The Rikuo Motorcycle
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The 1957 Rikuos still have the left-hand shift. The rocker clutch engages if, like the one on Troyce’s bike, it is properly adjusted. “I can put both feet down at stops,” Troyce says. The big saddle is mounted on a sprung seat tube, which takes some of the bumps out of the road. The “Ful-Floteing” seat was a major Harley advertising point in the early days.
The Rikuo pulls well from a stop, and is capable of 45-50mph. “It’s hard to tell how well it handles, but it seems to track well, even with the old tires. The drum brakes are adequate for the size and speed of the bike,” Troyce says.
“My interest is piqued by this machine. I enjoy the old lawnmower engine. I like simplicity, even if it is a little crude. I’m fascinated by things Asian. And it is SO much fun at shows.” MC
Special thanks to Martin Jack Rosenblum, Harley-Davidson historian, for sharing his research. The blueprint payment terms are stated in Jerry Hatfield’s INSIDE HARLEY-DAVIDSON, (1990) Motorbooks, page 114.
Six things you didn't know about the early Japanese motorcycle industry
6. The first motorcycle sold in Japan was an American Mitchell: Two were imported in 1903.
5. N. Shimazu built the first motorcycle ever in Japan in 1909. In 1925, he started production of the Arrowfast, a single-cylinder, side-valve machine. The 250cc version was the first mass produced Japanese motorcycle.
4. Indian exported motorcycles to Japan before World War I, and Prince Hirohito (later Emperor) may have ridden an Indian.
3. Harley-Davidson was one of the most popular motorcycles in Japan in the 1920s, when there were about 400 Harley-Davidson dealer and service outlets throughout the Japanese islands.
2. Frederick Barr, Harley-Davidson assistant factory manager, spent two years in Japan getting the Rikuo factory in Shinagawa on line.
1. In 1935, S. Nagai, the head of the Rikuo factory, made a speech hailing Barr as “the father of the motorcycle industry in Japan.”
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