Motorcycle theft

Motorcycle theft in the UK is becoming an increasingly bad problem. As this video shows, thieves will steal in the middle of the day. Here are some of the stats by one of the local insurers, Bennett’s.

In 2016, powered two wheeler (PTW) theft rose by 16%. 27,217 machines of all kinds were reported stolen (that’s 523 a week!) and only two out of five were recovered. 25 years ago, scooters accounted for less than 1% of all two wheeled theft; today over half of all the bikes stolen are scooters and mopeds. In London alone, where 4776 larger machines were taken, an increase of 620% meant 6165 mopeds and scooter owners lost their transport.”

The explanation for all this is really quite simple; the interest in motorcycling is huge all over the world, and wherever there’s constant demand – in this case for used machines and spare parts – organised crime is never far behind. At the moment, it’s a battle that the government and police have every intention of winning as soon as possible…However, these new gangs aren’t unique to the UK, and are common in most cities of the world at this time. Many of the continental gangs use stolen scooters and motorcycles as the new currency for buying and selling drugs, and the fear is that this may be the case in the UK. Violence as displayed on YouTube and CCTV footage indicates many gang members themselves may be drug users. Because of this, the police caution against heroism, but do appreciate all the information on these gangs that they can get.

Take a look at this shameless attack on a dealer during operating hours. One can see how thieves would need to be “meth’d“ up to do something so brazen. Good to see the dealers win the battle but the police will back down on any chase of motorcycle thieves if they remove their helmets because of fear of causing death or injury to the criminal. Most bike owners who had their pride and joy stolen would most likely relish broken limbs of the perpetrators.

The UK’s 41 ports handle 9000 container movements every day, and are expected to load at least 12 stolen cars and motorcycles bound for Africa, India, South America, Asia and Europe. The police are likely to check one in every 200, whose manifests will often simply state ‘household goods’ or ‘spare parts’. In just one container, on just one day, in just one port, police found 12 stolen machines worth £70,000, its contents listed as ‘spare vehicle parts”

Affordable tracking devices have become hugely successful in recovering many machines this year, the most popular of which are claiming over a 90% recovery rate. Ironically though, thieves are now using their own cheap tracking devices to find their prey that they fix to a machine and track to its home without spooking owners. If they steal the bike they can use the device again.”

Ironic that the criminals are using technology that is meant to deter theft by leading one to the owner’s home to make a cleaner ‘get away’.

Doesn’t look like the battle to lower theft in the UK can be won without the police being able to dish out far harsher penalties to the criminals. Whistling in the wind won’t stop this.

When motorcycle racers were properly mad


The politically incorrect class clown of the 1980s, Randy Mamola, will be inducted into the Moto GP Hall of Fame at the Austin Texas round of the 2018 season. Thoroughly deserved. Mamola typified the fun side of motorcycle racing. Not spouting carefully scripted messages for sponsors but showing a genuine side to a sport where lives were properly at risk. The 500cc 2-stroke era of the 1980s was known as the ‘unrideables’ such was the erratic behaviour of the machines. They were pioneers. Experimental rocketmen. While Mamola never won the championship he did finish second in multiples seasons and was bestowed a Ferrari Testarossa by team owners, the Castiglioni brothers, after he managed to get the hopelessly out of its depth Italian Cagiva on the podium in the mixed condition 1988 Belgian 500cc GP. I watched that race. He rode out of his skin. Congratulations Randy! Nice to see the left-field choice get the accolades.

Lies, more lies and statistics


So the global trends in motorcycles apply in Australia too. Older riders make up a larger proportion of motorcycle license holders. 50% are aged over 50 according to the NSW Centre for Road Safety. Having said that the total number of licensed riders in NSW rose 44% to 600,633 in the last decade. Motorcycle registrations have jumped from 108,656 to 218,055 in the last decade.

As is often the case, the government in its infinite wisdom hasn’t a clue about statistics. The NSW Roads Ministry has said fatal accidents are up 54% and 80% for those over 50yo. However registrations are up 100%.

According to its own stats in 2016 there were 375 fatalities on NSW roads. Bikers were 63, down from 67 the previous year. So if we back calculate to a decade ago to the 54% jump they claim there were 40 deaths on bikes. Not great but for 110,000 extra registrations there was a fall in the ratio of deaths per 100,000 riders. 54% gives them the right to call for more speed cameras and regulations which don’t help

In 2004 as part of a statistics course for a masters degree our team investigated speeding and the inaccuracy of government reporting. When the double demerits scheme was introduced fatalities went up. When 40km/h school zones were introduced fatalities went up. Speed doesn’t kill  living in fear of your speedo which causes you to look ahead less often does

While not suggesting trying to cut road fatalities is a bad thing the government should be more honest with the stats. The biggest issue for motorcycle crashes is the speed limit itself. Given the police hand out fines for minor speed infractions bikers are forced to ride in car blind spots massively ramping their risks of being hit by a mobile phone gazing driver. All the arguments for too much horsepower etc is also rubbish given the amazing advancements in safety aids on bikes.

