150 miles west of Tokyo is the birthplace of legends: the Bandit; the Hayabusa; the GSX-R – bikes which defined and redefined the motorcycle landscape. The Takatsuka Engine Plant in Hamamatsu. You may not have heard of it before, but to Suzuki it’s everything.
It’s here that the heart and soul of their bikes are formed, where rods and pistons and cranks and cams are brought together to produce some of the most powerful and refined engines on the planet.
They don’t just make bikes, they craft them.
Each of the 100 engine types they create – from 50cc Scooter engines to GSX-R engines to 1,800cc V-Twins – is put together by hand by 962 men and women who take great pride in their work, strive to do the best job possible and – most importantly – ride Suzuki’s.
Built by hand because machines don’t know how to handle the number of engine variations Suzuki bikes require, machines don’t give a damn about the final product, and machines don’t ride bikes. Suzuki’s experts, with an average of 16 years of service each, do. Their experience, energy, spirit and competitive attitude is built into all of their bikes.
After the engine has been completed, carefully measured and evaluated to make sure it’s safe and to Suzuki’s stringent standards, it’s then passed on to the Toyokawa Final Assembly Plant. This is where a Suzuki’s heart is given a body. 1,609 workers – each as dedicated and skilled as those at Takatsuka – weld and polish frames, stamp out tanks, paint panels, and piece together each of the hundreds of components needed to build their bikes with the accuracy and precision of a surgeon. Even when they apply the decals, there are special tools and hot air guns on hand to make sure no air bubbles appear on the side of your bike.
Suzuki also encourage their employees to work on a range of bikes and become multi-skilled, meaning that if one isn’t on hand to check for imperfections using UV paint, there’ll always be someone around who can, and there’ll be no delay in the bike’s production. When a visiting journalist asked the supervising foreman to prove this claim, he immediately stepped onto the line and perfectly fitted a GSX-R side panel as quickly as if he had been doing it all day.
Of course, we can’t tell you about every process that goes into creating Suzuki bikes, but needless to say, it’s those secrets that make their bikes unlike anything else out there.
Finally, once every process has been completed and every element has been brought together, a new Suzuki is born. But they don’t hang around to take pictures, they take it straight to a rolling road, where it’s fired up, taken through the gears and given one last all-round check before being ridden across the factory floor ready for packing and delivery to us here at Streetbike.