The original GSX-R750 was the bike with which modern Japanese super-sports motorcycles were invented. True, there had been plenty of fast and fiery superbikes before the oil-cooled four was unleashed in 1985. But the GSX-R750 was the first modern race replica: a uniquely single-minded machine built for performance above all else.

Its layout matched that of Suzukis' endurance racers of the previous year, from the shape of the twin-headlamp fairing to the use of 18-inch wheels (favoured by endurance race teams because the larger diameter facilitated brake pad changes) instead of the then fashionable 16-inches. Its frame was made from aluminium, instead of the steel used by rival superbikes. And its 749cc. DOHC 16-valve engine was powerful, with a peak output of 100bhp @ 10500rpm...

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Kawasaki Z-series Superbikes


This story from the premier classic bike blog BIKEEXIF.COM

"Many of the most successful motorcycle builders—the ones running a solid, profitable business—hit on a formula. It’s usually a combination of looks, components and fabrication that works well, and can be endlessly tweaked. That’s the approach taken by AC Sanctuary, one of Japan’s most renowned builders. Their bikes are a masterclass in proportion, stance and performance. And although they’re expensive, a lot of people are prepared to pay the price.

The AC Sanctuary ‘Real Complete Machine’ concept strips a 70s muscle bike back to its component parts. It effectively gives you a ‘new’ motorcycle, as highly finished as one you’d ride out of a mainstream dealer showroom. This is the very latest build, RCM-242—a Kawasaki Z1 that would stop the traffic more than any contemporary MV Agusta.

The work is extensive, starting with a heavily modified and reinforced frame with a new chain offset. The steering neck, swingarm and bars are proprietary AC Sanctuary items. Handling is elevated still further by a fork from a ZRX1200, and the lightweight 17” wheels are Marchesini.

The blueprinted motor now breathes through Mikuni TMR 36 carburetion. It’s hooked up to a gorgeous Nitro Racing hand-bent steel megaphone exhaust system. The brakes are distinctly modern, with Brembo calipers, Nissin master cylinders and Sunstar disks.

RCM-242 costs ¥ 3.28m, which is around US$37,000. Will it give a modern superbike a run for its money on the racetrack? No. But 99% of the time, it’ll be more than adequate for a skilled rider. Given the choice between a resto-mod Z1 and a plastic-clad superbike, I’d take the Sanctuary machine any day. Would you?"

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Hondas' enthusiasm for the V4 engine I layout in the early 1980s was such that by 1984 the VF range comprised six models with capacities ranging from 400 to 1000cc. The fastest and most glamorous was the VF1000R: a limited-edition super-sports machine that was created, with little expense spared, to dominate production racing in the way that the straight-four CB1100R had done three years earlier. With its full fairing and racy red. white and blue paintwork, the VF1000R looked every bit the street-legal competition machine. Its specification list was mouth-watering, based on a liquid-cooled, 90-degree V4 engine that incorporated gear-driven overhead camshafts and produced no less than 122 hp @ l0000 rpm.

That peak power output was 6bhp up on that of the VF1000F, the standard 998cc, 16-valve V4 from which the R model was derived. The I000F, also released in 1984. was an impressively fast and sophisticated bike. Its styling was similar to that of the original VF750F sportster, which had promised much before suffering widely publicized engine reliability problems. The VF1000F handled well and its engine was flexible, powerful and reliable. The exotic VF1000R cost roughly 50 per cent more than the F. and oozed quality from every pore. Its fairing was reinforced with carbon-fibre, its adjustable handlebars were made from polished alloy, its streamlined seat hump fitted perfectly. Its engine's gear-driven cams allowed more precise valve timing at high revs, which accounted for some of the extra power. Like the other VFs. the R had a frame of square-section steel tubes, but its chassis specification was decidedly upmarket. Big 41mm front forks incorporated air assistance, adjustable damping and TRAC anti-dive. Hinged fork bottoms allowed easy front wheel removal. The Pro-Link rear shock was easily adjustable: the impressive front brakes comprised sturdy four-piston calipers and large, floating discs.

Stability and power For road riding the VF1000R was a seductively fast and comfortable companion. Its fairing combined with the racy riding position to give excellent wind protection. High-speed stability was absolute, and the engine was superbly powerful and torquey. The I000R cruised effortlessly at well over 100mph (161km/h). and surged smoothly to a top speed of 150mph(241km/h).

