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Denver Motorcycle Show reinforces industry’s new focus

By | General Posts

The Progressive International Motorcycle Show rolled through Denver last weekend, and if memory serves, it was the first appearance in a half-decade or so.

Colorado once had a major part in non-Harley-centric motorcycle drama. The Copper Mountain Cycle Jam was a giant event that featured the AMA Supermoto circuit amongst the high Rockies and brought thousands from out-of-state. Pikes Peak International Raceway was home to an AMA SuperBike round that featured some great racing on the unconventional race course. There was even of a round national vintage racing with AHRMA at Pueblo.

Those days, and that motorcycle industry is gone, casualties of the Great Recession and a millennial generation hooked on phones, not speed and adventure.

So when the IMS came to town, it was a solid look at how the industry is trying to recast itself.

The first clear observation was the number of women. Women have always been the great, untapped market. And between gear, smaller bikes and dropping some of the macho facade, the industry seems to be getting it. The attendees certainly did.

The second was the focus on new riders. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation demo area and multi-brand new rider section took up a third of the floor. You can’t get people hooked on riding if you don’t get them on a bike first. And the industry is finally putting the full-court press on making that happen with young, old, men and women all hopping on the wide range of demo alternatives. And actually riding, on an indoor course set-up just to train new riders.

The motorcycle industry is not alone in the current active sports paradox. The technology in current bikes makes them safer, more accessible and more exciting than ever. Bikes are ever more sophisticated, with electronics and computing power surpassing desktop computers of a generation ago. With the sophistication has come costs that put many potential riders in a gig economy out of the market when bound by student loan debt, sky high rents and $150/month phone bills.

But if the Denver show is any indication, the industry is listening and trying.

The Cloud Nine Bikernet Weekly News for January 23rd

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May all bikers find their Nirvana in 2020

Hey,

It’s an amazing week. I want it to be this amazing for all bikers all over the world. I want all of us to be building the coolest shit, riding to the coolest places, meeting the most beautiful girls and enjoying every minute of it.

On Tuesday, we nervously took the Salt Torpedo into the desert for some passes on a desolate paved road. I can’t tell you where we went. It’s a top-speed secret, that only coyotes and bleak desert bikers know about. What a trip.

Watch for the whole highly successful run report in a story in the next few days on Bikernet. Let’s hit the news. I’m still floating on Cloud Nine.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE BIKERNET WEEKLY NEWS

Motorcycle racing in Asia is growing at unrivaled pace

By | General Posts

by Renato Marques from https://macaudailytimes.com.mo

The first-ever person of Portuguese nationality to hold the position, Jorge Viegas has served as president of the global governing and sanctioning body of motorcycle racing, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), for just over a year now.

In an exclusive interview with the Times last week, Viegas shared his opinions on the development of the sport in Asia and worldwide, speaking also about the ambitions of his presidency. He also offered some advice to Macau motorcycling event organizers, while stressing again that his organization has no jurisdiction over the annual event, part of the Macau Grand Prix.

After one year at the helm of the FIM, Viegas remarked on his success in making the organization more democratic and more transparent. He also claimed victory in his goal to give more importance to the constituent FIM committees, which he said had been “totally left out of decisions” in the past.

“I am very pleased that I [accomplished] a small ‘revolution’ at the FIM at the internal level,” he said. “That was one of my goals and it was achieved.”

Opening the FIM to the world had debunked the impression that the FIM was just “a bunch of old guys that liked to travel.”
“I have been opening the doors of the FIM to the outside and have started to collaborate a lot more with the promoters. Next month, we will, for the first time, host a plenary meeting with all the committees with the presence of journalists. This has never happened before. I want to show what the FIM does.”

“One of the first measures I took was to hold a press conference that took place at Losail during Qatar GP last year, in which I presented everyone from the FIM side that works in a Grand Prix, asking them to explain who they are and what their job duties are.”
“Without going into too much detail, I would say that I managed to bring the FIM closer to the national federations,” said Viegas.
Coming up, more reform is expected, especially in the categories of “Superbikes” and “Endurance”. The president promised that new measures to improve these categories will be announced soon, even as early as this year.

