What's your bike’s name?
Like many of you from my demographic I grew up on Tojo Films masterpiece, Godzilla. That was T-Rex gone wild before there was Jurassic Park. From that iconic roar to kicking the shit out of model cities it was just the bees knees to mid 1970’s American boys. At least that's when I became aware of it.
The original film, with a slightly different name, was released in 1954 to Japanese audiences as a tale of caution against the horrors of nuclear war and technology as personified by a gigantor radioactive sea dragon.
According to rumors the title of the original movie came from the nickname of a rather stocky built stage hand on the set. However in 1956 as the movie migrated theaters to the states the poignant ending, along with the name of the title character, was edited to suit happy Americans who were emerging into the ATOMIC AGE! Thus was born the American version, Godzilla.
My apologies here…I’m a bit of a history dork. But when I name something it has meaning.
In 1909 Michio Suzuki founded a loom company in Japan. Yeah you read that right…a loom company.
Wtf does that have to do with motorcycles you ask? I’m getting there. Patience Luke.
Japan had a thriving industry in silk. It was the right biz at the right time. As a fellow entrepreneur I get it! Respect for seeing an opportunity! It's the American way! But that wasn't the last time Michio saw an opportunity.
In 1937 he goofed around with automobile concepts to diversify his business. Sadly as the country entered into WWII ideas such as the car for the common man were deemed non essential for the war effort. However in 1951, after the war, being the guy with an eye for opportunity, he comes up with a brilliant idea. Clip-on motors for bicycles!
The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to 2006.
Gotta give props where it's due. Harley Davidson came out with the V Rod in 2001, thus starting a whole new sub genre of motorcycle, the muscle bike. Not your granpappy’s panhead and not a moto go road rocket but something a bit of both.
So Japan went to work and did what they have done so well for a long time. Took a good idea and made it better. They already had a winning race bike department as demonstrated by Mat Mladin in the AMA super bikes with 8 titles. So they did something Japan is NOT known for. They got creative. They had their cruiser department go into cahoots with their race bike department and design a bike together. And from this unholy union that lived across the railroad tracks from each other was birthed the 1783 cc, DOHC, high torque high revving 5 speed with massive double front discs, inverted race style front forks, long sexy slash cut pipes and at the time the widest factory rear tire on the market. The Suzuki M109R. I was in love….
Over the years I have been asked by many an admiring girl (admiring my bike, not me) what her name was. I know it's common for men to name their machines after women. But for me my bike has been more of a man's best friend. Strong, dependable, ready to play at a moments notice. So I never thought of it as a girl. But as a big dog. As it's a brilliant cobalt blue that lights up burple in the sunshine I secretly called it Blue Dragon. But even that sounded tacky. One day however it hit me. Big Japanese beast from across the sea born of race technology….
Oh and the nickname of that stage hand in the original 1954 film?
That's my bike. What's yours?