Rare Japanese bikes are always interesting, but here are a few featured on Jawa Tino’s YouTube channel that you might like to get a peek at.
Jawa Tino’s video strings together a few viewer-submitted videos of interesting bikes starting up and going around, and this video features a very quirky engine configuration that’s not commonly seen. Aside from many of BMW’s motorcycles, Urals, and Honda’s Goldwing, the boxer engine isn’t a super common configuration, and for quite a few good reasons.
Because of a few things like packaging, costs, and the mere fact that you could end up with a very expensive paperweight after a little tip-over, boxer engines ended up being a very specialized kind of configuration in the world of motorcycles. Back then, when brands were trying everything, and trying to get that “next big thing,” there were a lot of experiments, missteps, and successes that came about, and quite a number of models endured, while many others were forgotten over time.
The video opens up with a bunch of Marusho boxer motorcycles. The brand was started in 1948 by Masashi Itō, who also happened to be Soichiro Honda’s apprentice. The company went defunct in 1967 when it was merged with Honda. At its peak, the company was able to compete well against the likes of Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and another old Japanese brand, Meguro.
Marusho was best known for its Lilac models. Some of the bikes featured include some from the 1950s and others from the 60s. It’s also a bit of a fun fact to know that Marusho also had V-Twins, similar in packaging to Moto Guzzi. Since Marusho went defunct in 1967, the newest bike in the video from the brand is the Magnum Electra.
With that, it’s time for Honda’s Boxer to shine, the Gold Wing. Before the boxer-engined nameplate became a full-on touring machine. It’s weird to see a naked Gold Wing, but we get one anyway. Before the Gold Wing grew, the GL1000, GL1100, and GL1200 were equipped with a four-cylinder boxer motor, the ancestor to the flat-six that we have in today’s Gold Wing.
Then, of course, we have a more modern Gold Wing, fairings, panniers, and all, which served as a successful template for years to come for Honda.
It’s interesting to see just how far we’ve come over time. Marusho was one of the first Japanese manufacturers to believe in a boxer motor with a shaft drive, but Honda took it to the next level.