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I just watched, FASTEST, and really liked it. One piece of information, among many, was really interesting to me. I don't remember his name, but I think he was the man in charge of Yamaha Racing when Valentino switched from Honda. And he sort of answerd a question for me that I have always had, which was, with 200+ nations in the world, why are the Japanese bikes so good -four major compainies out of one small island. He said it was because at the end of WWII the U.S. Government had forbid the Japanese to built airplanes. So all of the airplane (aerospace guys can be very smart) engineers were funneled into cars, and/or like him, he chose motorcycles.

I thought that explained alot. Very interesting.
 

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Um, kind of. You should read the story of Soichiro Honda. He was the real driving force behind the ascendancy of his little company and he did use aircraft engineers. But the competition was pretty fierce post-war and there were probably a gazillion bike makers in Japan. Also, the auto industry was in a shambles and had problems getting back on its feet, especially with the foreign exchange restrictions in place. If you look at early post-war Japanese flicks, you can see a slew of Yankee iron on the roads, with a few cute little Datsuns and Toyotas toddling around as well. But yankee iron was doomed to fade away as gas was precious, restrictions including tariffs were high on Yankee stuff and many people used motorcycles for daily transport. Even so, Honda was a competitor from day one, even before going to the Isle of Man. (he used to race cars before the war) and his fierce determination to build some impressive racers also bled over into his commercial bikes. I think Suzuki followed the lead of Honda into competition with some fast little 2-strokes, and then Yamaha came on-line. Those efforts spilled over into their commercial bikes as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I do understand you. I thought he just meant there was an abundance of engineers after the war, so motorcycles got many more than their normal share, hence the exceptional quality and success. Yap, I should read that book. I'll look for it.
 

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. If you look at early post-war Japanese flicks, you can see a slew of Yankee iron on the roads, with a few cute little Datsuns and Toyotas toddling around as well. But yankee iron was doomed to fade away as gas was precious, restrictions including tariffs were high on Yankee stuff and many people used motorcycles for daily transport. Even so, Honda was a competitor from day one, even before going to the Isle of Man. (he used to race cars before the war) and his fierce determination to build some impressive racers also bled over into his commercial bikes.
You said Datsun... I miss my 'ol '71 240Z...
Yep... Good reads on Mr. Honda...
A very determined man... And that first race, it was the first race at the first track in Japan... Boom.. That crash drove him even more...

The same year that He finally brought bikes to compete in the IOM TT... Honda opened a dealership with 6eloyes in the U.S.... Ambitious in an understatement...
 

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It's not only the fact that they were airplane engineers that led them to produce superior autos and bikes, but more so the philosophy and general way of thinking. The japanese excel at pretty much everything they do, and if they don't then they find out why and figure out how to come out with something that can dominate all.
Unfortunately they don't have the same passion or sex appeal as the italians, but you can't deny that a japanese product will and can out live the others. The japanese people are brought up to think as a whole society and not so much the individual. During the economic decline the corporations that went under supplied tents and shelter for the employees that they had to let go, meanwhile the CEO's at Hostess and GM took huge bonuses before filing bankruptcy.
To me this is why the japanese produce better bikes. They care about the product and it's employees.
 

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It's not only the fact that they were airplane engineers that led them to produce superior autos and bikes, but more so the philosophy and general way of thinking. The japanese excel at pretty much everything they do, and if they don't then they find out why and figure out how to come out with something that can dominate all.
Unfortunately they don't have the same passion or sex appeal as the italians, but you can't deny that a japanese product will and can out live the others. The japanese people are brought up to think as a whole society and not so much the individual. During the economic decline the corporations that went under supplied tents and shelter for the employees that they had to let go, meanwhile the CEO's at Hostess and GM took huge bonuses before filing bankruptcy.
To me this is why the japanese produce better bikes. They care about the product and it's employees.
So when corporations turn to making obscene profits their primary objective as opposed to being exemplars and upholders of decent community values, they go bankrupt in more ways than one? I agree. When Ducati's most revered engineer, Dr T worked for them, he insisted he never be paid more than a worker on "the floor." I wonder if their top engineer today insists on the same pay conditions. Which Ducati would you say is has more worth owning, has more "soul"? The bikes of yesteryear or of today? :)

However, I don't agree that Japanese bikes are better, nor that they last longer. Any motorcycling recycling yard is full of them and can attest to their value. :) Try finding Ducatis or Harleys or Beemers in scrap yards. And yet people will tell you how much better Japanese bikes are. :) Not! :)
 