The Honda's refined feel was marred by a snatchy transmission that became annoying in town, where the engine also had a tendency to heat up its carburettors, resulting in a misfire. But such problems were forgotten when the rider found the open road, and wound back the throttle to send the 1000R storming forward with a free-flowing feel from 5000rpm or below.

Handling was good at high speed, where the VF's stability counted for much. But at lower speeds the Honda suffered from a weight problem. At 5241b (238kg) dry it was more than 501b (23kg) heavier than Kawasaki's GPz900R, and its handling was ponderous despite its 16-inch front wheel. That was a problem on the racetrack, in particular. Even Honda star Wayne Gardner just failed to take a bike that he described as a marshmallow to victory in the prestigious Castrol Six-Hour production race in his native Australia.

Unlike its all-conquering CB1100R predecessor, the VF1000R was rarely seen on a circuit, let alone in the winner's circle. That hit sales, especially as the V4"s price put it on a level with race-bred exotica from firms such as Bimota and Harris. It was fortunate for Honda that ill intended to produce only a small number. The VF1000R was fast, sophisticated and easy on the eye. but underneath that sleek bodywork it hid too much weight to be a success.

Source of review: Fast Bikes by Roland Brown

Suzuki Katana

"The original Suzuki Katana was a then-novel sport motorcycle designed in 1979–1980 by the southern Bavarian firm of Target Design at the request of Suzuki of Germany specifically for their market.

The Katana name was later applied to a range of sport touring motorcycles in North America through the 2006 model year (also offered in Europe but without the Katana moniker), and starting at the change of the millennium to a line of 49 cc / 50 cc scooters in Eurupe.

The Katana's design started when Suzuki hired Hans Muth, ex-chief of styling for BMW, to update the company's image.

The three-man Target Design team consisted of Muth, Jan Fellstrom and Hans-Georg Kasten. Kasten was still with Target Design as of 2003.

The design team worked through several variations, with the public being allowed to see the ED1 and ED2 versions. This original design was to be a 650 cc model called the ED-1 (European Design 1).

The ED1 design featured a forward nose and a shaped, blended fuel tank with a merged fuel tank-to-seat arrangement at a time when squared off fuel tanks and flat-faced bolt-on accessory fairings were the norm. The design also incorporated favourable aerodynamics, with a special emphasis placed on high-speed stability, and was repeatedly wind-tunnel tested in Italy. The same generalized design forms had already been used early in 1979 for a one-off MV Agusta from the same design team, which never saw production.

When the first production Katana hit the street, it was the fastest mass-production motorcycle in the world, ensuring the new looks were matched by unprecedented performance levels. So radical was the design departure from previous mass-market cycles that most major motorcycle magazines of the era thought the design would not appeal to the masses.

Nevertheless it was a sales success, and the motorcycle had a lasting impact on motorcycle design. Portions of the design ethos are still visible in many current sport motorcycles, including the faired-in aspects of both the seat and the tank.

In 1980 at Intermot, the Cologne motor show, came the ED-2, an 1,100 cc version based on the Suzuki GS 1100. Today, the only Katana-prototype outside Japan stands in Austria's Motorradmuseum Eggenburg 62 miles northwest of Vienna. This was followed in 1981 with almost no changes to the production version, which is often seen as the Katana, as the design was so distinctive.

The design was so successful in its basic form that these additional components were never made, apart from a small wind deflector screen. The unusual overlapping dials on the instrumentation were the result of arranging the mechanical components to fit as closely together as possible to reduce weight and costs.

The petrol filler was offset from the centre line of the tank to allow for a clean continuous seam weld. This design philosophy was applied to all areas of the bike's design, thus reducing the costs, weight, and number of components required.

There were two racing models worthy of note. The GSX1000 (circa 1981) is a now very rare model with more aggressive camshafts, flat-slide carburettors and wire wheels homologated for then international superbike racing rules. The GSX1100SXZ, also from 1981 and with wire wheels, more aggressive camshafts but with CV carburettors in Australia. New Zealand models were fitted with oval bore slide carbs. An extra air inlet hole adjacent to the standard one in the air box and large bore mufflers (same as fitted to the previous Castrol 6 Hour special the GSX100ET).

This model was designed for production racing in a number of countries, including Australia and South Africa. Legend says there were 500 made, though it may be up to 800. Chassis numbers began with GS110X-100388. The 1100s were raced with mixed success in Australia in 1981, but rule changes for the 1982 Castrol 6-Hour production race saw teams scrambling to find 1000cc versions.

