Harley-Davidson’s Imperial Brother, the KURO HAGANE (Black Iron), is an exceptionally rare pre-WW II antique motorcycle. Its titanic stature, majestic style and uniquely eventful life are exceeded only by its desire to endure.
Unearthed in the early sixties, the restoration captivates any spectator.
This 1939 KURO HAGANE was produced in Japan prior to WW II with sometimes modified tooling and blueprints acquired from Harley-Davidson for the military elite. This is not to be confused with the more numerously popular “RIKUO” (King of the Road). The “Black Iron” was nicknamed “two-story” and towered above all others. The machines were made in Hiroshima from 1937 to 1945.
Harleys were imported to Japan during WW1 for military use. Tights for tooling and manufacturing were sold to a Japanese company in 1931. In 1932 drawing and machinery for the 1200 VL were shipped to Japan. The Japanese promised not to sell Japan made Harleys anywhere outside the country and would make an effort to sell Milwaukee cycles also.
The “RIKUO” was produced from 1935 and stopped when production was turned over for military vehicles. It went on the market again in 1947 and was taken over by SHOWA in 1950. Production ended in 1958.
To jump back to the history of this particular machine, Stephen sure has done a lot of homework and has a long story itself which includes a photo of Lucille Ball and Fred Mertz from a show scene in which they crashed the machine.
The one photo taken in the 1963 shows the “as found” condition. After years of dedicated work and the help of a long list of people and companies who helped Stephen, it was time to finally show the bike.
This was done at the “26th Annual Del Mar California Concours D’Elegance.” On that Saturday, October 11, 1997, this KURO HURAGANE (Black Iron) was a smashing hit and received “MEMBERS CHOICE” by the San Diego Antique Motorcycle Club.
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I wish I had more space to publish more of the story / article that Stephen wrote, but he certainly has compiled a lot of history for his wonderful bike.
The SHEER size of the bike is about 1-1/2 times that of a regular bike of this type. It is listed in a Japanese book as a 1260cc Sidecar machine. IT also has a 3-speed plus reverse transmission.
I recalled seeing a bike like this in one of my old magazines, and after much search found this photo in an October 1945 issue of MOTORCYCLIST magazine. Do You Want To Know More About This Rare Motorcycle?