Suzuki is internationally recognized as a manufacturer of quality motorcycles, having supplied the world with some of the best bikes for the last 70 years. So, it’s worth taking a closer look at the brand to get a better understanding of Suzuki’s rich history in the motorcycle industry.
Suzuki was founded in 1909, but the brand started making motorcycles in 1952. Suzuki was originally started to manufacture silk looms and went on to make a name for itself by manufacturing motorcycles. Suzuki has long been successful in the industry, and the brand has seen success in motorsport too.
Although the Suzuki Loom Works started at the beginning of the 20th century, it was only in 1952 that they manufactured their first motorcycle, and then changed their name in 1953 to the Suzuki Motor Corporation. We dive deeper into the long history of the brand below.
History Of The Suzuki Brand
Michio Suzuki started the Suzuki Loom Works in 1909 in the city of Hamamatsu, Japan, then a small seaside village, which is still the headquarters of the Suzuki Motor Corporation to this day. The company spent its first 30 years producing his own weaving machines, although he wanted to diversify his business by making small automobiles.
When the war started, the Japanese government took over the factory and used it to manufacture military equipment. By the end of the war, the Japanese economy was in tatters and the weaving business was almost dead, which pushed Suzuki into making a motorized bicycle using a 36cc engine. This was the start of the Suzuki motorcycle era as the company would go on to become one of the market leaders.
The First Steps Of The Suzuki Motor Corporation
The very first bike made by Suzuki came in 1952, when they fitted a small 36cc engine to a bicycle and named it the Power Free. It could be ridden as a bicycle by pedaling, or the engine could power the bike partially or completely. Designed as a low-budget vehicle, its success encouraged Suzuki to make their next bike.
Their next motorized bicycle was called the Diamond Free. It was made in 1953 and used a 60cc engine. In 1954 the company changed its name to the Suzuki Motor Co. After changing its name, the company launched its 90cc bike named the Colleda that became famous because of its smooth engine, helped by a large flywheel.
The Japanese government changed the rules surrounding driving licenses for bikes up to 90cc, which helped the Colleda to gain wider acceptance and also made clear the reason behind using a smaller engine. This was also the first Japanese motorcycle that had a speedometer. The luggage carrier was an added plus to be used for carrying goods.
What To Expect From Suzuki Bikes
Suzuki motorcycles are being manufactured all around the world, and they enjoy the reputation of being reliable, durable bikes with numerous models readily available. From their 150cc bikes which are used as delivery vehicles, to the 1000cc luxury tourers that are priced above what most people can afford, there are bikes to suit every lifestyle and budget with the Suzuki stamp of quality.
The Suzuki Philosophy
Suzuki has the goal of providing its customers with products that are true value for money. This philosophy has served them well throughout the decades, with the proof being that their products are in demand across the globe, and that has propelled them to great success with an accompanying reputation for quality.
Of course, Suzuki also makes their fair share of 4-wheeled vehicles, but this article is about the history of Suzuki motorcycles!
The Most Popular Suzuki Motorcycle
The most popular Suzuki motorcycle is the Suzuki Hayabusa, which was introduced in 1999. The bike had a massive 1,298cc engine fitted on a sports bike chassis and became the world’s fastest production motorcycle, by clocking a top speed of 193 mph (310 kph).
The second-generation Hayabusa that was manufactured from 2007 onwards increased the engine size to 1,340cc. Weighing in at 587 lbs (266 kg), this bike is only for riders who can handle the weight and the 187 HP that the engine delivers.
ABS, traction control, active speed limiter, engine brake control, anti-lift control, cruise control, slope control, and low rpm assist are all at the rider’s fingertips to aid in controlling this mammoth from the TFT screen fitted at the instrument cluster. Unlike other superbikes that are not limited, the Hayabusa’s speed is electronically limited to 136 mph (299 kph).
The 4 Most Popular Suzuki Motorcycles
1. Suzuki GSX-S1100S Katana
Marketed as a street bike and launched in 1981, the Suzuki GSX-S1100S Katana is another popular bike that earned a reputation for itself. This 1100cc bike claimed to be the fastest production bike in the world at that time, with top speed figures of 147 mph (237 kph). A number of variants of this bike have been made, along with changes in its engine capacity.
Also made in 1981, the GSX1000SZ was the first variant marketed to appeal to racing enthusiasts. Its 998cc engine conformed to Superbike rules, despite being a production motorcycle, and came with a Mikuni carburetor and optional wire wheels.
