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The History of Suzuki Motorcycles

May 10, 2021 ·

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Suzuki Loom Works was founded in Japan in 1909 by Michio Suzuki. The company made weaving looms used for silk production. Fast forward to 1952, and the company had grown to develop motorcycles that have helped develop the brand’s reputation in the industry.

At Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI), students have the opportunity to learn how to maintain and repair Suzuki motorcycles in the Factory Authorized Suzuki Training (FAST) program. This specialized training course allows students  to focus on the Suzuki brand and earn certifications that are required for working at Suzuki dealerships.

We’ll take you through the history of Suzuki motorcycles and through the different milestones the brand has experienced, as well as highlight different models that have made an impact. You’ll also learn about the relationship that has developed between Suzuki and MMI.

Early Days

After the formation of the Suzuki Loom Works, the company sought to diversify beyond loom production and looked at building a small car. This began in 1937, and several prototypes we completed. However, due to World War II, plans for the brand to produce motor vehicles were halted, as passenger cars were considered nonessential.

The company continued to produce looms until the collapse of the cotton market in the early 1950s. This led Suzuki to revisit the idea of manufacturing motor vehicles.

There was a need for affordable transportation after the war, which led to the production of gas-powered engines that could be clipped on to standard bicycles. The first motorized bicycle assembled by Suzuki was known as the Power Free, launched in 1952. It had a 36cc two-stroke engine.

In 1953, the Power Free was followed by the Diamond Free model. The Diamond Free had a 60cc two-stroke engine and was very popular, with more than 6,000 being produced monthly by 1954. 

Suzuki Loom Works changed its name to Suzuki Motor Co. in 1954. From that point forward, the brand continued producing motorcycles that helped build its current reputation in the industry.

Models by Decade

Of course, taking a look at Suzuki motorcycles by year would take a long time, so we cover some of the most iconic motorcycles Suzuki has manufactured over the decades.

1950s Suzuki Motorcycles

1952 Power Free: As mentioned before, Suzuki introduced their first motorized bicycle, the Power Free, in 1952. It was designed to be inexpensive and easy to maintain.

1953 Diamond Free: After the introduction of the Power Free, the Diamond Free quickly followed and was very popular. It featured a double-sprocket wheel mechanism that helped prevent power loss.

1954 Colleda CO: The side-valve powered Colleda (which roughly translates to “This is it!” in Japanese) was the first “real” motorcycle manufactured by Suzuki. It featured a single-cylinder 90cc four-stroke engine.

1960s Suzuki Motorcycles

1965 T20: The T20 was developed and targeted at the U.S. market. The motorcycle had many unique features, including the first tubular-steel, double-cradle frame. It was promoted as “the fastest 250cc motorcycle in the world.”

1968 T500: The T500 quickly became the company’s flagship motorcycle, as it featured a 500cc engine and had the largest displacement out of any two-stroke engine at the time.

1970s Suzuki Motorcycles

1971 TM400: A production motocross bike, the TM400 was produced to compete in 500cc-class motocross races. Roger De Coster won the Motocross World Championships on the factory version of the bike (and went on to win in ’72, ’73, ’75 and ’76 as well).

1972 Hustler 400: The Hustler 400 featured a two-stroke, single-cylinder engine and was released as a street version of the TM400.

1976 GS Series: A range of GS series motorcycles was released by Suzuki, which made up the first full set of four-stroke road bikes manufactured by the brand. The first models produced in the GS series included the GS-750 and GS-400.

1980s Suzuki Motorcycles

1981 GSX-1100S Katana: Revealed to the public in 1980 after Suzuki hired the former head of styling from BMW, the motif of a samurai sword was the inspiration behind the Katana. The model differed dramatically from other motorcycles at the time and made an impact on design for the industry.

1985 GSX-R750: This model took the styling of the Suzuki Endurance race machines and added just enough road-legal equipment to create the first modern race-replica sport bike.

1986 LS650 Savage: This cruiser debuted in response to the Honda cruisers that were being produced at the time. It was the first such cruiser manufactured by Suzuki.

1990s Suzuki Motorcycles

1996 GSX-R750: This model is referenced by Suzuki as their “turning-point model.” It featured many changes from 1985’s GSX-R750, including a new twin-spar frame and shortened wheelbase.

1999 GSX-1300R Hayabusa: The introduction of the Hayabusa helped Suzuki break the mold in the industry once again. It featured aerodynamic design, plus balanced engine performance and handling. It was equipped with a 1,298cc, liquid-cooled, inline, four-cylinder engine.

2000s Suzuki Motorcycles

2001 GSX-R1000: Based on the GSX-R750, the GSX-R1000 made a major impact in the family of GSX-R models and was considered the “ultimate sports bike,” featuring a liquid-cooled, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine.

2008 RM-Z450: This model was the world’s first production fuel-injected motocross bike.

2010s Suzuki Motorcycles

2014 V-Strom 1000 ABS: This motorcycle was the first produced by Suzuki with a traction control system. The advanced controls feature minimal kickback, which helped riders with stabilizing the vehicle.

2016 GSX-R1000: The model was reintroduced in 2016 and launched in 2017 featuring an engine with several redesigns. The vehicle is considered the flagship model for the brand. Eight additional models were also launched in 2016.

Suzuki continues to produce motorcycles that are manufactured for a range of environments, from sports bikes to cruisers to racing models. Students get the experience of working on the latest the brand has to offer if they choose to take the FAST specialized training program at MMI.

The FAST Program at MMI

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., endorsed the FAST program at MMI in 1989. The course offers students the opportunity to further their training and to receive specialized instruction directly relating to Suzuki motorcycles.

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., endorsed the FAST program at MMI in 1989.

Photo from the former site of MMI Orlando

Students who want to enroll in the program are eligible once they have completed the Motorcycle Technician Prerequisite (MTP) program at MMI. The FAST program takes place over the course of 12 weeks and is broken up into four different modules:

  • Module 1: Students learn the history of Suzuki, including prominent technological contributions to the motorcycle industry. They also learn about the regional dealership network and service organization.
  • Module 2: Skills, techniques and principles of diagnosing, troubleshooting, and repairing engines and drivetrains are covered.
  • Module 3: This module covers the facets of servicing electrical systems found on Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs.
  • Module 4: The final module in the course helps students learn the skills needed to prepare for a career as a Suzuki mechanic at a dealership.

Program Benefits

The FAST program, which is offered at two MMI campuses, offers unique benefits to students interested in working with the Suzuki brand. These include:

  • Updated curriculum: The program’s offerings are developed in partnership with Suzuki Technical Support, and courses are updated regularly to incorporate the most recent technology offered by the brand.
  • Credentials: Graduates of the program have the opportunity to earn both Bronze and Silver certifications, which are requirements for technicians working at Suzuki dealerships.
  • State-of-the-industry technology: Thanks to the relationship with Suzuki, hands-on learning over the course of the program features current equipment and technology.
  • Variety: While the FAST program allows students to work on motorcycles, they are also given the opportunity to work with dirt bikes and ATVs.

Get Specialized Suzuki Training at MMI

If you’re training to be a motorcycle technician and know you have a passion for Suzuki, enrolling in the 12-week FAST program after you’ve completed core training could makes sense for you. The specified education you receive can help prepare you for an entry-level position at a Suzuki dealership.1

To find out more details about the program and admissions requirements, you can request more information online or call 1-800-834-7308.

MMI Campuses That Offer Suzuki Motorcycle Mechanic Training

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1) MMI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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