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Old 03-17-2008, 11:56 AM   #1
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The UJM. Anyone remember that Acronym?

Universal Japanese Motorcycle

As I turn 41, I started thinking back a little bit, about my love for motorcycling ever since I was a little kid. Two wheels were all i ever thoguht about from BMX, Motocross, Cycling, Mountain-Biking, and especially Motorcycling. And with regard to Motorcycling, the predominant motorcycles of that era (70's-late '80s), were the UJMs. Those were the bikes I dreamed of with their big engines, and chromed pipes showing off all their glory. The motor of a motorcycle was the most beautiful part of the bike, and it needed to be seen.

Anyone who's about my age and older, must have fond memories of what these bikes were all about. Everything from the venerable Honda CBs, to the Suzuki GSs, Kawasaki KZs, and Yamaha XJs... I miss them all!!

These type of bikes continue to strive in Europe, and for the most part, are represented as the new "Nakeds", but to me, they are all the same UJMs. I started riding streetbikes in '84, and my first streetbike was a '83 Honda CB650SC Nighthawk, which I still own today for sentimental reasons. I will never ever sell my Nighthawk. I remember the debut of the 600 hurricane, the VFR750, and the GSXR750, and looking back I had soon realized what a pivotal moment that was as the dawn of a whole new era in motorcycling history.

It seems Japan doesn't think the UJM concept will ever succeed again in the US. I bought the 919 because it was the only bike (besides the Bandit) that reminded me of why I love these bikes so much. So I got rid of the sportbikes, and went back to the "old school" sorta speak. But is it really "old school"? I mean they are still so popular in Europe. Look at the Honda Hornets, and the Suzuki GSX1400FE http://www.topspeed.com/motorcycles/...e-ar28516.html , and why couldn't Honda ever bring the CB1300 here, either!!

These bikes are still so popular in Europe, but the Japs won't bring them Stateside Something tells me that even the B-King will not be so popular here, either, and the Japs will pull that off out market as well.

Or did the UJM become a continental definition, whereby the sportbikes of today are the UJMs of America, while the Nakeds have become the UJMs of Europe and the rest of the World?

I am sure that if any of the japs, especially Honda, brought back these UJMs, and actually made an effort to market them, they would get a strong response from guys my age and older, which imo is a very strong market niche. I mean, these bikes afre so much more practical for the street application, yet no one seems to care.

When I rode on the track on March 8, I soon realized how I wished I had a sportbike again. But then, the reason I got tired of sportbikes was because they were too frustrating to ride on the streets. Track days!! That's the answer!! No I want a sportbike just for the track, and keep my 919 just for the streets.

Anyway, several issues covered here... so what do you think?
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:04 PM   #2
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Yes, I remember the UJM, and fondly remembered the first sportbikes, the GPZ series and than the Interceptors.

In the end, the UJM is a great concept, but to truly fit that genre the bike much be good at everything without truly excelling at any one thing.
Typically that means giving up a bit to track worthiness.
However, IMO, at 8/10ths riding on the track, I believe a well set up UJM can be just as capable as a narrowly focused sportbike.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:20 PM   #3
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I think the UJM more or less morphed into the "standard" over the years. Never a big market for them, so they get the 2-3 year old technology (or older).

I define a "standard" more by the bar/seat/peg relationship than anything. They are the ones you can ride all day without wrist, back and knee cramps.

And when you wonder why they don't sell that well over here, go to a ride or meet.. all the guys on the X/R/Z race replicas kinda look down their nose at you.

The problem also goes back to the old adage "win on Sunday, sell on Monday". With the class rules nowadays, the street legal supersports are basically race bikes with lights on. The average SS bike today would probably be a pole/race winner 5-10 years ago.

My first street bikes were a Seca 550 and a 900.. the old XJ. Right then was when the Ninja 900 first came out, to take advantage of the Superbike rules, which at the time was a class filled with UJM's (remember the Eddie Lawson replica?). From there they slowly changed and advanced and ended up today being almost an 80's model GP bike.

