Monday, February 15, 2021

Amazonas and Kahena motorcycles from Brazil

 A big thanks to Shalon Melo from Brazil for providing this little snippet of his homeland's motorcycling history in the form of the below Kahena brochure.

Information out there on the Kahena is very thin on the ground but from what I can see the brand was introduced in 1990. I have not managed to find out when production ceased but, for sure, the volume of machines to leave the factory was small.

As background the Kahena was a development of the Amazonas, a VW Beetle engined all Brazilian (the Beetle was made under license in Brazil) bike that was made from 1977 up until 1989.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of all invention. Importation taxes to Brazil were prohibitively high through the seventies and eighties (and are still high to this day) so the concept of the Amazonas was as a locally made machine envisaged to replace the long-in-tooth Harleys in use by Brazilian police forces at the time.

The Amazonas was, to say the least, an unusual looking motorcycle and was hugely proportioned and heavy. The Beetle engine fitted gave a moderate amount of power but reliability was excellent. The version of the Beetle fitted to the Kahena was 1600cc and as standard provided 65 horse power. Tuned version were available which gave up to 90. Amazonas and Kahena machines enjoy a bit of a cult following in their homeland and would make a decent, unusual classic anywhere in the world. The beauty of old motorcycles is that you can nowadays value them for charm and riding experience and without direct comparison to their contemporaries. Car engined motorcycles have long been favourites of special builders and there are several VW engined BMWs, Sunbeam S7s and Douglas Dragonflys out there, think of the Amazonas or Kahena as an off the shelf version of one of these. If the subject interests you, check out for comparison the French BFG and MF Citroen engined machines of the same era as the Amazonas and Kahena.

Rather than attempt to re-write what is already out there here are some links for those interested to find out more about Amazonas and Kahena bikes:

Road test of the Kahena on the Brazilian Motoline site (in Portugese)

The Amazonas in Australian Motorcycle News

Motoplanete article in the Kahena (in French)

Oddbike blog post on the Amazonas and Kahena

Horizons Unlimited - Greg Frazier touring Brazil on an Amazonas

Enthusiast site dedicated to Amazonas motorcycles

Rider Magazine Amazonas article

Kahena brochure cover page.

Kahena ST model and tech specs.

The Kahena Custom 1600.

Kahena tech sheet.

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