- Rikuo Motorcycle
Rikuo Motorcycle Co. was one of the first
motorcycles manufactured in Japan, originally in the early 1930s under license and name of Harley Davidsonusing their tooling, and then under the name Rikuo until 1958.cite news | author=Hugo Vanneck| title=Japan's King of the Road| publisher=Classic Bike| date=March 1998| page=93-97]
There is a fairly comprehensive history here cite news | author=Harry V. Sucher| title=Harley-Davidson| publisher=Haynes Publishing Group Ltd| date=August 1981| page=79-88] - although even this author admits there are some details unknown as Harley-Davidson themselves did not publicize this Japanese connection. This, because effectively, it could be that the Japanese were helped in
mass-productiontechniques by the introduction of this factoryinto Japan just prior to the Second World War.
Harley-Davidson, through the efforts of Alfred Rich Child, shipped tooling and personnel to Japanin the mid-1930s to build HD VL flathead (sidevalve) motorcycles.
When Harley-Davidson was prepared to produce the new EL OHV
Knuckleheaddesign, they insisted that the Japanese factory buy the license to produce the EL as well. However Sankyo, Rikuo's parent company, was reluctant to produce the new vehicles and refused to make this commitment.
Almost simultaneously, Japan’s government was becoming increasingly militaristic leading up to World War II and eventually suggested that Harley-Davidson employees, including Mr. Child, leave the country. The motorcycle continued production under the name of Rikuo, meaning “Land King” or “Continent King.”
Sidecarcombinations called Type 97 were produced for military work in the Philippinesand Manchuriaduring the Second World War. Solo machines were supplied to civilian police forces, for example for Osaka in the 1950's. [http://otalsakeo.hp.infoseek.co.jp/rikuonew.html]
After the war the remaining factory continued producing the 750cc (45
cubic inch) RQ and 1200cc (74 cubic inch) VLE models still using the old flathead, total-loss lubrication design. The 750 gained a telescopic front suspension and the 1200 model retained springer forks. All of the new motorcycles were made with hardtail rear ends. In 1950 and 1951, the plant produced about fifty 45 cubic inch motors per month and thirty 74's with sidecars. By August 1952 production was estimated at approximately seventy 45's a month while the 74's stayed about the same. The 45 and 74 models are near exact copies of the 1934 Harley Davidson. An OHVversion was prototyped, but never produced. [http://www3.alpha-net.ne.jp/users/oguma/rx750.htm]
The factory began to use the "Tele-Glide" type front suspension in or around 1950 on the 750cc units, but while updating the sheet metal on the VL type, retained the "Springer" type front suspension on those units. Therefore, the 1950s 750s are basically the Harley-Davidson 45 cu.in. RL of the early 1930s, and the 1950s 1200s are the Harley-Davidson VL of the same era, but both with updated sheet metal (the updated front fork of the RQ/RT notwithstanding).
* [http://otalsakeo.hp.infoseek.co.jp/whatsrik.htm Rikuo News] Japanese website with english information page.
* [http://world.honda.com/collection-hall/2r/rq_1955.html 1955 Rikuo RQ] Honda Collection Hall article
* [http://motorcyclemuseum.org/classics/bike.asp?id=81 1958 Rikuo RT2] American Motorcyclists Association article
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