Have you ridden a Marusho? Have you ever seen a Marusho at your local Sunday ride breakfast stop? Have you even heard of Marusho? Well, I have heard of Marusho, I have never seen one and I haven’t ridden one. But damn, they look really cool or is unique the right word?
Very typical of Japanese motorcycles of the time (the 1950’s and 60’s) they were copies of either European or British bikes. Small to mid-size bikes and truthfully, marginal quality control. Make it, make it cheap and sell ’em. I imagine that many of you remember the term ‘Jap Crap’. Made in Japan was almost the kiss of death…especially if you ever had to extract a really cheesy screw out of a Honda CB350 clutch cover!! But I digress into personal history with early Japanese bikes….
Marusho has a pretty interesting history…interesting enough to make me want to find one. Maybe.
Masashi Ito worked for for Soichiro Honda (Honda motorcycles) from 1930 to 1935 in his auto repair shop. After World War Two, Ito san started his own auto repair shop but was really more interested in motorcycles. In 1950 he built his first motorcycle. A 150cc single patterend after the German Zundapp of the time…it had a shaft drive which was a bit different, I would guess from his automotive experience.
Marusho built motorcycles from 1950 to 1967. During that period they built 31 different models and all but two were shaft drive. Every model I have seen is a derivation of a Euro model, which is typical of the era and the evolution of the Japanese motorcycle industry.During that time period Marusho built somewhere around 50,000 motorcycles.
They wanted to compete with Honda, but it was not in the cards. Honda went on to not only build motorcycles but cars , that actually were powered by motorcycle engines. We got the first one here in the states as a 600cc (the N600) in 1970 but they were also available in Japan as 350cc cars?! Crazy.
And here is a good ‘Bike Night’ bar trivia question for you to get somebody to buy you another beer…first one, did they ever hear of a Marusho? If they did, why were they (the motorcycles) actually named ‘Lilac’? It was Ito san’s wifes favorite flower.
The really nice Marusho Lilac 250 V-Twin I found on ebay this morning is really nice. This is a bike that was inspired by the German Victoria Bergmeister. It is a horizontal V-Twin (kind of Guzzi-ish) and in beautiful condition. As much as I like to envision bikes as really fun cafe racers…this isn’t one of them. I would want to ride this one just as it is.
Hold the phone!!! Get back Jack! Look at this bike…do you see a future Honda? I do. Does the CX500 come to mind? HMMM…somebody is bound to email me with the fact that it came from Moto Guzzi or Victoria Bergmeister, yeah, yeah I know that but…Remember Ito worked for Soichiro Honda and built the V-Twin long before Honda came out with the CX model.
Nonetheless…this is a very cool bike that seems to be selling for a very reasonable price and would be a “buy it and ride it”. When you stop at your favorite motorcycle hangout on a Sunday morning other riders are either going to walk by because they have no clue as to what they are seeing or you are going to have guys taking pictures and wondering who owns it because that want to know about it.
Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. This is a very interesting motorcycle.
1960 Marusho Lilac