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The creation of the Japanese sword gives us an insight into the thinking behind the creation of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM). In the time prior to the Japanese creating their own sword design they used a variety of design concepts mostly borrowed from China. But there came a point at which they seem to have collectively decided that the two handed sabre was the best choice and they then set about perfecting the art of making the best two handed sabres in the world, and along with that they worked to create the best methods and strategies to deploy those two handed sabres to greatest advantage. This is pretty much what happened in the creation of the UJM; Honda had already penetrated the US market by literally creating their own market segment with their “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” advertising campaign.

They moved motorcycle ownership from a small and esoteric group who favoured bigger, heavier motorcycles such as those from Harley-Davidson and the whole sub-culture that went with it, to create a new and mostly “respectable” population of motorcycle users that boosted the number of US riders to almost 1.5 million people. About two thirds of this market, people who chose to ride smaller capacity motorcycles that were light and easy to manage, belonged to Honda with other Japanese makers busily working on catching up. These small, light motorcycles began with bikes in the under 100cc class which Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki were already selling in large numbers in Asia, up to the 1965 Honda CB450 which was big enough to start to challenge the established British motorcycle manufacturers and, with its excellent engineering, electric starter, oil leak proof horizontally split crankcase, and double overhead camshafts using an unusual but reliable torsion spring system on the valve springs, this was a bike that caused the motorcycle press and buying public to sit up and take notice.

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