By John Burns
Suzuki’s been doing business out of Hamamatsu for quite some time now. 1909, in fact, is the year Michio Suzuki officially began building looms to serve the Japanese weaving industry. Motorcycles and cars came along decades later; you can trace the whole history of Suzuki’s monozukuri culture in the three-story museum – designing and making things with a spirit of craftsmanship. Here are 10 things that jumped out at me.
10. Power Free E2
Everybody knows Honda started out when Soichiro bolted his first engine to a bicycle, but you may not know Suzuki did the same thing with its Power Free 36cc motorized bike in 1952 – 43 years after Michio Suzuki had founded Suzuki as a company that made looms for the Japanese textile industry. Interesting that boosted bicycles are a big thing again, but boosted by batteries instead of gasoline.
9. The Other Katana
The GS550G, which I’m pretty sure was called GS550M Katana in the US, was my first or second bike, and in the ratty state of repair I purchased it in, caused me no end of pain and yet taught me a lot about how not to ride motorcycles and how to not use tools on them. Oh, wait, hang on. This isn’t a GS550 at all, but a GS650G that looks just like my old 550 – a shaft-driven thing I didn’t even know existed. They’ve purloined the Bike magazine test of the 550M over here, which is probably what caused me to purchase it. Hans Muth reputedly had a hand in designing this one too.