Friday, January 14, 2011

Trivia: Motorcycling's eighth decade - 1970-'79 - the Japanese invasion gets reinforcements

Throughout this decade Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki all established themselves as serious rivals to Honda – to the chagrin of Harley-Davidson (which lobbied hard for protective tariffs) and to the ultimate demise of the entire British motorcycle industry.
The iconic ‘70s muscle bike was the Kawasaki Z1. The company had a 750cc four-cylinder bike in development when Honda unveiled the CB750 in ‘68. So they went back to the drawing board and created the 903cc Z1. It reached the market five years later. The bike was developed for the U.S. market and - under the code-name 'New York Steak' - it was extensively tested here (Yvon Duhamel handled speed/endurance test runs at, if memory serves, Talladega.) The dual-overhead cam motor made an honest 80+ hp and propelled the bike to 130mph. More to the point, it started selling faster than the Honda CB750, too.

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