More Than a Pet Project: 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet

This humble little 49cc Kawasaki Pet is one of the earliest all-Kawasaki motorcycles in the U.S.

| November/December 2017

  • Bruce Gilevich's 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • The 49cc 2-stroke single put out a claimed 4.5 horsepower at 7,000rpm, good for a claimed top speed of 48mph.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • The 49cc 2-stroke single put out a claimed 4.5 horsepower at 7,000rpm, good for a claimed top speed of 48mph.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • The rear suspension uses a swingarm set against a rubber bumper stop.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • Front forks use enclosed springs.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • The single seat flips up to allow access to the fuel tank. The removable kickstart lever was stored here, too.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • The Pet still wears its original Yokohama-brand tires, which are 2.50 x 16 inches in size.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • The Pet still wears its original Yokohama-brand tires, which are 2.50 x 16 inches in size.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli
  • 1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet.
    Photo by Dain Gingerelli

1964 Kawasaki M5 Pet
Claimed power: 4.5hp @ 7,000rpm
Top speed: 48mph
Engine: 49cc air-cooled single-cyclinder 2-stroke, 41mm x 37.8mm bore and stroke, 6.7:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 166lb (75.3kg)
Fuel capacity: 1.5gal (5.7ltr)
Price then/now: $260/$2,000

Nature abhors a vacuum. And so does capitalism, which explains why this little motorcycle, powered by a 49cc 2-stroke engine, formed the vanguard for future Kawasaki motorcycles that would eventually come to America from Japan.

The story begins with the economic vacuum itself, created when an obscure Japanese motorcycle company known as Pointer quietly went out of business. As late as 1962, Pointer motorcycles had been imported into the U.S. by Ned Brainard of Ray Marine Distributing Company, headquartered in Seattle, Washington. But by autumn of 1963, Pointer had pointed its last bike to these, or any other, shores.

About that same time, Oct. 2, 1963, to be precise, another American entrepreneur, Fred Masek, owner of Masek Auto Supply Co., in Gering, Nebraska, had inquired about importing Pointer-brand motorcycles, too. In a reply letter dated Nov. 20, 1963, by Naigai Boeki Kaisha, Ltd., an export house based in Osaka, Japan, Masek was informed that Pointer was no more. The company had gone out of business, he was told.



That was the bad news for Masek. The good news was that, and as pointed out in that November letter from exporter Naigai Boeki Kaisha, there was another line of affordable Japanese motorcycles available for U.S. import. The brand name: Kawasaki.

Naigai Boeki Kaisha’s November correspondence to Masek indicated that with “Pointer’s discontinuation, we would recommend you to handle our ‘KAWASAKI’ and ‘MEGURO’ brands in [the] future.” The seed for what eventually would become Kawasaki Motor Corporation, the U.S. importer and distributor for Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ (sometimes referred to as Kawasaki Aircraft in motorcycle periodicals of the time) line of motorcycles, had been planted.

Jon
12/15/2017 10:40:25 AM

Great story...I believe I have a Kawasaki pet sold by maseks it not complete but very nice and original....







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