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You can't really say that the Japanese don't have the same passion for their brand as the Italians do. It seems that it's just taken fro granted that the Italians have this aura of passion because of their culture more then anything else. Of course the way each approaches building a motorcycle and car are vastly different. But there's no doubt that the Japanese have passion to spare w/ regards to bike building...and they build better motorcycles then anyone-period!
Yes, the Honda RC51 isn't a 999R and the R1 isn't a 1198. The Japanese could never build an 1199 the way the Italians do...but again when they build a motorcycle it's dead solid reliable when compared to their Italians counterparts.
T
 

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really beg to disagree with you here Stryder. Pretty easy to find scrap Japanese bikes cause they made so many of them and so many of them were flogged to death. hard to find HD's in particular cause they are remade into other things. I really don't think that has anything to do with them being better. For instance, Top Gear (I think) did a deal on a Honda 50, trying to see if any of the myths were true. Ran it on cooking oil, dropped it from a 5 or 6 story building, loaded it up with about 30 boxes of pizzas, etc. Thing still ran. They did a similar thing with a datsun or toyota pickup I think. Put it on top of a building to be demolished and then started it up right after plummeting to earth. yep, fired right up. Japs make great reliable stuff, probably bar none. Not as sexy to some, but still great stuff.
 

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My reading says, that the Japanese DID NOT INVEST A SINGLE PENNY in R&D. By the time they came into the market all possible engine and frame designs had been invented mostly from the Europeans and Americans, so they poured their resources in making the bikes ''reliable''.

A couple of examples: we all have read the case of Dr. Kaaden from former East Germany. He was a professor of acoustic mechanics and he developed the two stroke exhaust for MZ ( if I am not mistaken). He then disappeared from a GP race, to be found later working for Suzuki.

Honda only a few years ago finalized the case court they had with Jawa for copying their semi automatic transmission system that they had put in the Honda's ever successful C50 ( and still do).

They copied every engine shape and form either with success or failure. Remember the early 80's VTs, (a V2 L engine) the CX a copy of the Moto Guzzi engine which later they developed it in 650 cc and then in a turbo version.

I need to mention the chewing gum frames and unacceptable brakes of the CB's 750 late 70s and early 80s. But they didn't spill a single drop of oil and the electrics were flawless.

To be objective I have to mention that Yamaha was the only one that developed the Alu frame in mid 80s.

To conclude, if you don't pour money in R&D, then you can afford to put money in manufacturing the same product without the competitors mistakes and make a success!!!!!
 

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Pretty easy to find scrap Japanese bikes cause they made so many of them
You are correct sir, it is basically a numbers game. To say that there are more Japanese bikes than Ducatis anywhere, where it be on the road on in the graveyard is a revelation akin to saying the sky is blue. To compare the number of bikes made in an entire country (especially one that has probably produced the most on the planet) to a single small manufacturer like Ducati or even a larger one like BMW would be highly statistically flawed.

That being said, I see tons of parted out used Ducati & BMW parts being sold on the internet. In fact, in proportion to production, I think I may see more Ducati parts than Japan Inc, and not by a small margin either.

And quite frankly, around where I live, in Northeastern US, people want (and seem to get) outrageous prices for old Japanese bikes that are in pretty much junk state.
 

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A couple of examples: we all have read the case of Dr. Kaaden from former East Germany. He was a professor of acoustic mechanics and he developed the two stroke exhaust for MZ ( if I am not mistaken). He then disappeared from a GP race, to be found later working for Suzuki.
Not quite true, but you're close. Kaaden was originally an engineer on the V-2 rocket for the Nazis during the war. That was where he attained his knowledge on nozzle diameters and exit angles, which he then applied to MZ motorcycles after the war.

The man you're thinking of is Ernst Degner. He also helped Kaaden develop the motorcycles, and also raced in the world championship. He had a chance to win the title, but he defected with one or two races remaining (in 1962 I believe). He stole Kaaden's technology and took a huge payday from Suzuki to apply it to their engines.

Look for "Stealing Speed" on Amazon, it was a fascinating read.
 

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Crarrs,

thank you very much for the correction and completion. I read the story a very long time ago and memory ''drifts'' sometimes.
 

