cent of market respectively, are the next most import segments. However with new registrations of Trail/Enduro faltering at 9859 units last year, the replacement tyre market in this segment is unlikely to grow particularly quickly.
With the number of new registrations on the increase and the Custom and Sport/Touring segments particularly on the up, there are continued opportunities for those competing to distribute tyres to these segments. But who will win the battle of the suppliers?
Bridgestone remains market leader
Most sources agree that the market is dominated by three leading brands – Bridgestone, Michelin and Pirelli; followed by Dunlop, Avon and Continental. But not everyone agrees. One notable exception came when one of the above manufacturers suggested the current order runs Bridgestone first, Dunlop second, and Pirelli/Michelin joint third. In addition they suggested that the order will be Bridgestone, Michelin, Dunlop in 2007. There was also some disagreement about who holds what share in the remaining top six places. Either way, there looks likely to be a reshuffle during the next 12 months and a tussle at the top of the table.
Bridgestone has been leading the UK motorcycle tyre market for the best part of nine years now, with a market share of up to 30 per cent in 2004. However there are signs that this share has diminished slightly. At the same time Michelin is widely acknowledged to have been the fastest growing player in the market last year. And when you take Olivier Gros’ (Michelin’s motorcycle marketing manager) goal of making the French manufacturer UK market leader in three years into account, it looks like Bridgestone have a race on their hands.
Scooter registrations flat
Scooter registrations might have been flat at 40,173 last year, but that does not negate the part they play in the market. Scooter tyres account for about 8 per cent of the total market and Michelin is reportedly the market leader in this segment. However, a relatively new player has just entered the segment and is aiming to make a real impact on the top-end of the market, while growing Taiwanese brand Maxxis is aiming to further exert its influence too.
Sava and exclusive wholesale partner, Bike Tyrestore have high hopes for their Slovenia-produced range and are particularly proud of the new MC29 Sporty 3+. At the same time Maxxis managing director Derek McMartin points out that the OE accredited Maxxis M6029 now offers consumers even better value for money than it did before.