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Early Japanese Motocross Bikes

    Motocross started becoming popular in North America in the mid 1960's, but had been practised in Europe from a much earlier time. This being the case, their motocross bikes were at the top of their game and based on decades of experience. When Japan decided to get involved in the sport they followed two distinct paths. One was to take existing production motorcycles and either modify it for competition, or offer upgrade kits, so the consumer could do the upgrade. The other path was to design a completely new motorcycle, purpose built for racing.
    Suzuki began working on a purpose built motocross motorcycle in the mid 1960's, known as the RH-66, followed by the RH-67, 68, 69, 70. As a result of developing these early models, Suzuki released their TM-250 in 1968, followed by the 75, 125, and 400. As for the RH series, these were factory works bikes intended for factory riders to compete with against the best in the world, but more than that, they were a learning tool. What was learned was used to produce the production bike for the consumer.
    In the case of Honda, they had built their first motocross prototype, hired a rider, and raced it in Japan in 1971. Their production bike was released in 1973, the CR-250 Elsinore, named after a big race held in Elsinore, California.
    Yamaha chose to follow both roads. While they had works motocross team developing and racing specially built bikes, they also offered kits to modify their enduro bikes for motocross. Then they released two models for racing, the MX series, and the YZ for expert racers. The MX series was soon dropped, and the YZ series still lives on today, but sadly, as a four stroke.
    Kawasaki was a bit late to the party in that it was around 1966 when they first became known in North America. Still they wasted no time marketing motorcycles for racing. The F21M, also known as "the 238 rotary" was the first one released in 1969, followed by the G31M, also known as the "centurion" . There was an earlier motocross bike known as the B8M, but i think it pre dates Kawasakis' presence in North America, probably 1963-65. Below are some pictures of some of these early, but very important motorcycles.
  Kawasaki B8M
  Prototype Yamaha YZ-250
  Kawasaki F-21M
  Kawasaki G31M
  Kawasaki B8M
 Bridgestone SR-100
Bridgestone SR-100
 Bridgestone 175
 Hodaka Combat Wombat
 1969 Suzuki TM-250