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From aircraft to motorbikes

Kawasaki Aircraft initially produced motorcycles under the name Meguro, later it became Kawasaki Motor Sales. Some early motorcycles display an emblem with " Kawasaki aircraft " on the fuel tank.

The bikes

Kawasaki is one of the four big Japanese motorbrands. It is a small part of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. In 1949, Kawasaki Heavy Industries was looking for civilian missions, they started building a motorcycle. The development was completed in 1952 and mass production started in 1953. The engine was an air-cooled, 148 cc, OHV, four-stroke single cylinder with a maximum power of 4 PS (2.9 kW; 3.9 hp) at 4,000 rpm. In 1954, the first complete Kawasaki Motorcycle was produced under the name of Meihatsu, a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft. In 1960, Kawasaki completed construction of a factory dedicated exclusively to motorcycle production and bought Meguro Motorcycles.


Kawasaki Aircraft initially manufactured motorcycles under the Meguro name In 1963, Kawasaki and Meguro merged to form Kawasaki Motorcycle Co.,Ltd. Work continued on the Meguro K1, a copy of the BSA A7 500 cc vertical twin and on the Kawasaki W1. The K2 was exported to the United States for a test in response to the expanding American market for four-stroke motorcycles. Initially it was rejected because of a lack of strength. In the mid-sixties Kawasaki finally exported a modest number of motorcycles. The Kawasaki H1 Mach III in 1968, along with a number of motorcycles in enduro style to compete with Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda.

Kawasaki motorcycles are manufactured by the Motorcycle & Engine division of Kawasaki Heavy Industries at plants in Japan, Michigan, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand.


Eddie Lawson wins the AMA Superbike championship for Kawasaki after an epic battle with Honda's Freddie Spencer. Kawasaki releases the GPz550. It is air-cooled and has only two valves per cylinder, but its performance threaten the 750cc machines of competing manufacturers. This is the bike that launches the 600-class. In 1989, the first 'ZXR' bicycles came onto the market. They are replicas of 750cc and 400cc racers.


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