By Daniel Levy
The story of Kawasaki Company goes back to 1924, at that time involved into metallurgy and the aircraft industry.
In 1949, they decided to enter the motorcycle industry producing engines that could be adapted to motorcycles.
FIRST KAWASAKI MOTORCYCLES PRODUCTS a Motorcycle Engines
In their line you could find a 60 cc two-stroke, as well as a 150cc and a 250cc four-stroke engines developed with technology from BMW; company whom with they had had relationships since their beginnings in the aeronautical industry.
It wasn’t until 1954 that Kawasaki Motorcycles produced their first complete motorcycle under the name of Meihatsu (a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft Co.).
Almost at the same time, they also tried to introduce their own line of scooters to the market, but they soon realized they couldn’t compete against the two giants of the scooters industry for those days: the Fuji Rabbit and the Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon.
And now before continuing with Kawasaki Motorcycles history, I have to open a big parenthesis…
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE HISTORY OF KAWASAKI MOTORCYCLES
We cannot talk about Kawasaki without mentioning another make that will definitely help Kawasaki become as well as Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha one of the big players in the Japanese Motorcycles scene:
–> Meguro Motorcycles: better know in that time as the “senior make and the king of four strokes”.
Meguro entered the motorcycle industry in 1937. Having a good relationship with the government, the people at Meguro took advantage of the army orders.
Their first motorcycle was the Z97: a 500cc rocker-valve motorcycle influenced by the Swiss Motosacoche. It’s worth mentioning this model was a success for the factory and the Z97 was in production till the fifties.
Along the years, Meguro produced some very nice 250cc and 350cc rocker-valve, single cylinder models as well as high performance twins. All of them with a very strong British influence. Then and thanks to the commercial success they were living, they also launched a rocker-valve 125 cc for their low end range and a twin cylinder 650cc to accompany the already existing 500cc.
But it was in 1958, when Meguro tried to get rid of their British influence, when things started to go wrong…
Based on a winning prototype of Mount Asama (one of the biggest races that time), Meguro Motorcycles produced three nice and elegant machines with overhead camshaft: the 125cc E3, the 250cc F and the 350cc Y A. Unfortunately these bikes turned out to be too heavy and didn’t get the buyers’ attention. Meguro will soon return to rocker valve models.
Meguro Motorcycles remained as one of the top 10 manufacturers till 1960, but due to some bad decisions, as the ones mentioned above, the company started to decline and was soon bought by Kawasaki.
In 1960 Meguro signed an initial agreement with Kawasaki Motorcycles, and in 1962 they had completely disappeared.
….And this brings us back to Kawasaki Motorcycles…
In 1960, the company decides to give a serious push to the motorcycle division of Kawasaki Aircrafts:
They take out of the market the Meihatsu brand, they build their own plant of low end and low powered machines and buy Meguro.
These brilliant moves and decisions made Kawasaki Motorcycles have one of the widest range of models in the market. Kawasaki Motorcycles could offer at that time (1960’s) from a 50cc moped-scooter to a powerful, high end and beautiful 650 cc twin cylinder motorcycle.
Its also important to mention that due to their very own nature, Kawasaki Motorcycles has always played the role of Maverick in the industry and that a feeling of independence from their main competitors has always been present.
Since then, many stories have been written, many models have been produced and many races have been won on Kawasaki Motorcycles, the truth is…
Nowadays Kawasaki Motorcycles is one of the major players in the industry and following their tradition, they nowadays offer a wide range of products for all kind needs and likes.