History of the Superbike: 1969 - 2001

Detailing the history of the superbike from the Honda CB750 in 1969 to 2001's ground-breaking Suzuki GSX-R1000

Posted: 15 June 2013
by Stuart Barker

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Superbike, supersport, superpole, superstock, superteen, super blackbird, super dream, supercross........

It's probably fair to say that the word 'super' is somewhat overused in motorcycling circles. But it wasn't always so.

It's easy to think that superbikes have been around forever because they dominate the market today but the truth is they've only been scratching round our roundabouts and pulling wheelies down high streets for three decades.

In the 1960s (just like today), the biggest Grand Prix class was for the 500s and it wasn't until the Americans started racing 750cc two strokes in the early 1970s that superbike racing began, culminating in today's World Superbike championship. But the first time the term was really used had nothing to do with racing. It was used by the world's press to describe a revolutionary new bike unveiled by Honda at the end of the swinging Sixties.
The Beatles were still together, Elvis wasn't fat yet and a new decade was looming which would lead to more fashion disasters than even the flower power era of the Sixties had managed.

The year was 1968 and as far as motorcycling was concerned, it was one of the most significant in history - it was the year the superbike was born.

The term has been used for so many purposes relating to bikes, from those mentioned above to your granny just saying you're bike looks 'super.'

So, in the absence of an official dictionary definition (the word isn't listed in the English dictionary), let's make our own for the purpose of this feature.

superbike n. a standard production motorcycle with a designated engine capacity of 750cc or above and which offers ground-breaking sports performance.

Okay, now we've established that, you'll understand why there's no Yamaha RD500s or Kawasaki H1s in here so no emails or threatening phone calls please.

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Discuss this story

Why no mention of the famous Ducati 900SS of middle to late seventies?

Posted: 19/05/2009 at 13:07

Well, yes, someone did, but I don't remember who. Whoever it was said that super bilke would never be eliminated from professional racing if they wanted to compete.

Posted: 10/06/2009 at 08:45

What about Honda's ground breaking RC30 in '88, the reason the GSXR 1000 exists is because of the technology this bike bought to WSB. ( yes, I am biased )

Posted: 13/07/2009 at 09:11

"The FireBlade, which initially retailed at £7390 and now costs £8699..." FireBlade is £12000 now, how old is this article??

"The fifth generation year 2000 Honda FireBlade continues to sell well"

Oh right, that old then.

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 11:14

Hmm... Yes I though the openning comment

"just like today, the biggest Grand Prix class was for the 500s"

was less than current.


Posted: 15/08/2013 at 14:07

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