Monday, April 21, 2008

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery"..the Japanese copy Velocette

As the title for this blog posting states...."Imitation is the greatest form of Flattery"...upon their first introduction to Europe , Australia and the USA, Japanese motorcycles were considered attempts to copy the best available from Europe at the time....they may have been right, but in the end, the Japanese had the last laugh...... As much English as Japanese, the Abe Star FR250 of 1954 would become the makes most widespread model until its closing in 1959. 12hp at 5,300rpm, 395lb weight and reputed to reach 75mph. The rear suspension is a dead copy of the newly introduced swinging arm MAC and MSS. The engine has a decided "BSA" twin look....
The Monarch company started in the early 1950s , by a motorcycle merchant in Tokyo. Their model F1 had a timing chest copied straight off Velocette..... producing 13.5hp and weighing 330lb it reputedly won a big race on Mount Fuji in 1954. The firm closed in 1957.
All this interesting information came from a book shown me by Ed Gilkison, the US Velo Spare Parts man several years ago.
"A Century of Japanese Motorcycles" by Didier Ganneau and Francois-Marie Dumas, the copy I have is a translation by Kevin Desmond and Gerald G.Guetat and published in the USA by MBI Publishing company, St.Paul,MN USA. Can't have been a big seller, as my copy was a "remaindered bookseller" version for US$9.98......
Left click on photos to enlarge.

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