Back in November, 2020, Kawasaki Heavy Industries announced that it had plans to spin off its motorcycle business by October 1, 2021. The new company, Kawasaki Motors Limited, is now here—and even before its official start date as an entity, it’s been quite busy.
In June, 2021, Kawasaki noted that its worldwide sales of large motorcycles (those with displacements over 400cc) have increased by 80 percent just since FY2017. Additionally, it noted that its customers are now skewing younger, with the number of riders in their 20s having risen during that same time period by 60 percent. At that time, the OEM also stated that it’s pushing hard in its development of electric motors, hybrids, and hydrogen fuel technologies in recognition of greater societal and cultural shifts.
By September, 2021, Kawasaki Motors Limited’s first-ever president, Hiroshi Ito, announced that Kawasaki plans to expand its existing Nebraska factory, as well as to create a completely new manufacturing facility in Mexico. The company plans to spend around $265 million dollars on these expansion projects, geared toward amping up production capacity in the North American markets, as well as elsewhere in the world.
That brings us to October 1, 2021—which is, for all intents and purposes, Kawasaki Motors Limited’s official birthday. Naturally, that’s the time when company founders, presidents, and similar persons like to make grand speeches about what the company hopes to achieve. While President Hiroshi Ito was no different in that regard, his official announcement focused on fun.
Not just fun for riders, although of course that’s a goal as well. Ito said that above all, his philosophy is that all the people involved in making Kawasaki motorcycles should also be having fun. No matter what their jobs are, Ito said, he wants them to enjoy Kawasaki in order to make the most exciting motorcycles they can.
Of course, anyone could say that, and actions speak louder than words. It’s too early to tell if those words are meaningful and heartfelt, or if they’re just a bunch of flat words on paper. What’s more interesting to us is the fact that Kawasaki Motors Limited is branding itself with a new logo to celebrate its new identity. Or rather, an old logo—and one that was most certainly chosen very deliberately.
Remember when the Ninja H2 and H2R debuted back in 2014 and set the entire motorcycle world’s heart aflame? At that time, Kawasaki Heavy Industries chose to use their iconic River Mark as the official logo for that bike. It’s a heavily stylized design that riffs on the Japanese kanji for “kawa,” which means “river.” In the grand Kawasaki story, the mark first debuted back in the 1870s. It was originally flown on the flags of ships owned by Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard, the business that eventually became Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
In other words, it was a very big deal when Kawasaki chose to use that hallowed mark as its official logo for the H2 and H2R. With that recent history in mind, its use as the new Kawasaki Motors Limited logo seems like a fairly clear statement of intent. From the company’s official Twitter to its YouTube and webpage, it’s now River Marks all the way down as of October 4, 2021.
While we know that not every bike can be as exciting as the global introduction of the H2 and H2R, it’s tough not to see this choice as Kawasaki throwing down a gauntlet, of sorts. We look forward to seeing how Kawasaki Motors lives up to the awfully high expectations it just set for itself.