Japan ditches power limits

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We could be set for a revolution in powerful Japanese motorcycles after the abolition of power limits on motorcycle engines.

For the more than a decade – since the early 1990s – Japanese firms have been limited to selling motorcycles with no more than 100bhp in Japan. In fact, power limits have been split into several levels for different capacities, ranging from 40bhp for 250cc motorcycles, to 100bhp for 1000cc engines and above.

The result for Japanese firms is that range-topping motorcycles have been illegal in their own home country. Worse still for the Japanese companies, the power restrictions didn’t apply to imports – so foreign competitors were not limited.

The new decision to ditch the power limits means all Japanese firms will be allowed to sell full-power motorcycles in Japan, and it could also spark development of new motorcycles. In particular, we could see advances in 400cc models, which have been long ignored, partly because even old designs were capable of meeting the maximum allowed power of 53bhp.

Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis