Saturday, 31 December 2011

Friday bike

Look at this picture, and what do you see?

A Harley Davidson? Not quite. It's a Japanese built Rikuo Model 97. (Rikuo means 'King of the Road' in Japanese).
In 1935, Harley Davidson built a factory in Shinagawa, Tokyo to build bikes for the Japanese market. In 1937, due to the rising Nationalism, foreign owned companies were taken over, and the Harley Davidson factory ended up being owned by Sankyo, who continued building bikes under the Rikuo name.
With the onset of WW2, the factory was converted to munitions work and the the bike production was moved to a company called Nihon Jidosha in Horoshima, where the bikes were badged as 'Kuro Hagane' (Black Iron). Needless to say, the Hiroshima factory didn't survive the war, and that was the end of the 'Japanese Harleys'.
I've no idea how many were built, but I would imagine that Japanese Harleys, Rikuos, and Kuro Haganes are very rare. Imagine turning up on any of these at a Harley rally! That'll confuse them!


  1. Wouldn't it be fun to have a Harley from this period and and turn it into a Rikuo?
    I think your average HD owner's head would explode if he saw a real one just from trying to balance two contradictory thoughts in his head: it's quite obviously a Harley, which is good, but it's also Japanese, and all Harley riders know that this means that it's crap. Boom!

  2. I first saw parts from a Rikuo at the shop I worked at in the 70's. If it wasn't for our local HD expert no one would have had a clue. Somewhere I have an old Japanese magazine that was called
    "Exciting Bike", that had a feature on a Rikuo collector in Japan. I had to chuckle when Harley came out with the "Road King" model a few years ago.