In New Zealand the wire wheeled bike was fielded to meet the then new Honda CB1100R in the production racing series. The wire wheels were preferred in 1981 because they were lighter than the then cast wheels with slightly wider rims, because the rear tyre width was limited by the rear brake caliper stay bar. There was also a better choice of tyres at the time for production racing, which included 19-inch front rims.

Suzuki also produced 550 cc ,650 cc and 750 cc versions of the Katana. The 650 had a shaft drive, while the 1984-1986 SE/SF/SG 750 is distinguished by having a pop-up headlight!

The air-cooled GSX family, of which the Katana was a member, gave way to the equally revolutionary oil-cooled GSX-R series in 1985. The Katana name was rekindled, primarily in the North American market, for the revised GSX-F series from the end of the 1980s through to 2006. However, in Europe and other markets, the GSX600F, GSX750F and GSX1100F are considered to be the direct replacement for the GSX550E, GSX750E and GSX1100E sports tourers.

The GSX-F range comprised five basic models split into two general eras: the 1988–1997 GSX600F and GSX750F, the 1988–1993 GSX1100F, followed by the 1998–2006 GSX600F and GSX750F, both of which were heavily restyled for the 1998 model year.

Disparaging fans of the original Target Design Katanas are known to refer to the GSX-F models as 'Teapots' due to the profile of the faired-in design. These same models were offered in Europe, but without the Katana name; the Katana name was absent in Europe from 1986 until the 1999 arrival of a 49cc/50cc line of Suzuki scooters!

The original design ethos reappeared at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, when Suzuki rolled out a concept bike called the Suzuki Stratosphere, which heavily incorporated many facets of the original ED1/ED2 designs, although tied in a new transversely-mounted narrow 6-cylinder engine.

A model appearing in 1984 was the Katana 750SE with a pop-up headlight, still using an air-oil cooled engine. These were very popular even when their performance was easily out-done by other competitors at the time.

Features used by the design team for the original Katana can be seen in many motorcycles of the 1980s through the present, from the XN85 Turbo bike to subtle markings on the RG250 two strokes. The fact that modern sport motorcycles generally have fairing and seats that visually merge into a sloping-at-the-rear fuel tank is directly traceable to the original Katana design series!"

This from Wikipedia edited for clarity.

Honda CB1100 concept

BIKE (a great site, check it out) describes the bikes thusly...

"Mugen is effectively the ‘official’ Honda car and motorcycle tuner, with headquarters close to Honda’s own R&D facility north of Tokyo. So it’s no surprise that the first tweaked Honda CB1100 has a discreet Mugen logo at the back.

The mods include a 70s-style bikini fairing in silver and a stubby black megaphone-style exhaust system, replacing the standard chromed item. There are also two new seat unit options, both with a more streamlined rear section, black passenger grab handles, and slightly smaller fenders front and back—also painted black.

The engine should get a little extra pep from that new exhaust, but no other mechanical mods are reported. It’s probably because the motor is a new design for Honda—an air-cooled DOHC inline four—so Mugen can’t employ the go-fast parts it’s developed for other Hondas. With 87 hp on tap, the stock CB1100 is not short of power, though. And the Mugen exhaust should free up a little more: a trip to the dyno will no doubt put the engine closer to the magic 100 hp mark. The pretty CB1100 has attracted a huge amount of attention already, and that’s despite uncertainty over whether or not the bike will be released in the USA or UK."

The glory days for these Japanese bikes really began in 1969. This was of course the year Honda unveiled their CB750. It’s been all uphill from there and fast!

In just a few years “the Land of the Rising Sun” would scorch the horizon with the burnouts of more exciting and ever-evolving Japanese superbikes.

The Honda CBX1000 stunned everyone with it's six-cylinder sophistication, super-smooth power and great handling. Kawasaki went bore and cylinder-happy with the KZ1300, and earlier Yamaha XS1100's were thought to be the biggest friggin engines practiceable. But the Suzuki GS1000 turned out to be perhaps the primo Japanese superbike of it's era.

Nowadays, you can supermodify your Japanese classic bike with ingenuity and cubic dollar$. There are so many merchants out there looking to help you make your seventies machines into super-cruisers, it's easy to go overboard. We'll link to many of these great sites so you can check out all of this good stuff.

By the early eighties the big four had pretty much figured it out themselves.

