When Honda built the first modern superbike and changed our world
HHonda’s 1983 Interceptor 750 was the first true sportbike. I expect to hear objections, but here’s why I insist. This was the first new design to incorporate the harsh lessons of U.S. Superbike racing. Those lessons were that both engine and chassis must in the future be designed to win Superbike races without the complete re-engineering needed in 1976–’82.
The great sit-up Superbikes of that time—kawasaki Z1, Suzuki GS, and Honda Cb900f—showed that something better than their obsolete chassis and suspension, combined with bulky air-cooled two-valve-percylinder engines, would be required in the 750cc Superbike formula arriving in 1983.
The Interceptor’s tremendous market success was a shock to Honda management. The bike was planned as a homologation special, a lowvolume but high-tech bike produced only to make race-winning features legal for the new formula. At the time, it was “known” that the market cared only for what you might call the prime numbers: quarter-mile drag strip elapsed time and top speed. Handling was a big nothing in motorcycle sales—everyone knew that.