Suzuki design and engineering godfather Etsuo Yokouchi has died at 87


Multi-talented and hugely influential Suzuki engineer Etsuo Yokouchi passed away in Japan on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at the age of 87. From the GSX-R family to the Katana to the RG250 Gamma, Yokouchi’s indelible fingerprints are everywhere in the world. most popular Suzuki models.

Yokouchi was born in Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan, in 1934. He started at Suzuki in 1957, where he worked in the design department. While he didn’t design motorcycles in a vacuum, many of Suzuki’s most memorable motorcycles wouldn’t have been the way they did without Yokouchi’s vision and involvement.

During his career, Yokouchi rose through the ranks to the position of Deputy General Manager of Motorcycle Design. The GS750, GS1100, Katana, GSX-R750, and 1100 were all Yokouchi bikes. The Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000, winners of the Suzuka 8 Hours and driven by Wes Cooley, are the fruit of a collaboration between Yokouchi and none other than the one and only Pops Yoshimura. When the man wasn’t creating production Suzuki motorcycles, he was pulling the strings of Suzuki’s racing program.

Motorcycle journalist Hiroshi Nakamura wrote a beautiful obituary for the man in Autoby, crediting him for inspiring a kid who knew nothing about motorcycles to love them completely. According to Nakamura, he managed to do this simply because of his striking designs, as well as his almost constant presence in Japanese motorcycle magazines of the 1980s.

By the time Nakamura was making his way into journalism, Yokouchi had grown so prominent within Suzuki that at first he was denied an interview. However, after finally convincing the right people to hook him up with Yokouchi, the two eventually became lifelong friends.

Even after Yokouchi officially retired from Suzuki, he was still an engineer. He continued to lecture and teach post-Suzuki, although “post-Suzuki” may not have been a thing. Although the 1996 GSX-R750 and 2000 GSX-R1000 were designed after Yokouchi was no longer technically with the company, he still had his hands on their production. For a man who said he basically thinks motorcycles around the clock, this probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.

At RideApart, we extend our deepest condolences to all of Yokouchi’s friends, family and fans around the world who deeply feel his loss.

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