Clymer Manuals got a close-up look at Gary Berger’s 1972 Suzuki RV90J on display at the 2013 HoAME Vintage Motorcycle Rally. This vintage Japanese play bike won the Constellation Award sponsored by Motorcycle Closeouts. While we don’t have a manual that covers this Suzuki specifically, most of the information you need is in the TS/TC90 section of our Vintage Collection Volume 2, which covers all of them from 1970-72, and the later 100cc versions.
The Fun and Functional RV90
Using the same motor as the Suzuki TS90 Honcho and TC90 Blazer, the RV90 Rover was made to be simpler and more fun. The low center of gravity and giant balloon tires made this more of a minibike, and perfect for younger riders or riding on sand. The RV prefix had nothing to do with recreational vehicles, but plenty of these ended up strapped to the bumpers of motorhomes for use in camp because after all, it was fully street legal for errand running duty! The rotary valve motor gave you 8-10 hp for a top speed of about 50 mph, but the wide ratio 4-speed transmission had a low first gear for hauling full-sized adults around on or off road. Read more about the Suzuki RV90 on Suzukicycles.org.
Though the RV line did not last that long in the US, it remained popular with young people in Japan and was sold until 1981. It was joined by RV50, and RV125 models, all know as VanVan in Japan, which represents the sound of the motor revving as well as meaning more and more. In 2002 new VanVan bikes were introduced in 125 and 200 sizes with more conventional style, but still with oversized balloon tires. In 2016, Suzuki USA surprised everyone by offering the Suzuki RV200 VanVan in North America, and though the motor has grown, so has the fun.
In 1909, Michio Suzuki (1887–1982) founded the Suzuki Loom Works in the small seacoast village of Hamamatsu, Japan to build silk weaving looms. Mr. Suzuki filed as many as 120 patents and utility model rights for innovations and improvements in his looms and textile equipment. The company’s first 30 years focused on the development and production of these exceptionally complex machines. Though Suzuki was working on their first motor vehicles before WWII, it wasn’t until after the war that they first entered the transportation business, with motorized bicycles. In just three years they had moved up to 125cc motorcycles and introduced a 360cc mini car. Today Suzuki Motor Company is one of the largest makers of minicars and subcompacts in Asia (though they are no longer sold here) and along with Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha, one of the “big four” in Japanese motorcycle manufacturing. Read more about Suzuki history here on Wikipedia.
The Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiast Show
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 at the Downtown Airport in Kansas City, MO. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles including European, Japanese, and American makes, all on display. All the big manufacturers were represented, as well as some rarer brands like Vincent, BSA, Norton, Brough Superior, Indian, Cushman, Laverda, Puch, Matchless, Zundapp, AJS and more. There were 100% perfect restorations, well-worn bikes that were ridden in, fancy full-on customs, cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers… any type or style of motorcycle you could image. Also on display were vintage and antique passenger airplanes like a Douglas DC-3 and a Martin 404. Right outside the hangar was a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.