The GSX1100SXZ was made as a variant of the GSX1100SZ, and as a reply to the Honda CB 1100R, which was its main competition.
2. Suzuki Katana 1000
The Suzuki Katana 1000 was launched in 2019, selling for around $14,000. It weighs in at 474 lb (215 kg). The Katana uses the GSX S1000 chassis that has proven performance and stability. Its liquid-cooled, 999cc, inline-four engine can output 147 HP.
The bike uses all the latest technology, including the Suzuki Advanced Traction Control System that operates in four modes, and its sensitivity can be adjusted by the rider to match road conditions. An LCD multifunction instrument panel has all-digital instruments with an adjustable backlight to give the rider every possible bit of information they need while riding.
3. Suzuki TL 1000S
The TL 1000S was introduced in 1997, and received a few accolades from Cycle World, with Motorcycle Online calling it the “Best Superbike of 1997.” It had a V-twin engine for the first time on a sports bike that was liquid-cooled. The bike was years ahead of its time, managing 125 HP and it looked incredible too.
Its aluminum frame, front and rear disc brakes, and windshield would have grabbed a lot of attention from the weekend racers, although its single seat disappointed a number of would-be buyers. The TL 1000S was succeeded by the TL 1000R, which was superior in many ways.
Despite the lure of the V-twin engine, the first versions were known to be unreliable, with gearbox problems, oil leaks, and bad clutch pushrods that affected Suzuki’s good name. One of the biggest grouses with the TL 1000S was its high fuel consumption. These problems were eventually sorted out in later versions of the TL 1000S, but not without leaving a dent in Suzuki’s reputation.
4. Suzuki GSX-R750
The Suzuki GSX-R750 was introduced in 1984 as a sports bike with a 749cc air-cooled, 4-stroke engine. With the passage of time, the air-cooled engine became a liquid-cooled engine, alongside some other modifications. As with other Suzuki bikes, variants of this basic design were launched in years to come that improved upon the original.
The bike sells for about $13,000 in a number of colors, with every feature that the rider could ask for. An optional single seat cowl can be fitted by removing the passenger seat, and its LCD panel has all-digital readouts except for the analog tachometer. Overall, it’s a truly brilliant motorcycle.
Suzuki Motorcycles In Motorsport
Suzuki has a long history in motorsport that started by winning the Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing World Championship five years in a row. In 1962, Suzuki won the 50cc class in the World Championship and continued winning the same class for 5 years until 1967. During the same period, they won the 125cc class twice as well.
Barry Sheene rode a Suzuki bike to win the premier 500cc class in 1976 and in 1977, establishing Suzuki as a force to be reckoned with in future road racing events. In 1979 and 1980, Wes Cooley won the AMA Superbike Championship on a Suzuki GS 1000. 1981 and 1982 turned out to be equally frutiful, as Suzuki won the World Championship in the 500cc class.
Suzuki continued competing in MotoGP under various guises, but the brand withdrew from the sport at the end of the 2022 season.
Suzuki Motorcycles Around The World
Suzuki has opened subsidiary companies around the world to manufacture motorcycles and other automotive equipment. It currently manufactures and distributes its products in more than 170 countries. Motorcycles are only a small part of Suzuki’s products as they also manufacture small and large automobiles, marine recreational products, and more.
Suzuki sells around 1.5 to 2 million motorcycles worldwide every year
Suzuki In America
American Suzuki Motor Corporation is a subsidiary of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation that manufactures motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATV), and marine outboard motors to be sold in the United States. They are best known for their racing and motocross bikes. Over the years, its presence has grown, and they currently boast of a vast network of 1,400 private dealers across the country.
Suzuki In Canada
Suzuki Canada started on the 1st of June, 1973 by opening its office in Ontario. This was followed by their automotive sales, which started in 1980, of their 4-wheel drive LJ80. They started selling ATVs and marine outboard motors in the early 1980s.
Suzuki In India
Of all the subsidiaries owned by Suzuki, the largest and most valuable is the Maruti Suzuki India Limited, which makes economical cars to be sold locally. Started in 1981, the company is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, and initially had the Government of India as the majority partner. In 2006, they produced over 626,000 cars that were sold locally.
Suzuki In Pakistan
In August 1983, the Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited was founded. It has been under Japanese management since 1992. The plant makes around 50,000 vehicles every year.
Suzuki is one of the most popular motorcycle brands, known for their quality bikes. The main competition that they face is from the other Japanese motorcycle giants Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki. Suzuki have provided durable bikes to their fans all over the world for the last 70 years.