The story of Suzuki is from weaving looms to motorcycles with Michio Suzuki in control. For the first 30 years of his career, Michio Suzuki designed, built and sold weaving looms to cater for Japan's massive silk trade. He would have been a successful and wealthy man even if he'd never though about building motorcycles.
Born in the tiny seaside village of Hamamatsu in 1887, Michio Suzuki apprenticed as a carpenter and, at the age of 22, designed a complex and hugely effective wooden loom for weaving thread into textiles. In 1909 Michio Suzuki founded the Suzuki Loom Works and, by 1920, had established the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company. Following the decline of the weaving industry in Japan, Michio Suzuki attempted to diversify into the car market and, by 1939, had build several prototypes and held talks about building the Austin Seven under license in Japan, but the outbreak of war interrupted his plans. After manufacturing ammunition during WWII, Michio Suzuki recognized the need for cheap, reliable transport and hit upon the idea of building engines that could be clipped onto bicycles. In 1952 Suzuki launched the 'Power-Free', a 36cc two-stroke powered motorcycle that featured a unique double-sprocket gear system which allowed the rider to use pedals only, pedals with engine assistance, or the engine on its own.
In 1954 Suzuki built its first proper motorcycle, the 90cc four-stroke, single-cylinder Colleda. By the following year, it was producing 6,000 motorcycles per month and Michio Suzuki changed his company's name to the Suzuki Motor Co. Ltd. He lived to a ripe old age and, when he died in 1982, his Suzuki RG500 was still the motorcycle to beat in 500cc Grand Prix racing, having taken back-to-back titles with Marco Lucchinelli and Franco Uncini.