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.
Anniversaries and birthdays that end in 0 tend to garner more attention. So, why should the 10th anniversary of Can-Am Spyder production be any different? Not surprisingly, Can-Am/BRP invited Spyder owners to join them in Valcourt, Quebec, the place where the Spyder began, for a birthday bash. As with most rallies, organized and self-guided rides were planned, ample amounts of food was available, music was heard in multiple venues, and awards were given for custom machines. However, Can-Am went even further by introducing three anniversary Spyder models and opening its factory, design center, and R&D center for attendees to tour. Not many manufacturers would do that for any occasion.
You probably don’t know Ray and Roy Behner or their friends Jim Carlton and Fred Hoffman – but you should. Because more than 30 years ago, they recreated Gottlieb Daimler’s 1885 Reitwagen, widely considered the world’s first motorcycle (or the world’s first gasoline-powered motorcycle, anyway). Mind you, this was before the age of Google, internet forums, or anything of the like. How did they do it? They simply replicated a small photograph of the Reitwagen. No blueprints. No schematics. Nothing. It’s a very interesting story, and one told in greater detail by Ray Behner, as told to the American Motorcyclist Association, whose story we’ve reproduced below.
Robb Talbott is late. We agreed to meet at the site of his forthcoming motorcycle museum in Carmel Valley, but the guy is nowhere in sight. Just then, a late-model pickup comes rattling up the drive, towing a trailer. On the back is something you just don’t see everyday: a single-cylinder, brakeless, fire-breathing, on/off switch of a motorcycle that looks like it could pitch you into the grandstands faster than you could say “JAP.” The owner, a former European speedway champ, now in his 80s, just gave him the damn thing, along with all his trophies and memorabilia. After all, what was he going to do with the stuff? Robb might as well have it.
Well, this is not The Honda Museum, which I suppose is in Japan somewhere. This one’s in Torrance, California, a short drive from American Honda’s sprawling U.S. corporate HQ in a discreet location. Unfortunately, this museum isn’t open to the public, but Honda does let people in for various corporate events, or if they’re important bigwigs. How I got in I’ll never know, but major thanks to Honda’s PR guy Tony De Franze for making it happen. It all started when he and Mike Snyder mentioned they’d found three RC45s still in their crates a couple months ago in back of a warehouse…
Willie G. Davidson, grandson of Harley-Davidson founder William A. Davidson, says he was born with gasoline in his veins and a crayon in each hand. From June 13 to September 7, the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee will reveal a little bit more about H-D’s de facto lead designer for the past half-a-century. Willie G. Davidson: Artist, Designer, Leader, Legend is designed to take the visitor inside the mind of the man who became Harley’s first design director, in 1963. Willie G. has created a string of designs that define Harley-Davidson to the world, beginning with the 1971 FX Super Glide.
Okay, we gotta admit it’s a tiny bit macabre to find a stellar group of antique, vintage and high-performance motorcycles on display at a cemetery, literally the last place a bike fan wants to visit. But, there was lively reasoning behind the appearance of 13 “celebrity” two-wheelers at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, the 1906 historic landmark located in Glendale, CA. The museum, part of the 300 acre property since 1957, has previously offered a wide variety of exhibits as they are “committed to enriching the community through the educational and entertaining presentation of artwork that focuses on history, culture or religion.”