Motorcycles with large engines are becoming more popular, especially among middle-aged and older riders, prompting manufacturers to develop new models and services to meet demand.
Last year, sales of Honda Motor Co.’s 1,300cc CB1300 series motorcycles jumped by more than 40 percent compared with the year before, topping its other models, whose sales have risen by just a few percent over the last several years.
Honda’s new model is equipped with a windshield, a feature that has become more popular since April 2005, when a ban on riding on expressways with passengers was lifted, company officials said.
The 1,300cc model is priced at about 1.2 million yen, and more than 40 percent of those who buy it are age 40 to 60. “There are many people who want to ride long distances together,” said Honda spokesman Masayuki Takayama.
Motorcycles with engines larger than 1,800cc, which are built in the United States, are more expensive, at 3.25 million yen, but they are particularly popular with the over-50s crowd who want to ride with a partner, he said.
Takayama said Honda is developing motorcycles targeted at retiring baby boomers who want to cruise with their spouses.
Yamaha Motor Co. is also seeking to catch the wave of older riders. It recently sponsored a course called the “Bike Life School for Adults” in Tachikawa, Tokyo. The seminar attracted some 30 people, mostly in their 30s to 50s, both beginners and longtime biker enthusiasts.
Participants were taught how to operate the brakes properly and how to corner safely. Many came with their wives and children, creating a family atmosphere, said Yoshinobu Miyamoto, a Yamaha sales official.
“Since last year, our cruiser type model, which allows riding in a comfortable posture, has been a popular item with middle-aged and older buyers. At one time, production could not keep up with orders,” Miyamoto said.
Bike makers are also developing new gadgets for their machines. A Yamaha Motor group company sells a device with earphones and speakers that allows the driver and passenger to talk to each other easily while riding. Navigation and stereo systems are also popular, Miyamoto said.
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