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US-Japan cultural difference with driver license

After I immigrated to US with my international marriage, I enjoy US life and was surprised at US motorcycle culture. I believe US DMV driver license test is too easy to ride a big motorcycle. Let me share how Japanese test is. It’s kind of funny and crazy.

Less than 10% people take skill test in DMV because it is too difficult.

So, 90% people go designated private school, and they can skip DMV skill test.

Japanese skill Test requirement

Slow pass for narrow bridge

30 cm(12 inch), length: 15 m(50 feet)

Over 7 seconds for 250 - 400 cc

Over 10 seconds for over 400 cc

Requires partial clutch and rear brake

Hill climb start

10% (5 degree)

Requires partial clutch and rear brake

Slalom for 5 pylons

Each gap: 4.5 m (15 feet)

Requires timely throttle work

Hard stop

Without locking tire from 40 km/h (25 MPH)

Dry stop within 11 m (36 feet)

Wet stop within 14 m (46 feet)

L, S shape road pass

Without hitting pylon

Requires the sense of width

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Bumpy road pass

Over 5 seconds

Requires standing up control

Test course memorize

Requires to memorize course

Requires to memorize when you should indicate turning signal and check mirror and back

Over 250cc motorcycle requires Japanese DMV inspection (much more comprehensive check than US emission check) every 2 years (3 years for the first inspection) costs $200-$1,000 (usually $400-$500 for stock condition). And Japanese Gas price is more than double the price of US Gas. These Japanese strict test and expensive cost keep people out from big motorcycles. In 2015, over 750cc motorcycle sale was only 5% of total motorcycle sales in Japan as you see in the table below.

2015 Motorcycle Sales (Ref.

So I can say and actually felt that people still go with big motorcycles in Japan are rare, can be true motorcycle lovers and has relatively better skill than other small motorcycle riders.

US Culture shock
I didn’t like this Japanese strict motorcycle culture before. However, I saw that some people in US just take a DMV skill test by easy 150cc, buy over 1000cc as a first bike and drive with insane speed. Is it normal? In Japan, stupid kids practice knee down in mountain by 250cc or less size like I did. But in US, matured age beginners try crazy cornering in mountain by over 600cc. If you bring US motorcycles with aftermarket pipe to Japan, none of them will pass Japanese inspection. They will be stopped by a police officer and get a ticket.

I actually feel better with been treated severely and educated in Japan. I hope those people won’t die from the lack of basic skill or knowledge. Slow down, practice enough and enjoy riding moment with any condition. I am talking to myself too. If you want to practice safety ride and knee down, you can also read my article.

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