In the past 30 years motorcycle technology has advanced with breath taking speed and what was considered high tech five years ago, today is most likely considered outdated and old tech. But how were the speed bikes in the golden age when everything was carbed, metal was metal and plastic was also ,,metal”?
Honda VFR 400 NC30 – 1989
When first came out, the VFR 400 NC30 was considered a premium sport bike. At a price of £5899 , the VFR 400 cost more than a VFR 750 and few bikes were sold thru dealers. The engine was a 400cc V4 that developed 63bhp at 12,750 RPM and a 36 NM of torque. Cams were gear driven as in all old VFRs. But as the performance numbers are not very impressing, the bike weight only 175 kg and was quite agile for its time. Also, design wise, the VFR400 looked really sweet with its single sided swing-arm and rounded bulky shape.
Kawasaki GPZ 900R – 1984
The Kawasaki GPZ 900 R was truly the ultimate hooligan machine back in the day. Many people first saw the GPZ 900R in the classic Top Gun movie when Tom Cruise raced an F-14 Tomcat around an Air Force landing strip.
With 115bhp the GPZ900 rapidly enter ed in the hearts of street racers around the globe. Having a weight of 228 kg, the GPZ900r was no feather but despite this, it could still make 0-100mph under 10 seconds. Also, the GPZ900 raced in the Isle Of Man where it performed very well. The GPZ was so popular that it was pulled out from production in 2003.
Yamaha V-Max 1200 – 1985
The Vmax is no racer by any means but it was so lunatic when it first came out that we had to include it on the list. The 16 valves 1200cc V4 power-plant developed an astonishing 143bhp with a maximum torque of 121Nm. Although being styled as a cruiser, the Vmax had some true arm pulling power. And it still has by today standards. In fact there was one type of race where the V-Max shined. On a drag race. In fact, being so powerful and weighting around 260kg, the V-max only shined in a straight line. No twisties for this Japanese monster as the frame tends to flex a bit on powerful accelerations and aggressive riding.
Kawasaki Z1 – 1972
The Kawasaki Z1 is truly a vintage racer in every aspect. Called also the super four, the Z1 was a monster back in the day. The 900cc inline four developed around 82bhp and managed 72NM @ 7000RPM. Also, it featured an electric starter so by the time Harley riders managed to pull back from the alley, the Z1 was already on the interstate. Having a weight of 246Kg, the Z wasn’t light but then again, not many bikes were light back in the 70s. Design wise, the Z1 could bee admired 24 hours non stop without a blink.
Triumph Bonneville T120 – 1959
The Triumph Bonneville is perhaps the most famous British motorcycle name in history. When first launched in 1959, the Bonneville became the icon of the British biker. With an 649cc engine that developed 46bhp, the Bonnie was heavily exported in the US as well. Many riders from the 60s and early 70s started to chop their Triumphs Bonneville in order to make them lighter and faster. This way, is no surprise that the Bonnie was one of the top choices for Cafe Racer enthusiasts.