The history of Suzuki goes back to 1909 to Hamamatsu in Japan, about 220 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. There, the then 22-year-old carpenter Michio Suzuki founded the company, which at the time had not the slightest thing in mind with vehicles. Instead, Suzuki made looms.
In 1920, the company was converted to Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co. with Michio Suzuki as president with 500,000 yen, and was introduced on the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya stock exchanges in 1949. It was not until the end of 1951 that the young entrepreneur decided to enter the motorcycle business with the development of the "Power Free", a 36 cc bicycle auxiliary motor.
In June 1952, the engine was ready for series production and was sold around 10,000 times by the end of the year. The machines were equipped with a two-speed transmission which allowed pedal operation when idle. Demand was so great that in March 1953 the "Diamond Free" version, drilled to 60 cubic metres, was launched. The combination of bicycle and single-cylinder two-stroke engine was called ME1 and had 2 hp at 4,500 rpm, enough for 45 km/h peak. The rear wheel was driven by a friction roller.
First Suzuki Moped: "Power Free" with 36 cc motörchen (Photo: Factory Archive)
In 1954, the company name was changed to Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. and the development from loom to fire chair was so promising that Suzuki remained faithful to its two-stroke principle for a quarter of a century. )
But in turn: The first full-fledged Suzuki motorcycle was the two-cylinder two-stroke Colleda, the successful Colleda TT model was released in 1956. By the way, "Colleda" means about as much as "that's it" and in short that was it. Because no other machine from Japanese production had so many advanced details at the time: the 7-0 compacted four-stroke with two valves had three hp, centrifugal ignition, three-speed transmission and Kickstarter and reached a top speed of a proud 75 km/h. With the Colleda, Suzuki took part in the second Mount Fuji mountain race - and won. Logical consequence of the success: the production of textile machines was greatly reduced and it was now known as SUZUKI Motor Co. Ltd. The typical Suzuki "s", as it is known today, was introduced as a trademark in 1958.
Early 60s: Teenagers let their hair grow long, wore blue jeans and listened to beat music. The barren post-war years had been overcome and the "German economic miracle" was proudly talked about. Small cars replaced the motorcycles as a cheap means of transport, but the rebellious generation discovered the bike as a toy for fun, sport and adventure. "born to be wild" – one turned one's back to the skewered, bourgeois society and not only the Beatles, but also Suzuki was there.
The motorcycle business in Germany has since declined. Of 39 motorcycle companies in 1951, only eight remained in 1960. In 1962, however, SUZUKI produced 84,224 fifties, 77,300 125s and 4,055 250s - so the triumph of Japanese motorcycles had begun.
In 1963, the company's first foreign subsidiary, the US SUZUKI Motor Corporation, based in Los Angeles, was founded. Suzuki is successful not only with motorcycles, but also with boat engines and automobiles and continues to grow. One reason for the success, of course, is the numerous sporting successes of the last millennium. Suzuki competed in the 125 cm3 class for the first time in 1960. In June 1962, Suzuki won the 50 class at the Tourist Trophy (TT) on the Isle of Man and in August 1982 won the sixth world championship title in the MotoCross World Championship of the 500 class, followed by the seventh consecutive title in the constructors' world championship of the 500 class in Grand Prix racing in September. In 1983, SUZUKI won the world motorcycle championship endurance competition and in August 1984 won the 125 thin motocross championship for the tenth time in a row. In 1985, the GSX-R 750 took first and second place on its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in September 1987 the constructors' rating was won at the World Endurance Championship.
Eight models started the 1972 season: In addition to the Twin T250, the three-cylinder variants GT-380, GT-550 and GT-750 also known as the "Water Buffalo" followed. Today, it is rightly one of the most sought-after classic motorcycles. As special models there were the RV 50 and RV 90, which brought their very own charm as shrinks with thick balloon tires. And then with the Enduros TS 125 and TS 250 there were still the machines for the terrain. All these models impressed with their quality, reliability and durability.
Suzuki offers several successful model series in Germany. The RE5 Wankel, which was built by Suzuki from 1974, does not seem to have anyone here. According to Suzuki, out of 26,000 RE5s produced, no 70 were on the German market. The other model series enjoyed much more prestige here:
GS: The first Suzuki four-stroke series premiered at IFMA in 1976, and the series was in December. The Dohc-Twin - valve actuation via cup bumper - had a gear-driven balancing shaft and six-speed gearbox as well as a drum brake at the rear. At the same time, the other four-stroke GS 750 and GS 550 were introduced. The GS engines shone through their robustness and the clean gearbox, which I can only confirm with my first own bike of a Suzuki GS 400 L. With the GS 850 and GS1100, the 2-valve was even manufactured until 1986 and sold until 1988.
GSX: The GSX 1979 series also relied on the 4-valve engine generation in the touring sector. The first GSX produced 27 hp, from 1982 the GSX was delivered as standard with 17 hp. In 1981, the GSX 250 E Black Hawk was released as a special model limited to 500 pieces, which differed only visually from the standard model. For the 1982 models, the seat height dropped to 760 mm and they received the Katana styling. In 1983, the GSX 250 E was withdrawn from the market.
Katana: From 1980 to 1984, Suzuki produced the Katana. The new edition of the Katana 1100 in 1990 was unfortunately only available in Japan. Of all the Katana machines, the EM variant was still closest to the base, with the engine, like the later T-model, using direct pressure carburetors and transistor ignition. The rest came more or less unchanged from the 550 E. The 650 Katana, shown shortly afterwards, also brought hardly any innovations. Essentially, it was the chain to the rear wheel that separated the two. As with the other Katana models, pricing prevented major sales successes. And so the last 550 Katanas could only be sold in 1983 with discounts.
GSX-R: The GSX-R models were the first supersport motorcycles for the road with their full trim, a completely redesigned aluminium chassis and a revolving engine with a low unladen weight.
DR: The DR series represents the Enduros in Suzuki. The DR BIG was the world's largest single-cylinder motorcycle. The DR 500 - I remember darkly - had a hard time against YAMAHA's popular classic XT 500.
VS-Intruder: The Intruder models were introduced in 1985 and celebrated their "Easy Rider" premiere in 1986. They were considered the first real chopper "Made in Japan". The VX 800 is a touring offshoot of the Intruder.
So: For the long fork fetishists, the Intruder series is an acceptable Harley replacement. If you want to travel more comfortably, the GSX touring athlete makes use of it. And those who can't go fast enough can fly at 175 hp and almost 300 km/h on a Hayabusa over the highway.
In May 2017, Suzuki's market share in Germany is just under 5 percent. This puts you well behind major competitors such as BMW, Honda, Kawasaki or Yamaha. There are around 300 Suzuki dealers in Germany who are starting the 2017 season with a refreshed range of models.
Due to Euro-4, however, the GSX-R 600 and 750, VanVan 200, Inazuma 250, Bandit 650 and 1250, GSX 650 F and 1250 F, Hayabusa 1300 and Cruiser Intruder 800 and M 1800 R are the ones from the range for the time being. But if you still want to buy one of these models, you can ask the dealer about the transitional arrangement and try to negotiate a good price.
The V-Strom 650 and 1000 models are spared the Euro 4 death thanks to an update and the GSX-S 750 succeeds the underrated GSR 750. New to us are the GSX 250 R and V-Strom 250 quarter-liter models. Both are technically based on the Inazuma. And in Hamamatsu you will fight for the crown of the 1liter superathletes. With a whopping 202 hp, three driving modes, towing lever motor with variable inlet valve control, race ABS and eight-stage traction control, the GSX-R 1000 and GSX-R 1000 R models are sent into the race.