Yamaha to Stop Developing JDM Motorcycles Over 250 cc


Yesterday, Yamaha announced that it would cease development on JDM-exclusive motorcycles sporting engines with over 250cc of displacement. Japan’s domestic motorcycle market has been especially sluggish this year (partly due to the March quake, and partly due to the strong Yen hurting export profits). Yamaha cites increasing difficulties in recovering R&D costs as the primary reason to cut JDM-excluisve bikes out of its global offerings.

Further emphasizing the under-performing Japanese market, Yamaha’s main production facility in Iwata City (in the Shizuoka Prefecture) has produced less than 180,000 bikes over the past ten years – well below the 200,000 the company requires for the factory to return a profit.

Yamaha’s decision marks the first time one of the “big four” motorcycle giants have discontinued an entire “class” of bikes.

At the same time, domestic sales of Japan-only electric bicycles and smaller-displacement motor scooters (as in the US) appear to be unaffected, and continue at a steady pace despite quake/yen drama. It should also be noted that (again, for the first time) Yamaha will be offering precisely the same products both at home in Japan and abroad, clearly with the hopes that combining the previously separated foreign and domestic R&D costs (which, for Yamaha, are probably substantial) will reduce overhead enough to keep the company afloat until sales pick back up.

Source: Yomiuri Online, Photo: Yamaha-Motor.com.

About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

  • This is news indeed. I wonder what the tax difference is on sub 250cc bikes in Japan? I know there’s huge breaks for sub 1000cc cars, so perhaps there’s something similar in bike taxing.

    Something similar is happening in China right now. 250cc bikes were recently outlawed in the cities, so most manufacturers are switching to 125cc bikes. The China bike market moves very quickly, because they sell millions of bikes per quarter, and they upgrade the specs every six months or so. But by killing 250cc’s, they’ve eliminated chances of importing to the US (mostly).

    PS, Fantastic site! The articles are very thorough and well written.

  • Having to create different bikes to meet the different standards of each country they sell in is a huge problem for all motorcycle OEM’s. The volume barely justifies this cost. This decision makes sense, since the Japanese market is probably one of their smaller markets for the big bikes. Here in the US we love and need the big bikes. I wonder what their total production is for all markets and models. And I really wish they’d stop wasting time developing electronic rider aids (traction control on the new R1) and focus on developing proper electric motorcycles.

  • oh, and btw- they didn’t discontinue an entire class, they just stopped making them for the Japanese market. There are still plenty of >250cc Yamahas to choose from everywhere else.

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