What do you think about the various changes underway in the motorcycling space right now?
I’m sure the rising trend of EVs will continue. Since they use electric motors, there’s a lot of freedom available for tuning or adjusting power delivery. You can make maximum torque available right from the start, but if you go that far, I fear that it might become difficult to give a model the particular character that makes bikes so much fun.
As you know, Yamaha is also developing various EVs right now. I’ve ridden quite a few of them as well as those from other companies, and to be honest, I’ve never found any of them to be all that interesting. There’s that moment of Kando at first, but then you quickly realize that’s its peak.
For customers who buy motorcycles because they like how the engine revs, the feeling of pulse from the engine, and so on, if we can’t replicate or express those sensations with EVs as well, I think every one will end up feeling the same. Especially if Yamaha and Honda use the same motors and batteries, the only real difference will be how the machines look. I get the sense that if we don’t emphasize ride feel or character, we won’t be able to compete.
If we’re talking about commuter models, something simple, convenient, and ridable by anyone is perfectly fine. But even if electric powertrains become the norm, I think aspects meant purely for fun are an absolute necessity with motorcycles. Most bikes have manual transmissions, and whether you like it or not, changing gears gives you a sense of control when you ride. And even if transmissions were to disappear, I think there still needs to be something that engages the rider and the bike.
The feeling of controlling a bike is something that comes from your own actions, and I think that connects in a big way to where the fun comes from. If we’re going to be developing fun bikes, I think we have to actively prioritize that enjoyment or customers won’t be able to identify with that.
Honda has its Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) system, right? Yamaha’s also been doing a lot of research into DCTs and I personally found them really interesting. For example, the MT-09 model I worked on has an up-and-down quickshifter; you only really need the clutch lever when starting off from a stop. With that in mind, there were some areas in which I started to wonder if DCT or similar tech was really necessary, but when I actually rode a bike with it, I could see how it offers new value because it lets the user concentrate more on riding. Having it also offers more freedom for layouts, so I felt it has the possibility to bring forth newer, more exciting bikes.