After WW2, Japan ramped up R&D in an effort to boost its economy. As a result, it was able to produce much-needed goods in western markets at a much cheaper price than their western-manufactured counterparts. Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki, all major manufacturers, produced motorcycles that became much needed transport for the masses. Now these same motorcycles are some of the most celebrated of their time.
Suzuki RG 500
This legendary Grand Prix cycle made a big impact with its smaller engine, turning the concept of a championship-capable two-stroke bike from “laughable” to “the new standard.” The Gamma brought that GP power and precision to the public.
Kawasaki H2 Mach IV
The Original ‘widowmaker’. Another fastest production bike of its era. This iconic two-stroke triple led the market in terms of performance, like nothing before it, but came with a questionably compatible frame that was not up to the task.
Yamaha RD 350LC
Instantly iconic upon its release in 1980, this liquid-cooled road racer gave riders a street-legal version of Yahama’s TZ-series race bike. As soon as the tach hit 6k on this bike, you were flying.
The inline four-cylinder Superbike that changed the world and stayed in production for five decades. Double the cylinders meant double the power, the electric starter made getting going simple and it proved Japan could produce a big, burly bike at a price most could afford.