The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles open now

30th November 2020

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

Just under 70 motorcycles – ranging from the 1960s through to the gruntiest of modern machines – from household-names like Honda and Yamaha, as well as lesser-known manufacturers including Hodaka, are among the bikes in The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles display. The limited-time-only exhibit officially opens today, and will run until 28 February.

Classic Motorcycle Mecca, the leading motorcycle collection in the Southern Hemisphere, is one of the visitor attractions operated by southern tourism hub Transport World.

Transport World executive director Joc O’Donnell says this display has been a long time coming.

“An exhibit showcasing the bikes that put Japanese manufacturers front and centre in the mid-20th century has been on the cards at Classic Motorcycle Mecca for quite some time, and we’ve been looking forward to sharing it with the public,” she says.

“The feedback we’ve heard since announcing The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles was coming has been fantastic, and we’ve been blown away by the generosity of owners willing to loan us their prized possessions. We can’t wait for people to see it.”

Classic Motorcycle Mecca volunteer Colin Clark and the Transport World workshop team have been hard at work putting the display together.

“These bikes just took the world by storm,” Clark says. “We’ve got a real mixture to display, which is fantastic – road bikes, racing models, trail bikes, and farm bikes as well.”

In earlier decades, most Kiwis traditionally rode motorcycles hailing from Great Britain or the United States, he says. But the arrival of Japanese motorbikes on the mass market “changed the game”.

“They were reliable, the brakes worked, they didn’t leak oil everywhere – they really changed everything and there were a lot of people who grew up riding them. That nostalgic factor is a big part of why people are buzzing for this one."

Bikes included in the display include the famed Honda CB750, a Kawasaki S1 that is believed to be one of just a handful left on New Zealand soil, a 1979 Suzuki GS1000E, a 2008 Honda TRX700XX and even a Bimota Kawasaki Tesi H2 – the result of the 2019 announcement that saw the Italian and Japanese manufacturers combine forces, to plenty of fanfare, to create a powerhouse dubbed 'the ultimate monster on two wheels'.

Entry to The Evolution of Japanese Motorcycles is included in general admission to Classic Motorcycle Mecca. Book your visit today.