There’s a reason MRCycles.com sells OEM motorcycle parts from Yamaha and Honda—they are among the most popular motorcycle brands out there.
It’s easy to imagine a history of Yamaha motorcycles as some legendary phenomenon, founded by some Japanese samurai risen from the dust of a thousand battles. A hardened warrior, smoke pouring from his eyes, wanted to experience modern battle, so he summoned the elements into a steel steed that would tirelessly tear through hundreds of miles of territory without a water break. This legendary creation would breed millions of it’s kind over the next century.
But, in an unexpected turn Yamaha’s motorcycle history was, alas, borne among urbanite music lovers, forged in Japan by Genichi Kawakami, the son of the president of what is now Yamaha Corporation (musical instruments). Kawakami followed in the footsteps of his dad, rising in the management ranks of the musical industry, and eventually becoming president at age 38 of Tenryu Factory Company.
Although already successful at a young age, Kawakami began researching other business ideas, and settled on motorcycles, vowing to make the best motorcycle out there. In 1954 the 2-stroke Yamaha YA-1 was produced by the Hamakita Factory, and put to the test on a rigorous 10,000 km challenge course. By 1955 Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd was founded and began producing 200 motorcycles a month.
Yamaha soon went international by entering the race circuit, placing 6th at Catalina in the USA, giving the company an instant boost in building a reputation that has made it into the powerhouse it is today.
Honda’s story could be embellished too, with visions of a Japanese god. Bored with slamming his hands together and ravaging the great island with tidal waves, the great Honda coughed up a two-stroke motorcycle; trading his regal visage and garb for a mild mannered human face wrapped with riding goggles and the glow of adventure and need for speed.
The real Honda was born in Hamamatsu, Japan 1906. Soichiro Honda was son of a modest blacksmith who repaired bicycles. Honda himself would become an apprentice at an auto garage in Tokyo, only to open his own shop back in Hamamatsu, become absolutely obsessed with speed and nurture his need with a race car of his own making.
Honda would weather the storm of business ups and downs and WWII, until he began doing something that reminds us all of what made him famous: putting motors on bicycles, which naturally led to the formation of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
What followed was the birth of Honda’s first of many motorcycles in 1949, the two-stroke Model D “Dream”, which eventually evolved into a cleaner, quieter 4 stroke Dream E in 1951. By 1968 the company had produced 10 mil. Motorcycles, and the rest is history.
Stay tuned for our next blogs when we will reveal more on our motorcycle brand leaders!