Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175, Sophisticated Sub 250 Bike !

Bridgestones are rare motorcycles by anyone’s standards. Most of us have seen images of them or the odd one behind a barrier at a show but few of us have ever got up close and personal so to speak. The Bridgestone 350s are the Holy Grail of the Bridgestone world but the reality is that the majority of classic Japanese enthusiasts will be extremely fortunate if they even get to own one of the more populous singles.

Design & Styling

Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175

The Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 looks like a big bike until you get close to it and then it seems to somehow magically condense itself. Petite doesn’t begin to cover it. The bike is from the Japanese crossover period in terms of styling, although engineering-wise it was light years ahead of anything from the west. There’s a strange and restrained orthodoxy about the bike’s lines and it’s almost a combination of BSA Sports and Bushman Bantam executed in metric.

Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175

The reality is that the Japanese motorcycle industry was only just developing its own in house styles rather than relying on interpretations of Europe’s. The candy red and chrome tank runs knee pads partially as tradition and partially in deference to the off-road image. High level pipes and braced bars add to the rufty-tufty dirt bike look, along with a raised front guard and the fork gaiters cement the concept in looks at least. The truth is that Bridgestone’s Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 is a road bike with off-road pretensions – no one would seriously ride a bike on the dirt with its ignition key in the side panel and, on paper at least, the chunky TLS front brake would be likely to dump you on your ear on the loose stuff.

Firing up the Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 requires a little manual dexterity if you’re not used to street scramblers. The right-hand pipe is effectively in your way but it is all part of the mini desert sled image. Fuel and ignition on over on the left-hand side, choke on the left bar, then kick through and the engine fires up with that characteristic sound unique to strokers that don’t rely on piston port induction. At the back of those high level pipes the exhaust gases are exiting with gusto and aplomb. Very race paddock it sounds too!

Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175

Today I’ll be relying on the conventional positive stop five-speed gearbox and not the four-speed rotary unit of which Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 made much capital of. The latter is supposed to be an aid to find neutral when riding in urban areas, but many have suggested it’s a solution to a question no one had posed. As I’ve no desire to lock up the back wheel, get the front end skywards or launch the Bridgie down the road, we’ll be playing safe. But of course even this will require some mental and physical dexterity. Small player Bridgestone did things very much their own way, so neutral is at the top and the five gears are all downwards. There’s an issue whereby the high level pipe pushes your lower leg out at an odd angle. Oh and to add to the joy the gear lever is one of those heel and toe affairs the Japanese seemed so besotted with back in the day.

But come now, there’s a small but significant cloud of smoke building up as we get ready for the off. The bike is rather cold-blooded and needs some heat in it. Riding Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 on choke does little for the future free breathing of the exhaust system and even less for the environment.

Ride Test

Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175

Sit on board and the bike’s minuscule proportions become even more evident. I’m sitting on it, no on top of it! Yamaha’s equivalent CS3C is definitely bigger, ditto Suzuki’s super-rare TC200 Stingray. My initial riding impressions are positive but there’s something niggling away in the back of my mind that I can’t quite define. Inevitably, Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 slowly percolates to the surface and it’s to do with the riding position. I’m perched less than ideally and can’t work out why until I suss the suede-effect seat top. It’s extremely grippy and inhibits the unconscious settling-in movements we normally make when getting adjusted to a different motorcycle. Once you get yourself sorted the surface and the narrow forward part of the saddle make perfect sense, but what doesn’t is the firmness. Jeez it feels solid.

The essence of Bridgestone twin is that motor. Little else feels like a disc valve twin coming on pipe and the Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 once again somehow concentrates that experience. Get the motor spinning (don’t ask me for numbers as there’s no tacho) and the bike pulls like a small steam train.

There’s an inexorable drive from the engine that hurtles you forwards until it times to select the next gear via a downward tap of the lever. From here you repeat until you’re in top and there’s a huge grin plastered across your chops. With maximum torque delivered just 500 RPM shy of maximum power, Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 thrives on revs but it’s never a chore to keep it buzzing. What is impressive for a motorcycle engine designed in the earlier part of the 1960s is it’s amazingly smooth, with almost a turbine-like feel. Any of the immediate competition’s 175-200 offerings feel coarse and unrefined by comparison.

Once again that Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 quality shines through. When the road conditions dictate a lower ratio, that heel and toe pedal offers you two options just to add to the mystique. You can go down either by hooking your toes under the lever and shifting upwards or using your heel on the back end of the pedal and gently stamping down. It may all seem overly confusing and unnecessarily complicated but once it is grasped there’s a delicious satisfaction from mastering the layout. Speeding towards a second gear corner in top it’s all clutch, blip throttle, stamp down, clutch, blip throttle, stamp down until you reach second. The bark and crackle from those high-level tail pipes becomes supremely addictive and there’s a genuine smug self-satisfaction of sussing the gear change.

Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175

Handling-wise, the Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 little twin is very much of the on-rails format and inspires confidence through the bends. That said, the bike is never inescapably committed to a single line and just the subtlest of movements gets it on a different angle of attack. The road tests of the period said much the same thing and little has changed over four-and-a-half decades. Even if the suspension is of the period it is substantially more compliant, predictable and consistent than many bikes within the peer group.

No bike is ever perfect and if we’re nit-picking the Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175’s various attributes there are two obvious deficits. The front brake former lacks the degree of power offered by Yamaha’s class-leader as fitted to the 1967-1975 180-200cc twins. Our test bike was rebuilt from NOS parts and carefully fettled so you’d have to say it’s typical of the breed. That beautifully styled seat becomes progressively harder as the miles rack up. Then again, Bridgestone’s target market was wasp-waisted kids, not portly gents of a certain age. The kids back then have subsequently bulked up and softened down over the years! Some might argue the intrusion of the high-level pipes on the rider’s legs is also an issue, but the reality is it goes with the territory. Street scramblers are form over function, period.


Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175

For a bike of its age the Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 remains a hugely sophisticated motorcycle. Disc valves, stainless steel mudguards, an inbuilt timing facility on the crankcase, near faultless handing; the list just goes on. If the 350 GTO remains, arguably, the ultimate Japanese street scrambler, then the Hurricane is quite possibly the best of the sub 250 offerings. Think of it as motorcycling’s 1960s equivalent of Campbell’s Condensed Soup. Good things really do come in small packages.

Bridgestone Hurricane Street Scrambler HS175 Specs

Engine : 177cc, Air-Cooled Two-Stroke Twin, Disc-Valve Induction
Bore x Stroke : 50 x 45 mm
Compression Ratio : 9.5:1
Maximum Horsepower : 20 HP @ 8.000 RPM
Maximum Torque : 13.75ft-lb @ 7.500 RPM
Length : 1.885 mm / 74.2 in
Width : 750 mm / 29.5 in
Wheelbase : 1.235 mm / 48.6 in
Dry Weight : 123 Kg / 271 lbs
Front Brakes : Drum
Rear Brakes : Drum
Front Tyre : 2.50 x 18
Rear Tyre : 275 x 18