My heart sank when I heard about the latest certificate of entitlement (COE) price for motorcycles – $2,704 – and the highest for 17 years.
That’s a 36 per cent rise compared with January’s first bidding quota premium of $1,989. Naturally, there were many biker voices on social media calling the increase painful and unfair.
Many pin the blame on the recent announcement that monthly quota of COEs from February to April (a new threemonth COE recycling period) will decrease from 3,471 to 3,043.
Fewer bike COEs The reality for bikers now is that we’ll be vying for 719 motorcycle COEs instead of the previous 961.
Speaking to industry players, they say, we have seen the last of motorbike COEs under $2,000. Which is concerning. Says Mah Pte Ltd general manager Eugene Mah: “You can expect (COE) prices to drop a little but I don’t expect by too much. We’re now bidding for fewer COEs. The goal posts have definitely shifted.”
The biggest losers will undoubtedly be dealers selling motorbikes below 200cc.
Will riders see any sense in buying a $4,000 small-capacity motorbike when a new COE costs more than half that price?
Yet, this could spur growth in another sector.
Says KTM distributor Ong Kim Hua: “For the next few months, (I expect) more business will go to the used bike market because they’re relatively cheaper.”
For larger capacity motorcycles, some dealers have already pre-empted any shortfall by absorbing the cost of COEs.
A good move, but motorcycles under 200cc are by far the most popular Singapore.
They account for 106,000 bikes – 70 per cent of total motorbike population here.
Changing bike landscape
It is unfortunate that bikers, who have just earned – or are looking to earn – their Class 2B licences, could be discouraged from riding.
Some may wait out this period until getting their Class 2A licences which allows them to ride more powerful 400cc motorcycles.
But by doing that they miss out on vital road riding experience.
It’s a wait-and-see game before dealers make price adjustments on new motorcycles, Mr Mah anticipates.
Some riders with urgent transportation needs will have no choice but to buy now.
“Others will hold on until their old motorcycle COEs expire”, he says.
Convenient and cheap The authorities’ aim to steer more Singaporeans towards using public transport is commendable.
By 2030, it is expected that public transport usage will be at 75 per cent.
But no matter how wellconnected or dependable our public transport system is, it is hard to convince a biker to surrender his helmet.
Riding is efficient, inexpensive and convenient.
Making up about 14 per cent of the total vehicle population, I doubt we are the cause of heavy traffic.
We also leave a smaller carbon footprint than our friends on four wheels.
After all, how often have you seen motorcycles stuck in a jam?
Maybe we could be a solution to traffic woes.