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20 Things You Didn't Know About Kawasaki Motorcycles

When you're looking for a new motorcycle, any experience you've had with a particular brand can influence your preferences. This includes personal experience, what you've heard others say about it, and impressions that you've received from any interactions you might have had with the particular brand. Today, we're going to highlight the Kawasaki motorcycles manufacturer and share some interesting facts with 20 things you didn't know about Kawasaki motorcycles.

1. The first headquarters was housed in Chicago, Illinois

The American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corporation first opened its doors in March, 1966. The headquarters was set up in an old Chicago building that was formerly an old meat warehouse. Don't let the humble beginnings fool you though. The factory team that was sent to America to open the United States market for Kawasaki knew what they were doing and they started with the lowest possible overhead to focus on putting the money into production of the motorcycles, increasing the bottom line and making the venture more likely to succeed. They weren't interested in fancy surroundings as much as they were a wide open space to set up the operation and build bikes.

2. Kawasaki began in America on little more than a promise

When Kawasaki opened a headquarters in the United States, the team that was responsible for expanding the brand internationally came over with almost nothing. They started the new factory with no image, no distributors and no customers. Their beliefs were so strong in their product that they believed they could forge a brand new market with their desire to achieve success, the negotiation skills they possessed and the promise to deliver a factory that would supply top notch products. This is what they had to offer the private companies that they entered into negotiations with to distribute the first Kawasaki motorcycles. These brave entrepreneurs set out about the seemingly daunting task with a steely resolve and the will to succeed in their venture.

3. The first Kawasaki bikes were sold under a different brand name

The bikes that the Kawasaki team first offered on the American market were branded as Omega motorcycles. The team quickly discovered that riders in the U.S. wanted a more exciting bike than they had to offer at the time, so the factory took the criticisms of the small 2 strokes and developed a set of strong rotary valve twins which were called the Avenger and the Samurai. These new high performance models succeeded in meeting the American public's demand for high performance and were more successful than their predecessors. The Samurai and the Avenger had earned the privilege of being sold under the Kawasaki brand name. Selling the first bikes under Omega was a good strategy because it helped to protect the image of the Kawasaki brand while the team was figuring out what the American public really wanted.

4. Kawasaki expanded quickly to the East Coast

The first company that was based out of Chicago became a success, and within two short years, in 1968, Eastern Kawasaki Motorcycle Corporation was established to distribute the bikes to the eastern coast of the United States. Soon, the two operations merged into Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA, also known as KMC and their headquarters was established in Southern California.

5. The Kawasaki image went international in 1969

Within three short years of launching the U.S. operation, the Kawasaki Motorcycle corporation developed the Mach III 500cc two stroke triple. This took the Kawasaki image for performance into a whole new realm with international acknowledgement and approval of the feat. They had come a long way since first arriving at their new operation in Chicago in 1966 without an image or a following. They were trailblazers who opened a new niche for themselves in the land of promise. The group followed up with their 1973 900cc Zi, a powerful four cylinder motorcycle that established them as a force to be reckoned with in the motorcycle industry. KMC built their own unified distribution network and they were successful in establishing dealers as well as customers excellence in service of their products.

6. They opened up ATV and Watercraft fun in the U.S.

Kawasaki had diversified their offerings by the 1980s. The company produced ATVs along with Side by Side vehicles and Jet Ski watercraft that were a raging success in the U.S. Market. While these were additions that were more than welcomed by a recreation hungry population, Kawasaki didn't forsake the attention paid to their motorcycle lines. The Ninja sport bikes became a hot selling commodity among Americans.

7. Kawasaki motorcycles solved a common problem

As the engineering and build of motorcycles evolved through the decades, there was one prominent problem that plagued motorcycle enthusiasts. Bikes were being built with components that wasn't holding up well when the bikes were dropped, or crashed. Kawasaki built their bikes to be really sturdy. They didn't need to depart from the use of plastics, but what they did do is engineer tougher quality in the plastic materials that they used, so the bikes could still be built in a lightweight format for speed, but with a more rugged design and higher quality materials.

8. They were the first foreign motorcycle company to open a U.S. factory

Kawasaki took the lead in forging ahead with a plant that would build their motorcycles for the U.S. market on American soil. They were selling products in the U.S., so a few of their top executives got together and formed a plan to build the products in the country that they were being sold. It made sense and saved them a lot of money and time by producing and shipping them out in a way that helped to avoid time loss and foreign duty charges. It was also good for Americans because they hired a labor force from the local economy. It wasn't long before Toyota, Honda, VW and Nissan did the same.

9. Kawasaki Motorcycles embraces safe and comfortable working conditions

Kawasaki is one of those rare companies that places the safety and comfort of their employees as a high priority. It's a great place to work because they foster a team concept. They ask that each employee takes pride in delivering the very best products and service possible. A job well done gives everyone a feeling of great satisfaction and Kawasaki is one of the leaders in the industry because of their high values and ethics.

