Yamaha electric-assist bicycle "YPJ-R"

Tokyo Motorcycle Show ’16: Yamaha’s electric road bike in short supply, selling more than anticipated

At the Yamaha booth, one electric assist bicycle stood among a variety of motorcycles. That would be the YPJ-R, which has been largely unavailable because of rapid sales since it came to market in December last year.

The YPJ-R represents Yamaha’s most aggressive value and style revision yet for an electric assist bicycle. The bike is particularly notable for its lightweight frame and fresh look. Those accomplishments mean that the bike hardly feels like an electric bicycle.

Still, not a few road bike enthusiasts see this model and say: “human legs are the road bike’s engine; do you really need an electric assist motor to help?” Yamaha’s engine designers are reported to have borne this tendency in mind.

Once they started selling the bikes, however, even Yamaha officials were surprised at the pace of sales. Some customers ended up having a two-month waiting period. Officials have said: “We are retooling our production system and will likely exhaust our backorders. We should return to normal delivery after April.”

The primarily male audience is markedly different from the electric assist customer base thus far. The new audience is largely young men, as well as older men returning to riding a road bike. Yamaha officials are thrilled to see that with the success of the YPJ-R the user base for electric assist bicycles is growing. The company looks set to clear its target sales goal of 1,000 bikes if these conditions persist.