All About the UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle)


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UJM stands for Universal Japanese Motorcycle.

The term was coined in the 70s and 80s when the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers dominated the US market with revolutionary, but fairly similar motorcycles.

What is a UJM?

A UJM is essentially a standard street motorcycle or naked bikes.

It was a type of motorcycle that borrowed advanced engineering from the manufacturers’ racing bikes, but geared toward general riding for a broader population of riders.

Compared to the European and American motorcycles at the time, UJMs were better engineered, easier to rider, more reliable, more affordable, and easy to work on.

History of the UJM

The UJM’s phenomenon began with Honda’s CB750 in 1969.

The CB750 was the first production bike to feature disk brakes. It was also the first major production 4-cylinder production motorcycle. The ground-braking bike was both powerful, advanced, and easy to ride.


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Kawasaki follow suit in 1972 with its Z1, and Suzuki and Yamaha followed a few years after.

The classic examples of the UJM include:

  • Honda CB750
  • Honda CB500
  • Honda CB550
  • Honda CB400F
  • Kawasaki Z1
  • Kawasaki KZ650
  • Kawasaki KZ400
  • Suzuki GS750
  • Yamaha XS 1100

Each manufacturer’s bike at a similar appearance and design, hence the term “Universal Japanese Motorcycle”.

Common specifications of the UJM included:

  • Standard riding positions.
  • Disc brakes.
  • Telescopic forks.
  • Twin shock rear suspension.
  • Inline engines with single or double overhead cams.
  • Carburetors with an airbox.
  • Five to six speed transmissions.
  • Electric starters.

By the 1990s the UJM domination began to lose steam as different classes and segments of motorcycles grew in popularity.

Today, UJMs have seen a bit of a revival with the neo-retro motorcycle that combines with the classic style of the UJM and other classic motorcycles with modern engineering and technology.

Some modern “UJM” motorcycles include:

  • Honda CB1000R
  • Kawasaki Z900R
  • Yamaha XSR900
  • Yamaha SR400

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