BRIDGESTONE and the bikes!
BRIDGESTONE is a well-known Japanese brand as a tire producer (in 2015 it was considered the world's largest tire manufacturer, slightly ahead of MICHELIN). In fact, the company, founded by Soichiro Ishibashi (ishi means stone/stone and bashi means bridge/bridge) in 1931 started its activity as an auto parts trading and tire producer. What is lesser known is that BRIDGESTONE produced motorcycles! After World War II, in 1946 the company started producing bicycles with a motor ('clip-on' type) and between 1958 and 1971 it produced motorcycles. The motorcycles were essentially marketed in the USA. In Japan, where the domestic market was, at the time, very large, they never had commercial expression due to the conflict of interests with the other four big Japanese brands that threatened to stop buying tires from BRIDGESTONE if the company insisted on the home market.
1973 Spa-Francorchamps, Jos Schurgers, Bridgestone 125cc
In the US, they gained some commercial expression, mainly due to the range introduced from 1964 onwards, which underwent few changes until 1971. The bikes had good build quality and top-notch performance. The engines used were 2T, capacity between 50cc and 350cc, with rotary valve intake. From 1971, BRIDGESTONE stopped producing and selling motorcycles.
In fact, it must be considered that this segment was never a priority for the company. At the time, in the US, the 350 GTR cost about 900 USD while the competing HONDA and YAMAHA cost 200 USD less.