Pedal power to horse­power

Suzuki Plaza mu­seum in Ha­ma­matsu is a rel­a­tively re­cent cre­ation, opened in 2009, to com­mem­o­rate the com­pany’s 100th an­niver­sary, but it is burst­ing with ex­am­ples of the com­pany’s il­lus­tri­ous his­tory.

Old Bike Australasia - - SUZUKI PLAZA MUSEUM - Story and photos Jim Scaysbrook

Born in the cot­ton mak­ing vil­lage of Ho­gawa­mura in 1887, Mi­chio Suzuki was ini­tially ap­pren­ticed as a carpenter, but his trade all but dis­ap­peared dur­ing the Russo-Ja­panese war that broke out in 1904. He de­cided to branch out on his own, de­sign­ing and build­ing foot-trea­dle looms, and opened a small busi­ness in 1908. He pre­sented his first loom to his mother, and soon in­vented a patent for a shut­tle box at­tach­ment that al­lowed checked pat­terns to be wo­ven. The mu­seum con­tains nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of Suzuki’s looms, but prior to WW2 he be­came in­creas­ingly ab­sorbed with au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy in both the car and mo­tor­cy­cle fields. In the Plaza is a fas­ci­nat­ing cross sec­tion of both fields of trans­port, as well as ex­am­ples of Suzuki’s suc­cess on the race tracks of the world. Sur­pris­ingly, given Suzuki’s re­mark­able record on the world mo­tocross scene, there is only a hand­ful of their iconic MX mod­els on dis­play.

With three floors of ex­hibits, a the­atrette and sev­eral in­ter-ac­tive dis­plays, vis­i­tors can eas­ily spend the best part of a day here. It is sit­u­ated near Takat­suka rail­way sta­tion which is only a few min­utes from Ha­ma­matsu sta­tion. Ad­mis­sion is free. View­ing is by ap­point­ment only and un­for­tu­nately the of­fi­cial web site is in Ja­panese only, but book­ings can be made at www.in­hama­matsu.com/art/suzuki-plaza.php

The founder, Mi­chio Suzuki, born in Ha­ma­matsu in 1887; a gifted man with more than 100 patents and prac­ti­cal in­ven­tions to his credit. The Power Free E2 from 1952: a 36cc clip-on bi­cy­cle en­gine that formed the ba­sis for the com­pany’s two-wheeled...

TOP The ear­li­est of Suzuki’s looms in the mu­seum, ca­pa­ble of weav­ing striped fab­ric. ABOVE Based on the GS650, the XN85 was the first mass-pro­duc­tion Suzuki fit­ted with a tur­bocharger. It de­vel­oped 85ps at 7,500 rpm. FROM TOP RIGHT To in­crease...

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