If you want to make one go fast on the track, you have to go back and ride it like they did in the 80's. They don't have as much ground clearance, and are heavier, so you got to get your waaaaaaaaaayyyy off the seat to get them to turn.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:20 PM   #4
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I'll take one over any tru SB anyday.. :-)
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:31 PM   #5
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Universal Japanese Motorcycle.

Loved them.
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:02 PM   #6
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I'm with you guys, but I also think that Marketing has alot to do with it, as well. I've never seen commercials and rarely see ads on bikes like the 919s, FZ1s, Bandits, etc. If bikes like this, and especially bikes like the CB1300 and GSX1400FE, as well as the new 1250 Bandit and even that B-King were marketed well, showcasing all their advantages they offer, I'm sure they would sell alot to compete against the HD/Cruiser/Sport-tourer crowds. They offer so much versatility, with enough sporting characteristics, to make them the perfect streetbike for any situation. It's true what Patrick says is that they are good at everything without truly excelling at any one thing, but that's exactly the reason why they are so much more usable on the streets, from spirited rides on a Saturday/Sunday, to daily commutes to and from work, then onto 3-day weekend trips with a couple of sidebags and a trunk to carry all you need... and not look funny doing it!... Not to mention, a relatively comfortable seat for you and your wife or gf.
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:15 PM   #7
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Exactly!

That's why most of the bikes I own fall into that category!
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:51 PM   #8
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I really wanted a smaller UJM when I got back to the states, but had a really difficult time trying to find one. But after 1/2 year of forgetting about motorcycles I let my friends talk me into getting a new bike after the MSF. I ended up with a FZ6 which is the closest thing I could find.
On another forum, many of the users have older CBs or GSs and/or newer hyper motard or super motard, whatever. Though different in form I think they are pretty similar in purpose. A lot of things have changed, including the way people drive/ride and where they do it. The things people want out of a 'Universal' bike are different now, but the japanese manufacturers aren't willing to give the class its own dedicated development in the US and think they can just adapt the race research to fit the market needs.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:32 PM   #9
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I have a 1980 CB750K with a vetter fairing in the garage, my first bike. That's a UJM if ever there was one. I kind of want to get it all fixed up and sparkly maybe even go cafe-racerish with it, but then I think about the money and time it will take and get discouraged.

I don't know. I think that the UJM was a combination of things at the time. The designs were relatively simple, chassis were tube steel, plastic was minimal, engines were air cooled, tire and suspension technology was pretty low, companies making the bikes didn't have bottomless pockets to spend on development like they do now. Times have changed.

In a capitalist society, development and availability is generally driven by consumer demand. In the US, there is a large demand for sport bikes by people with money to spend who want only the image of going fast. The buy a bike, wad it, go buy another, etc...

I think that the people like you and me, that like nakeds may be a little older and more responsible and we'll generally get a bike that we like and hold onto it for a long time. If we hold onto that bike then we aren't in the showroom spending any money on new bikes every year. So when a naked gets brought across the pond that we like, well, we don't usually buy it. They move off the showroom floor slowly even though they may have a strong following and they get pulled from the market. Nakeds are wildly popular in Europe and in turn that capitalist society reflects that in the selection of bikes that they have.

What happened to the ZRX1200R? Kawasaki offered that for a few years and
now it's gone from the selection. I thought it was a well done retro design. It's gone from the lineup.

02114158@Kawasaki ZRX1200R

If all the old guys that said they wanted a modern bike that looked like their old school UJM went out and bought them all up they could have helped to start a trend towards cooler UJM replicas and maybe the market would be saturated with them. The truth is that in America UJM's, nakeds etc, are a niche market.

