When Honda built the first modern su­per­bike and changed our world

Cycle World - - Components - By KEVIN CAMERON / Pho­tog­ra­phy from CY­CLE WORLD ARCHIVE

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.

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