Kawasaki KLR Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,557 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Press Release:
Coming to America

Surprisingly, the birthplace of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. was not the Golden State but old-town Chicago.



IRVINE, Calif. (Mar. 1, 2016) -- Exactly 50 years ago today, on March 1, 1966, American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp. (AKMC) opened for business in Chicago, with a modest sales office at 208 South La Salle Street and a two-story parts warehouse at 2860 North Lincoln Avenue. Formerly the site of a meat-packing plant, the warehouse needed serious renovation, but the price was right for a company trying to gain a toehold in a vast new country. Welcomed by Tony Watanabe with Ted Tazaki, who led the charge to establish the Chicago office, just 50 people attended the grand opening, held at the nearby Continental Hotel. But it was the right crowd, including the banks, trading companies and distributors that would support the company’s early efforts in America.

Like other Japanese manufacturers in the early 1960s, the parent of AKMC, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI), viewed America as a highly attractive place to grow its brand. The industrial giant had already joined the motorcycle industry in 1961 by adding a factory to build engines for Meguro in Japan, and now was ready to grow further as a complete bike manufacturer. Although KHI was already well established in heavy industry, tapping the promising United States motorcycle market would prove anything but easy. Japanese competitors were already operating here, and KHI reasoned they would be hard to beat. But despite some early setbacks, a small group of eager young executives and managers were committed to improve on the AKMC’s initial two-percent market share.

AKMC had previously engaged several regional distributors to cover virtually the entire country, and thus selected Chicago as a central location that would be convenient to all. One address was devoted to paperwork and another to parts, while machines were to be shipped to distributors directly from U.S. seaports. Increased interest in motorcycling on the West Coast caused AKMC to move its headquarters to Gardena, California on November 1, 1966. Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) was formed through a merger with AKMC in 1968, leaving the short-lived Chicago offices as the historic starting point for Kawasaki in America.

Today KMC has nearly 1,100 dealers in all 50 states and offers a wide range of products in five categories, including streetbikes, off-road motorcycles, ATVs, MULE™ utility vehicles, and JET SKI® personal watercraft. Many of the 4-wheel product and personal watercraft are assembled at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A. in Lincoln, Nebraska.

ABOUT KAWASAKI

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) markets and distributes Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs, side x sides, and Jet Ski® watercraft through a network of approximately 1,100 independent retailers, with close to an additional 7,700 retailers specializing in general purpose engines. KMC and its affiliates employ nearly 3,100 people in the United States, with approximately 300 of them located at KMC's Irvine, California headquarters.

Kawasaki’s tagline, “Let the good times roll.®”, is recognized worldwide. The Kawasaki brand is synonymous with powerful, stylish and category-leading vehicles. Information about Kawasaki’s complete line of powersports products and Kawasaki affiliates can be found on the Internet at www.kawasaki.com.
"The Kawasaki brand is synonymous with powerful, stylish and category-leading vehicles." We KLR650 riders all know how very true this statement remains! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
541 Posts
In 1966, I was rolling around upstate NY with my dad on the back of his Electra Glide. :smile2:

In addition to my KLR, I also have a 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT, which has been one of the finest sport touring motorcycles I've ever owned. I've historically been a Yamaha guy, but a do like my Kawasakies.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,557 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
In 1966, I was rolling around upstate NY with my dad on the back of his Electra Glide. :smile2:

In addition to my KLR, I also have a 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT, which has been one of the finest sport touring motorcycles I've ever owned. I've historically been a Yamaha guy, but a do like my Kawasakies.
Then, you may enjoy viewing KMC's animated 50th Anniversary logo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufTmTsUkDmw&feature=youtu.b

(Unless you exit, you'll have an opportunity to watch a bunch of competition-themed Kawasaki video clips. We like 'em, because KLR650s are so dominant in competition circles! :) )
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,478 Posts
"Jap Bikes." Gotta love 'em. What would we be riding today if it weren't for them?

Harleys, I guess.... Maybe some offspring of the XR750 that Evel Knievel jumped on with four leading shoe drum brakes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
51 Posts
I didn't realize50 years, that's cool. Love the KLR, eyeballing a Versy and love the old H1 and H2
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
541 Posts
"Jap Bikes." Gotta love 'em. What would we be riding today if it weren't for them?

Harleys, I guess.... Maybe some offspring of the XR750 that Evel Knievel jumped on with four leading shoe drum brakes.
Ah, but they did develop and release a heritage offspring of the famous XR750 flattracker (and EK jumper). It was the XR1200 that was first introduced in Europe in 2008 and then in the U.S. in 2009. The first year in the U.S. it was offered only on a preorder, which means you order it sight unseen with a non-refundable deposit. A huge fan of the XR750 (and E/K, saw him jump once) I jumped* on it and this is a picture of my 2009 XR1200. Not a bad design imo.



