Compared to the other Japanese motorcycle makers, Bridgestone is rare, so it was nice to see this 100 TMX at the 2013 HoAME Vintage Motorcycle Rally. Bridgestone had started making tires in 1930, and made its first bicycle in 1949, so building motorcycles was a natural move in the 1950s. The most common bike they sold in America was the 100 GP, and this 100 TMX was just a scrambler version of that bike.
Clymer Girl and the crew didn’t have to go far to attend the HoAME show and rally, as it was just up the road at the Kansas City Airline History Museum in the Downtown Airport. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles representing the best of British, German, Japanese, Italian, and American manufacturers. Some of the brands on display were Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Lambretta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, and more. There was everything from 100% perfect restorations, to well worn daily riders, to full-on customized cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers – any type or style of motorcycle you could image. As part of the museum’s permanent exhibits, there were also vintage propeller driven passenger planes, including a Douglas DC-3, a Martin 404, and, the pride of their collection, a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.
Already an established maker of tires for bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks and more, in the 1950s Bridgestone entered the motorcycle business. Their two-stroke powered bikes were advanced for their time, with little 100cc bikes like this TMX putting out more than 10.5hp (claimed). Their masterpiece was the 350cc twin released in 1967 that was a giant killer in terms of power and handling, and rivaled Honda for quality. But, as one of the major suppliers of OEM tires for Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha, the head office realized the motorcycle division directly competed with their best tire customers. In 1971 Bridgestone they stopped making motorcycles, making this example one of the last one made.
If you have one of these classic orphaned Japanese bikes from Bridgestone, you can find service and maintenance information in the Clymer Vintage Collection 2-Stroke Motorcycle manual.