His ultimate goal remains greater engagement of the youth in motorcycle racing, all while ensuring the safety of the sport. Building on his mandate, Viegas reiterated that “every youngster, independent of gender and financial capacity, if they have the talent, passion, and motivation, [ought to be able to] compete in motorcycle racing.” At the same time, the sport must be “as safe as possible,” because only in this way can we “convince parents to let the youth participate in the sport.”

‘Unrivaled’ growth in Asia

For Viegas, “the development of motorcycling in Asia is unrivaled worldwide.”

The Asian continent is the fastest-growing region of the world when it comes to motorcycle racing, and yet its popularity is still far from peaking, he said. The FIM president recalled how the organization began with 16 national and regional federations across Asia. Today, that number has almost doubled, with 28 already accounted for and another three joining the FIM soon.

This trend is perhaps unsurprising given that, in the words of Viegas, “Asia is the most popular continent for motorcycles and where the most are circulating in the streets.”

The president is also impressed with how upbeat everyone in Asia is about the sport.

Addressing the inclusion of a new race in the MotoGP to be held on the island of Lombok, Indonesia in March 2021, Viegas remarked, “the works to build this circuit have just started and [the promoters] have already sold about 30,000 seats for the event.”
The sport is also popular elsewhere in Asia, where circuit racing championships are well-entrenched, according to the FIM president.
However, the continent suffers from a major drawback: its size. As a large and diverse continent, Asia presents a challenge in high traveling costs.

“For example, a rider going racing from China to Japan faces very high expenses,” offered Viegas, referring to transportation and logistics costs. For this reason, FIM tries to financially support the Asian Federation, so that it is possible to maintain competitive championships.

Return to China only a ‘matter of time’

Notably absent from the countries hosting major motorcycle racing events is China, leading some to speculate about disagreement between the organizers and the Chinese government. Viegas was quick to dismiss the idea of any ill feeling between the FIM, the promoters and the Chinese government.

“There is no problem with China,” he told the Times. “I believe that if they want to host an event, they can do it.”

Although there is currently no circuit in China homologated to the standards of hosting any major competitions, “if they want to, they can do that easily,” said Viegas. “It is just a matter of will and making a few works on the [existing] circuits or even building a new one.”

“I was with the Chinese authorities a few months ago and they told me that they wanted to have MotoGP back in China,” he continued. This comes as China has been pursuing other kinds of motorcycle racing categories, such as Motocross. The debut of the FIM Motocross World Championship took place in Shanghai last year, and is set to return this year.

But a return of the MotoGP is not likely within the next few years, according to the FIM president.

“We have a lot more demand than we can satisfy,” explained Viegas. “There are a lot of countries wanting to host MotoGP. This year we already expanded the championship to 20 races, and in upcoming years we can likely grow to [a maximum of] 22, which is enormous.”

Macau Grand Prix needs to review safety

Although the FIM has no jurisdiction over the motorcycle race held during the Macau Grand Prix event, the Times solicited Viegas’s views and insights on the race.

The FIM veteran, who served a number of roles at the organization prior to becoming its president, immediately suggested two logistical improvements that local organizers could adopt.

“There is one thing that the organizers can do to improve the race, which is not running motorcycle events after car events,” he said, highlighting that after a series of car races, track surface conditions may not be ideal. He also mentioned that the light and visibility conditions late in the afternoon can also be challenging for racers and present added logistical complications with race restarts.

“I think this is the minimum that organizers could do because this will improve a lot of the conditions,” said Viegas.

On a more positive note, the FIM president remarked on the “good choices” made by local organizers in “bringing in riders with a lot of experience and progressively investing in the active safety systems.”

“In the future, we hope the riders will all wear racing suits with an airbag system incorporated as well as FIM homologated helmets,” said Viegas, adding that these additional safety features have been designed to minimize the risk to racers.

For the president of FIM, the only safety issue with the Guia Circuit is the lack of run-off areas.

“The problem of Macau [street circuit] is very simple; there are no run-off areas, that’s all. There are no other problems. This is a circuit designed to host car races, the motorcycles are a complementary race that the spectators enjoy. I just think we should do all that is possible to increase the safety of the event,” he said.

