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The number of motorcyclists on Britain’s roads has increased by 50% in the last ten years, according to a new survey, although bike ownership rates remain the lowest in Europe.

A survey commissioned by the MotorCycle Industry Association found that there are approximately 1.4 million motorcycles and 1.5 million motorcyclists in the UK – a 50% increase since 1999 and double the number of motorcycles on the road in the mid 1990′s.

That means that the motorcycle industry contributes some £5.2bn of net sales to the UK economy and, despite the difficult economic climate, the MCI has claimed that further growth is a realistic target.

The report cited Triumph, the UK’s largest automotive manufacturer, as one of Britain’s recent success stories after the company became one of the only motorcycle manufacturers in Europe to have grown in 2009. UK registration statistics show that Triumph sold 25% more new motorcycles in the UK in the first 11 months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, an increase of nearly 1500 motorcycles, as well as significantly adding to the UK’s export business

And the MCI argue that further R&D and innovations particularly around convenience and technological low-carbon advances can drive the industry on further.

To do that however, they will have to overcome the fact that Britain has the lowest rate of motorcycle ownership in Europe at just 22 per 1000 people.

“The research has proven that the motorcycle industry has a very important role to play in the economy of the UK,” said MCI CEO Steve Kenward. “There is significant potential for growth in the market and as the Get On campaign makes positive steps forward we are reaching out to new markets.

“Over 8,000 people have already applied to participate in the free motorcycle experience that introduces people to riding. We know there is great potential to bring new riders on board and expand our existing customer database to a younger and more diverse group of people. The MCI remains extremely positive and upbeat about the future of the motorcycle industry.”

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