At present, bikes with over 165cc engines cannot be manufactured or imported for the local market
For years, Bangladeshi bikers have been seeking motorcycles with higher engine capacities in hopes of breaking through the 165cc barrier — a limit that will stay in place till 2023.
At present, bikes with over 165cc engines cannot be manufactured or imported for the local market, but according to the Motorcycle Industry Development Policy 2018, manufacturers can export motorcycles up to 500cc.
The Bangladesh Motorcycle Assemblers and Manufacturers Association (BMAMA) has been advocating against the government’s move to allow motorcycles with a higher engine capacity as the existing manufacturers have already invested heavily — more than Tk8,000 crore — based on the existing policy.
Industry insiders believe that any premature change of policy would distort the market and reaching the breakeven for the manufacturer will become much harder.
Ashraf U Rahat, a popular moto vlogger with over 120,000 subscribers, recently spoke to Motoraid Bangladesh about the motorcycle scene in the country.
Known as “The Outsider” on YouTube, Rahat believes that if the Bangladesh government allows bikes with a higher engine capacity of 350cc, this could also lead to better quality gears and other equipment in the market.
“For example, if Royal Enfield decides to establish a plant here for CKD engines, it will encourage companies to invest more in our country, making way for more jobs and remittance as well,” he said.
Being an experienced rider himself, he believes that a bigger engine does not necessarily mean higher risks as it is often thought.
Motorcycles with bigger engines also come with better braking and overall higher performance; hence lower chance of breakdowns.
Rather, ensuring that motorists follow rules and guidelines on highways will prevent much of the accidents, he believes.
Vehicles often do not use indicators, change lanes at high speeds, and take sudden U-turns, which often leads to accidents.
“This can be changed with awareness campaigns from the government, be it through videos or seminars,” he said.
“Also, content creators like me will get to test a variety of bikes as we are currently having to review the same old bikes. Opening up a 350cc segment will create an opportunity for better reviews.”
The rising middle class and the income of people have enabled many to prefer motorcycles as a mode of private transportation.
According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) data, 133,044 new motorcycles have already been registered till May this year.
Along with the increasing demand for motorcycles, there is also an upward increase in the demand for higher performance bikes among enthusiasts.
“I love sports bikes and I would say the Kawasaki ninja ZX25R is my favourite. And even though Yamaha R6 production has been discontinued, it holds a special place in my heart,” Rahat said.
The Outsider has travelled all 64 districts using motorcycles and plans to travel to India, especially to Ladakh.
According to him, the motorcycle community is very strong and is growing, suggesting people love motorcycles not only as a means for basic transportation but also that these riders are developing interest in high-performance bikes which can open up a new market for motorcycle manufacturers.