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28th March 2009, PM

This started as a short but I ended up going through the Japanese Motorcycle Industry is quite interesting but a little consuming, Since I already a huge amount of material I this first post, finishing the next three And David the Rickman, Seley, etc story is also coming.

Yes comments are actually quite Why did the English Motorcycle Industry so quickly. And your comments the Formel 1 competence are quite Especially after Ross sweeping performance in the last session today.

At the moment the F1 is as follows but it is still England

BMW Sauber German Hinwil,

Brawn GP British Northamptonshire, Kingdom

Ferrari Italian Italy

Force India Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

British Surrey, United

Red Bull Austrian Buckinghamshire, Kingdom

Renault French United Kingdom

Toro Italian Faenza, Italy

Japanese Cologne, North Germany

Williams British United Kingdom

In one of my former I worked almost 10 years as a Top consultant for plenty of big companies, all the world ( You know those who arrive in an expensive suit, to the Top Management about 100 different of making love with a but they, them selves, never yet met a Lady…)

We used a McKinsey Consultant Group or University Corporate Case the English motorcycle industries quick decline, to teach top about the importance to monitor competitive environment in time. I don’t have that story here in Thailand can I find that corporate here in Thailand. Therefore I am not about how much of my thoughts are from that that case and how much information is from Internet and books A Century by Japanese Bikes, Racingbikes a Century, Japanese History, Standard Catalogue of Motorcycles, The History of Japanese Japan’s Motorcycle Wars An History etc.

I still that in the late 60’s still had a slight competitive in product development. I visited the factory both in 1970 and and I saw the new prototypes 350 Twins with OHC and the Trident and BSA Triple were bikes as well as the Bonneville. BSA had a diamond in the 440 one cylinder that the bankruptcy was further developed by The Norton Commando was not either a bad

What was bad was that many of the were quite old and also the For ex the DOHC project which was for the BSA-Triumph-Norton group to survive was in the late 60’s to Edward He was already retired but had worked as Manager of both Triumph and BSA they were separate and later he was General Manager for the group.

He was born 1901 so he got this last assignment he have been close to he had a good background as motorcycle already from his years Ariel, Ariel Square was his design as well as many Ariel models. At BSA he developed side valve models and at he became a legend by creating all twin models. But common for all his were that they not very reliable.

He also the Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha already 1960 and he came home shocked .He couldn’t the efficiency at the production lines and the figures. He probably didn’t his lesson…. He also hated racing so he was totally different in his than his Japanese competitors; he was the wrong man at that age to be responsible for the ailing English Motorcycle


THE TRIUMPH 350 BANDIT. was advertised but never went production, Developed by old Edward technical specs ok but the bike was

The militant labor unions also to blame; they want to accept the changing and new competition. Since I had the possibility to both the Triumph factories in 70th and the Honda Factory in you didn’t have to be very to realize and feel the difference in and quality thinking between two factories. When the Honda hardly reacted on us watching the Triumph workers took the to have a chat with us and a cigarette…The English Car Industry down for the same reason.

And then we have to remember England and Europe had plenty of old and motorbike constructions that more than up to date. The was there but the Japanese stole and re-invented it but also improved But we talk about that later.

Maybe it was anyhow not the Motorcycle Companies that the main victims. Probably the manufacturers like IFA/DKW/MZ, ADLER,BMW and NSU were more as well as a little later BENELLI, MOTO GUZZI, AND MV-AGUSTA where SOHC, and 4-cylinder engines where and worked already in the early

We also have to understand the Japanese didn’t start scratch. They have a history of making motorcycles, and the scale of Japan’s motorcycle is as large as any English, German or equivalent. It was not only a Hamamatsu all the big four have factories) all over the country motorcycling scale motorcycle “factories” to pop up already in the early 19th

Yes it started in the early 1900’s, modestly with a few foreign imported. The first motorcycle sold in Japan was Mitchell in These had to be serviced and that was at these small workshops. garages were the birth of the Japanese motorcycle industry. The known manufacturer is a Torao He saw an American guy driving a motorbike and to buy one himself in 1908.