It may also be that the old UJM style has morphed into the cruiser of today. The old UJM was the forerunner of today's cruisers. Maybe the older guys with money are buying those up instead of more 'true' standard motorcycles. Maybe with how well the cruiser market is thriving, there isn't any room for a healthy UJM market here? I don't know. I've never thought about it that deeply before. Does Europe have the range of cruisers that the US does?
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:49 PM   #10
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I'm not quite as old as you guys, but I've always loved the simplicity of the old UJM's.
Aparently someone at Honda is hearing our plea's as we may be getting the CB1100F next year:

http://jalopnik.com/345985/honda-cb1...tion-confirmed
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:52 PM   #11
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good topic!

i think the problem is capitalism. it encourages society to think that you must have the "best" things on the market, and then they convince you that whatever is the most expensive and non-practical is "best".

you say you want a VLX600, no! no! you must get a VTX1800. you want a gs500? hmmm...we better put sport fairings on it, to fool you into thinking you have to progess up to a gsxr600, and eventually a hayabusa of course! you want a ninja 250? great choice sir, we'll give you top dollar for that model when you want to trade it in for a zx-10 next year! cmon, we cant have people being satisfied with what they allready own, can we?

its like corporate america (maybe corporate japan?) just doesnt want you to be satisfied. if they actually built and sold a good all around do-it-all bike, they feel they couldnt sell you 2 bikes instead for different uses, or sell you another "upgrade" a couple years later.

that why i love my gs500e. it does its job. it takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. tires last forever. mpg is superb. it doesnt have to go 0-60 in 2.5 seconds to be badass, it cuts traffic like butter as it is. even on the highway if i need to! its realiable, and not just in a "it doesnt break" kind of way.

the aftermarket is even worse in this country. you cant be satisfied with the same peformance everyone has on their stock SS bikes! you must buy 5k worth of carbon fiber, titanium, and stickers!

my buddy dave just built a 1978 gs1000. very cool, its like a cadillac of old school motorcycles. i really appreciate that bike. i wish i could see a modern day version, with FI, and lightweight alloys, but still made with simple genius and no BS.
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris24 View Post
my buddy dave just built a 1978 gs1000. very cool, its like a cadillac of old school motorcycles. i really appreciate that bike. i wish i could see a modern day version, with FI, and lightweight alloys, but still made with simple genius and no BS.
Look at the Bandit 1250; basically an old GS with FI.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:53 AM   #13
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I rarely blame a problem on capitalism.

I loved the old GPZ when I was a kid. I took pics of them all over europe when I went at age 15. GPZ next the vatican, next to notre dame, by tivoli gardens. If I could afford a general bike, I'd buy one.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tz420 View Post
If I could afford a general bike, I'd buy one.
One of the joys of the UJM/standard are they are relatively cheap compared to a sportbike. Also cheap to insure.

You can find nice used ones in the 3000-5000 range; new they are mostly in the 8K range (last time I was shopping)
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:42 AM   #15
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IMO a few people "hit the nail on the head"

WE didn't by them. They have brought tons of "all around" bikes to our markets. yet they sit in showrooms unsold, for various reasons. Only to be pulled because of dismal sales... Too many people treat magazines articles as the bible making a lot of riders "bench" or "stats" racers thinking they have to have the BEST even though 98% of "riders" cannot get 100% out of their bike regardless of what they are riding.

If I was in the market for a new bike there is only 1 at the top of my list, the Z1000.
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Old 03-18-2008, 01:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
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I rarely blame a problem on capitalism.
I wasn't blaming Capitalism per se, I was just attributing a market trend to the Law of Supply and Demand:
Quote:
a market will move from a disequilibrium point, where quantity demanded is not equal to quantity supplied, to an equilibrium point.
The quantity demanded for bikes of this particular segment is not enough to sustain a healthy US market of this type of bike. Hence, models are pulled.

I guarantee you that if all of the nakeds were bought up and there were people calling dealers trying to track down more (as currently seems to be happening with the new Ninja 250) that the manufacturers would step up and start bringing more models over here to fill the demand.

