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  1. #1
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    Default A Brief History Of Kawasaki Motorcycles And Their Origin

    Shozo Kawasaki foundered the company in 1878 at a dockyard in Tokyo to build steel, ocean going ships, which in 1886, was expanded and became Kawasaki Dockyard.

    In 1896, when the Kawasaki Dockyard was incorporated, Kojiro Matsukata was appointed first president of the company. Production of locomotives, freight cars, passenger carriages and bridge girders began in the newly opened Hyogo Works in 1906, followed a year later by steam engines for ships.

    In 1918, an aircraft department was established at the Hyogo Works and only 15 years after the Wright brothers' virgin flight. Soon after, an aircraft factory was built, producing Japan's first aircraft made from metal when other countries were still producing aircraft made of wood and fabric. The first Kawasaki aircraft was given the name Type 1 Otsu

    The following year saw the beginning of many changes as The Marine Freight Department was split off to form Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line). In 1928, the Hyogo Works was split off to become Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing Co., Ltd. The Aircraft Department became Kawasaki Aircraft Co., Ltd. in 1937, and in 1950, the Steel Making Department became Kawasaki Steel Corporation. The Rolling Stock, Aircraft, Marine Freight and Steel Making departments became companies in their own right, establishing a firm foundation in their respective fields.

    In 1949, Kawasaki entered the motorcycle industry, producing small engines that could be adapted to motorcycles. With the help of BMW, 60 cc two-stroke, as well as a 150cc and a 250cc four-stroke engines were developed which became the KE engine. This was completed at the Takatsuki factory in 1952. Mass production of these 148cc, four stroke single cylinder engines, started in 1953

    In 1954 that Kawasaki Motorcycles produced their first complete motorcycle under the name of Meihatsu (a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft Co.).

    Around this period, Kawasaki introduced a range of scooters to the market, but were not competitive with the scooters being produced by Fuji and Mitsubishi.

    In 1955, Kawasaki Aircraft Company Kobe plant started production of the KB-5 engine. This engine was renowned for its response and torque. Meihatsu, a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft Co., fitted the engine to their Meihastu 125-500.

    In 1956 Meihatsu released the 125 Deluxe fitted with the improver KB-5A engine. These engine were the first to appear with the name Kawasaki stamped on the engine side case or cover.

    The Meihatsu remained in production until 1960 when Kawasaki decided to move to bigger bikes. The Meihatsu brand then disappeared.


    Meguro (1937-1964) was probably the grandfather of the Kawasaki motorcycles we know today. Meguro started producing the Z97, a rocker valve 500cc in 1937 selling many motorcycles to the Japanese Army. These motorcycle were based on the Swiss Motosacoche
    Meguro produced improved versions of the BSA A7 and A10 under licence as a classic styled motorcycle along with some very good 250cc and 350cc rocker-valve, single cylinder models under the K1 series. All of them with a very strong British influence. Later they added a new 125cc and a twin 650cc motorcycle to their range.

    In 1958, Meguro tried to design their own motorcycles and remove the lingering British influence, but it all started to go wrong. They produced three new bikes they were considered very good looking bikes. These bikes were the 125cc E3, 250cc F and the 350cc YA. Despite being good looking bikes they were too heavy and lacked performance forcing Meguro to replace the engines with rocker valve motors. In the 1960�s Meguro was in decline and was taken over by Kawasaki in 1964.

    Kawasaki continued to develop the K1 under the name K2 and sell it into the USA market. The K2 was too heavy and underpowered for the US market. In 1965, Kawasaki upgraded and improved the K2 and released this in the US market in 1966 as the W1 fitted with a 624cc twin. This bike continued to be improved until 1974 when production ceased

    (c) kawaride

    The attached photo is the first engine or motorcycle to appear with the name Kawasaki on it. In this case it is a later model Meihatsu
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by kawaride; 01-02-07 at 08:19 PM.

  2. #2
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    very informative , kawasaki have been around in some sort of manufacturing / production basis for over 100 yrs . the brand {Kawasaki} has long been reknowned for its engineering exellence .

  3. #3
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    The symbol used by Kawasaki on lots of their early bikes, and on almost all spare parts packaging, was the "Double M" symbol, with each M lying on its side, and facing each other........the 2 M's representing Meguro and Meihatsu.


    ".......its that rat circus out there......I'm beginning to enjoy it........"

    ZEDQUARTERS ~ Service & Tune ~ Vintage Japanese Motorcycles ~ Kawasaki Specialist

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gosling1 View Post
    The symbol used by Kawasaki on lots of their early bikes, and on almost all spare parts packaging, was the "Double M" symbol, with each M lying on its side, and facing each other........the 2 M's representing Meguro and Meihatsu.

    thanks for the heads up ..

  5. #5
    n00bie


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    A brilliant piece of info, it made a great addition to our club newsletter!
    Kawasaki.........what else

  6. #6
    ThumpinKwaka
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    I must say that is a great read! Thanks for the history lesson.

  7. #7
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    Red face

    Great to know history. Puts ones own life into perspective and would be great to have a time machine.

  8. #8
    bens369
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulcanised View Post
    Great to know history. Puts ones own life into perspective and would be great to have a time machine.
    hey there vulcanised....this happens to be your lucky day...i have a time machine with me right at this moment...i strap it onto my wrist...it has two hands...a face...and goes tic..tic..tic..

  9. #9
    bens369
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    don't take too much notice of that last post....welcome...enjoy...

  10. #10
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    The motorcycle part of KHI is the smallest part of what they do. It shows in what they have not put into preserving / displaying a bike museum.
    They kindly showed me there museum in early 1998.

 

 

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