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My reading says, that the Japanese DID NOT INVEST A SINGLE PENNY in R&D
Sorry, must respectfully disagree with that one. Old man Honda in particular was a real demon when it came to copying. He was known to throw wrenches at guys in his shop not innovating or thought to be copying. Really hard to know about the truth of the Jawa matter as courts make decisions that are not always technically viable. But Honda had a business plan that put so many people on two wheels and they continue to innovate and do R&D to this day. Problem is, a lot of the innovation is incremental and not ground breaking, and that is a tradition that goes on today. As for stuff like the GL/CX, I never knew Guzzi was the originator or that engine arrangement...guess not, and i never knew that they made 4-valve water cooled versions either, at least before Honda did so. As you can see, i kind of take issue with the Copycat label that Japan has been stuck with for far too long (not that it didn't occur, even today).
 

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to add more fuel to this discussion, Marusho made a commercial transverse V-twin before Moto-Guzzi did, in 1959, even though this may have been a very advanced copy of a German bike, the Victoria Burgemeister (I think).
 

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heh, heh, you are welcome Stelbo! Glad to help! However, if you were replying to me, I think I was talking about a commercial transverse V-twin, not a racing V-8 that was not transverse. if you were not replying to me, mea culpa mon signor!
 

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Hi Mad Dog

Yes I was replying to you, and I tried to mess things up, by introducing a ''different'' subject into the discussion.
That's a nice engine though.
I have been wondering for many years, how did they manage to sync the Delorto carbs.
 

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A lot of patience i imagine. One reason stuff like that would run well for a lap or two and then go wacko, kind of like that nightmare BRM V16 in F1. Try tuning that sucker back in the day!
 

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You are correct sir, it is basically a numbers game. To say that there are more Japanese bikes than Ducatis anywhere, where it be on the road on in the graveyard is a revelation akin to saying the sky is blue. To compare the number of bikes made in an entire country (especially one that has probably produced the most on the planet) to a single small manufacturer like Ducati or even a larger one like BMW would be highly statistically flawed.

That being said, I see tons of parted out used Ducati & BMW parts being sold on the internet. In fact, in proportion to production, I think I may see more Ducati parts than Japan Inc, and not by a small margin either.

And quite frankly, around where I live, in Northeastern US, people want (and seem to get) outrageous prices for old Japanese bikes that are in pretty much junk state.
I think your correct with regards to the number of bikes parted out Ducati vs Japanese. My theory is obvious, Ducati's seem to have more, many more, catastrophic engine failures than a Jap bike-period. These failures are ridiculously costly and owners just throw the towel in. Probably because they got sick and tired of spending $$$ to fix and maintain everything else.
I nearly parted out my 999 and I had some very expensive Ohlins suspension, CF body parts, loads of top quality DP stuff, overbored engine...Gheez'...all because a left main bearing had gone...$3000 to fix it right...wrong being replace just the two main and rod bearings, right meaning replace all the engine bearings and get the crank race spec balanced.
 

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You are correct sir, it is basically a numbers game. To say that there are more Japanese bikes than Ducatis anywhere, where it be on the road on in the graveyard is a revelation akin to saying the sky is blue. To compare the number of bikes made in an entire country (especially one that has probably produced the most on the planet) to a single small manufacturer like Ducati or even a larger one like BMW would be highly statistically flawed.

That being said, I see tons of parted out used Ducati & BMW parts being sold on the internet. In fact, in proportion to production, I think I may see more Ducati parts than Japan Inc, and not by a small margin either.

And quite frankly, around where I live, in Northeastern US, people want (and seem to get) outrageous prices for old Japanese bikes that are in pretty much junk state.
No, it's not simply a numbers game. It's about how people value certain bikes more than others. If it was as simplistic as a numbers game, motorcycle scrap yards would be full of Harleys. :)

Certain bikes are valued more than others for certain reasons, one of them being that the bike is somehow perceived as "special." There are *millions* of Harleys on the road, like there are millions of Japanese bikes on the road, but still, Harleys get more "respect" and are far less likely to end-up in a scrap yard. And they're not alone.

BMW's, Ducatis, Moto Guzzis, and probably a few others, simply do not make it that far down the "food chain" because they are too valued to be tossed in a scrap yard after they die. :) They are more rebuild-able than they are "disposable." And if you still think it's a numbers game, remember, there are any number of examples of low production runs of Japanese bikes, that are still scrapped as easily as those produced in much higher numbers.

I have in my "man stash" an old Omega and an old Longines watch. Both are useless. "Scrap" in a functional sense. But, I keep them, thinking one day I'll get them ticking again. Ask me if I kept my Timex watches after they burned out. :)

I'm glad older Japanese bikes are bringing in big bucks. Some are excellent, look at the value placed on RC models, and I think if that says anything, it's a statement about the crap being put out today more than anything else.

Hey, maybe my ST will appreciate based on the same principle. :)
 
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