April 9, 2018

Motorcycle Market Trends in Japan:
Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2017 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) is pleased to release the results of the survey it conducted in fiscal year 2017 (ending March 31, 2018) on motorcycle market trends in Japan. This survey, whose primary targets are purchasers of new vehicles, is conducted by JAMA in odd-numbered years to track changes in Japan’s continuously evolving motorcycle market, to help determine how to promote future demand. An adjunct “special topics” survey was also conducted to monitor specific motorcycle market-related developments.

I. Main Survey: Principal Findings

  • Since fiscal year 2013, there has been a steady decline in motorcycle demand and in first-time license acquisitions for powered two-wheeler use.
  • With the ongoing decline in the number of younger users, the motorcycle user population is graying.
  • Frequency of motorcycle use (number of days) and travel distances are decreasing, as are opportunities to ride motorcycles.
  • The decline in the number of first-time purchasers is more significant than the decline in the number of replacement purchasers (with or without a temporary hiatus in ownership). An increase in the average number of years of ownership is a contributing factor in the decline in replacement demand.
  • Information available online, in addition to information provided at dealerships, impacts purchasing trends. Manufacturers’ websites are becoming an increasingly important information source for first-time purchasers.
  • Although the anticipation of a friendly motorcycle use environment (friendlier than the bicycle use environment) was cited as a factor in a motorcycle purchase, respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the motorcycle use environment, despite improvements made in parking availability and expressway toll charges.
  • Many respondents expressed their intention to use their motorcycles for leisure purposes. There was strong response as well regarding the intention to purchase motorcycle apparel. Expectations for greater parking availability and reduced expressway tolls and vehicle maintenance costs were high.
  • Despite strong intentions to continue motorcycle use, the number of elderly users forced to abandon motorcycle use owing to age is expected to increase in coming years.
  • Intentions to obtain motorcycles in larger categories remain strong (regardless of respondents’ motorcycle license status).

II. Adjunct “Special Topics” Survey: Principal Findings

  • Among the respondents who were first-time purchasers, the ratio of young and/or female purchasers was higher than the ratio of respondents who were young and/or female owners of motorcycle in use, underscoring the increase in women riders seen in recent years.
  • People currently riding or intending to purchase a motorcycle include owners of used motorcycles, rental users, past owners of motorcycles, non-owners, and the latent demand demographic (individual respondents were allowed multiple answers). Among the respondents who identified as non-owners and/or the latent demand demographic, a large percentage were young and/or female.
  • Survey responses indicated that “Social perceptions of motorcycle users need to be improved” and “A motorcycle use environment facilitating first-time use should be created.” Real-world riding experience provided at dedicated events and their online promotion were favorably viewed.
  • Survey responses also indicated that latent demand for motorcycles is broad-based. Stepped-up promotional measures are therefore deemed necessary to increase the numbers of motorcycle users and first-time motorcycle purchasers and reduce factors that inhibit latent demand.

Complete survey results are posted online, in Japanese only, on JAMA’s website at