Rank Year Make Model
1. 2001 Yamaha YZFR6
2. 2000 Yamaha YZFR1
3. 2001 Honda CBR600
4. 2000 Yamaha YZFR6
5. 2001 Yamaha YZFR1
6. 2001 Honda CBR900
7. 2000 Honda CBR900
8. 2001 Suzuki GSXR600
9. 2001 Suzuki GSXR750
10. 2000 Honda CBR600F4
11. 2000 Kawasaki ZX600
12. 2000 Suzuki GSXR600
13. 2001 Suzuki GSXR1000
14. 1999 Yamaha YZFR1
15. 1999 Yamaha YZFR6
16. 2000 Suzuki GSXR750
17. 1999 Honda CBR600
18. 1998 Honda CBR600F
19. 1999 Honda CBR900RR
20. 1996 Honda CBR600
21. 2000 Suzuki GSX1300
22. 1999 Harley-Davidson FLSTF
23. 1999 Kawasaki ZX900
24. 2000 Kawasaki ZX900
25. 1999 Suzuki GSXR750
SOURCE: CCC Information Services Inc.
Quick, what’s the most stolen motorcycle in the U.S.?
If you guessed a Harley-Davidson, you’re wrong.
According to data compiled by CCC Information Services Inc., which, among other things, helps insurance companies assign values to totaled motorcycles, the 2001 Yamaha R6 sportbike topped the list of most stolen bikes last year.
In fact, the company reports that sportbikes accounted for 24 of the top 25 motorcycle models stolen last year. Only one Harley—the 1999 FLSTF Fat Boy—made the top-25 list at all, and it came in 22nd. (See “Most Stolen Motorcycles of 2001,” above.)
For years, conventional wisdom within the motorcycle community said that more Harleys were stolen than other motorcycles because of their high value here and overseas, where stolen motorcycles and parts often end up. But there were no figures to back that up.
Now, CCC Information Services has actually pulled together hard data on motorcycle thefts, and it appears that the conventional wisdom is entirely wrong.
CCC compiled its data by analyzing more than 14,000 motorcycles submitted to it for valuation by insurance companies around the U.S. That list includes motorcycles stolen and never recovered, plus those that were so heavily damaged by thieves—either as a result of accidents or being stripped for parts—that they were considered total losses.
The data didn’t include temporary, “joy-ride” thefts, in which the bike was recovered and returned to its owner. It also covered only registered streetbikes, not off-road motorcycles or ATVs, which account for a significant percentage of overall bike thefts. And it didn’t include stolen bikes that weren’t covered by the owner’s motorcycle insurance policy.
The most obvious trend in the study is that thieves are clearly targeting sportbikes of all makes and all sizes. The top-25 list included 600cc and 900cc/liter sportbikes from all four of the major Japanese manufacturers, plus Suzuki’s GSXR750 and GSX1300 Hayabusa models. It’s also clear that they’re targeting new bikes—in fact, only two of the models in the top 25 were more than three years old, and CCC says that 61 percent of all stolen bikes it studied were 1999, 2000 or 2001 models.
The company also noted that, while Yamahas fill four of the top five slots on the stolen-bike list, more Hondas were stolen than any other brand, accounting for 23 percent of the bikes in the full report. Yamaha was second, at 20 percent, with Harley-Davidson third, at 18 percent.
In addition, the company said that of all the motorcycles totaled by insurance companies for any reason, 22 percent—nearly a quarter—were total losses as a result of being stolen.
While CCC has solid information about which motorcycles are being stolen, company officials can only speculate about the reasons.
“Similar to the motivation behind car theft, motorcycles may be stolen for the value of their parts,” says Mary Jo Prigge, CCC’s president of sales and service.
So what’s this all mean?
Well, if you have a new sportbike, you need to be particularly concerned that your bike could disappear. The best ways to prevent that are to keep it locked up and out of sight from potential thieves, whenever you’re not around. For specific suggestions, see the story, “Nine Ways to Stop Motorcycle Thieves” in our January 2002 issue.
© 2002, American Motorcyclist Association