Being a garage owner he couldn’t to buy one so he decided to build one, He everything he could find motorcycles and started to build one with out tools but he made it. no pictures are available and no information if it was one bike made or more. Torao Yamaba must be the man who made Japan’s first car a engine 10 seated buss. is how that looked:



The trend In garages all over the country started to construct motorcycles. was part of a trend….

In Yokohama the Siekan Company put together a using an imported Precision I haven’t found any pictures of the but I have found the engine. The manufacturer was by that time a engine provider as their stated as follows:

“The Engine has been adopted as the equipment by many of the largest and reputed manufacturers of motor both in England and the Colonies. The of the engines do not themselves manufacture or in any way with complete bicycles, nor do sell Precision Engines to of the public, their products supplied to manufacturers of the finished only, and to dealers in cycles and



In a mr. N Shimazu built his own experimental engine. The next year he constructed, what is generally to be the first commercially built in Japan. He also established the Motor Research Institute for along time developed, 4-… engines, as well as 2 and he even developed a V8 engine.

He established Nihon Motorcycle making motorcycles on the NM brand and Japan Motors Manufacturing his 630cc Arrow Fast in 1925 the first mass Japanese motorcycle.

Later he worked for Kawanishi Aircraft later called Meiwa, the Japanese motorcycle company in 1950. He later recalled he had manufactured 600 bikes but too early, the was not there yet, so I didn’t any money.



The year the Tokyo Police the bicycle company Miyata Arms to manufacture a motorbike first tried with a in developed, but probably a copied opposed twin, but it failed and developed a Triumph based single copy. Miyata was a manufacturer founded in Japan by Miyata.

Mr Miyata, a gunsmith by the Hitachi Kuni Kasama built Japan’s first bicycle at the Miyata Gun Factory in later he founded Miyata Arms. As far as know they are making bicycles.

The bike was ASAHI but it was not sold to the public, to the police, the bike being to for the public.



When I for pictures of ASAHI I found one of the modern bicycle to be made in by the same company Miyata.


At the same the Nihon Motorcycle Company and manufactured a 250 two- …, I know from where it was The total output is told to be 100 pcs.

According to other a company called Nihon based in Hiroshima got the outsourcing contract for Rikuo just the war, but I’m not sure if it is the same

Nihon Keijidousha Kougyo, a company based in Hiroshima, produced this NKB motorcycle. It is a machine. Still I am not sure if it is the company as above.

We do know the same company produced a 90 cc motorcycle, The NKB Junior, as late as


1937 NKB Castle





The company was not well and apparently didn’t produce in large numbers. It is possible components on these machines not made by NKB.

Many of the Japanese manufacturers at that and along time after, did not complete motorcycles but made and other parts and purchased from among others

Probably Meguro was the first to make a complete, top-to-bottom, in 1937. The smaller companies likely purchased components someone else if it was made 1937.

The quality of these or less garage made in the early 1920’s was very and since the road infrastructure in at this time was non-existing the were an unreliable and also an mean of transport. The more foreign bikes were on the hand too far too expensive. The motorcycle didn’t take off.

But WW1 the situation changed. Japanese, textile export took off and was a middle class created had money to use and they used on motorbikes. One reason for this was bikes were cheaper cars but also that in was a 39 inch maximum width on cars in Japan.

But Japanese weren’t popular, foreign were. Bikes like Scott and Cleveland, English-German Belgian FN and Sarolea and of course HD and dominated the market and also … the whole Japanese industry. Very few Japanese could compete with the and American quality at this

But some tried.

In 1921 Mr. of Osaka designed and built the OHV engine made in Japan. A with very poor He increased it to 300cc together a two speed transmission and chain and called his machine the Thunder.

I find any picture.

In 1923 Kogyo manufactured a single two … powered machine was supposed to be the first motorcycle was 100% Japanese made a which is false. All electrical carburetors and some times were still made in Sorry no pictures available.

of the Japanese made motorcycles did well. They were in shady garages by dedicated lacking the skill and know They had a long way to go before can compete with European and manufacturers.