A solution commonly used by the FIM on permanent racing circuits that do not possess enough run-off space is so-called “air fences”- soft-wall safety barriers, which are inflated to cushion impact from riders on otherwise rigid structures.

“When we cannot have run-off areas with the length we need, the circuit must install an air fence and we have seen riders reaching them even in areas with a lot of space,” he explained.

“Here in Macau, it would be needed obviously but again, we are not the entity that controls the safety conditions in Macau. What I wish is that there will be no more serious incidents here.”

Several recent incidents in the motorcycle racing component of the Macau Grand Prix have raised safety concerns once again among race organizers and the general population of the city. In 2017, motorcyclist Daniel Hegarty died in a crash at the Fisherman’s Bend after losing control of his bike. A major crash last year left three riders hospitalized and saw the race red flagged.

“We understand that there are riders specialized in this type of race [road racing] and they are highly experienced as well as highly aware of the risks they are taking. But what I can say is that it’s not this kind of race that the FIM encourages,” Viegas said. “This is not a circuit homologated by the FIM and it can never be, because it cannot fully meet optimal safety conditions.”

Nevertheless, the official recognizes that events like the Macau Grand Prix and the Isle of Manx TT have a long tradition with some races going back to over a century.

“It’s not under FIM competences to say anything against them,” he said. “As for the [Macau] race, it’s great entertainment and the people love it and the riders love it too.”

The global energy problem

Globally, another major challenge is the need to follow the world trend in “energy transition,” according to Viegas, which will necessitate swapping petrol-powered engines to electricity-powered motors.

“This is something that concerns us and that we are working on together with the promoters and manufacturers,” Viegas said, explaining that on motorcycles this swap will be more difficult than on cars as the current batteries are very heavy and very big, making the batteries appropriate for a racing motorcycle not capable of managing great distances.

For the time being, the Moto-E category part of the complementary program of MotoGP in some European circuits only can feature six-lap racing events.

“But as we know, this technology is developing very fast. When the batteries can be of a longer range and become lighter, I am sure we will see some great leaps forward.”

NCOM Biker Newsbytes for January 2020

By | General Posts

From Helmet Laws to the Freedom to Race
By Bill Bish, NCOM

  • ALL MOTORCYCLE RIDERS URGED TO SUPPORT FEDERAL ANTI-PROFILING MEASURE
  • RPM ACT TO PROTECT RACING HAS BEEN REINTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
  • CONGRESS EXTENDS TAX CREDITS FOR ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLES
  • HELMET REPEAL EFFORTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
  • NEW DRIVER ACCOUNTABILITY LAW IN OREGON
  • WASHINGTON STATE ENDEAVORS TO MAKE ROADS SAFER
  • MOTORCYCLE MARKET TRENDS
  • HONDA PATENTS VERTICAL AIRBAG FOR MOTORCYCLES

CLICK HERE TO READ THE Newsbytes

Going electric could help revive the motorcycle industry

By | General Posts

by Peter Valdes-Dapena from https://edition.cnn.com/

Motorcycle sales, particularly in the United States, have been struggling ever since the Great Recession. As older riders lose interest, or simply become unable to ride any longer, the younger generation hasn’t been showing the same kind of enthusiasm.

But the industry is hoping that electric motorcycles — with a quieter, simpler experience — might be the key to attracting new riders.

For one thing, electric motorcycles are easier to ride. With an electric motor, there’s no need to shift gears. To experienced riders, that’s no big deal, but most Americans today have become accustomed to automatic transmissions and don’t know how to shift gears.

“It’s just a lot easier learning curve,” said Susan Carpenter, a writer and radio host specializing in motorcycles. “You just hop on and twist the throttle. If you can balance, you can go.”

Another benefit is that electric motorcycles are much less noisy than gasoline-powered motorcycles. To many veteran riders, the roar of the engine is part of the excitement. But a lot of other people would prefer to enjoy their surroundings much more peacefully. The bikes also don’t have hot engines and exhaust pipes that can become burn hazards, especially when parked around kids.

Electric motorcycles also qualify for federal and state tax credits, similar to those for electric cars, although in smaller amounts.

