The Yamaha PW-X motor system.
Yamaha Motors is launching a new division, dubbed "Yamaha Bicycles," to enter the electric-assist fray with their own line of complete bikes. Previously they'd supplied eMTB motors to companies like Lapierre, Giant, Haibike, and more, but it appears they will now also be bringing an in-house offering to market.
Our own Richard Cunningham has been predicting motorcycle companies' entry into the eMTB market for quite some time now, and with both Yamaha and KTM (via Pexco) developing eMTBs it certainly feels like a significant shift is underway.
We've heard many anecdotal stories about eMTB users often coming from the motorcycle world, and Yamaha is clearly taking aim at those riders who will recognize a familiar name. It is possible that motorcycle brands like Yamaha will come in and eat traditional bike manufacturers' lunch with eMTBs. Surely Yamaha has some competitive advantages over the companies that they supply motors to, but will they bring enough bike experience to the table to create a compelling offering?
Another major question will be on pricing, which is yet to be announced. Yes, the familiar refrain of "I could buy a motorcycle for that" could ring out—more ironically than usual; but it is
possible that Yamaha's economies of scale and production efficiencies could result in lower, disruptive prices.
Their focus here is clearly the US market, where many feel that eMTBs could threaten trail access. While some eMTB manufacturers that are selling in North America have chosen to not address trail access issues, it seems likely that Yamaha will work to help safeguard our sport's most important resource. Conversely, Yamaha being a motorcycle company may fan the flames of opposition to eMTB access.
No word yet on distribution channels, but we expect Yamaha to open accounts in traditional IBDs as well as leverage their existing dealer network.
Will they bring a motorcycle-influenced approach (KYB? Öhlins?) to their suspension? Will they use the same motor technology they offer to other bike manufacturers? Will they make non-electric bikes as well? Yamaha were tight-lipped about their plans, but with Interbike just days away we're sure to get some answers soon.
Press release below.
Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, Entering U.S. Electric Bicycle Market, All-New Prototype Models to be on Display at Interbike
CYPRESS, Calif. – September 12, 2017 – Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, announced today it will enter the U.S. electric bicycle market in 2018. Yamaha will launch its “Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles” brand to the U.S. at Interbike, the largest bicycle trade event in North America. Yamaha invites bicycle retailers to visit its booth at Interbike in Las Vegas, September 20-22, 2017, for a first opportunity to view prototype models, as the company establishes relationships with specific retailers currently servicing cycling consumers.
“Yamaha has been a pioneer, inventor, and innovator in electric bicycles for more than two decades,” said Terry Okawa, President, Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.
Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. (YMC) launched the world’s first electrically power assisted bicycle in 1993 and has since produced more than 4 million drive units and sold over 2 million Yamaha power assist bicycles. YMC supplies class-leading e-Bike Systems to select OEM partners worldwide.
“Everyone at Yamaha is excited to be entering the rapidly expanding U.S. e-Bike market and sharing Yamaha’s passion for exciting products and legendary product performance, innovative design, quality and reliability with the growing e-Bike audience,” said Rob Trester, Division Manager, New Business Development Division which is launching the Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles brand.
Yamaha’s Power Assist Bicycles are scheduled to be available at U.S. dealers starting in 2018.
Learn more starting September 20, 2017, at yamahabicycles.com
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About Yamaha Motor Corp., USA
Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, (YMUS) headquartered in Cypress, Calif., since its incorporation in 1976, is a leader in the outdoor recreation market. The company’s ever-expanding product offerings include Power Assist Bicycles, ATV and Side-by-Side vehicles, motorcycles, outboard motors, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, boats, outdoor power equipment, accessories, apparel and much more. Yamaha also has facilities in Wisconsin and Georgia, as well as factory operations in Tennessee and Georgia. For more information on Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles, visit www.yamahabicycles.com.