Top 10s

Top 10 living fossils

Long dead here, some old bikes live on in other corners of the globe

5: Suzuki Hayabusa

When it comes to extinction events we might instantly think of dinosaurs and things that happened millions of years ago, but in reality around 10,000 species go extinct every year. It’s the same with bikes, and the Hayabusa’s demise in Europe at the end of 2018 was a notable one. It’s also being dropped from the Japanese market, but in some places – notably America and Australia – it’s alive and well, even getting new paint schemes for the 2019 model year.

4: Suzuki GSX-R750/GSX-R600

The same story as the Hayabusa is repeated for the GSX-R750 and its twin, the GSX-R600. After 33 years of continuous European sales, the 750 dropped from the market last year. The GSX-R600 wasn’t quite such an old name, but also disappeared for the first time in decades. As with the Busa, some lost tribes of GSX-Rs are living on in remote outposts, though, with America getting bold new colours for the 2019 model year.

3: Honda CB1300

The CB1300 is one of those bikes that falls into the ‘retro’ category now but was actually fairly modern when it first appeared in 1992 (as the smaller-engined CB1000). The 1300 version replaced it in 1998, and the last European versions were sold back in 2013. It’s still a favourite in its home market of Japan, though, and gets regular mild updates to keep it on sale without losing its essential look or mechanical identity. Most recently, the Japanese version – available in naked and half-faired Bol d’Or versions – gained LED lighting and additional ‘SP’ versions with Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension.

2: Yamaha SR400

The Yamaha SR400 is another bike that’s been a Japanese favourite for decades, a direct descendant of the SR500 that emerged 41 years ago in 1978. Unavailable in the UK for decades, it reappeared on our market in 2014 as Yamaha reacted to the boom in retro bikes, but sales were slow and it disappeared from sale two years later. In Japan, though, it’s still wildly popular and remains available to this day.

1: Yamaha VMAX

The VMAX is something of a legend, even though relatively few were ever sold. The 1700cc, 198hp V4 went on sale in 2008, replacing the 1200cc original that debuted back in 1985. However, just as the first-gen V-Max 1200 (with a hyphen) was only sold in the UK for part of its life – between 1991 and 2004 – the VMAX 1700 (no hyphen, all caps) is living on elsewhere. The VMAX 1700 was dropped from our market, and the rest of Europe, with the advent of Euro4 emissions limits in 2017, with domestic production in Japan ending in August that year. But just as the original 1200cc model remained on sale in America right up until 2007 and the launch of its 1700cc VMAX (no hyphen, all caps) replacement, the second-generation bike is still being sold over in the States in 2019.

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