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Suzuki was originally founded as the Suzuki Loom Works, by Michio Suzuki in 1909. Despite experimenting with prototype cars it was after World War 2 that the company produced the 1952 Power Free motorized bicycle, with a 36cc, 1hp, two-stroke engine and a double-sprocket gear system. That system was innovative enough to earn the company a subsidy to continue motorcycle research, creating the Suzuki Motor Corporation.
Suzuki was famously involved in the defection of East German Grand Prix racer Ernst Degner, who had raced for East German firm MZ. A year after the Berlin Wall had been built, Degner drove from the Swedish Grand Prix at Kristianstad whilst his family left East Germany smuggled in the boot of a car. He was then hired to Suzuki, designing new 50cc and 125cc racers, and in 1962 he won the first world championship for the factory in the 50cc class. In 1970, Suzuki became the first manufacturer to win a motocross world championship, and then signed British icon Barry Sheene who won the world championship in 1976 and 1977. In the modern era, Suzuki won the 2000 MotoGP title with Kenny Roberts Jnr.
Notable motorcycles include the GSX-R1000, 750 and 600cc sportsbikes, and the famously fast Suzuki Hayabusa, which was capable of 190mph when it launched in 1999, although it has since been limited to a top speed of 186mph. The SV650 is popular with both novice riders and racers, whilst the naked Suzuki Bandit also has a strong following.