In case you hadn’t heard, the UK just went into another highly restrictive four-week lockdown to fight coronavirus. Not only does this put an end to such traditional British activities as riding your motorbike for a hundred miles to enjoy fish and chips, it’s also closed down the country’s rider training centres.
The UK’s Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says the country’s rider training centres will be closed for basically the next month. As per the DVSA’s Twitter account: “Following the Government announcement on tougher national restrictions from Thursday, driver and rider training and tests will be suspended in England from 5 November until 2 December 2020. We will be providing further guidance and contacting those affected as soon as we can.” There’s also the potential that the lockdown may actually extend past December 2, which would in turn probably mean a longer break for the riding schools.
The DVSA runs both theoretical testing and practical road testing in the UK, and you’ve got to pass these tests to get a proper, full licence, or even a beginners’ permit. Shutting these courses down is very bad for the moto business, as you can’t get new riders if they can’t get their licences. In turn, that means dealerships are much less likely to sell new, low-cost motorcycles, as already-licenced riders aren’t clambering to get back onto a 125.
We’ve already seen similar issues in other markets, with poor beginner bike sales blamed on the fact that beginners were in fact unable to get out to riding schools or other training centres, and in some places, couldn’t even get to motor vehicle departments to get paperwork started for licencing. In much of North America, this is less of a problem through the winter; in the UK and other Euro markets, where motorcycling is seen as more of a year-round thing, it can be a major blow to the industry.