The Type 97 was a motorcycle and sidecar that had been inspired from Harley Davidson designs. It had a total weight of 500 kilograms and a total length of 2.7 meters. The vehicle also had an air-cooled, gasoline fueled, 1274 cc engine that was capable of propelling the Type 97 at speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour. The vehicle could maintain a good performance in the right conditions, though as the terrain got rougher (especially typical in the islands of the Pacific), the performance suffered.
Although no armament was added to the weapon from the factory, adding a mobile weapon to the sidecar was common place. These varied from case to case as supplies differed, but the Type 11 machinegun, Type 96 machine gun and Type 99 machine gun were all commonly used weapons.
The Type 97 was first developed in 1933 following the importation of the entire 1200cc factory of Harley Davidson to Japan. The original developmental model was designated the Type 95 Motorcycle, however its performance was okay at best. Following the initial performance tests, the Type 97 was ushered out. Improving upon its predecessor, the Type 97 entered full-scale production by the Rikuo Nainen Company in 1937. The first examples were sent to China where they performed better than expected. However, due to the poor performance in rough terrain, very few were actually sent to any Pacific islands, the few that were sent though were used in less strenuous roles.