Type 97 motorcycle

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Type 97 motorcycle
Manufacturer Rikuo Nainen Company
Production 1935–1945
Assembly Japan
Transmission 3 forward, 1 reverse
Dimensions L: 2.7 m

The Type 97 motorcycle, or Rikuo, was a copy of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle produced with a sidecar from 1935 in Japan under license from Harley-Davidson by the Sankyo Company (later Rikuo Nainen Company). Some 18,000 of the machines were used by the Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. A variation was also manufactured without a side car, called the Type 93.

In the years after World War I, Harley-Davidson's US sales declined while dozens of US motorcycle brands went under, primarily as a result of the decline in the price of the Ford Model T car, triggering a national shift from motorcycles to cars for cheap transportation. Harley-Davidson sought to make up the lost sales abroad and was selling 2,000 units per year in Japan by the middle of the 1920s. In 1932 Harley-Davidson licensed Sankyo Trading Company to build complete motorcycles in Japan, under the name Rikuo, which meant King of the Road.


  • Osgerby, Bill (2005), Biker: Truth and Myth : how the Original Cowboy of the Road Became the Easy Rider of the Silver Screen, Globe Pequot, p. 21, ISBN 9781592288410 

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