XR750 1969-1980


* no pun intended :smile2:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,659 Posts
I'm over 3 years late finding or responding to this thread, but.

Fred Masek of Masek Distributing Inc from Gering, NE and his sub-division, Masek Sports of Mills, WY were the FIRST importers of Kawasaki motorcycles into the USA.
The first Kawasaki warehouse for bikes & parts was at Mills, WY.
The first franchised Kawasaki dealership for Kawasaki motorcycles in the USA signed their franchise contract on 1 June 1964.
The proud owners of Lander Marine in Lander Wyoming, Victor M. & Marvel B. Pautz were the 1st Kawasaki motorcycle Dealers in the USA, along with their foster son Dale J. Rosecrans.

Fred Masek & many Rocky Mountain and Plains states dealerships preceded AKMC by nearly 2 years in the USA.
Masek Distributing later changed the name of their Kawasaki Distribution division to "Rocky Mountain Kawasaki" based in Gering NE until 1992, when they were finally absorbed into the Kawasaki Motor Corp. USA distribution system.

Just a little more past history about Kawasaki in the USA.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
I'm over 3 years late finding or responding to this thread, but.

Fred Masek of Masek Distributing Inc from Gering, NE and his sub-division, Masek Sports of Mills, WY were the FIRST importers of Kawasaki motorcycles into the USA.
The first Kawasaki warehouse for bikes & parts was at Mills, WY.
The first franchised Kawasaki dealership for Kawasaki motorcycles in the USA signed their franchise contract on 1 June 1964.
The proud owners of Lander Marine in Lander Wyoming, Victor M. & Marvel B. Pautz were the 1st Kawasaki motorcycle Dealers in the USA, along with their foster son Dale J. Rosecrans.

Fred Masek & many Rocky Mountain and Plains states dealerships preceded AKMC by nearly 2 years in the USA.
Masek Distributing later changed the name of their Kawasaki Distribution division to "Rocky Mountain Kawasaki" based in Gering NE until 1992, when they were finally absorbed into the Kawasaki Motor Corp. USA distribution system.

Just a little more past history about Kawasaki in the USA.
Thank you that additional history on Kawasaki in the USA.

Jason
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,557 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
In the early 1960s, an effort was launched toward importing Kawasaki motorcycles into Hawaii (by then, one of the United States). The marque was, "Kawasaki-Meguro," a brand producing Japanese police motorcycles. Don't know if that US-importing-of-Kawasaki-motorcycles enterprise flourished, or morphed into the archived businesses mentioned in this thread, or FLOPPED!

Just to add a little veracity/credibility to my anecdote . . . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meguro_motorcycles

:)

--------------

Wait, there's MORE!

Could our KLR650 successor be a MEGURO?

If you find this logo on the bike, it's not "17:0," it's Japanese text for, "Meguro:"



https://www.rideapart.com/articles/303042/is-kawasaki-meguro-trademark-hinting-at-new-model/

https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/news-and-views/news/2019/august/what-is-kawasaki-planning-for-meguro-brand

(Lots more hits on Google, but . . . hey, everyone has Internet access!)

-------------------

Speaking of which (Internet access), anyone want to take a virtual one-hour ride on a 1964 Meguru? (Early on in the video clip, you'll see something that looks like, "17:0" embossed in bas-relief on the right side of the tank.)

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
That Meguro is pretty cool!

Watching that guy ride on the left-hand side of the road gives me the willies!

I toured around the island of Bermuda in the 70s on a scooter. They ride/drive on the left in Bermuda and I became a bit uncomfortable on the roundabouts.

Jason
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,659 Posts
Thanks for those links and videos, Damocles.

Makes one wonder what they are up to with the revived Kawasaki Meguro 'River Sign' badge? Maybe something like Yamaha / Star brand cruisers?

From other older Meguro video clips it looked like the original Meguro 'Flying Wing' had a pair of diamonds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
How many dealers are there today or peak year? Was 1973 or 2009 the peak sales year?

I think 09 was the peak for KLRs.

They might not be stylish and powerful or have the Legend of the H1 and H2, 900 Z1, Zx14 or the Crazy 300HP bike but they are a legend in longevity durability and cult like following!!

How many other bikes can say i drink oil faster than you can Beer plus i have a Doohickey!
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top