Japanese bikers have listened except Suzuki


Yes I’m a biker. In my former life as an analyst I visited the major Japanese motorcycle makers to discuss their bike businesses. Kawasaki and Yamaha were the most relatively upbeat with Honda and Suzuki keeping to a tired old script of commodity product. At least Honda could be forgiven because it was focusing on the 19mn odd bikes it makes annually, most sold in SE Asia.

In any event I said they should look to doing more retro product. I even argued and proved to these makers that good condition bikes of 30 years ago were selling for higher prices than that of the new product today. If that didn’t tell then where biker’s hearts are then nothing would. Suzuki’s bike business has been struggling for ages and for all the best intentions I said this is a picture I had on my wall aged 16. The GSX-R750. If you made a modern version I’d buy one in a heartbeat. I said that the 18yos who could legally ride one can’t afford it. Old buggers like me don’t need 200hp and fluorescent graphics. We ride to revive our youth. If it visually reminds us of that we’ll want to make the reconnection. Besides we are the ones that are likely to be able to afford it. Midlife crises averted. Marriages saved!

Even Kawasaki realized the Mad Max movies with rebel bikie gangs was absolutely positive for the brand that they’ve now launched the Z900RS, an homage to the original Z. They’ll sell like hot cakes.


Honda has managed to find a pulse in all of its dreary line up too with the CB1100. They did a custom version at the bike show but the Honda man said there was no plan. I never understand why makers openly ignore customer desires through overwhelming positive feedback.


Yamaha has also joined the party with the XJR1300 although weirdly don’t sell it in the home market?!?


So I’m praying Suzuki build the retro GSX-R because it was probably the model I coveted most as a kid. In its day it created a segment much like the Sony Walkman did for personal tape players. This would be akin to Suzuki switching their bike profitability with Sony megabass and presets! Do it!

Why winning matters

In a world that is sliding down the slippery slope of participation prizes and everyone is a winner, Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovisioso proved why winning isn’t a bad thing (watch the video) and why competition breeds success and overwhelming joy to the victor. Since joining the MotoGP class in 2011, Dovi had only won 2 races til last season. This year he has won 5. He had been in positions to win in the past but misfortune (usually being wiped out by other riders) has stifled any shot at the title.

Today he was up against championship leader Marc Marquez who is without a doubt the toughest rider to face on a last lap. The word “give 150%” doesn’t even begin to describe his riding style.He rides that bike like he stole it.  Even in the pouring rain with no real safety aids in braking or traction control, Dovi managed to outbrake Marquez in a risky move that (literally) stuck.

Now these bikes way 157kg and have 270hp. These two riders are 1&2. Dovi is smelling the championship that he’s not attained (Marquez already 3) and had to risk it to stay in the hunt. So under intense pressure he produced a diamond and spoke of utter grit. No knees taken. No politics. Just a win that defied the odds. The satisfaction that came with his win could be felt by the crowd and even those who support others congratulated him.

So whenever I hear of read of participation medals given to all these kids in sports events I wonder what lessons are we teaching them about the real world which is nothing like this. Wrapping kids in cotton wool is pointless. The daughter of a friend said she was told after winning three races in a row would she mind not winning again in the following races to give the other kids a chance. Is it any wonder we have a generation of self entitled kids who expect to get a good paying job without having to “earn it”. Dovi if you manage to beat the best over the final three races then we’ll know you earned it and deservedly so.

Monstering the Red Bull war?


Today’s motorsport sponsorship is now the domain of the energy drink makers. Long gone are the tobacco sponsors. Race teams were synonymous with their cigarette brands – Marlboro McLaren, Rothmans Honda and Lucky Strike Suzuki. While tobacco sponsorship was banned for promoting unhealthy habits one wonders when carbonated energy drinks will meet the same fate?

Monster has been the company experiencing the fastest growth. While Red Bull holds the top share (43%) , Monster has taken 39% of the market in 2015 up from around 12% in 2006.


MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi is sponsored by Monster. A yellow ‘Rossi’ version of the drink is sold amongst the other Monster flavours. If this convenience store is any guide, Rossi Monster is all that seems to be selling in the energy drink market.

Angel Nieto passes away


13 time motorcycle world champion Angel Nieto has passed away at the age of 70 after suffering injuries in a quad bike accident on July 26. Nieto won 13 titles in the 50cc and 125cc classes. His superstitious beliefs meant he referred to his tally of championships as ’12+1′. He was the first Spanish rider to race in the world championship and the first Spaniard to win the world championship title.