The first incarnation of the motorcycle was, appropriately, a "motorised bicycle". This was simply for convenience as the industry over 100 years ago found its feet....or wheels! Although motorcycles were an established part of the landscape in the 20th century, the second world war – and shortage of materials at war end – led to the re-emergence of the motorised bicycle, especially in Japan.

Companies such as suzuki adapted their previous industrial experience – in their case the manufacture of weaving looms - to help mobilise the vast Japanese population with the launch of the Power Free model E2 in June 1952. This “bicycle with an engine” was in fact the second attempt as the initial model (the 30cc ATOM) was thought by company founder, Michio suzuki, and, appropriately named Director, Shinzo suzuki, not to have enough performance thanks to a meagre 0.2 horsepower.

The E2 ramped up the urge to a heady 1 horsepower which must have made it feel like a Hayabusa compared to the ATOM and production began in 1952 of the simple yet elegant machine with no suspension and bicycle type expanding shoe brakes allied to a motor equipped with a two-speed transmission system with an oil bath multi-plate clutch yet with the proportions and manoeuvrability of a bicycle.

Japanese society – thanks to the Power Free and a raft of similar products from other manufacturers - was now mobile and the more roads filled, the more legislation evolved. Lasting just one model year, the Power Free made way for the 60cc Diamond Free in 1953 retailing in the region of 5000 units per month in the Japanese domestic market.

issued: Thursday, September 15, 2022
updated: Thursday, September 15, 2022

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