Compared to contemporary motorcycle designs worldwide, Bridgestones were among the most advanced. While the typical and most common two-stroke engine is a piston port induction design, Bridgestone along with Kawasaki, experimented with a “rotary valve” induction that better controlled intake and exhaust. Bridgestones also incorporated primary kick starting which means even with the transmission in gear, you just pull in the clutch and kick, there’s no need to find neutral. However, Bridgestone’s rotary shifting when improperly operated could offer unintended shifts from top gear to first.
Another form of sophistication was the early application of chrome on aluminum cylinder bores, as well as oil injection. And, seeking new markets, Bridgestone, like Honda, offered electric starting on even their small motorcycles like this Super 7.
Bridgestone was formed in 1930 to produce truck and automobile parts, but moved into tire manufacturing in 1931. As with Honda, motorcycle manufacturing began immediately after World War II. Not having a large dealer network, starting their sales in America around 1963, some Bridgestones were sold through department stores like Aldens much as Sears and Wards sold imported motorcycles. But Bridgestone’s biggest market was direct sales of tires to Japanese motorcycle and auto manufacturers, so around 1972 ceased its (competitive) motorcycle manufacturing and focused on their core business, tire manufacturing. Bridgestone made motorcycles for only about 25 years. The Bridgestone GTR 350 twin is the largest and fastest of their street bikes. Bridgestones live on in the hands of proud collectors like Thomas Zucarro who graciously loaned his Super 7 to the National Motorcycle Museum. A wide range of Japanese motorcycles are on display at the Museum from rare late 1950’s J Model Hondas to a one-owner 1977 Kawasaki Z1R with an interesting story.
- Engine: Two-Stroke Single
- Type: Air-Cooled, Rotary Valve Induction
- Bore & Stroke: 54mm x 54mm
- Displacement: 50cc’s
- Compression Ration: 8.7 – 1
- Ignition: Battery, Coil & Points
- Carburetor: Mikuni
- Horsepower: Seven
- Primary: Gear Driven
- Final Drive: Chain Driven
- Transmission: 4-Speed Rotary Shift
- Starting: Kick and Electric
- Frame: Backbone, Pressed Steel
- Suspension: Leading Link Fork / Swingarm, Dual Shocks
- Brakes: Drum, Front and Rear
- Wheelbase: 49 Inches
- Wheels/Tires: 2.50 x 17 / 2.50 x 17
- Weight: 245 Pounds
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Thanks for sharing this bit of history. It brought back some fond memories of my youth. I learned how to ride on a Bridgstone 90CC. It was my best friends motorcycle. We put many miles riding around the court where his family lived. Both of us were 14 years,old so not legal to drive on the road yet. That didn’t stop us though. Their court was the perfect place to learn. It was about a 1/2 mile loop around with minimal traffic and no cops. I remember it had the rotary valve and rotary shift as well. It made learning to shift gears very easy. I also remember that it had two rear sprockets. We could easily add a few links to the chain and run the larger sprocket. Then we had a fairly capable off road bike. I was quite impressed with it’s hill climbing ability. Those were the days.
My first motorcycle was a Brigstome Sport 100. I can confirm the shift from fourth to first made for some interesting riding but it was a good little bike to learn to ride on. Thanks for memories.
I started out on a 90 Sport with 4 speed rotary shift. Then went on to 175 Hurricane Scrambler with a selective 4 speed rotary / 5 speed straight shift. The rotary gear change went from neutral – 1st – 2nd – 3rd – 4th – neutral. I never once had a problem with going from 4th to 1st, as tapping again in 4th just goes to neutral. Then I got a 350 GTO with 6 speed straight shift. They all had a positive neutral before 1st. The shift pattern was down for up and up for down. To this day I sometimes get mixed up with up for up, down for down.
My first motorcycle was a Bridgestone 200. It was a rotary and white with black knee pads and scrambler pipes. Wish I didn’t sell it and I still have the original shocks in the barn. I remember the 350s and they were nice. Bought it from a seller of ag equipment and snowblowers etc. out of Townsend MA (Think it was Sheppard’s).
Stantial-McCulloch was the New England distributor for Bridgestone Motorcycles, McCulloch Chain Saws, and Scorpion Snow Mobiles. They set up dealers all over New England and gave them very little support. Dave Teel was their sales rep and he went to Boston Cycles as a salesman. He passed away a couple of years ago. Nice guy. So if a dealer sold one of those products, he probably sold all of them.
This was my first motorcycle when I was 12 years old. I had so much fun on it. I now have two Bridgestones that I’m in the process of restoring 48 years later.
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I remember the 50cc model. My friend bought a black one jihad the red one. I could go backwards down a hill and it started! We laughed at having 4 speeds backwards. I bought it at the local Firestone store. Rode it 7 miles home. My Uncle worked there once he got back from service. He flew rescue helicopter in Viet Nam.In Michigan it was legal to ride with 50cc engines. I always thought I was illegal and cool to be that. Until much later it was legal. Cool while it lasted I never knew the difference at that time. Ah the memories…
If the American Heritage Motorcycle Museum (AMA) is not interested in having a couple more Bridgestone motorcycles, I will have a couple down the road when I get close to my end that I would like to see in a museum. I have a 1967 GTR 350 and a 1968 SR100 neither has been restored and they were bought new. One owner me.
I am the proud owner of an all white Bridgestone Surfrider 7 50cc in concourse condition. Beautiful little bike.
I am the proud owner of an all white Bridgestone Surfrider 7 50cc in concourse condition. Beautiful little bike. I live in England.
Hi Chris and Yvette
Just acquired Bridgestone 7 50 cc scooter with a red body and white tank with a round cyclinder and head molded rear tail-light and enclosed handlebars. Can somebody give me information. Thank you.
Chris and Yvette
I have a ’63 Surfrider 7 in very good original condition I purchased from the original owner. I love the advanced for it’s time features like the built in turn signals, enclosed chain, fan cooled and shrouded engine and heel/toe shifter, so you could ride in flip flops and shorts and not worry about burning your legs or stubbing your toes. However I’m confused about some information on this post, and others I’ve seen describing this bike: mine doesn’t have electric start, a rotary valve engine or primary kick start. It does have rotary shift, of which I’m not fond of. But all in all a very cool little bike I’m saving for beach cruising.
Just bought a 1962 Bridgestone super 7 and plan to do a mild restoration, anyone have an idea of what they value at?
Had a new Bridgestone 7 in 1964. Three speed rotary transmission with automatic clutch, electric starter, and turn signals. Loved it, top speed was something like 35 mph downhill. Started with just a push of the button and had till the early 70’s. Came home from college one day and dad had traded to for an old Renault. I was sick.