Category Archives: Motorcycle Museum: Motorcycle Profiles

Adventure Travel Talk: If we were 50 years younger…

Some 40 people enjoyed a pair of lively presentations Sun., March 20. One, by Chris Piland of Pacific Grove, detailed his 70-day trip across the United States and back on his Honda Passport. Chris has been following Ed March of the UK, who has put more than 110,000 miles on his little Honda, and brought a slide-and-video show of his travels from Malaysia to the USA. They met in New York! Look for the bikes in the album below. We’ll do it again, it was so much fun._MG_1612 _MG_1609 _MG_1607 _MG_1606 _MG_1602 _MG_1601 _MG_1599 _MG_1598 _MG_1597 _MG_1596 _MG_1594 _MG_1593 _MG_1592 _MG_1591 _MG_1590 _MG_1589 _MG_1588 _MG_1587 _MG_1586 _MG_1585 _MG_1582 _MG_1580 _MG_1579 _MG_1578 _MG_1576 _MG_1575

Michael Wozniak’s Suzuki RE5

Michael Wozniak bought the 1970 Suzuki RE5 in 1995 while he was still a member of the Oakland Police Department. He rode it a lot, he says, and showed it, too. He took it to Alda Galbraith’s show, the Concours de Lemon…but that’s not a fair venue by which to judge this little gem of Japanese engineering.

"Firemist Orange" they called this shade of orange.

“Firemist Orange” they called this shade of orange.

What’s different about the RE5 is the engine. It’s a Wankel Rotary. In fact, everything on the working part of the bike is round or spherical, including the tail lights and the instrument pod – which has a distinct resemblance to those tubes we used to shove through the pneumatic contraption at the bank drive-through.

The instrument pod

The instrument pod

Not the prettiest of motorcycles in the estimation of many, it’s nonetheless an interesting one. In the few months of its production, between 1974 and 1976, it’s estimated only a few more than 6000 were made. It just didn’t go over.

DKW and Norton tried rotaries and it’s rumored that Kawasaki and Honda each tested prototypes but never went into production. There was also a small run by a company called Van Veen, running an NSU/Audi engine developed for Citroén.

The engine.

The engine.

Wozniak had two RE5s – one for parts – along with 11 other classic motorcycles. In late 2014, a fire at his home took the entire collection, with the exception of this one, in “Firemist Orange.” It was on display at an Oakland Suzuki/Honda/Kawasaki dealer and escaped the conflagration.

Wozniak says the mileage is “adequate.” He says it’s a comfortable ride, but has almost no torque yet goes great on the freeway. Rotaries are notoriously hot, and this one is water-cooled like the “Water Buffalo” we also have on display. Mike says the hot running requires cold air inlets, too, and heat shields, but “it’s great in the winter!”

He’d buy another, he says. We’re happy just to have the one on display. You can find a great article on Suzuki RE5s at Wikipedia under Suzuki_RE5.

The Widow-Maker Arrives

After talking with Danny Gottfried last month about his collection of restored Kawasaki triples (aka “Widow-Makers”), he brought his 1974 Kawasaki 750 Mach IV to display at the Museum for everyone to appreciate.

This is a 100-point show bike with 0 miles since restoration, and it’s absolutely perfect. It will be placed on display nose-to-nose with the 1974 Suzuki 750GT “Water Buffalo.” This will be the finest display of two-cycle triples on the Central Coast.

Come check ’em out!