Posted by Team HNP

In the 50s, and the 60s, popular manufacturers were concentrated either in the USA or Europe. These bike makers had mostly made their name in the war-effort, but the biggest revolution in the world of motorcycles was about to arrive and it spoke Japanese. Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha had all begun operating in the 1950s, but it only in the mid 60s and early 70s that they started flexing their dominance.

Post their utilitarian era, motorcycles were now shifting towards becoming a lifestyle offering and the Japanese manufacturers were able to capitalise on this. Their modern designs were a revelation for the public, and they were quickly updated too, so the people got used to seeing fresher stuff more quickly. The Japanese machines were reliable too, offered superior build quality and costed less than those being made in Europe and the US. It was Honda of all who led the charge in 1969 with the CB750, an inline-four motorcycle that promised levels of performance never seen before, and it costed peanuts to make!

The arrival of the Japanese actually saw a lot of manufacturers close doors. The Italians took a huge below with BMW being the only major manufacturer who was able to survive. In the US too, it was only Harley-Davidson that managed to keep the cogs moving as other bike makers were unable to cope with the Japanese supremacy. Both BMW and Harley saw their numbers drop heavily, but BMW was able to make a comeback in the latter half of the 70s with its innovative designs while Harley managed to stay afloat mainly due to its cult following in the US.

Also Read: Evolution of Motorcycles - Part 1

The Japanese continued their dominance well into the 90s, and it was only then that the bigger names started coming back. The one thing that the Japanese did really well that their competitors did not do was continue to innovate when their rivals were on the rise. So, even when the Italians like Ducati, and British brands like Triumph started to make a comeback, the Japanese never fell back, which has led us to the modern day.

Also Read: Evolution of Motorcycles - Part 2

Today, the motorcycle market is filled with options. Manufacturers like Royal Enfield which were responsible for the early popularity of these two-wheeled machines have gone through hard times and come back. The Italian motorcycling industry which at one point of time was like a flickering candlelight is burning brightly today with some of the most expensive, fast and exotic motorcycles now coming out from the likes of Ducati, Aprilia and MV Agusta. Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles continue to flourish in the US and the likes of BMW which is now BMW Motorrad has scaled new heights. The choice of motorcycles then, today, is at its most abundant.

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