Just such a thing like making a part when the bike down was impossible. When the rings wore out the bike to the end of its short life.

Then the Military Vehicle Subsidy Law of which allowed the government to subsidies to makers or owners of vehicles suitable for military provided it was made in Japan.

The result was that the industry from the garages to the major factories which started to of motorcycles. The first was the Murata Works a company today by Kawasaki.

The imperial Japanese already used Harleys and tried to copy it without Also Toyo Kogyo, called MAZDA tried but

In 1925, while Toyo started their motorcycle development. Mr. Shimazu, the guy who probably the first Japanese motorcycle in 1909, unleashes Arrowfast, a side valve single motor with a 3-gear Even a reverse gear was for side car work.

The bike was quite modern, the fuel tank covering the electric lights and girder suspension.

In 1926 they a 250cc model of it and it was sold in the and was Japan’s first mass motorbike.

Sorry still no available

The 3-gearbox was made by a of Murata Iron Works, who after the fiasco in making concentrated themselves on making and when they get that how they start to make bikes again.

Japan had one problem, nobody not even Mr. could make an engine western quality. Therefore up 80% of all sold in Japan were and most of them Harleys.

But all and other imports caused a deficit that threatened to the country, not only the emerging industry, but Japan’s entire program was on the brink of collapse and

The Japanese government decided to the problem exactly the same way did in 1921 when they into protectionism by introducing the tariffs.

From now on all companies in the vehicle trade must a license. Domestic manufacturers get tax rebates. Importers would high tariffs, and in l936 the on engines and parts was increased.

In the import duty on motorcycles be over 700 percent.

But did these help the Japanese motorcycle to survive. Probably not but it had one consequence helped the whole Japanese society Harley licensed to make Harleys.


Harley-Davidsons were still popular in Japan. Harleys rugged and powerful, and spare fitted a problem the Japanese still had. Japan was the 2rd export market after and when the English government a helping hand to the Japanese by banning HD from Australia HD was more dependent on the Japanese

The English part of this is quite interesting especially as it is a one reason why Japan could the English motorcycle industry in the

In the 1920s, American motorcycles the finest in the world, and with the up to factories they were in they could have the world and the Great English with mass produced quickly and thus killing the motorcycle industry. The English were far behind HD in mass technology.

England wanted motorcycle industry to survive, and to it in England they established in the McKenna tariffs, which so high that they eliminated American competition not from England, but from the British Sun Never Sets

In fact, it was the loss of its important in Australia and South Africa as a of these tariffs that Harley Davidson to concentrate on the market in the years before and the great depression.

Sales to were so significant, that the Great Depression of 1929 hit and brought them to the brink of a suggestion from their sales rep A. R. Child that sell rights to manufacture an model to a Japanese company was

The other outcome would been that they out of the Japanese market. Harley cash but probably they understood that they creating a monster that HD to the brink of collapse in the 1980:s and them to ask the Reagan government to very high tariffs on 700cc imported motorcycles in to have HD survive. In some way it familiar….

If you want to read “testimony” before he died the HD adventure in Japan you can log in to http://www.rikumotor.fi/veteraanit.php there is a authentic copy of his given to my friend Riku from Finland by his daughter.

The was at least in the beginning a legal of the Harley side valve but all parts were before manufactured in Japan. In1937 the was changed from HD to Rikuo the Government nationalized all-American So now the Rikuo company had all the HD know also from the newer which HD tried to convince to manufacture.

HD was not so happy anymore.

to some people it was the licensing of HD to in 1929 that gave the their first knowledge modern mass-production technology. didn’t only give all their tooling and drawings; also gave them the know how, including hardening technologies. The Japanese for the first time understood the of keeping the factories clean

Harley sent some over to Japan teaching the what Harley knew. taught them about, control spare part dealer management after service all topics where at that time was very at, but the Japanese refined that a lot during the years to come.

