The Korea Herald


Two wheels lure young away from four

By Korea Herald

Published : March 18, 2012 - 19:41

    • Link copied

BMW New S100RR BMW New S100RR
Sports motorbikes are offering a fuel-efficient alternative to cars for young people in the entry-level market.
BMW Motorrad and Honda Korea note a two-digit expansion in sales of their flagship models over the past year, taking sales from the entry-level car market.

The sales volume of Honda’s CBR125R, a 125cc engine bike, grew 128 percent last year alone. CBR125R boasts fuel efficiency of 57.3 kilometers per liter, making it attractive compared to compact cars after oil prices soared to all time highs last spring.

“Scooters have always been a popular two-wheeler for convenience’s sake, but the market for sports motorcycles is now eating into the compact car market as more drivers use them for their everyday commute,” a Honda Korea representative said.

“Sports motorcycling had been a popular option for those looking for enduro riding, urban cruising and longer tours, but that is slowly changing.”

The sales volume for Honda’s scooter PCX also more than doubled during the past year, Honda Korea says.

BMW Motorrad’s sports motorbikes with much bigger engine capacities are also upping their share of the pie. Its sales volume rose 55.4 percent last year after selling 917 bikes with engine displacements of higher than 500cc. The success was led by S1000 RR, BMW’s first super sports motorcycle with an engine displacement of 999cc.

While the local motorbike market is dominated by domestic brands such as Daelim Motorcycle and S&T Motors, taking up about 70 percent of the market share, foreign players are enjoying faster expansion. Honda, Yamaha, Harley Davidson and BMW take up about 10 percent, with the rest taken up by Chinese brands.
Honda NC700X Honda NC700X
Harley Davidson Forty Eight XL1200X Harley Davidson Forty Eight XL1200X

Harley Davidson is the leader in the high-end segment. Its two most popular models ― Street Glide, or FLHX, and XL1200X, or Forty Eight ― take up about 20 percent of total sales, and it expects the portion to rise this spring.

“A lot of Harley Davidson customers enjoy enduro riding so we sell more during the spring and autumn seasons. We sell about 50 percent more between March and June than we do during winter months,” a Harley Davidson representative said.

FLHTK, boasting an engine capacity of 1,690cc, is sold at 29.90 million won ($26,500). Forty Eight has an engine capacity of 1,200cc and is priced at 18.90 million won.

“More young people are choosing to become Harley Davidson owners and Forty Eight is a model that suits style-conscious young people in their 20s and 30s,” the representative said.

Honda is moving up to the premium segment with NC700X launched in February. NCS700 offers a sporty option for those wanting something bigger than a 250cc motorbike that is still energy conscious and offers high mobility. NC700 comes with a 670cc engine, has fuel efficiency of 41 kilometers per hour, and is priced at 10.95 million won.

“We expect NC700X to be a popular option among those in their 30s and 40s. It’s hip enough to appeal to style-conscious drivers and is very fuel efficient,” Chung Woo-young, CEO of Honda Korea, said in February.

By Cynthia J. Kim (