Did You Know? Bridgestone Was Also A Motorcycle Manufacturer.

is the world’s largest tire and rubber company manufacturing tires for passenger cars, commercial, motorcycles and other diversified products.

But after WWII Bridgestone started making clip on engines for bicycles and then became a motorcycle manufacturing company with engines ranging from 50 to 350 cc displacement with the Bridgestone 350 GTR and GTO (featured here) released in 1967.

These last 350 cc models were very performant and respected on the track. They had chrome-plated cylinders, rotary-valve induction systems and were easily identifiable with their unusual gas tank narrower in the front and wider at the rear. Production stopped in 1971, Bridgestone deciding to focus on tires manufacturing. Because of small production numbers original Bridgestone 350 GTR and GTO motorcycles are now very much sought after by collectors.

21 Responses to “Did You Know? Bridgestone Was Also A Motorcycle Manufacturer.”

  1. 1 Greg Oct 26th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Didn’t know. Interesting. I wonder how many companies in the world tried their luck at producing motorcycles. I bet more than at cars manufacturing.

  2. 2 Oct 26th, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I remember these bikes, I mostly remember them as unreliable and being not running most of the time. Backyard sheds and barns were a common place to find them instead of the road, and that is likely what caused Bridgestone to focus on tires… the only part of the bike that worked properly.

  3. 3 Freddie Oct 26th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    We had a Bridgestone Motorcycle dealer in my hometown of Canton,Ga in the 60’s. He kept 4 or 5 in stock.

  4. 4 Angry Inch Oct 26th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I did not know this, but an interesting bit of info to store away.

  5. 5 Oct 26th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    They were good little Japanese bikes for the time. Some are still running around here and are fairly common at farm auctions. Remember the Montgomery Wards Riverside bikes (made by Benelli) from the same era?

  6. 6 Eric Maurer Oct 26th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    my first bike was a Bridgestone…. it never ran. but had a great time trying to get it on the road.

  7. 7 Oct 26th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I just sold one to someone that is going to restore it. I had the Hurricane Scrambler.
    The shifting was a bit odd, you could keep hitting the shift lever down and it would keep going through all of the gears!

  8. 8 Oct 26th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Fausto, my first bike (late ’60s 120cc Suzuki) was like that, maybe they shared some parts. A friend on mine in High school had one of the 350s and it ran well, he put a rear sprocket on it that was 4 or 5 teeth over stock-topped out at around 45 but a heck of a wheelie machine cruising downtown 😉

  9. 9 Sam Oct 27th, 2010 at 6:46 am

    The New York Times had an interesting article in Wheels section last Sunday about Bridgestone motorcycles

  10. 10 Oct 27th, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Just thought I’d add a snipper of (perhaps) mild interest. A buddy of mine who used to be a Bridgestone tire dealer once told me that Bridgestone was named after the name of the founder, Shojiro Ishibashi (Ishi = Stone, Bashi = Bridge) and that the products either initially were, or were intended to be, marketed under the English name of Stonebridge, but it didn’t seem to have the right ring about it and thus was reversed to the now familiar Bridgestone. Like I said, mildly interesting (perhaps).

  11. 11 Oct 27th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I like the tank it looks cool! Don’t remember these bikes but hey I was just a kid in the 60’s.

  12. 12 Mediaguy (Larry Langley) Oct 27th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I actually owned a 350 with a Windjammer fairing. Used it to commute to work up in L.A. Pretty powerful motor but spewed a lot of 2 stroke smoke when accelerating. It was reliable when I had it. Wish I had it now to vintage race.

  13. 13 Richard Oct 27th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I knew two guys who rode Bridgestones. One was a 200 cc I think. This owner used the bike as a short commuter. The other guy (Big John), rode Guzzys on the road but woud frequently be see on his running around town, doing erands and “bench racing” with other riders. John always described his Bridgestone as a “great little bike”. Good memories!

  14. 14 Knucklehead Oct 28th, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I remember them as having the first chrome fenders.

  15. 15 [email protected] Oct 29th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I owned a 65cc with a 3 speed! It had a a Heel, Toe Shifter. It ran and ran and ran. You couldn’t hurt the Bike. It was a Red Bike and it brings back memories as I write this.

  16. 16 Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I remember riding the Bridgestones with their “rotary shifters”. You could go through the gears progressively in either direction. There was no “stop”when you got to the end, into Neutral, in either direction. So if you were not paying attention and were blasting away up up through the gears and thought you hit a false neutral between 4h -5th, then shift again and went into 1st at 60 mph! You saw god and the repair shop very quickly if you didn’t have a quick clutch hand, and you eft a nice tire rubber stripe in the road!!!!

  17. 17 gtlover Nov 1st, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Actually, what influenced Bridgestone the most to stop building bikes was pressure from other motorcycle companies. They started hinting that they might not buy tires from a competing motorcycle manufacturer!

  18. 18 Nov 2nd, 2010 at 6:02 am

    I was living in Presho [in the middle of the plains of South Dakota] in the late ’60’s and the Coast to Coast hardware store sold Bridgestones so there were alot of ’em in that little town. I had a ’67 Honda 305 Super Hawk an’ blew their doors off [so to speak]. Yeah, they smoked like a son of a bitch but the locals liked ’em. Brings back some fond memories seein’ that bike again. Wiz

  19. 19 Nov 3rd, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I think they became Kawasaki later as looked similar to as the Kawasaki Samuri twins ? Mike Custom Cruisers UK

  20. 20 Dec 27th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    was a dealer in 70 through 73 no one could catch one of these little bikes. the 350 would run off and leave a honda 750

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