Among the companies that were established first and paved the way to Japan’s technological development is Rikuo Internal Combustion Company. This company was established in the early 1930s and was licensed to operate under the business name Harley-Davidson. The company used Harley-Davidson tools until 1958 when it had a name change to become Rikuo. This company is behind this 1940 Rkuo RT 2 that this article will feature.
History of Rikuo Development
Sometimes most vintage motorcycles tell stories, and the 1940 Rikuo RT 2 has a rich story of national interdependency and cooperation that may surprise readers how these motorbikes come into existence. According to Top Speed, as US-based known as Harvey-Davidson Motor Company penetrated the Japanese market and formed a partnership with Sankyo Seiyako Corporation to produce one of the best motorbikes that were used during World War 2. That motorbike was later recognized by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan as among the best 240 landmark machines in technological advancement. It served army generals during the war period. Harvey-Davidson was going through some depression after the British government had limited the sale and use of its motorbike series, the classic H-D model so that it might protect the local manufacturers. Therefore, the company’s production fell, and it began operating at 10 percent from its usual capacity since it had to pay high tariffs in the UK. The same challenges happened to this Milwaukee-based company when it started selling the same machine in Japan.
After realizing Harvey-Davidson H-D powerful machine was a threat to its local motorcycle market, Japanese authorities slapped it with unsustainable tax. The management team had to think critically to raise much-needed capital to remain in the business. The MoCo started designing new models that suited the Japanese market after forming a close relationship with Sankyo Seiyako with a branding name Dabittoson Harley Motorcycle Co, Ltd. This cozy relationship continued to work wonders in the 1930s period as it had a nationalistic representation. Rikuo Company was born from this partnership, and it sprung from Sankyo Corp, which is behind our feature motorbike, the Rikuo RT 2. The production of these motorbikes was mainly for military operation, and about 18,000 of them came from the pipeline to hit the road. About 2,000 Rikuos used to be developed yearly and to satisfy consumers who loved this motorbike, its name stood for “Land King” or “King of Road,” the engine was modified from 750cc to 1,000cc and then to a further 1,200cc. Their production continued under Rikuo until the company was later sold in 1950 to Showa. According to Bikez, the production of these bikes continued to be successful until 1959 when their glory days began to slump.
The Design of the 1940 Rikuo RT 2
The design of these vintage motorbikes that were a darling for military operation symbolizes the American H-D war cruiser and that of the Indian Motorcycle Company model, which was its domestic foe. It had a full front fender that is fitted with chrome trim sitting deep, occupying about a third of the bike’s front hoop. The Rwu forks that were designed for it rocked the entire beer can skirts, which obscured and covered the bike’s inner fork tubes blocking anyone from viewing them. The coverage was extended to the triple tree area to give the bike a desirable dressed-up look on the front part. The headlights were big. A single one was enough to keep the Cyclops headlight and hold all the electrical wiring. The front area was well-built and was preceded by a classic teardrop tank. This teardrop tank was fixed with a chrome instrument console that held a round speedometer that guided the rider. The design of the bike also included a gap that was left between the rear part of the split tanks and the seat pivot to provide the bike with some relief from the jostles located at the end part of the rigid rear and the shocks. The bike saddle was designed into two up constructs that included chrome rails at the far end to ensure that the rider’s buddy could rest his legs properly. Additionally, there were also fold-up foot hooks with all the necessary passenger amenities. To give the 1940 Rikuo RT 2 an attractive style, the design gave it a tombstone-sh taillight and a suitable hinged rear fender that eased all the trouble of removing the rear wheel when it encountered problems.
Engine and Transmission
This heavy-built motorbike operated with an engine displacement of 750cc (45.77 cubic inches). The engine type was an air-cooled V2, four-stroke power mill that currently powers the 45-degree V-Twin. Igniting the motorbike to come into life needed the use of a generator and battery. The bike operated with a 4-speed gearbox and four-speed clutch that could power it to 22.0 horsepower (16.1 kW), reaching a top speed of 60 mph. This motorbike also had a pre-knucklehead with flat heads and two inverted valves per jug. The valves cantered on tappets which were fixed to follow up the lobes down to the cam case.
The Chassis and Suspension part of the 1940 Rikuo RT 2
The 1940 Rikuo RT 2 was fitted with a Telescopic front suspension. The cradle-style frame, down tube, and rigid rear end were fixed using mild-steel tubing. Mechanical drums suited the bike’s braking system on the front and rear parts. According to the Bikes Specialist, when the motorbike hydraulic discs become hot, it goes back to standard form within a short time. The rolling chassis was surrounded by laced wheels, about 18-inch hoops. The handlebar had several pullbacks and was made wide to give the rider plenty of room at the front end. This machine was heavily built and weighed about 510 pounds when dry. Overall, the 1940 Rikuo RT 2 represents a truncated history of some exciting bikes to be developed. Even as companies go through depressions and financial struggles, one needs to be innovative and dynamic. That is what this bike represents, as Harley designed it to build capital to operate.