There are tradeoffs, of course. Electric motorcycles have the same disadvantages as electric cars, namely cost and range. Motorcycles can only accommodate small batteries so they have a lot less range than gas-powered bikes. And that range diminishes greatly during high-speed highway riding because the bike’s electric motor has to compensate for increased wind resistance pressing against the rider’s not-so-aerodynamic body.

Hoping to get the attention of a new generation of riders, Harley-Davidson introduced the LiveWire electric motorcycle earlier this year.

But with a starting price of nearly $30,000 — more than three times the cost of an entry level motorcycle — it’s unlikely to attract many novice riders. With its extreme performance capabilities — it can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds — the LiveWire doesn’t appear to be for first-time riders. (The bike does have selectable performance modes so it can be set up for less aggressive riding.)

“LiveWire sets the stage and sets the tone and is designed and priced to be a halo vehicle,” said Harley-Davidson spokesman Paul James, explaining that the LiveWire is aimed at establishing an image for the brand’s electric offerings rather than being a big seller. “And we’ll quickly follow that up with other form factors and other electric two-wheelers that will be in various price points and aimed at different customers.”

Harley-Davidson (HOG) wanted this bike to get people used to the idea of a motorcycle that doesn’t have the brand’s signature engine burble, said James. The LiveWire does make its own distinct sound, though. It comes from the gears that carry power from the electric motor to the belt that spins the back wheel. Harley-Davidson engineers spent time specifically tuning the naturally occurring whirring sound, much as they would the rumble of a gasoline engine.

For the real novices, Harley-Davidson offers the IronE, which targets tiny riders aged three to seven. The teeny off-road bike is powered by a small detachable battery similar to ones used for electric power tools and starts at around $650. Harley-Davidson has also shown pedaled e-bikes and scooters as concepts.

California-based Zero offers electric motorcycles like the Zero FX ZF3.6 for around $9,000. That bike has an estimated 27 miles of riding range from a small battery that can be easily changed for a fully charged one when it runs low on power. For about twice that amount, or around $20,000, bikes like the Zero SR/F can get about 123 miles in combined city and highway riding. (That compares to the 95 miles Harley-Davidson estimates for the LiveWire.) Buyers can also add battery power using a “Power Tank” accessory.

Zero’s bikes are used in a program called Discover the Ride, which introduces novice riders to motorcycle riding and takes place at Progressive International Motorcycle Shows across the United States. Riders demonstrate their basic two-wheeler skills on an electrically-assisted bicycle, then they are offered a ride on a Zero electric motorcycle.

Cake, a Swedish company, has models starting at a slightly more affordable $8,500. For that price, a buyer can get Cake’s ultra-minimalist Ösa+ model. Its design was inspired by a workbench and it looks like it. With detachable clamps, the owner can quickly customize the bike with cargo racks or an additional seat. The Ösa+ has a top speed of just 60 miles an hour. It’s intended as an urban workhorse.

Cake also makes the slightly faster and pricier Kalk& with a more traditional, but still distinctively spare, design.

With their emphasis on light weight and simplicity, Cake bikes take the idea that electric motorcycling should be different from riding a gas-powered bike to an extreme. The models are particularly popular with new riders, according to a company spokesman. After being available in the US for a little over a year, there’s a three-month waiting list for the bikes, Cake claims.

Alternet Systems Highlights African $4 Billion Motorcycle Ride Hail Market

By | General Posts

DALLAS, Dec. 31, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — via OTC PR WIRE — Alternet Systems, Inc. (USOTC: ALYI) today highlighted Africa’s $4 billion motorcycle ride hail market featured in a recent TechCrunch article emphasizing the anticipated explosive growth in Africa over the next decade.  ALYI management sees ALYI as well positioned leader prepared to capture the wave of investment and growth coming to Africa in 2020 and beyond.

ALYI is currently developing $300 million in electric vehicle projects in Africa targeting the shared-ride market, leading with electric motorcycles for the shared-ride market.  The company has signed orders for electric motorcycles with a side car to be produced in Kenya for shared ride providers in Kenya.  ALYI has also recently announced a $100 million cryptocurrency investment strategy targeted at expanding beyond the company’s existing $300 million in electric vehicle projects in Africa.

