Showing posts with label 1990s Japanese Motorcycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1990s Japanese Motorcycles. Show all posts

Kawasaki ZZ-R1100

Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 1990s Japanese superbike

The Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 was one serious superbike. 176mph flat-out testified to that. Its 1,052cc, 16-valve, in-line four engine produced 145bhp. It needed to - the ZZ-R weighed in at a portly 603lb, wet. From 1990 to '95, the ZZ-R was the world's fastest production motorcycle - succeeding Kawasaki's ZX-10, in that regard. It took the Super Blackbird to restore Honda to the top of the speed heap.

The high-grade performance stats were due, in no small part, to 'ram-air' technology. The faster the ZZ-R travelled, the more air was forced through its ducted fairing, to the motor. More air meant more combustion - which, in turn, meant more power. If it was not an exponential increase - it sure as heck felt like it!

For all of its brain-warp acceleration, the ZZ-R was a forgiving beast, at heart. Sold as a sports-tourer, its chassis came supremely well-equipped. Both frame and suspension were solid, yet flexible. With the right settings dialled in, the ZZ-R was as safe as your riding skills. That a bike as explosive as the ZZ-R1100 could be considered an all-rounder said it all about Kawasaki engineering!

Yamaha YZF R1

Yamaha YZF R1 1990s Japanese superbike

The Yamaha YZF R1 was about as close to a racer as a road-bike gets. Everything about it screamed speed. Its fairing parted air like a shark shifts water. Its tail-piece was sharp enough to shave with. In terms of its tech-spec, the R1 tasted number-crunching good! A power output of 160bhp. A dry weight of 389lb. A top speed of 170mph. Satisfying stats, to be sure!

But, the R1 was not just quick and aerodynamic - it was agile as an acrobat. Indeed, so 'flickable' was it, that it was almost so to a fault. The R1 could made corners a bit too tempting! Short and slim, its wheelbase was minimal. All the better for flying through bends. Engine-wise, there were 5 valves per cylinder. 20 minuscule parts - doing a mechanised dance of staggering precision. Cycle parts were state of the art. Suspension and brakes were razor-responsive. In every department, the R1 excelled. As you would expect, it sold in shedloads!

The R1 is the kind of machine lives get built around. It inspires not so much dedication - as devotion. Whether at R1 owners' rallies, track days or production racing events, the bike instils pride - and confidence - like few others. The Yamaha YZF R1 was a two-wheeled icon. And that will not be changing anytime soon!

Suzuki Hayabusa

Suzuki Hayabusa 1990s Japanese superbike

The Suzuki Hayabusa was released in '99. At the time, the Honda Super Blackbird ruled the motorcycle roost. In top speed terms, at least. From a Suzuki standpoint, that was a stat that needed to change. The Hayabusa is a Japanese bird of prey. No doubt, one which would not object to gobbling down a tasty blackbird or two on its travels!

Suzuki's assault on the top speed slot would be a three-pronged affair. The Hayabusa's 1,299cc engine was the biggest in a sports bike, up to that point. Its ram air set-up did just that - forcing increasing amounts through the carbs, the quicker the bike went. The result was a high-octane 173bhp. The Hayabusa was also quite light - weighing in at 473lb dry. Not slimline, as such - but less than you would expect for a bike of its size. The third item on Suzuki's must-have list was good aerodynamics. The bike's bulbous-looking bodywork was not to everyone's taste. But - aesthetic considerations aside - it was a lot more slippery than it looked. At any rate, designer Koji Yoshirua's primary goal had been to make a strong visual statement.

The Hayabusa's 1300 engine was, basically, a bigger version of the GSX-R1100 unit. Each iteration of Suzuki's flagship model had refined its core components. So - by the time the Hayabusa came along - the package was pretty well primed. All of which resolved to 194mph, at full chat. That was enough to knock the Super Blackbird off its high-speed perch. Mission accomplished, then, for the Suzuki Hayabusa. As it happens, Yoshirua claims the intention was not to make it the fastest road bike on the planet. But, that can probably be taken with a generous grain of Japanese salt!

Honda Fireblade

Honda Fireblade 1990s Japanese superbike

The launch buzz around the Honda Fireblade was electric! It was released in '92 - to rapturous applause, from press and public alike. In the unlikely event that you saw one stationary, it was sure to be engulfed in a gaggle of onlookers. Months of speculation had induced a feeding frenzy of interest in the new Blade. Tadao Baba was the boffin in charge of its development. The Fireblade - or CBR900RR - was the first Honda to sport the 'RR' nomenclature. The bike's racing traits had been duly declared!

The Fireblade screamed street-fightin' bike! Squat - and barrel-chested - it looked like it would be up for a ding-dong at the drop of a hat. Steep steering geometry - and a super-short wheelbase - meant the Blade cut corners to ribbons. Suspension settings were decidedly 'firm'. 407lb dry was no weight at all for a bike of its size. Factor in 113bhp - at 10,500rpm - and the results were always going to be explosive. Top speed for the Blade was 167mph. How much the holes in its fairing helped is not known!

Visually, too, the Blade was well up to speed. Blessed with eye-catching graphics - and a super-big tank - it was a brilliantined bobby dazzler of a bike! A beefy twin-spar frame - and braced swing-arm - visibly signalled the strength of the cycle parts. The sunk-down seat - and bulbous tailpiece - lent rock-solid support. Too solid for some, no doubt. Padding was minimal. Very minimal! But then, comfort was never the name of the Blade's game. The Fireblade was a single-minded superbike. High-speed hats off to Honda!