The History of the Motorcycle – Part 5

Part 5 – Japanese Dominance

By the 1970’s, the British firms were losing their hold on the Motorcycle industry. The reason for this, were the innovations by the Japanese firms.

The Honda CB750 was released in 1969. The Japanese built motorcycle, featured an electric starter, as well as front disk brakes. This compared to Triumphs “new” model at the time – the T150 – that featured the older kick-starter and drum brakes.

CB750 1969
1969 Honda CB750

The 70’s would be dominated by the Japanese firms, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki from then on out. However, they did not completely have it their way. The Italian firms, Ducati and Moto Guzzi released some fine machines in that time, that matched up well in performance to that of the Japanese machines.

Two bikes that truly stood out from the Japanese firms in that time, were the Suzuki GS1000 – that built on power performance, while showcasing improved handling – and the notorious Kawasaki Z1300.

Z1300 1978
1978 Kawasaki Z1300

Into the 1980’s, and further innovation was seen, with fairings being commonly fitted to the sportbikes. Further innovations took place with regard to suspensions and tyres, for further improvement in performance. Aluminium frames were used to make the motorcycles lighter and nimbler.

Honda VFR750R V4 1980's
1987 -1990 Honda VFR750R (RC30)

The 1990’s saw the motorcycle firms take full advantage of all these innovations, with the release of some of the most popular motorcycles on the planet. These bikes showed the way to the era we are in now. In fact, they are still names that are around today, only just slightly improved on, due to the level to which they took the motorcycle.

In part 6, the final blog of the series, I will name these motorcycles and discuss the motorcycles of the modern era.

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