The videos below will be a treat for vintage motorcycle enthusiasts. Kawasaki is one of the “big-four” Japanese motorcycle manufactures and these videos show us what they were up to in the 1970s. Included are some light-hearted 1970s commercials, 1980 motocross footage and a look at Kawasaki’s design and manufacturing processes from 1972.
Kawasaki Motorcycle History
The Kawasaki motorcycle company is a division of Kawasaki Heavy Industries which is a massive global industrial concern that was founded in 1896. They are involved in enterprises such aircraft/aerospace, trains, power generation, robotics and shipbuilding (just to name a few). Kawasaki became serious about the motorcycle sector when they bought out the Meguro Manufacturing Company in 1964. Meguro was one the first Japanese motorcycle makers and for a time, their sales were second only to Honda. But Meguro hit rough times in the early 1960s and Kawasaki stepped in. With their manufacturing prowess and worldwide corporate leverage, Kawasaki motorcycles quickly became the global player that they are today.
The first video is a montage of Kawasaki TV commercials from the 1970s. The motorcycle market saw a massive expansion in the early 1970s. The Japanese manufacturers really caught their stride during this period and the North American market embraced their inexpensive, reliable bikes. It was a magical time for motorcycle enthusiasts and these commercials really capture the spirit of the times.
This video showcases the KX motocross bikes and the KDX enduro bikes from around 1980. This was actually a watershed moment in motocross history as Kawasaki’s Uni-Trak “rising rate”, single-shock rear suspension debuted at this time. This sparked a design frenzy in the early 1980s as manufacturers released a barrage of wild new rear suspension concepts. Despite this pioneering effort, Kawasaki’s KX series was not very good during this era and was mostly panned by the motorcycle press. Thanks to Koups’ Cycle Shop for putting this up on YouTube.
This video from 1972 takes us on a tour of Kawasaki’s motorcycle design and manufacturing processes at the time. When one considers that Japan was just 27 years beyond complete decimation from World War II, it is truly remarkable how they successfully put all of their recovery efforts into manufacturing and engineering innovation.