Here come the Kawasaki Ninjas, Honda Hurricanes,Suzuki GSXRs and Yamaha FZs to show how it's done for the future.
These days, the performance of 600cc HondaKawaSuziYam Supersports would humble any seventies or early eighties classic heavy-weights we might hold dear. But really, what's the difference between a Honda CBRR and a Suzuki GSXRR?

A lot of folks consider that if a bike is not 750cc's or larger, it can't be considered super. But there's some real fine machines like the Kawasaki KZ650, and Yamaha xs650 that were, in their day, as powerful and quick as anything NOT made in Japan. We'll have a look at some of these if only for argument's sake!

The Suzuki RG500 Gamma

"In 1984, a Yamaha advert quite boldly stated “ No one has ever built a road machine so close in technical basis to a current GP winner. Quite frankly we do not expect that any one else ever will”.

How wrong they were and just one year later they had good cause to regret that statement as the Suzuki RG500 burst onto the scene. Thankfully Suzuki were brave enough to give us not only the visual image, but also a real taste of GP performance with the Gamma. Endowing the machine with plenty of fire from within its four-pot belly, rather than the somewhat castrated, and over weight effort that Yamaha made with the RD500.

Place the RD500, NS400 and RG500 Gamma side-by-side and you would have three of the top manufacturers attempts at producing a replica of their respective GP racers, however, with all but one of those machines, all you purchased was a mere shadow of the original design. That is not to say the others were rubbish, far from it in fact, but the RG was definitely nearer the mark, and actually far closer to the race machine than you might ever imagine..."

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Kawasaki KZ1300

Press introduction for the Z1300 were held in November 1978 on the island of Malta for the European press and in Death Valley, California, for the American press. All were unanimous in their praise of both the styling and performance of this ground-breaking new machine. In spite of a wet weight exceeding 300 kg, the Z1300 had no trouble launching the impressive bike into motion -all of which was dutifully reported to motorcycling fans around the world. In Germany, site of Koln (Cologne) show, the Z1300 soon became a collector's item.

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The Honda CBX1000

Late in 1978, Honda uncorked a knockout punch onto the world of motorcycling with the incredible six-cylinder CBX. An early-release 1979 model, the CBX was created with the inspiration and experience derived from Honda's all-conquering six-cylinder RC166 250cc Grand Prix road-racing motorcycle. Both the RC and CBX were the brainstorms of Shoichiro Irimajiri. When Honda unveiled the CBX, it simply exploded conventional notions of what a high-performance motorcycle could be. With six cylinders fed by as many carburetors, and double-overhead cams operating 24 valves, the air-cooled 1047cc CBX engine pumped out 103 horsepower at the crankshaft. Class-leading 11.55-second quarter-mile times came easily to the CBX. It was the quickest, most powerful production motorcycle the world had ever seen, and an unbelievable technological achievement. With a sweep of its hand, Honda once again established total performance supremacy.

Apart from the awe-inspiring powerplant, the original CBX was fairly conventional in execution, but no less exceptional. A steel backbone frame, along with telescopic fork, twin-shock rear suspension and triple-disc brakes, provided handling prowess that equaled that of the era's best big-bore streetbikes. But, of course, it was that engine, with its amazing power, ethereal smoothness, unforgettable exhaust note and sheer visual theater that made the original CBX such a showstopper.

The American press were overwhelmed by the CBX. Cycle magazine, which published the first road test, had this to say: "The bike is more than fast; it is magic. The exploding glitter of its technical credentials lights up the sky. To know the motorcycle is to know the only rules Honda follows are Honda's own ... it is uncompromised and utterly self-assured, and it is the most exotic, charismatic motorcycle we have ever tested.

"The CBX is an immensely flattering bike with perfect elegance and total class, and history will rank it with those rare and precious motorcycles which will never, ever be forgotten."

Ebullient praise? The CBX deserved every word, and to this day a ride on the CBX is every bit as awe-inspiring. The CBX had but a short four-year production run, the first two years as a pure sports machine, and the last two as a sport-touring model with fairing and saddlebags. Despite its excellence, the world wasn't ready for a six-cylinder motorcycle quite yet. That would come later, with the introduction of the six-cylinder Gold Wing in 1988, and the Valkyrie in 1997.

It was the original 1979 CBX, though, that demonstrated once again the sheer audacity of Honda's engineering. Building a six was one thing, but putting one into mass production, one that lived up to Honda's standards of performance, durability and ease of use, was a marvel. The CBX is one of a long line of Honda motorcycles that amounted to a thrown gauntlet, a two-wheel dare that said, "Top this!" To this day, nobody has.

