10 days to go: 10 reasons you won't want to miss our new exhibit

20th November 2020

They were the bikes that changed the world: and Classic Motorcycle Mecca’s tribute to the mid-century Japanese machines is almost here.

The countdown is well and truly on, with just 10 days to go until this limited-time-only display opens to the public. In honour of this, the Classic Motorcycle Mecca team is here to give you 10 reasons why this is one exhibit you won’t want to miss.

  1. Machines that changed modern motorcycling

    Japanese motorcycles – which burst onto the world stage in the late 1950s/early 1960s – changed the course of history. They set a new standard in innovation, technology, speed, reliability and more and ushered in an exciting new era. Are you a fan of today’s superbikes? They wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the introduction of Japanese motorcycles, like the famed Honda CB750 – among the many machines you’ll see within The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles exhibit.

  2. Rare as hen’s teeth

    Visit The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles and, chances are, you’ll discover plenty of bikes you’ve never seen before in your life. Bikes like the Honda Motocompo, a Kawasaki S1 that is believed to be one of just a handful left on New Zealand soil, and motorcycles made by the little-known manufacturer Hodaka.

  3. Crème de la crème

    Among the bikes in this display, visitors will find a number of examples that represent the features leading manufacturers from around the world have become known for: take the Bimota Honda 750 Four. While the roots of the collaboration between the Italian and Japanese manufacturers happened by accident – quite literally; check out the display to find out the fascinating backstory – bikes like this showcase the best of the best from either side of the world.

  4. Award winners

    The bikes within our display are beauties – take the 1979 Suzuki GS1000E, for example. Owner Laurie Henry himself says this machine is a “spoiled and treasured” bike. It appeared at every Burt Munro Challenge and has even taken out a number of awards at the famed rally, including both Best Classic and Best Japanese. This is your chance to get up close to a truly exceptional machine.

  5. A league of their own

    Japanese motorcycle manufacturers quickly made their mark, and ushered in a new world order back in the mid-20th century: now, several decades later, it’s impossible to picture the global automotive industry without them. Brands like Honda continue to release world-dominating machines such as the 2008 Honda TRX700XX you’ll spot in The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles display.

  6. A flair for innovation

    Japanese automotive manufacturers became renowned for introducing technology, engineering, and design that strayed from the norm – check out the Suzuki RE5, for instance. What sets this bike apart? The RE5 features a Felix Wankel-designed rotary engine: making this machine just a little bit different to more conventional roadsters.

  7. Meet today’s monsters

    What do you get when you combine Italian panache with exceptional Japanese engineering? How about a Bimota Kawasaki Tesi H2, the result of the 2019 announcement that saw the two motorcycling manufacturers join forces, to plenty of fanfare. This modern powerhouse has been dubbed “the ultimate monster on two wheels”. Don’t miss your chance to see it for yourself!

  8. Another string to Classic Motorcycle Mecca’s bow

    If it’s been awhile since you last visited the leading motorcycle collection in the Southern Hemisphere, now’s your chance. A three-year renovation project is finally complete, and this massive task has seen the museum grow exponentially. Spanning three floors and two restored period buildings in Invercargill’s inner-city, Classic Motorcycle Mecca is bigger and better than ever. As well as The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles, Classic Motorcycle Mecca is now home to some intriguing new permanent displays. Discover the George Begg Bunker (celebrating a homegrown hero and a golden age in Kiwi motorsport), as well as tributes to Kiwi legends including Burt Muro, Ivan Mauger, and John Britten.

  9. Classic sophistication

    Want to meet one of the most sophisticated motorcycles of the 1960s? Hear the name Bridgestone, and most people would think of tyres. But back in the mid-20th century, the company made its foray into the motorcycling industry – and the result, the Bridgestone 350 GTR – is a beauty.

  10. Spot bikes rarely seen

    Would you believe most of the bikes set to be showcased in The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles are local? We’ve been blown away by the response to our call for interesting bikes to be included in the display – the number of world-class, classic mid-century Japanese machines lurking away in back sheds throughout the lower South Island has left us stunned. This is your chance to check out an incredible collection of bikes not normally found on public display – who knows when the next opportunity to see some of these beauties might be?!


The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles will be on display until 28 February 2021. Don't miss it - book your tickets today.