While Japanese superbikes and early classics are the main focus, this site crosses a broad spectrum of machines. We include machines such as the Yamaha XS series, the Suzuki GS models, Kawasaki's legendary KZ line, and of course Honda's trailblazing CB bikes that really started the Big Fours' breakaway from the field.
The very term "Superbike" finds its origins with these machines. For the most part, they are the ones that really put the Japanese motorcycle industry into the forefront and caught the imagination of us all. And they are becoming super-collectible today! Just try to find an original example for sale in your neighborhood.
Classic Japanese Bikes includes many pages on café racers, bobbers, streetfighters and of course original classics.
The cafe racer bikes seem to be the most popular mods of an ever-changing classic bike landscape. We'll look at the Honda CB line and Kawasakis' Zed bikes, as well as the Yamaha XS models and Suzuki's GS bikes, and so much more.
Lately smaller displacement Japanese bikes are becoming popular cafe racer, brat-style and bobber conversions. Simply put, they're cheap to buy. The aftermarket offers lots of OEM and "pattern" parts and with a few basic tools and a bit of imagination, you can have a one of a kind ride for the price of a modern 250 sports machine, but with all of the cache of a totally unique motorbike.
There are some real pros doing amazing things with ratty barn bikes and these can serve as an inspiration to those thinking of ditching their old, neglected rides.
A sizeable industry has grown up around products for this popular industrial-art form. Pretty much any old Japanese four-stroke and two-stroke bike lends itself readily to conversion simply by checking out all the motorcycle web-sites out there selling bolt-on stuff!
Handlebars, seat-pans in fibreglass or aluminum, wild tanks in carbon fibre, fenders galore! Strip your old ride down to the basics and you can simply order up a custom look as easy as you can pull your credit card out of your wallet. And of course there's the huge advantage of being able to actually work on your own bike without the need for an education in computer engineering etc.
A close cousin of the café racer special is the Streetfighter. Although a relatively new phenomenon, many older classics such as the Kawasaki KZ900/1000 series bikes have been converted into streetfighters with some rather spectacular results as you'll see here. You won't believe the Honda Goldwing streetfighters. An unlikely candidate but these builders have created some killer bikes. And you'll get to see them on the Streetfighter pages ahead.
Perhaps the first streetfighter conversions were the result of crashed more modern sportbikes with full fairings. Owners who didn't want to spend huge cake on new plastic just left them off, and then went for the minimalist look, resulting in a whole new genre of motorcycle.
Definitely some of the coolest bikes on the road. Classic Japanese bobber motorcycles are generally the smaller displacement bikes taken by enthusiasts with little money and lots of imagination and motivation, and turned into something like this XS650 Bobber. This Yamaha shows really nice style and skill.
From what I've seen, a great many Japanese bobber motorcycles are derived from the Yamaha XS series of bikes, and the Honda CB lineup. It's an easy build because a couple of quick cuts on the back frame loop, add a saddle or bobber seat, chop the pipes back a ways and you're half way there.
A lot of bobber motorcycle builds depend mostly on the details rather than huge modifications. Some folks like a hard-tail look and so need to find a suitable frame and that gets to be like work! So most use the original frame and change out the shocks, seat, handlebars, and put same-size wheels on both ends.
Paint, old-school head and brake lights, fat tires and an abbreviated fender, and Bob's yer uncle, so to speak.
Check out more bobbers here by clicking on the headline. Or just keep poking around the website. Cheers.
We also take a look at lesser known but admired types such as the Yamaha RZ/RD two strokes, Kawasaki's Green Meanie triples, Honda's CBX1000 and other motorcycles of note. And we'll have a look at some old racers like the Yamaha TZ750, RC Hondas and more obscure but cool stuff.
The Honda VF1000R shown here marks a transition to full-fairing bikes that would dominate the sportbike scene for years to come. Remember the original Honda Hurricane? I remember seeing the red and white Hurricane 600 with the outlandish tear-striped graphics and being awestruck!
