Meet your makers: Kawasaki revive Meguro brand that laid the foundation for their motorcycle business

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This is a Meguro K3 – a modern retro roadster based on the new(ish) Kawasaki W800. Although you could argue that the W800 is actually based on the Meguro/Kawasaki collaborative K, which was based on the Meguro ‘Stamina’.

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So what we’re saying is here’s the new Meguro K3 – a modern retro roadster based on an old roadster that helped launch Kawasaki’s entire motorcycle business. Now you’re interested…

If you’ve not heard of Meguro, fear not as they’ve been defunct since 1964. Meguro began in the early 1920s as an ironworks. When the American economy crashed causing the Great Depression, Meguro invested in Harley-Davidson in return for their bike-building knowledge.

They began by building gearboxes (at first for another company, then themselves) until they produced their first bike in 1935: the 500cc single powered Z97. Work stopped almost immediately due to the onset of WWII but the Z97 made a lasting impression, still considered an early landmark of Japanese engineering.

Historical Meguro team photo

Meguro resumed production again in the late 1940s but it wasn’t until the early 1950s they began to make bigger and better machines. Their first twin was the T1 Senior, which was heavily inspired by British twins of the time, and that was swiftly followed by the K also known as the ‘Stamina’.

The K was a licenced copy of BSA’s A7, albeit better made, such that this was the first time Triumph’s Edward Turner considered Japanese motorcycles to be a threat. Despite the success of the K, Meguro had financial troubles so the Kawasaki Aircraft Company bought part of Meguro forming a company known as Kawasaki-Meguro.

In 1963 Kawasaki completely took over Meguro, creating the new Kawasaki Motorcycle Corporation. Kawasaki kept the BSA licence and continued to build the K, improving the inner workings. Then in 1965 they bored it out to 624cc and called it the W1. The rest, as they say, is history.

Meguro K3 right side

For now, unfortunately, the Meguro K3 is a Japan only model that costs around £9200 but Kawasaki have revived the trademarks worldwide so maybe they will sell it elsewhere in the future.

Under the skin the K3 is virtually identical to the W800, although it’s actually slightly more powerful at 52bhp (because our 48bhp W800 model is A2-compliant). This should make the K3 relatively simple to register in the UK if you were desperate to import one.