Suzuki motorcycles history and facts
Suzuki was founded by Michio Suzuki in 1909 in Hamamatsu, Japan, to make weaving looms for Japan’s silk industry. The company began producing small cars in the 1930s, but didn’t enter the two-wheeler market until after the Second World War.
Suzuki responded to the huge demand in post-war Japan for cheap transport with the launch of a bicycle fitted with a motor. Introduced in 1952, the Power Free had only a 36cc engine, but it didn’t take long for Suzuki to move up a gear or two.
In 1953, Suzuki introduced the 60cc Diamond Free, which soon went on to win the Mt. Fuji Hill Climb. The following year, Suzuki launched the Colleda COX 125cc.
It was during the 1960s when Suzuki began to attract attention on the world’s motorbike stage. Suzuki entered its first motorcycle race teams in the Grand Prix and Isle of Man TT races at the beginning of the decade.
Suzuki’s team registered its first Grand Prix victory in 1962, with various other racing accolades soon to follow. Suzuki also turned heads with the launch of more powerful motorbikes during the sixties, including the Suzuki T20 250cc and the T500, with its 500cc engine.
The seventies followed much the same trend for Suzuki – more racing wins and the introduction of even bigger bikes. Barry Sheene came first in the 500cc World Championship for Suzuki in 1976 and 1977.
Suzuki launched its first 1-litre motorcycle in 1978, the GS1000E, with Californians Mike Baldwin and Wes Cooley winning the first Suzuki 8 Hours Endurance Road Race on the GS1000 the same year.
In 1976, Suzuki began releasing its GS series motorcycles, the company’s first four-stroke machines in 20 years, with a 400cc and 750cc version. More powerful versions were to follow in the 1980s, with the launch of its GSX-R 750cc and 1100cc sports bikes.
Over the years, both Suzuki’s motorcycle and car manufacturing activities continued to flourish. By 1999, cumulative motorbike production had reached 40 million units. Today, Suzuki Motor is one of Japan’s largest listed companies, best known for its motorbikes, small cars, SUVs and 4WD/all-terrain vehicles.