It was clear as day the future was here and the old naked super-bikes of the 70s were soon to be gone forever. Alas, they're back with a vengeance, catering to nostalgic memories of a simpler, less flashy time.
In fact, other than the touring and cruiser market, which are not covered here, the fully faired sport bikes and soon to be dubbed super-sports will constitute the bulk of future classics. But that era is a few years off, so here is
Kawasaki GPZ750s and 1100s, Suzuki GSXR 750s and 1000s, the Hurricanes and Yamaha FZ750s and 1000s are the new generation of classic Japanese bikes, pushing those from the 60s and 70s into vintage territory.
Nostalgia is back, to coin a phrase, but with fuel-injection, modern rubber and modern price-tags!
Have a look around...
The first Japanese 2-stroke motorcycles hearken back to this 1946 Honda Type A. When engineer Soichiro Honda got his hands on some tiny war-surplus 2-stroke engines. He bolted them to his in-house bicycle frames and thus was born the Japanese motorcycle industry!
Post-war, Japan was short on everything from petrol to steel and rubber, so bicycles were a major source of transport. But the public needed more serious get-around and powered bicycles were increasingly popular, if unwieldy, smoky and crude.
Honda's Type A begot Type B and so on, until the famous Honda Dream became a four-stroke step-through scooter sold everywhere by the millions. And they still are sold in the developing world by the ship-load
Later on, the other big three of Japanese motorcycling would all contribute to the two-stroke pantheon. With such famous marks as the Kawasaki H triples, such as the rather infamous 750cc "Green Meanie", as well as Yamaha RD350 and RZ350 series pocket-rockets, the sweet smell of Castrol R would cloud horizons the world over.
Suzuki's lineup of two-strokes such as the GT250, GT380 and the aptly nick-named Water Buffalo GT750, as well as the wicked and late-lamented RG500 Gamma would add to the cacophony and the hooliganism until clean-air laws brought the fun to a screeching halt in the mid-late 1970's.
Just how many young hooligans do you think got hooked on two-stroke Japanese bikes and most particularly machines just like this very Yamaha RD350 or one of it's many iterations? Methinks there were millions! Were you one?
So let's have a closer look at the many 2-stroke classic Japanese bikes that captured the imaginations of a generation of bike enthusiasts. Just put on your Bell helmet and keep the blue smoke out of your eyes.
Here you’ll find many of the classic and renowned lightweight bikes like the Yamaha SR400 pictured here that started the Big Four on the road to complete world domination.
A good selection from Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha for enthusiasts of the four-strokers that weren’t always huge sellers in the west, but gave the Japanese factory engineers and stylists the experience and motivation to go after established big-bike makers like Norton, Triumph, Ducati and Harley Davidson.
Of course, after the legends-in-the-making such as the Honda 400Four, Yamaha RD350/400, and the Kawasaki middleweight KZs, and such, the poor Brit bike industry was under the dawn of the rising sun.
It's the same old sad story and we've heard it all before but at least we got our greasy hands on some reliable, fast and fun new Japanese motorcycles that would shape the future of the industry and our very lives!
And hey, let's not get too down for the British. Triumph is ressurected and with new-found respect for the customer and some very tasty retro models for those die-hard fans to sink their teeth into, Go Brittania!
Four-stroke middleweight such as the Kawasaki KZ650, Suzuki GS650, and more… We’ll take a closer look at popular and classic Japanese bikes commonly referred to as middleweights. Bikes like the Honda CB750Four, Yamaha XS650 etc.
Most Japanese motorcycles sold in Europe and North America in the late 60’s and early seventies were small displacement two and four-strokes. Aside from the 1969 introduction of the awesome Honda 750Four, in fact there simply were no “middleweight” classic Japanese bikes.
But with the success of larger displacement bikes, particularly in the great expanses of North America, the big Four sought to flesh out their line-ups with models like the Kawasaki KZ650 and Suzuki GS650 Yamaha XS1 and others.