But to Harley the Japanese Manufacturing made a 20 year jump in know how. Without there maybe hasn’t any Japanese motorcycle industry

The HD/Rikuo factory also a laboratory for the whole Japanese society with others coming to learn at the HD/Rikuo The Japanese had of course learned from the American car factories in Anyhow these factories and GM) started much earlier and just assembly factories. The didn’t give so much know how.

Some say that it was this “poor” made by Harley during the after1929, when the HD factory some money, that is the of the English Motorcycle Industrie’s down, as well as the near down of Harley during the And of course the English can be blamed for HD to this by closing the Australian and African market, by protectionism, for HD the early 1920’s. Who knows…

A company called Mizuho visited the Rikuo factory and then in 1934/1935 to manufacture a called Cabton. The first was a 500cc single, probably from Ariel. Later made a 600 Twin also from England. They to manufacture bikes until and they were very in the Japanese field track which was based on betting.

about that later. is strange is that it is almost to find any information or pictures Cabton and Mizuho Motor. I googled both all the English as Japanese sites and there is nothing about Cabton or its Mizuho Motor, I wonder if not a bike is left after 15 of production?


Another called Katayama Industries the Olympus motorcycle. But it is the same with this bike and Impossible to find any info, I even know how long they were manufactured or the of the engine.

Next we handle the history.

29th March 04:40 PM


But Rikuo was not as a “copier’. Another important was Meguro but they copied without any agreements and licenses.

may well be the first real of motorcycles in Japan, tracing its back as far as 1909, to a small in Shibuya-cho, Tokyo prefecture. As before, in the early 1900s, was a burgeoning cottage-industry of small-scale builders within Japan, motorcycles from whatever they can find.

I will the whole Meguro story together with some brands, despite that it the chronically order, because it is the of Kawasaki, one of the Big Four.

By 1922, the models known the Meguro were now produced by a man named Murata, who founded the Murata Works of Tokyo Prefecture, Murata’s first motorcycles either single-cylinder models on the British singles of that or copies of the Harley-Davidson Model J.

At point around 1928, Works adopted the name Works, which was possibly in honor of the Meguro racetrack in the Tokyo ward of Meguro 1907 to 1933. The race later had to move further from Tokyo because of expansion.

During the late and early 1930s, Meguro was competition from Europe and and by the mid 1930s HD was gaining in popularity Japan.

As earlier told, concentrated their effort, failing to make complete on making transmissions, for ex. for the Arrowfast.

In they started copying the Motosacoche Jubilee’ Sports 498 they called Meguro The Meguro Z97 was probably the first motorcycle that was built in-house, from the ground-up.



During its years it is said that also had produced a 60cc the 4-…, single cylinder, 125cc E3, the 250cc F, the 350cc YA BMW technology. should be pronounced BMW The 60 cc devoted to Meguro I am not so sure It seems more comfortable in the Kawasaki Meihatsu model as a two stroker.

It’s first was a 650cc of 1955 which was a from different English maybe mainly BSA. The was anyhow less long than British bikes. mm, with a power of 23,5 hp at rpm.

This bike was a time the biggest Japanese together with Rikuo 750 and the 600 twin.

In 1960, Meguro the 500T1 which used the Dominators engine dimensions mm but still was mainly BSA based. It had more power with 33 hp at rpm and the top speed was close to 150 km/h.

In Meguro copied the BSA A7 and launched a new 650 they sold for more 10 years improving the quality from the original BSA A10. It is if Meguro had any kind of agreement or approval from BSA but no official is to be found. Still it is strange such an obvious copy not end up in the court.

In 1963 Meguro merged with Kawasaki Co.,Ltd. forming Kawasaki Sales Co. which was the forerunner to Motorcycle Co.,Ltd.

But Kawasaki come empty handed to the

The Kawasaki History

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Kawasaki, started operations in 1924 as a and aircraft company. After WW2 couldn’t manufacture air crafts so they started to look for new like all the other air planes did.

