REPORT FORM JAPAN
W. B. SWIM
Riders making waves in East Japan Moto-Cross.
JAPANESE MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURERS turned in a roaring first half year with exports of 303,896 machines bringing in $52,315,424 FOB. Only 396,957 motorcycles were exported during the full 12 months last year. Americans paid $26,558,263 for 128,673 Japanese motorcycles during the January to July period, according to official statistics just released. This six months' exports nearly doubled the same period last year, when 178,198 machines were shipped abroad. U.S. enthusiasts also imported 229 Japanese scooters during the period for $44,560. The eight makers still in business topped the one million mark during the first half of this year by producing 1,041,141 motorcycles, as compared to 844,002 during the first six months of 1963.
Makers showing gains over the same period last year were the big one, Honda, which just keeps on growing, Suzuki, Yamaha and Lilac, which was not producing during the first half of 1963. Companies whose production has fallen off are Bridgestone, Tohatsu, Kawasaki and Meguro. In the scooter field. Rabbit gained a bit, from 19,185 to 19,648, and Silver Pigeon dropped from 11,155 to 8,635. Honda was out in front by itself with production of 71 1,378 during these six months (546,189 in the first half of 1963), followed by Suzuki 180.439 (109,128), Yamaha 98,844 (75,364), Bridgestone 30,728 (45,765), Kawasaki 16.413 ( 19,333), Tohatsu 2,459 (21,494), Meguro 681 (3,892) and Lilac 198 (0). Makers who have since gone out of the business produced 22,857 motorcycles and 3,295 scooters during this six month period last year.
Manufacturers have gotten together and agreed not to show models they will not put on sale at the 11th annual Tokyo Motor Show being held Sept. 26 to Oct. 9. In the past some models have been displayed which were never marketed. All eight motorcycle makers plus 11 Japanese automobile manufacturers, 3 foreign car makers and some 240 parts makers are participating in the show, which expects around 1,200.000 visitors during the two week run.
Yamaha rushed a team of mechanics to Niigata City shortly after it was devastated by a severe earthquake in July. The service specialists offered to put all motorcycles in the city, regardless of the brand, back in running order free of charge. Many machines were damaged by water when the city was flooded after the earthquake demolished river levees.
A 500cc Honda??
Reports, which cannot be confirmed as of this writing, are out in Japan that Honda is developing a 500cc racer to compete for the world road racing title next year. This is to be followed by 500cc street machines in the not too distant future, the rumor says. It's not too early for European makers to start worrying.
This correspondent would like to thank Yamaha's Mr. Jingu for the information in a letter printed in the August edition that he expects a slight increase in price for Yamaha motorcycles with the "Autolube" automatic gasoline and oil mixing device in thè United States. What had been written in my June column, to which he referred, was that "the surprising thing about the 'Autolube' YG1-D model of the popular 75cc YG1 is that it was put on sale without any increase in price." This is correct, and it is equipped exactly the same as the -old model, the only change being the addition of the "Autolube" unit. The column, of course, refers to the retail price in Japan.
Honda has made some data available on the new pipe frame Honda 90 Sport, which has been put on sale in Japan. The model CS-90 has a top speed of 63 mph and weighs 196.5 pounds dry. Top output is 8 hp @ 9,500 rpm while torque is 4.7 ft-lb @ 8,000 rpm. A bore and stroke of 1.97 x 1.77 inches gives this sleek new model a piston displacement of 89.6cc. The company hasn't released pictures for publication in the United States yet.
Everyone who was anyone in the motorcycle world in Japan was at the gala twoday opening of Suzuki's new ferro-concrete head office building at the company's factory in Hamamatsu recently. It's a most handsome edifice quite suitable to the rapidly growing concern, which is the second largest motorcycle maker in Japan and the largest maker of 2-stroke machines in the world.
Tohatsu has produced the first real scrambler ever in Japan, and the 125cc machine turned around and won its class and the open class as well in the second moto-cross race in which it was entered. All other Japanese scrambles machines are motorcycles originally designed for the street, and then worked over to make them into beasts that take to the rough stuff. Tohatsu designers started working on the LAX-125 last year and have turned out a fine looking machine which has power and torque where they are needed and is easy for an expert to handle as well. Top moto-cross rider Kazuyuki Miyoshi told CYCLE WORLD at the .first event he rode the new twin that it was ready to go except for a bit more fiddling with gears and carb settings. His next time out, at the East Japan Moto-Cross, proved that he knew what he was talking about. The pipe frame scrambler has large VM-type dual carburetors and in overall appearance resembles Tohatsu's TX-250. Large ground clearance, long stroke suspension front and rear and a single top tube frame with two down tubes are outstanding features. The power of the 2-stroke engine has not been announced, but 15 horsepower at 8.000 rpm is claimed for the LA-5 engine it is based on, and the scrambler sounded like it was turning nearly 10.000 at peak. Upswept expansion chambers end in short exhaust pipes which curl to the sides to blow exhaust (and the cracking noise) sideways instead of back. The 209 pound machine has a wheelbase of 48.6 inches and trial of 2.96 inches, with a 62° caster. Seat height is 28.6 inches, overall height is 39.4 inches, width 33 inches and overall length 73.2 inches. Ground clearance is a huge 8.3 inches and the footpegs are mounted high. The scrambler mounts a 3.00-18 tire in rear and 2.75-18 at front.
The only major competition event recently was the East Japan Moto-Cross, where Tohatsu's new 125cc scrambler won its class and the open event with Suzuki capturing the 250cc and 90cc and Honda nabbing the 50cc race. Except for Tohatsu's Kazuyuki Miyoshi winning two, there weren't any other riders who managed to do too well in more than one class. Suzuki's Takeo Enomoto won the 90cc and took 3rd in the 125cc race and Masataka Nakazawa, also Suzuki mounted, won in the 250cc and managed a 5th in the Open class. Honda's Masahiro Hasemi, who took the 50cc event, didn't manage to place in the money in anything else. For a rundown on trophy winners: Open, Tohatsu, 3 Hondas, Suzuki; 250cc, 2 Suzukis and 3 Hondas; 125cc. Tohatsu, 2 Suzukis, 2 Kawasakis; 90cc, Suzuki, Yamaha, Tohtasu, Suzuki. Yamaha; and 50cc, Honda, Suzuki, 2Tohatsus and another Honda. There were about 4,000 spectators out to watch the 324 entries do their stuff.
Jittoku Pass in the Hakone mountain race was the site of an "old man's" 48hour Trial July 25 for officials of the Motorcycle Club Federation of All Japan, plus a couple of invited participants. Three classes were run in the rugged trial, which actually didn't take all of those 48 hours. Yasuo Makabe won the over-50years-old class with a loss of 60 points and runner-up was Hirotake Arai with 72. In the over-40 age group, Minoru Kikuta was first with a loss of 19 points, Masanori Ito took 2nd with 43 points and Motorcyclist magazine president Fumito Sakai tied with Tamio Yamagata with 70 points for 3rd. In the largest class, the over 30, Seishiro Takeuchi won with 38 points, 2nd was your CYCLE WORLD correspondent, also with 38 points, and Taiichi Tamura was 3rd with 49. Booby prize went to a participant, who shall remain unnamed, with a perfect score — the wrong way — of 90 points lost. Overall high point man was MCFAJ secretary general Shuichi Nishiyama, who was not entered in any class as he was officiating the meet, with a loss of 12 points. •