Universal Japanese motorcycle

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The Honda CB750, a classic UJM

The basic platform was an upright, open seating position motorcycle powered by a carbureted, air-cooled engine wrapped in a steel-tube cradle-type frame, and at least one disc brake to bring it all to a stop. The simple design made motorcycling accessible to riders of all types and skill sets. UJMs were available in various displacements, and their ubiquity helped grow motorcycling in America during the 1970s and ‘80s.

Source: Motorcycle.com [1]

"Universal Japanese Motorcycle", or UJM, is a term coined in the mid-1970s by the American Cycle magazine to cover a particular type of Japanese standard motorcycle that became commonplace following the ground-breaking Honda CB750, considered to be the first "superbike". With its inline four-cylinder engine, the CB750 became a template for subsequent designs from the other three Japanese manufacturers.[2][3] Stereotypically, a “UJM” would be a 4-cylinder standard motorcycle with a carburetor for each cylinder, a unit construction engine, a disc front brake, a conventional tubular cradle frame, telescopic front forks and twin-shock rear suspension.

After 1969, the major Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha, began replicating each other's designs, resulting in a remarkable homogeneity of form, function and quality. They each produced UJMs, such as the Honda CB500, the Kawasaki Z1, and the Suzuki GS750. Such machines had massive sales, and UJMs continued to be produced for more than a decade.

In 1976, Cycle described the new phenomenon as follows:

"In the hard world of commerce, achievers get imitated and the imitators get imitated. There is developing, after all, a kind of Universal Japanese Motorcycle.... conceived in sameness, executed with precision, and produced by the thousands." [4]

Subsequently, in the 1980s and 1990s, the Japanese manufacturers began to diversify their ranges, producing faired sportsbikes, race-replicas, dual-sport bikes and musclebikes.[5] However, a nostalgia for the UJM led the Japanese manufacturers to introduce “retro” bikes, which were a modern take on the UJM. The market for “retro UJM”s has proved sufficiently robust for Honda to introduce a new aircooled UJM, the CB1100, in 2010. [6][7]


  1. ^ "2009 Suzuki TU250X Review". Motorcycle.com, Pete Brissette, Oct. 06, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  2. ^ Frank, Aaron (2003), Honda Motorcycles, MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, p. 92, ISBN 0-7603-1077-7, retrieved 2010-02-20 
  3. ^ Walker, Mick (2006), Motorcycle: Evolution, Design, Passion, JHU Press, p. 150, ISBN 0-8018-8530-2 
  4. ^ "Honda Nighthawk 700S". Cycle Magazine. 
  5. ^ Maher, Kevin; Greisler, Ben (1998), Chilton's Motorcycle Handbook, Haynes North America, pp. 2.2–2.18, ISBN 0-8019-9099-8 
  6. ^ Motor Cycle News , 18 Jul 2012
  7. ^ http://thekneeslider.com/honda-brings-back-the-past-with-the-2013-cb1100-a-cb750-all-grown-up