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A bit of Suzuki History

One of Japan’s Big Four motorcycle makers, Suzuki began in 1909 as a weaving machine factory in Hamamatsu. Seeking to diversify, founder Michio Suzuki began producing cars in 1937 and added motorcycles 15 years later.

The motorcycle factory established itself as a sport-oriented groundbreaker, from the 1962 T20 Hustler, “the fastest 250 cc bike in the world” with a then-rare six-speed transmission, to the stunning three-cylinder, two-stroke power bike GT760 in 1971 and then the Katana family, with the 1100 flagship in the early 1980s. But few motorcycles changed the industry as much as did Suzuki’s GXR-R750 in 1985, followed by the 1100cc big model. The world’s first superbike, built for the racetrack out of production, spawned of a whole new class of high-end, super light and super fast motorcycles.

Suzuki was the first Japanese maker to branch into the chopper/cruiser division, appealing to the Harley Davidson-dominated U.S. market with the v-twin Intruder 750, also in 1985.

In 1996, Suzuki went after the Italian Ducati with its own 90-degree V-twin, the TL1000. While the model did not last long, the modified engine eventually went to the much more successful dual-sport model, the DL1000 V-Strom, from 2002. The downsized 650 cc V-2 engine powers the budget street model SV650 since 1999 and the small V-Strom, the wee, since 1999 and 2004, respectively.

The factory also produced off-road bikes, notably with the DR-BIG, a 779 cc single-cylinder – to date the largest production single in the world – as one of the early adventure/touring bikes which became the dominant segment on the big motorcycles market around a decade later.