If you’re in Japan, keep an eye out on the number of 250cc-400cc motorcycles that dot the Japanese motorcycle scene. You’d be surprised that these small capacity sportsbikes are actually quite big in terms of volumes in Japan, a country that plays host to the big-Four of the motorcycle world, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. All four of these motorcycle makers build high performance sportsbikes, most of them having engine displacements well upwards of 600cc. Despite this, 250-400cc motorcycles in Japan continue to be a big draw for motorcycle makers and here’s why.
The Japanese government imposes lower taxes upon motorcycles in the 250-400cc segment, a move that’s quite similar to the Indian government conferring duty benefits on cars measuring under 4 meters in length. This, in a nutshell, explains the large number of 250-400cc Japan-only models of motorcycles. Coming to think of it, this move by the Japanese government has spawned memorable motorcycles like the Honda CBR400RR, the Kawasaki Balius 250, the Honda Hornet 250 and many other such high strung line-4 motorcycles that went like stink when given the stick.
Now though, we’re in an era where fuel economy and low tail pipe emissions are the need of the hour, leading motorcycle makers like Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki have taken to the single cylinder and twin cylinder engine designs for the 250cc to 400cc class. While Honda has the CBR250R and the CBR500R serving as entry level motorcycles, the Japanese motorcycle giant has just unveiled a new twin cylinder engine displacing 400cc. Essentially a downsized version of the 470cc parallel twin found on the CBR500R, the 400cc four stroke twin is expected to power the Honda CBR400R.
The Honda CBR400R powered by the new 400cc engine is expected to do duty in Japan by taking on the Kawasaki Ninja 400R. It remains to be seen whether Honda will sell the new CBR400R sportsbike in other countries apart from Japan. How about building a naked streetbike to challenge the KTM Duke 390, Honda? The possibilities are many and in the coming months, we’ll see the motorcycles that this brand new 400cc engine will power. As of now, Honda’s remained tightlipped about the power and torque figures for the 400cc engine. We think about 40 and 35 Nm would be a nice figure for the motor. Watch this space.