10. The Lincoln, Nebraska Kawasaki Motorcycle Manufacturing Company is massive

Most people don't know exactly how big the Kawasaki Motorcycle Manufacturing business truly is. The Lincoln plant is set on a parcel of land that is 335 acres. The factory that started out with 286,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space continued to grow until reaching a size of 1.3 million square feet, including light rail car manufacturing operations for an additional 437,00 square feet.

11. Kawasaki Motorcycle is good for the American economy

The Lincoln, Nebraska plant alone employs more than 1,000 local workers at its facility. An additional 600 people work at the Maryville Plant, which was opened in 1989. It's beneficial for the workforce as Kawasaki Motorcycle Manufacturing is a major employer in the many towns that it has set down roots. The fact that the brand has been so well-received in America, has driven customer demand high and provided many more jobs for American citizens. Kawasaki strives to meet all of their orders as quickly and efficiently as possible.

12. KMM is on the cutting edge of technology and development

One of the reasons that Kawasaki motorcycles are so popular in the United States and other parts of the world is because of the quality and innovation that goes into each new model and generation of bike. From the beginning of its establishment in the U.S. engineers have pulled out all the stops in answering public criticism, starting with their first introduction of the Omega. In a successful effort to maintain the high profile image of the Kawasaki brand, they aim to rise to consumer demands with the addition of new technology and improvements in build and design, which has become the Kawasaki tradition of excellence. The KMM Research and Development Centers in Maryville and Lincoln are hard at work to deliver above expectations.

13. America served as a powerful influence for the popular "Ninja" motorcycle

The Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle was built in the America Kawasaki plant and the name originated here. This is one of the brand's highest in demand motorcycles. It is one of their best selling bikes in the U.S.

14. Kawasaki Motorcycles has a unique method of supply

The executives at Kawasaki have come up with a brilliant plan to cut out the high cost of warehousing or accumulating too many parts in their warehouses. The plant operates on a supply method that is referred to as "just in time." Specific parts and components are manufactured on specialized presses within the assembly line to eliminate any excessive inventory or shortages for a highly efficient and low cost manufacturing process. This has an additional benefit because when the worker makes the part and assembles it, the process gives him or her a total sense of accomplishment and personal pride.

15. There is pure silver in the Kawasaki Ninja Motorcycle

When the motorcycle market began to lull, Kawasaki saw the need to infuse some new energy into it. They designed and produced the Ninja GPz900 and this original was so revolutionary that it revived the slumbering market. Three of these bikes were entered into races and 2 out of the 3 emerged winners. The paint that is used in the Ninja HR and H2R contain pure silver as an ingredient.

16. The Kawasaki Motorcycle Manufacturing Company makes jet engines

The technological savvy of the team of Kawasaki engineers and designers has led the company forward in the creation of some amazing motorcycles, and beyond. In addition to producing big selling bikes, they also produce ships, electronics ,watercraft, trains, construction equipment tractors, jet engines, helicopters, space rockets and missiles.

17. The average Ninja 1000 owner makes a high income

Studies have been done to find out more about the demographics of the customers who buy the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 model. By comparing the average incomes of the new owners of the Ninja 1000, it was discovered that the average owner makes twice the annual median income of households in America. This would put these owners in the top one quarter of the population making at least $118,000 per year and higher.

18. Most Ninja 1000 riders are experienced riders

Kawasaki is so interested in knowing more about their customers that they researched more about the customers who buy the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 model and discovered that the average age of these riders are male, age 47, and most have taken formal rider training courses at some point in their lives, and have been riding motorcycles for an average of 19.4 years.

19. The Kawasaki Ninja H2 is the flagship model

When Kawasaki set out to deliver a powerful motorcycle that met the appropriate specifications to be street legal, they came up with their flagship model, the Ninja H2. This road bike falls under the classification of a supercharged supersport. The creators designed it with a variable speed centrifugal supercharger that generates more than 300 horsepower, reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour. It is a high performance motorbike that is packed with highly desirable features in the liter class, including a superior chassis and suspension design. The Ninja H2 set the bar high, becoming the first production motorcycle ever made in 2015 to use a supercharger with its 998cc inline 4, four valve, dual overhead cam engine. This revolutionary motorcycle is fitted with a variety of electronic aids designed strictly for performance enhancement. Much of the construction of this highly aerodynamic bike are of carbon fiber.

20. Kawasaki motorcycles are big in the racing industry

The Kawasaki brand is familiar to motocross racing fans, MotoGP, Superbike and Grand Prix circuits. The bikes are generally a green color, earning many of the teams sponsored by the company the name "Team Green." The brand is widely recognized in the racing industry throughout the world and has made its mark among fans, riders and those who appreciate the capabilities of these finely tuned machines.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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