Today, the International CBX Owner's Association (I.C.O.A.), formed in the early 1980's, and "dedicated to the preservation of the CBX motorcycle", boasts over 1200 members world-wide.

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Yamaha XS1100 had this to say about the XS1100. The Yamaha XS Eleven motorcycle made its debut in 1978. It was a superbike powered by an air-cooled 1102cc 4-stroke, DOHC inline four-cylinder engine mounted transversely in a duplex cradle frame. At the time of it's release in 1978 the XS11 was the fastest production motorcycle in the world. It was supposed to be an 11 second bike hence the Eleven name instead of 1100.

There were three models: the standard style XS Eleven, factory custom XS Eleven Special, and XJ1100 Maxim. The standard model, first released in 1978, had a larger, 5.4 gallon tank than the special's (1979 and up) 4.5 gallon tank, as well as a larger rear tire and wider handle bars. The special had "buckhorn" style handlebars and a leading front axle, giving it more of a cruser look. In '80 and '81 Yamaha offered a "Midnight Special" version (all across the XS line) with a black tank (with gold flakes) and gold trim/side covers/wheels. It featured dual front disc brakes, a rear disc brake, shaft drive and cast wheels. A "factory custom" styled XS Eleven Special was released along side it in 1979. Both models were superceded by the 1982 XJ1100 Maxim.

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Suzuki XN85 Turbo

The engine was rather tame, with boost kicking in around the 5,000 rpm mark. It pulled strongly from that point but did not match the performance of larger sportbikes. While the XN did not have the power of other sportbikes, due to its weight, it had notably better handling than similar powered machines. The XN85 was replaced shortly after its release by the lighter and cheaper GS750ES.

But there are times when commercial sense dictates that you have to follow the current trend. So, though everything was well conceived, it was with a certain lack of conviction that Suzuki set about turning a classic 650 into a turbo, starting with the addition of a Mikuni-Bosch L-Jetronic injection system - in the end they produced a landmark bike that combined several innovations and looked very different from the competitors.

The turbo was mounted above the gearbox; the position was poorly ventilated and a long way from the exhaust headers. This layout had little beneficial effect on the power output; to some the XN85 had little more performance than the normally aspirated 650, and its lackluster engine could scarcely claim to offer any sort of "turbo effect. (as a rider of a 28 year old Xn85 my views differ - there is certainly a "turbo effect", often comparisons are made to bikes that appeared during the XN85's short career rather than those that existed before the XN85.)

Suzuki were concerned about the potential longevity of the engine, even though it had vulnerable parts strengthened. As well as strength they focussed on the extra heat generated by the turbo and introduced yet another innovation - new to bikes, but used in WWII Japanese fighter planes - using oil sprayed under the pistons as a coolant. Just before production began the engine was de-tuned - time has shown their fears about strength and heat were unfounded.

It was the frame that qualified the XN85 for the history books. The prototype had the benefit of an oil-tight chain case, which was dropped from the production version, but along with the Honda VF750F-the XN85 was the first motorcycle with a 16-inch front wheel. In conjunction with a frame design that was highly successful in all respects, including the newly developed "fully floating rear suspension" the handling was acknowledged by journalists as unbeatable.

Shortly afterwards, this excellent handling mix reappeared on the 1983 GS550E and GS750E models. The short life of the XN85 was also in part owing to the frame - as the weight of the bike (250Kg, 551 Lb) was a poor match to the power output.


Manufacturer - Make - Model - Year: Suzuki XN 85 Turbo 1984 Motorcycle Style: Sport


Engine Type: 673 cc, 4 Stroke - Air Cooled - Inline Four Engine Bore and Stroke: 62 mm x 55.8 mm Valves 2 valves/cylinder Claimed Horsepower: 85 hp (63.4 kW) @ 8000 rpm Maximum Torque: 76.4 Nm (563.5 ft. lbs) @ 6500 rpm

Transmission type: 5 speed Final Drive: Chain


Tire - Front: 100/90-16 Tire - Rear: 120/90-17 Brakes - Front: dual 290 mm discs with 2-piston calipers Brakes - Rear: single 265 mm disc with 1-piston calipers


Fuel Capacity: 20 l (5.3 Gal) Dry Weight (without fluids): 225 kg (496 pounds)