ALYI has secured institutional commitment to support an annual African electric mobility technology conference and symposium to advance the deployment of electric powered transportation solutions specific to Africa.  The focus includes environmental sustainability but also overall transportation efficiency applicable to the African transportation infrastructure, economy, and consumer.  ALYI CEO, Dr. Randell Torno, contends that the immediate opportunity for electric powered transportation growth in Africa by far exceeds the electric powered transportation opportunity anywhere else in the world and that the electric mobility technology innovations that will be developed for Africa will ultimately form the foundation of commercial electric powered transportation everywhere.  In short, Africa is the global proving ground for electric powered transportation. Dr. Torno just concluded meetings in London last week where he secured institutional brand name commitment that will serve as the anchor event and attraction at the annual African electric mobility technology conference and symposium.  The planed conference and symposium location is Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information, please visit: http://www.alternetsystemsinc.com

Royal Enfield 250cc motorcycle to be called Hunter ?

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by Nithyanandh Karuppaswamy from https://www.rushlane.com/

It is no secret that Royal Enfield is working on a whole new range of next generation motorcycles.

Recent reports suggest that the retro-classic specialist is planning to tap into new audience bases. The Chennai-based two wheeler maker is reportedly working on variant extensions to specifically target women and youth.

The recent trademark application by Royal Enfield adds gravity to these claims. The trademark ‘Royal Enfield Hunter’ has been filed by the company and this could be used as a nameplate for one of the new products.

It is too early to speculate on the body style or displacement class of the new thumper in question but if we were to wager, we would put our money on a youthful variant off the new J modular platform which will also underpin the next generation Bullet, Classic and Thunderbird families.

The 2020 Royal Enfield Classic and Thunderbird prototypes have been testing extensively in public, giving us a fair idea on what sort of hardware to expect. The motorcycles receive all new engine, improved frame and continue to employ conventional suspension arrangement (telescopic front fork and gas-charged twin rear shock absorbers). While the bodywork retains the RE identity, every panel seems to be reprofiled subtly to impart a fresh appeal.

Needless to say, the new RE range will feature BS-6 compliant engines. The company is not likely to deviate drastically from the existing displacement classes but considering that the engines are all-new, expect some slight differences in the numbers. Fuel injection will be standard across the range and outputs are expected to increase considerably. Off course, most models will have dual-channel ABS as standard while low-cost variants could settle for single-channel units.

Royal Enfield will start its BS-6 campaign by updating the 650 Twins (Interceptor and Continental GT). The existing Classic 350 will also receive BS-6 update, signalling that the next gen models will not be launched before April 2020. Reports suggest that 500 cc models will be discontinued until their successors are ready sometime in the later part of year.

Like most other two wheeler OEMs in the country, Royal Enfield has been going through a rough patch due to general industry slow down. The new range of products will hopefully help the brand pick up pace.

Aprilia 250 to 350cc motorcycles planned – To take on Royal Enfield

By | General Posts

by Abhinand Venugopal from https://www.rushlane.com/

Seeing the success of Royal Enfield in the 250-350cc segment, many motorcycle brands are planning entry with new products.

Royal Enfield is arguably one of the most demanded names in the 350cc category in the Indian motorcycle market. For the same reason, many brands have come forward with their own range of compelling products to take on the Chennai-based motorcycle manufacturer. Now, the Italian automotive brand, Piaggio has revealed its plans to enter the same segment through its Aprilia sub-brand.

Diego Graffi, MD of Piaggio, shares that the company has a lot of interesting in the Indian motorcycle market and sees untapped potential in the 250-350cc market. With Aprilia — the winner of multiple racing championships in the world — under its belt, Piaggio is confident that it can make a strong presence in the market, especially against the likes of Royal Enfield products.

As per data, Indian two-wheeler sales have dropped by 15.74% to 1,28,64,936 units between April to November of the current fiscal year. In turn, Piaggio sales (predominantly, Aprilia and Vespa range of scooters) declined by 16.86% to 48,471 units.

Out of the 7,73,855 motorcycles sold in the 250-350cc segment in the country within the same period, Royal Enfield contributed to almost 99% of the sales, at 7,64,012 units. For the same reason, it makes sense for Piaggio to introduce something that would be much more desirable than the market leader. Mr Graffi commented that this would take time, but is definitely in the plans.

