With travel severely restricted and most of the world under quarantine, most of us riders (who aren’t frontline workers) are probably looking for ways to pass the time. There have already been numerous virtual launches, motorcycle shows, and even races online. Yet for those that want to take in the sights at their own pace, there’s another way to travel without leaving your home.
We all use Google Maps to find our way around town, but did you know that you can also use it to tour around cities and places you’ve never been before? Thanks to one of Google Maps’ features called Street View, we can actually visit some of the most amazing motorcycle museums in the world; all from the comfort of our own home.
How to navigate
For those unfamiliar, as the name suggests, Street View is a special feature in Google Maps that lets you see the place you're looking for from the street. Because it provides 360-degree views, besides helping you get your bearings, it’s also a great way to see museums. Best of all, it works on whatever device you’re using, whether phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
For this edition, we’ll start with the big four Japanese motorcycle brands: Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. We’ll provide links to take you straight to the museums. To browse, simply slide your finger around your phone’s screen to view a part of the room. Click on the white arrows to go forward, left, or right as indicated. On your laptop, click on the compass with curved arrows to rotate your view. To move around, click on the white arrows as well. You can even skip to a different floor by pressing the number buttons (1,2,3) on the left of your screen (on the phone) or the right of your screen (on the laptop). Let’s get started!
Honda Collection Hall
The Honda Collection Hall (CLICK HERE), located inside the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, is a motorcycle and automobile museum owned by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Visitors to Twin Ring Motegi can enter the museum for free, and the museum receives more than 180,000 visitors per year. There are approximately 300 exhibits in total, including 209 motorcycles, 65 automobiles, general purpose engines, and other products.
The museum features some of Honda’s most noteworthy products from its first motorcycle produced in 1948, an extensive collection of cubs, CBs, CBRs, and even some race bikes. The virtual tour is pretty extensive and lets you go through all of the halls. You can view the museum through Google Maps or from Honda's own dedicated tour website.
Kawasaki Good Times World
Kawasaki is a much larger company than most people realize. As such, it should come as no surprise that its motorcycle museum is just a small part of the Kawasaki Heavy Industry Group’s corporate museum. Kawasaki Good Times World (CLICK HERE) occupies a part of the larger Kobe Maritime Museum. If ships, trains, and heavy equipment aren’t your thing, you can skip straight to the motorcycle gallery.
Here’s you’ll find both Kawasaki’s latest and historic models. There’s everything from the H2R, to Ninjas, Zs, W series bikes, and more. There’s a great Street View tour. There are also lots of public photos uploaded, allowing you to see some of the bikes on display in closer detail.
Yamaha Communications Plaza
Just like Honda and Kawasaki, Yamaha doesn’t just make motorcycles, but car engines, outboard motors, and more recently, unmanned aerial vehicles. These are all housed in the Yamaha Communication Plaza (CLICK HERE), a corporate museum operated by Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. The museum covers everything from Yamaha’s establishment in 1955 to its visions for the future.
Here you’ll find some of Yamaha’s exceptional creations. Did you know that they built the engines for the Toyota 2000GT, Lexus LFA, as well as the Volvo XC90 V8? Naturally, there are also some boats, side-by-sides, golf karts, snowmobiles, and unmanned helicopters. Of course, what we’re really here to see are the motorcycles. The amazing part of this museum is that all the motorcycles are in working order, from the first model, UJMs, scooters, to race bikes. Again, it doesn’t really offer a Street View tour, but there’s a 360-degree view of the main hall and several photos posted of the bikes on display.
Suzuki History Museum
Like Honda, Suzuki makes both motorcycles and automobiles. That’s evident at Suzuki History Museum (CLICK HERE) at Suzuki Plaza, the corporate museum of Suzuki Motor Corporation. The museum occupies a three-story building, and visitors tour the building from top to bottom. Suzuki’s museum is organized by period, allowing visitors to see the progression from their first bike to current models.
Some of the highlights include Suzuki’s first 1954 model, the Powerfree, the rotary engine-powered RE-5, to some of their greatest race bikes. There’s also an exhibit of an automobile assembly line for those curious. There is a Street View tour, but it doesn’t allow you to walk around. Rather, it only gives you 360-degree views and takes you gallery by gallery. Thankfully, there are a lot of contributed photos to give you a better view of parts of the museum.
That concludes our round up of Japanese motorcycle museums you can visit virtually. However, we plan to do a few more covering American and European brands as well. Granted, touring these virtual museums may not match the real thing, but it’s a welcome way to pass the time. Perhaps it may even encourage you to plan a trip and see it in person when this is all over.