Thursday, January 25, 2007

Significant Firsts in Motorcycling

Can you tell which of these was the first ever road bike to have fully adjustable suspension?

An interesting little list of significant 'firsts' in the history of motorcycles. The list was compiled with some help from the UK-based Performance Bikes, one of the best moto-mags in the business right now. Do visit their website here

Right, and now on to the list...

Genuine 100bhp
1978 Kawasaki Z1300. Six-cylinder engine. 225km/h top speed. It weighed a bit more than 300 kilos though, and handled liked a sack of potatoes. Not that it stopped nutters like Artie Nyquist and Gary Rothwell from pulling big wheelies on this beast!

10-second quarter-mile
Mid-1980s Kawasaki GPZ1100. (The 1984 GPZ 750 Turbo did the quarter-mile in 10.99 seconds, and the 2006 ZZR1400 does it in about 9.5…)

100bhp in a bike that weighed less than 200kg
1986 Suzuki GSX-R1100. 102bhp, 197kg. Also had the first cartridge fork on a road machine.

150bhp in a bike that weighed less than 200kg
2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R.

Aluminium beam frame
1987 Yamaha TZR250 and FZR1000.

Fully adjustable suspension on a road bike
1988 Honda RC30. Full compression and rebound damping adjustments. (The 1990 GSX-R750 was the first bike with fully adjustable suspension that real people could actually afford to buy…)

200bhp/litre engine
1989 Suzuki RGV250. 50.4bhp@11,000rpm. 202.4bhp/litre. Even the 2007 Yamaha R1 or GSX-R1000 can’t match that!

Ram-air that actually worked
The 1989 Kawasaki ZXR750 had those OTT pipes snaking over the fuel tank and the green/white/purple paint scheme was the business, but the 1989 Yamaha OW01 had ram air that really worked, with real world measurable effects. First exhaust valve too.

First radial caliper
2003 Aprilia RSV-R.

Separate high/low speed damping adjustment
2006 Yamaha R6. Also first fly-by-wire throttle linkage.

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