Picture story: Kawasaki's secret test strip in the heart of its factory

1 of 6

Kawasaki's Akashi works in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan has been home to its motorcycle manufacturing since 1960. Today it's the site of jet engine, industrial robot and gas turbine construction as well as bikes.

But it started in 1940 as an aircraft factory, and as such it bequeathed the bike business a unique asset: a runway. A bike test strip ran along the course of the original runway (1) from 1960 until it was overbuilt by the expanding factory in the later part of the decade.

But Kawasaki loved having a howling motorcycle test strip in the heart of its manufacturing operations, so in 1968 it built another (2). Still much narrower than a runway, but wider and faster than the original strip it was home to testing of bikes including the H1 500cc two-stroke triple pictured below (just pulled off the production line and as yet without front mudguard).

A third, parallel strip was soon required and at 800m it was nearly twice as long, and became home to testing of bikes including the Z1. 

Since 2005 Kawasaki's testing has centred on its F1-spec Autopolis circuit, but the Akashi strip is still in occasional use, with overalled Kawasaki staff riding bikes in various states of finish for the purpose of carrying out some minor check or other, or maybe just for the hell of it.

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in News…



The voice of motorcycling since 1955