Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー Kamen Raidā?), translated as Masked Rider, is a weekly sci-fi story created by renowned Japanese mangaka Shōtarō Ishinomori (石ノ森 章太郎 Ishinomori Shōtarō?). It debuted as a tokusatsu television series on April 3, 1971 and ran until February 10, 1973, airing on the Mainichi Broadcasting System and NET TV (now TV Asahi). A manga adaptation was also featured in Shōnen Magazine around the same period. The series has spawned many sequels and evolved into a franchise which is still going after 3 decades. The cultural impact of the series in Japan resulted in Akimasa Nakamura naming two minor planets in honor of the series
The story took place in a world plagued by Shocker, a mysterious terrorist organization. To assist its plan in world domination, Shocker recruited its agents through kidnapping, turning them into mutant cyborgs and, ultimately, brainwashing them. However, one of the victims was rescued just before the final step, and his name was Takeshi Hongo (本郷 猛 Hongō Takeshi?). With his sanity and moral conscience remaining intact, Hongo assumed the identity of the grasshopper-looking altered human (改造人間 kaizō ningen?) superhero Kamen Rider and battled Shocker with his newly acquired powers
Kamen Rider 1's motorcycle was called Cyclone. Cyclone's top speed was 400km/h (approx. 249 mph). Cyclone's theme song was "Fight Cyclone". Cyclone would later be replaced by New Cyclone (top speed 500km/h or 310 mph). Hongo, Takeshi drove an ordinary looking motorcycle which could transform into Cyclone or New Cyclone when he transformed into Kamen Rider. For the first 10 episodes Hongo, Takeshi transformed most often by riding Cyclone real fast to move the wind through his Typhon belt, flipping a switch to cause the motorcycle to transform (above)
The Kamen Rider original series produced a great number of spin-offs which remain in production today. Several Kamen Rider series were aired in Japan after the first Kamen Rider finished. After Kamen Rider Black RX ended production in 1989, the series was put on hold until 2001 with the continuation of the series with Kamen Rider Agito.
Panel from the manga-Kamen Rider Spirits
For the first 10 episodes of the original Kamen Rider, actor Hiroshi Fujioka, being a martial artist, choose to perform his own stunts both as Takeshi Hongo and Kamen Rider; this included both fighting and motorcycle stunts. On one occasion however, Fujioka shattered his leg after a motorcycle stunt went wrong. This prompted the creation of Kamen Rider 2 to continue the series. After Fujioka's injury, Toei decided this was too risky for production, and thus Takeshi Sasaki did not perform his own stunts during his role as Kamen Rider 2. Despite protest upon his return from the injury, Fujioka was not allowed to perform as Kamen Rider 1 when Takeshi Hongo was written back into the show.
As of 2005, a remake of the original Kamen Rider series was made and reimagined with Kamen Rider the First.