You may think all modern-day motorcycle and accessory manufacturers always produced motorcycles. But that’s not correct. Many started their lives producing other products and later migrated to manufacturing motorcycles.
Moto Manufacturer beginnings
So here’s a list of current moto and accessory manufacturers that started their corporate lives building something else.
Yamaha – Yamaha started as a piano manufacturer in 1887. It wasn’t until 1955 that Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd was born and later split off its motorcycle division.
Suzuki – Suzuki was founded by Michio Suzuki, who was a carpenter. He built his first product at the age of 22 in 1909. But that product was not a motorcycle; it was a pedal-driven weaving loom. Suzuki later founded the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company in 1920. It wasn’t until 1952 that Suzuki produced its first motorcycle, which was really a bicycle with a motor attached. The company’s first “real” motorcycle didn’t appear until 1954.
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. – Honda first produced push bikes equipped with two-stroke 50cc generator engines designed for use with army field telephones. It wasn’t until 1949 that Honda began production of its first motorcycle named the Honda “Dream” D-type motorcycle.
Harley Davidson Motor Company – In its earliest days during 1901, Harley Davidson produced bare Harley-Davidson engines to the “do it yourself trades” that could assemble their own motorcycles. It wasn’t until 1903 that complete motorcycles were in production on a limited basis. 1905 saw production begin to the general public with five motorcycles built in the Davidson backyard shed. Ultimately, it wasn’t until 1907 that Harley-Davidson was incorporated as a company.
Arai Helmets – Arai Helmets was born in 1926 as a hat-making company. Arai’s founder Hirotake Arai was a hat-maker but also an enthusiastic motorcyclist. After a few falls, Arai decided to make helmets as a way to protect fellow riders. It wasn’t until 1956 that Arai began to sell its first helmets to professional off-road motorcycle racers.
So there you have it. You’ve got some fascinating history on some of the most well-known motorcycle manufacturers out there. From humble beginnings, some of these companies have become global conglomerates generating billions of dollars in revenue. It just goes to show you from a modest start, a “giant of industry” can awaken.