3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1 The early days
The first deliberately mass centralised mass produced motorcycle was the 1985 Yamaha FZ750. The cylinder block was canted forward, primarily to allow downdraft carbs and improved inlet airflow but with the added benefit of shifting the bulk of the fuel load back and down to where the airbox resided on the typical bikes of the time. The alternator was removed from the end of the crank and tucked up behind the cylinder block above the gearbox to reduce engine width but that is also a big lump of mass effectively centralised. Finally the perimeter frame made the chassis less top heavy and allowed the tank to be formed closer to the profile of the bike. But far greater than the sum of these parts was that perhaps for the first time a firm had considered the engine as an integrated element of the chassis.
2 What about Honda?
Honda gave us their interpretation of these themes with the CBR600F a couple of years later, chipping in with their own idea to lean the rear shock forward 45 degrees with the top mount as far forward as possible, allowing the battery to be pushed forward as well.
3 Was the Blade the benchmark?
The original CBR900RR demonstrated brilliantly the advantage of reducing mass overall. The last couple of decades have seen these ideas refined – witness the titanium fuel tank on the latest Fireblade – so there are not likely to be many more falling out of a prehistoric canoe moments.
Changing the shock angle helped shift the battery