2016’s best selling motorcycles

Published on 28 June 2017 by Robert Drane

Motorcycle sales continue their resurgence, with 2016 showing sales up more than 11% during the course of the year. “Many people are turning to motorcycles and scooters as a more affordable and efficient form of commuter transport,” said Steve Kenward, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association.

But which are the best selling bikes in each category – and what is the best selling bike of the year? We asked the Motorcycle Industry Association to confirm the biggest UK sellers in each category, and the overall biggest seller. Can you guess the top bike in each category?


Category: Moped

WINNER: Longjia LJ 50 QT-3L ECHO 50


Chinese-made bikes have long been viewed with some suspicion by UK riders but it looks like that resistance is being overcome in recent years, as improved quality and finish allay consumer fears about reliability and longevity. The LJ50 comes powered by an air-cooled four stroke motor giving good fuel economy and low running costs while a low seat height of 760mm and low weight of 78kg makes handling and parking easy in the urban environments that are the little Longjia’s natural environment. Practical additions include lockable underseat storage, 4.7 litre fuel capacity (with fuel gauge) and a luggage carrier as standard and telescopic front forks and a front disc brake/rear drum brake combination give a nod to modernity A fully automatic gearbox and electric start are designed to make it non-threatening as a first bike – the Longjia is primarily aimed at 16 year old first licence holders and urban commuters. 12 inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres contribute to stable handling at the performance levels achievable on a 50cc scooter of this type where 35mph is likely to be the fastest you are travelling. 


Category: 50cc-215cc 

WINNER: Honda PCX 125



Honda have long dominated the sales figures in UK motorcycling and 2016 sees the PCX125 topping the 50-215cc category as well as taking the crown for overall best-selling bike for 2016 – not just in the UK but across Europe. Designed to appeal primarily to A1 licence holders, the PCX has Honda build quality and styling with considerably more refinement than the lower-priced Chinese rivals. Instruments echo those of bigger bikes and include a hazard button and ignition key cover while lighting is now provided by LEDs. The four stoke power plant is liquid cooled to cope with urban riding and an advanced fuel injection system ensures low maintenance and high fuel economy – Honda quotes 133mpg and a range of 233 miles from the 8 litre fuel tank. Further refinements in typical Honda fashion include a stepped seat, glove box for storage and a 12v adaptor for charging devices on the go.


Category: 126cc – 650cc



The GTS 300 is the fastest scooter Vespa has produced in its storied history. Retaining the design cues so strongly associated with the Vespa since 1946, the GTS 300 retains the DNA of the GT range first launched in 2003, is instantly recognisable and retains the cachet and image of the Vespa brand.

Powered by a 278cc four stroke single cylinder engine developing 22bhp and twist-and-go transmission the little Vespa is most at home buzzing through the city streets, but the engine is powerful enough to cope with longer commutes as well as city traffic. The introduction of front and rear disc brakes, ABS and ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation) means this model is less threatening to new and inexperienced riders than a motorcycle equivalent. Fuel consumption is around 80mph and the Vespa comes with a USB port and centre stand as standard equipment, as well as a mobile app to monitor fuel consumption and data including average speed. How modern is that? A wide range of accessories are available and the Vespa brand should ensure resale values are decent.



Category: 651cc – 1000cc

WINNER: Yamaha MT- 07 ABS


Powered by a liquid cooled 689cc parallel twin engine producing 74hp and designed to mimic the characteristics of a V-twin, the MT-07 is designed to be a fun roadster at an affordable price – Yamaha have certainly achieved that with as the sales figures show. Aimed at the budget end of the market the MT-07 nevertheless was an instant hit on its launch in 2013, rating five out of five stars in most motorcycle test reviews and dominating the category ever since. Introduced as a smaller brother to the already successful MT-09, despite its price tag the MT-07 rapidly overshadowed its big brother with a combination of big bike performance and an unthreatening ride for newer riders or commuters – a true all rounder. Fuel efficient and comfortable, light and powerful, the MT-07 is remarkably priced compared to the competition. No wonder it became an instant sales success on launch. Now with ABS fitted, the MT-07 looks set to dominate the mid range bike category for the foreseeable future.



Category: Over 1000cc



Sharing its DNA with the bikes famously used in Ewan McGregor/Charley Boorman epic ‘The Long Way Round’ and riding the wave of the current craze for adventure-sport bikes, the BMW R1200GS needs little introduction – and retains its position as top of the class in the plus-1000cc category.

The Adventure model is the more off road-oriented version of this dual-purpose workhorse; powered by the 110hp DOHC semi-liquid cooled 1170cc Boxer engine originally fitted to the HP2 Sport and carrying a 33 litre fuel tank (significantly bigger than the standard model) giving a range of around 300 miles. The Adventure variant also comes with upgrades over the standard version, including uprated suspension, spoked wheels and greater damage protection from a sump guard and crash bars.

How much of the off-road ability of the R1200GS will be used by the average owner is a moot point but the Adventure excels as a general workhouse and capable tourer as well – and if you ever do need to tackle the Silk Road in a hurry, this is the bike to do it on. Watch this space to see if Honda’s new Africa Twin will take the crown from the GS in 2017 as competition heats up in the Adventure Touring category.