Classic motorcycle export markets add to demand

Classic motorcycle export markets add to demand in an already demanding market hungry for investment grade classic motorcycles. Historically the UK has been importing classic motorcycles from the USA, mainland Europe and Japan. However, these markets have now woken up to the understanding that investment grade classic motorcycles in their home markets are either already in very strong hands or have been exported. As more classic car buyers seek out the value classic motorcycles offer, as you can read in this article about just more evidence of classic car money pouring into classic motorcycles we wrote way back in 2019, investment grade examples are being snapped up. As demand outstrips supply, buyers in those large markets are looking outside of their own borders in search of excellent examples of their desired classic motorcycle. We have sold a lot of classic motorcycles for export over the last five years, and as those owners receive their motorcycles their friends come to us for investment grade classic motorcycles. We still sell a lot in the UK, but the export market is in addition to the home market and is increasing demand acutely. 

MV Agusta 750 Sport Ducati green frames
1972 MV Agusta 750 Sport and 2 1974 Ducati 750SS green frames

Classic motorcycle export

Classic motorcycle export has always been in our sights, but we never thought we would have so much demand from across the world. We wrote about classic motorcycles prices rising due to export demands back in 2021 and since then the demand from abroad has just got stronger. For us, our reputation for such excellence with our restorations and the quality of machines we source helps, but other dealers are reporting the same experiences. When I speak to the auction houses they are also reporting that many of the machines sold through them are also going abroad. There is still plenty of home market demand, but the demand from classic car owners is really highlighting the lack of investment grade classic motorcycles in mainland Europe, Japan and the USA as they exported so many of them. I cannot stress enough how big those markets are compared to the UK. Britain will shortly be facing a similar shortage of investment grade classic motorcycles and seeking external markets to meet home market demand again, but that will have its own consequences. As there are less machines available in the UK, there are no export markets to go and fill up our depleting market. 

1998 Ducati 916 SPS Carl Fogarty Replica
1998 Ducati 916 SPS Carl Fogarty Replica

Classic motorcycle price rises

Classic motorcycle price rises are certain to follow as the UK market becomes more depleted of investment grade classic motorcycles. Combine this with high inflation causing the cost of restoration, already far higher than the the value of the machine when restored, to become even more expensive all of the conditions are present for classic motorcycle price increases. Obviously the bikes which are not investment grade and lurk on eBay will not increase in value, in fact there will be blood on the internet for such bikes. The demand is for investment grade classic motorcycles and, as we wrote in 2020, the classic motorcycle market is dividing and this division is becoming even more of a gulf than ever before.  Quality always has a demand and pretty looking classic motorcycles which are not investment grade are easy to find. Finding investment grade examples is highly challenging, as only about 8% really meet the criteria and then they need work. A great example of this is the Honda CBX1000 which requires a full engine rebuild due to the age of the cam chain tensioners. They are a great classic motorcycle, but when you find an investment grade example and then pay to have the engine rebuilt, you will find the bike is far more expensive than buying one with all the work already done correctly. This type of issue, affecting lots of classic motorcycles from the 1970s and 80s, is always a precursor to serious price increases. So many of these machines need a vast amount of work to bring them up to spec and thinking you can do it all yourself is one of the most costly ways of going about it. 

Brough Superior For sale

New classic motorcycle export markets

New classic motorcycle export markets are opening with many more to follow. This will add to demand which will add to price increases. One of the fastest growing new motorcycle markets is in the UAE, we know this because we have always worked in the parallel market and we are regularly getting enquiries for new motorcycles. There is already some demand for classic motorcycles from the Arab markets, but this is destined to really increase over the coming five to ten years. This market fully understands the investment vehicle market through their strong desire for classic cars. They have only just discovered the joy of two wheels with new motorcycles over the last five years or so and it won’t be long before they’re after CBX1000s, Ducatis, Laverdas, Millyards and Z900s etc. Old Broughs are destined to head to the UAE because of the link with T.E. Lawrence. There are other markets which will come online, such as China, which has started slowly, stopped and picked up a little, it’s just a matter of time. India is opening up to new large capacity foreign made motorcycles for the first time ever, in spite of 100% import duty tariffs. Although it is impossible to import a used motorcycle into India and they have no idea of the classic motorcycle market, nothing remains a secret in a connected world. Classic Ferraris, classic Bentleys and classic motorcycles are destined to end up in India when restrictions are loosened over the coming decade. The loosening of tariffs and restrictions always happens over time when countries, like India, have not been allowed to import foreign goods before. The future markets of China, India and the UAE are going to create demand which just unimaginable today. The UAE appears to be destined to be the first market to really make an impact. I suspect China will follow, as the UAE supply a lot of vehicles to China and the trend of collectible motorcycles will follow the demand for new motorcycles. After those two giants, India will get to grips with the classics, restrictions and barriers to entry will have lifted within ten years.

Restored and unrestored Ducati green frames
A restored and unrestored 1974 Ducati 750SS green frame

Investment grade classic motorcycles for export

Investment grade classic motorcycles for export are already in demand and the future will only increase that demand. It is clear that work needs to be done on bringing younger riders on board for the future, but even without them, this market still has at least thirty years of great profits to offer. We are constantly working with the VMCC to bring younger riders into the market and the appetite is there. All that is required is raising the profile of the beautiful old machines and engaging with younger demographics to include them in this exciting past time. While classic motorcycle export markets add to demand, investment grade classic motorcycles for export will keep fulfilling that demand. The future of the market looks very lively indeed and there is plenty of time to engage with young future riders to ensure this wonderful market has a long and fruitful life. These machines need to be preserved and the future of this market will ensure these machines remain preserved and the stories around them told. This is a great market to invest in and a great deal of fun to play in. If you are interested in investing safely in the classic motorcycle market, contact The Motorcycle Broker.

Paul Jayson

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