Are bikes getting more expensive? Are they prohibitively expensive? In this article we dive into some facts and some hypothesise about the relative costs of bike.
We’ve all said or heard someone state that “Bikes are too expensive now-days”. We see it regularly in our comments, nestled neatly beside the cries of bikes being too heavy and the 950 KTM being best ADV bike of all time. However, emotional arguments, nostalgia and regurgitated fallacies have a lot to answer for. They are after all, very human qualities and all fall into the box of confirmation bias.
“At over £13,000, I thought the Africa Twin Adventure Sports was expensive”
We recently started a new series on our YouTube channel called Retro vs Modern. Whilst going through the editing process of that video, I stumbled across a stray thought. It hit me that at over £13,000, I thought the Africa Twin Adventure Sports was expensive to the point that it didn’t represent good value. Alongside that thought, the logical rational segment of my brain retorted “That’s a heavily subjective thought. Google it dummy.”
And so I did. Several clicks later, a little digging through archive pages and the use of one of the numerous inflation calculators on the internet gave me the answer. Nearly 30 years of consistent inflation means that money is worth less and thus prices go up. The original price of the Africa Twin, accounting for inflation over the 28 years between the two bikes provides a price difference of £468 in today’s money. Reversing the process puts the new generation Africa Twin at £122 more expensive. A £468 increase in 25 years doesn’t sound all that bad.
“Reversing the process puts the new generation Africa Twin at £122 more expensive”
One example doesn’t make a data set so we’ve done the same calculations for some other famous models that we could find prices for and created a graph, because who doesn’t like a pretty little graph.
Note – This isn’t the most scientific data set you’ll ever see. Because of the myriad of options with new bikes, we’re taking the base model cost. On most ADV bikes this can change the price up to £4,000.00 but as you don’t need to spend the money to own the bike, we’ll keep it simple. We’re also limited by available information on original bike pricing.
As you can see from both the chart and graph, the bikes you choose colours the process. We’ve got a wider range of bikes from which to choose in 2019. The overwhelming point is that across the board you don’t have to spend more but you can. Mid-range models are coming in slightly cheaper than their original counterparts and top-end, flagships are more expensive. Until recently, we never had that choice. In conclusion, bikes haven’t got more expensive we’ve got more choice.
Disposable income, motorcycles transitioning to primarily being leisure products and the increase of cost are all potential contributing factors to the perception of bikes being more expensive. However confirmation bias leads the line in determining our feelings toward cost. Confirmation bias is, as defined by the reputable Wikipedia, “the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that affirms one’s prior beliefs or hypotheses.”. That means, when we believe an idea, such as bikes being expensive, we point to them being cheaper when we bought them in the past. However, that doesn’t account for inflation.
For example, I was born in 1991, so my frame of reference for the cost of bikes sits around the point where I started buying bikes. My first was a KTM 250 XCF-W in 2008. I bought it new, on finance for around £6000.00. New dirt bikes are now between £7500 and £9000 depending on the model. Inflation would put the cost of my bike at £7940.00.
“The main point is that on average we’re poorer”
That happens because inflation in the UK on average sits at 2.58% in the last decade. Every year the worth of your money is less than it was the year before because of this so the amount of that required to purchase something of the same value goes up. Simple but also complicated as hell.
So what if we reverse the figures to a point in time that those bikes were released? The chart below outlines it. To my eyes, it’s all a little less offensive at least.
The last part of this puzzle is the amount of money people have. If that number doesn’t increase inline with inflation then essentially you have less disposable income* year on year and this is fundamentally in a negative place in the UK. Simply put, inflation since 1995 has averaged 2.73%. Disposable income has averaged 1.57% and that put the average UK person £8686, in today’s money, worse off than they would be if the growth matched.
*Disposable income is determined as income after all taxes.
Statistics from the Office of National Statistics, UK.
At the heart of it that is why bikes feel more expensive. They aren’t. The main point is that on average we’re poorer and inflation messes with our confirmation bias. Maybe now we can cut the motorcycle industry a little slack. They’re doing a great job of keeping costs fair and at market value despite motorcycles no longer being a primary transport option.
Also, I’m sorry if that hurt your brain.