No manufacturers or dealers are in this business to lose money. If a dealer doesn't think he can move a bike, he won't buy it. If a manufacturer can't make their target profit and cover the costs of getting a bike DOT legal and the cost to transport them, then they won't import them.

I'm all for Capitalism but it by definition favors things that the public in general wants while relegating things that the public generally doesn't want. Luckily, in a Capitalist market nakeds can survive in a "niche market".

What we really need to do is start a "Save the Nakeds" campaign with bumperstickers ("Have you hugged your UJM today?"), etc and raise public awareness.

Wait, no.... That'll raise my insurance rates as all the squids flock to nakeds and then I'll have to buy a sportbike or even a dual sport to stand out. I'm content with things the way they are.
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Old 03-18-2008, 02:00 PM   #17
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What we really need to do is start a "Save the Nakeds" campaign with bumperstickers ("Have you hugged your UJM today?"), etc and raise public awareness.

Wait, no.... That'll raise my insurance rates as all the squids flock to nakeds and then I'll have to buy a sportbike or even a dual sport to stand out. I'm content with things the way they are.
I was wondering how it would work if someone started pushing advertisements for the standard or UJM segment.

Last couple non-harley commercials I've seen are either
a suzuki generic on their cars/bikes but shows only the M109
or 1 for a gixxer.
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Wait, no.... That'll raise my insurance rates as all the squids flock to nakeds and then I'll have to buy a sportbike or even a dual sport to stand out. I'm content with things the way they are.
That's a good point. It's all marketing, and especially here in the US, whereby the manufacturers push their best/latest/most expensive products on us, knowing full well that the kids will eat it up because they can buy it on credit.
I guess with the modern-day "UJM", which are very well-built products nowadays, they leave it for the motorcyclists who simply just know. But I still think they can capture a better market share, here in the US, if they even made a remote effort of advertising and marketing them. Their efforts to do so are virtually non-existant, and thus the further spiraling effects of no demand, so therefore no supply. If they marketed these products, they would sell, but they just don't think it's worth the risk when they have a surefire product that sells itself >>> cruisers and sportbikes.

Look at cruisers. IMHO, the only real reason they took off in sales the way they did, was because of the marketing campaign by Harley Davidson selling an "Image". I've met so many "yuppies" in my years who were so caught up on wanting to buy a HD, even though they never rode a bike in their life! I'm talking men in their late 20's to 30's, and the only bike they would even consider was a Harley, because everything else was "imitation". And I've met women too, who were only so impresed if a man owned a harley, rather than just a cruiser, yet they knew nothing else about motorcycles in general. The same goes for girls who like sportbike riders, but any other bike... nah. Not that I cared, but only just noticed. The cruiser market took off, as we all know, but it was all due to marketing. We didn't define the market, they defined it by pushing the image, and we as a whole, eat it up because we live on credit, and material worthiness. It works the same way with sportbikes, because they do have an image as well... but IMO 10x more fun than a cruiser!! But more or less, they do represent the win Sunday, sell Monday philosophy.. literally! In the end, though, every bike has it's own image, even the UJM, so it just comes down to marketing, and what the marketers tell us cool at the moment, because whatever they push, they know we'll eat it up.

So I guess I too, am glad they don't market them heavily, and should be content, like you, because those who know... know.

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Old 03-18-2008, 04:13 PM   #19
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+1 to everything said in this thread regarding the bad marketing of these bikes.

The honda Hornet(919) is a best seller in Europe.
They shoulda ran this add here in the states. Coulda helped sales a bit:
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:19 PM   #20
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+1 to everything said in this thread regarding the bad marketing of these bikes.

The honda Hornet(919) is a best seller in Europe.
They shoulda ran this add here in the states. Coulda helped sales a bit:
man i agree why dont they run any bike adds here? us maket may just be a given
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