In 1949 Kawasaki to manufacture small engines for use in and motorized bicycles. Probably manufactured a 60cc, two …, 2 engine which was used by manufacturers as well as in their own

Officially Kawasaki started involvement in motorcycle manufacturing by a 148 CC, 4 hp, air cooled, OVH engine KE-1, meaning Kawasaki Engine nr 1. The of the engine started in 1949 but the was ready first in 1952, The was sold to other manufacturers and also used by Kawasakis own Meihatsu. Below you can see the engine.


In 1955 then introduced what is to be their first two-…

I am not sure from where it is but it looks very much Zundapp, JLO, Sachs, DKW or other traditional two-stroker at time.



The same year the Meihatsu 125 was with the KB-5 engine. The year the Meihatsu 12 Deluxe was and it was the first time the name was shown on the engine’s side The bike was further developed and the new Kawasaki factory, only to motorcycles opened in 1960 the was called Kawasaki 125 New Ace and looked this:


KAWASAKI 125 NEW looked very much the as Honda Benly but was a 2-stroker.

In the year, 1960, they tu use the Meihatsu Brand

Due to the new factory had the possibility to use new modern production and using new modern materials. In the 125 model was called 125B8 and it very much as the Kawasaki still in production and still for here in Thailand just a few ago. Here you have the



But it seems as if also brought something into the merger.

The RSY manufactured by Kogyo Ltd has an engine 200cc was manufactured by Kawasaki Aircraft. The was possibly manufactured as 200cc and 250 cc, it is an bored KE-1, and sold to other factories also for ex. IMC and Rocket.

I haven’t been to find any info about two companies and there is not so much Amano Kogyo either. Pls on the picture below the visual with modern Kawasaki and Kawasaki 650 W.



Probably the Kogyo intended to export the because it was a very solid and expensive to make. Maybe the Mercedes Benz logo was to give the export market an of quality….



Kawasaki Kogo, Ltd.

This appears under different Sometimes it is called Kawasaki Kogo, sometimes it is just Kogo or Meihatsu Kogo, just Meihatsu and sometimes it is to as Meihatsu Age. Probably it is the company.

Maybe it was an independent to which Kawasaki delivered and later the company was taken by Kawasaki and was included in the merger.

The model I am aware about is a from 1955. What to the KB-1 I don’t know…

The was powered by a (Kawasaki made. ) 60cc and hade a 2-gear





It seems the product range at a later was quite broad with different models probably models but the 250 may have had the Kawasaki Below you can find a Meihatsu Age



The all Kawasaki motorcycles were the SG which had a 250cc single-cylinder OHV and the 496cc OHV twin Kawasaki K1 was based on the Meguro K1.

The 650 W:s bikes as Kawasakis in 1964 and they sold in three different up to 1975 and from 1973 it had a brake front and the gear was moved to the left. The bike was in the US, but it never really took




K2 500, I couldn’t find any of the first K1 model





Anyhow, Kawasaki who didn’t have very four … experience, the Meguro engineers to create the Z1 Okay Kawasaki had developed 4 car engines before but, the motorcycle experience came from Meguro. In 1967 made a decision to develop a motorcycle which would the 650W1as the largest motorcycles in

As the United States was targeted as the market for these high motorcycles, the development team was to the U.S. where they worked out a plan for the new model.

the displacement of the new model was set at 750cc and a was completed in October 1968.

Honda announced a new 750cc (SOHC) motorcycle at the

Tokyo Show held the same The Kawasaki management staff it was meaningless to come out with a model after Honda had introduced theirs, so all development on Kawasaki’s 750cc models, stopped. At least a picture is from that project.

KAWASAKI MOCK UP MODEL FOR THE SHOW 1968. Honda the show and it is easy to understand Kawasaki withdrew from the at that stage…

Anyhow continued the development of a new super that could compete the CB750 SOHC. And after years of development they presented the Z1 903 cc in 1971 and the first model left the assembly in may 1972. The Z1 was a success. It is interesting Kawasaki used by far much time to develop the Z1 than did with the Z1.

Here you can see the engine and the models.






And to make you happy some more modern Kawasaki



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Suzuki Colleda CO


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