Royal Enfield products have a cult following in the country and some folks even see it as ‘the motorcycle’ over anything else on the market. The charm of a Royal Enfield is its classic styling that can simply overshadow its relatively poor output characteristics and chassis dynamics.

The new Jawa motorcycles and Benelli Imperiale 400 are the only other products that have made an impact on Royal Enfield’s market. Hence, Piaggio’s upcoming 250-350cc products should have an edge over these motorcycles as well — if it is a cruiser or classic.

If it is any other type of motorcycle, the competition will be even tougher due to the presence of main players such as KTM, Yamaha, Bajaj, TVS and even the upcoming Husqvarna.

Aprilia currently sells only the SR and Storm range of 125-150cc scooters in the country. About two years back, the company thrilled motorcycle enthusiasts across the country with the showcase of the Aprilia RS 150 and Tuono 150 motorcycles at Auto Expo 2018. Many awaited for its launch for quite a long time, but only to be disappointed in the end. We hope this won’t be the case with the newly-proposed Aprilia motorcycles.

At 70, Honda hits a milestone of 400mn motorcycles

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Honda currently produces a wide range of motorcycles, from 50cc commuters to 1,800cc models, at 35 facilities in 21 countries.

Japanese automaker Honda has produced 400 million units of motorcycles globally since it had begun production in 1949 with its maiden Dream D-Type bike.

According to the company, it achieved 100 million-unit milestone in 1997, and 300 million-units in 2014. In 2018, Honda exceeded an annual production of 20 million units for the first time in its history, and enjoyed strong support from customers in the Asia region and worldwide, it said.

Honda currently produces a wide range of motorcycles, from 50cc commuters to 1,800cc models, at 35 facilities in 21 countries.

Honda was founded in 1948, and began mass-production of motorcycles at its first overseas production facility in Belgium in 1963. Since then, Honda has expanded its production globally in accordance with its fundamental principle of producing locally where there is demand.

Honda will continue to construct its development and production structure to meet rising demand, it said.

Takahiro Hachigo, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Motor said, “For 70 years, Honda has provided to customers worldwide motorcycles that make life easier and enjoyable. As a result, we have achieved our 400 million-unit milestone. I am grateful to all of our customers, and everyone involved in development, manufacturing, sales and service of our products. We will continue to do our best to provide attractive products that meet the needs and dreams of our customers worldwide.”

Honda would strive to realize its 2030 vision, to serve people worldwide with the “joy of expanding their life’s potential,” he added.

Honda Rolled Out Its 400 Millionth Motorcycle Since 1949

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by Sabrina Giacomini from https://www.rideapart.com

Honda is one of the few companies still active today that started its life as a motorcycle manufacturer. In 1949, newly-founded company rolled out the Dream D-Type, the firm’s first proper motorcycle. Fast-forward seven decades and Honda remains to this day one of the most recognized brand names in the industry. The company reached several important milestones in 2019, including the production of its 400 Millionth motorcycle.

It looks like 2019 has been a good year for Honda. Not only did the company introduce several new bikes that received a lot of attention (Fireblade, CT125, Africa Twin, etc.), 2019 is also the year we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the birth of the Japanese superbike, a milestone set by the introduction of the Honda CB750 Four in 1969.

To wrap things up on a high note, the company has now announced the production of its 400 Millionth motorcycle. Considering the manufacturer produces the best-selling motorcycle in the world, the Super Cub, it kind of makes sense. In 2017, Honda celebrated the production of 100 Million Super Cubs which means the model alone accounts for over a quarter of the motorcycles produced by Honda since its inception.

For reference, it took almost 20 years for the company to reach its first 10M units produced. Motorcycles are now being produced at a rate of roughly 20M a year. How the times and the industry have changed! The previous turning point was reached in 2014 when the counter reached 300 Million. It took only five years to add another 100M to its records.

India and Indonesia account for over 50 percent of that production (no big surprise there). What about the U.S.? It doesn’t even have its own share of the chart. It’s included in the “Other” slice of the pie, along with Europe, which accounts for 620 000 units between April 2018 and March 2019.

Happy anniversary, Honda, and here’s to another 400 Million bikes!