Other Japanese Manufacturers
As readers may have noticed, this site is primarily a Suzuki resource site, but obviously Suzuki was not the only 'Old Japanese Bike' manufacturer in Japan. It may surprise people to know that motorcycles were made in Japan prior to WWI and that by the early to late 1950's there were roughly 200 companies all fiercely competing for market share in the Japanese domestic market, which rapidly collapsed down to the four main players (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) still in business today.
My plan then is to fill in information on the various manufacturers with a focus on those Japanese companies no longer in business. In the case of Honda, Yamaha and later Kawasaki data (post early 1960's), there are already loads of sources out there so I see no need to duplicate what others have already done.
It has been asserted by many sources that early Japanese manufacturers generally just copied or stole American and European (which includes of course the UK) designs, and certainly in the early days that was often true. That does ignore the fact that in early engine and bicycle development 'copying' was done by just about everyone in all countries, so I'm not sure how important that point really is. I think what is true is that in the brutally competitive domestic market in Japan following WWII, those manufacturers that ultimately survived in Japan did so because they were the fittest. Having survived that Darwinian process in the home market, they were well positioned to eventually decimate the motorcycle manufacturing industry in the rest of the world.
Note: I have focused on manufacturers, but to make things easier to find I have cross linked model names which are more commonly known back to who made them. So as an example, in the section covering names beginning in A through D, clicking on 'Auto Bit' will take you to 'Fujita Iron Works'.
Ian R. Sandy December 30, 2018
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