Lawless Jakarta & Some Thoughts About Southeast Asia

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Here’s a random factoid delivered in the form of a question for you: when looking at the metrics for the , which city do you think is responsible for the most readers? We are an American-based website after all, so your top picks might be New York, Los Angeles, or maybe San Francisco, right? Nope. Half our traffic does come from abroad though, so maybe London? Paris? Rome? Barcelona? Wrong again dear readers, because when it comes to a single city consuming the moto-goodness that we publish on a daily basis, none of them have anything on Jakarta, Indonesia (yes, the title of article gave that one away, huh?).

I recently talked about this phenomenon with another online motojournalist, who was experiencing the same trend, and he concluded that it must be employees using proxy servers so they can read blog while at work. I disagreed however, and when looking at where the industry as a whole is currently headed, I think there is something much more basic at play here. Developing countries are the future of motorcycling, and right now Southeast Asia is a hot bed of growth for motorcycle sales. With a less developed infrastructure, and still a need to get from Point A to Point B, motorcycles provide a cheap and effective means of transportation in countries like Indonesia, and for many, motorcycles have become a way of life.

Any motorcycle company worth its salt is trying to position itself for a future in countries like India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc, because for the OEMs, the next decade of growth is going to be in those markets. Taking a look at MotoGP, another barometer on where OEMs spend their money, and we see the series headed to India soon, and the factory Yamaha squad spending an enormous amount of time promoting in the Southeast Asian region.

A quick look at the Twitter accounts of Jorge Lorenzo & Valentino Rossi, the two accounts with the most followers from the MotoGP paddock, and the same trend continues. So this must mean that not only do residents of Jakarta and other Southeast Asian cities buy motorcycles in volume, but they are enthusiasts about the sport as well (I will match you dollars to doughnuts that every time I mention Rossi on Twitter, I get two retweets from a young Asian girl for every one retweet from an old white dude).

So, it doesn’t surprise me then that when a well-shot lifestyle video of bikers graces my inbox, it could happen to feature riders from Jakarta. We have this preconceived notion that motorcycling as a lifestyle is directly related to expensive and exclusive machines. Take a look closer at the video after the jump — these are not Ducatis, Triumphs, KTMs, or BMWs. Engaging motorcyclists well beyond the date of purchase is not something that occurs solely in the “first world”, nor does it have to be invariably linked to a price tag or a European brand, but it does involve wrapping one’s head around a tougher concept on how to connect with motorcycle buyers.

I got some nice push-back the other week when I laid into Honda for failing to engage motorcycle consumers on any sort of emotional level (read: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword). Well, watch this video, and tell me it can’t be done — at any price point…in any market segment. Thanks for the tip Dom!

Video: Vimeo