Nearly every large motorcycle manufacturer has slashed its research and development budget in the face of economic hard times and most admit that new projects have been scaled back or canceled, often before the general public had learned of their existence.
At the height of the recent financial crisis, Honda reduced its R&D budget by US$ 304 million, Yamaha's reduction in the same period was US$ 280 million and Suzuki's was US$ 293 million. Currently, most of the R&D budgets are still not at the old levels.
Further evidence of cutbacks can be seen via the patents currently being filed. A search for patents filed by Honda shows that in a perfect year without worries it made 7261 applications, whereas in the year of the financial crisis it had dropped to 5610. Likewise, Yamaha's patent applications related to motorcycles dropped from 510 to just 200. The type of technology being patented also appears to be moving away from cutting-edge superbike technology and towards fuel-saving and cost-saving ideas, again with an eye on small-capacity, low-priced, fuel-efficient motorcycles that are more likely to be hits in Southeast Asia than in Western countries.
Motorcycle sales in the 'richer' countries, plummeted since the start of the recession, while India, China and countries in Southeast Asia showed signs of impressive growth. The manufacturers are following the money, Honda Thailand has announced that it will introduce bout 13 new motorcycles in Thailand, both Yamaha and Suzuki have similar plans for the near future.