The Rikuo Motorcycle

The Japanese Harley? Yes! The Rikuo Motorcycle was designed after Harley-Davidson motorcycles with Harley's blessing.

| January/February 2007

  • Rikuo Motorcycle - Troyce Walls riding bike
    Troyce Walls making waves with his Rikuo motorcycle, which were based on the design of 1930s-era Harley-Davidsons.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - closeup of side valve V-twin engine
    The Rikuo’s 747cc side-valve V-twin is a dead ringer for the flathead engine Harley-Davidson launched in 1929, first as a 738cc and followed shortly by a 1,213cc version.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - view of speedometer
    The Rikuo speedometer and fuel gauge.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - bike parked on grass
    Troyce Walls’ Rikuo may be bruised and battered, but it runs just fine.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - fringed saddle
    Lovely details abound on the Rikuo, such as the fringe and the chrome guard on the original solo saddle.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - Walls sitting on bike
    Most people don’t realize the Rikuo isn't a Harley until they see the script on the tank.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - floorboard stamped with Rikuo logo
    Even the floor boards got the Rikuo logo.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - handgrip stamped with Rikuo logo
    The company stamped the Rikuo logo into just about every molded piece on the bike, including the hand grips.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - gear shifter and gas tank
    The Rikuo’s hand shifter was a bit of an anachronism in 1957 when this bike was built. A foot shift came the next year, in 1958, but production ended a short time later.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - parked on concrete, rear view
    Idiosyncratic as it may have been, the Rikuo was also a military and law enforcement workhorse.
    Photo by Neale Bayly

  • Rikuo Motorcycle - Troyce Walls riding bike
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - closeup of side valve V-twin engine
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - view of speedometer
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - bike parked on grass
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - fringed saddle
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - Walls sitting on bike
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - floorboard stamped with Rikuo logo
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - handgrip stamped with Rikuo logo
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - gear shifter and gas tank
  • Rikuo Motorcycle - parked on concrete, rear view

Rikuo V-twin
Years produced:
 1953-1957
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 22hp @ 4,250rpm
Top speed: 70mph
Engine type: 747cc side-valve, air-cooled V-twin
Weight: 230kg (506lb)
Price then: N/A
Price now: $12,000-$15,000
MPG: 35-40 (est.)

“Nothing tickles me more than annoying Harley-Davidson riders who bought a new bike six months ago and don’t know how to change their own oil,” Troyce Walls says, owner of a Japanese Harley-Davidson — the Rikuo motorcycle. But then, Troyce always has liked making waves.

You may remember Troyce from our May/June 2006 issue, where we highlighted his gorgeous 1973 Kawasaki Z1 — along with his habit of annoying classic British motorcycle enthusiasts by comparing the handling of his Z1 to that of a Norton Commando. Like we said, Troyce likes making waves.

Troyce’s favorite way to confuse the Bar and Shield crowd is his Rikuo. “The Rikuo is fun at shows,” says Troyce, grinning as he speaks. “People don’t realize that it’s ‘Made In Japan.’ They think it’s a Harley VL flathead until they see the nameplate.” 



The Rikuo looks like a Harley because it is based on Harley’s design for a side-valve V-twin, because Harley-Davidson taught the Japanese how to set up the Rikuo motorcycle factory and because Harley-Davidson sold the parent company the blueprints for its side valve V-twin. Yes, believe it or not, this all really happened.

Back in the Day …

The story of the Rikuo begins about four centuries ago. European traders had discovered Japan, which was split into fiefdoms engaged in a prolonged civil war. The victor, Tokugawa Ieyasu, clamped down on contact with the outside world. He believed that the Europeans were supporting one or another faction in attempts to gain control over the country.



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