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Cream Generation

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I just read an old article from 1982 about AMA Superbikes. Between 1978 and 1981, lap times for the class around Daytona dropped 10 seconds. Ten seconds! How is that possible? Primarily because they were now allowed to drastically modify the chassis; remove tubes, move brackets, alter steering head angle. Also, tyres and brakes and suspension moved ahead rapidly. Finally, engines began to deliver useable power over a wide enough range to comply with their 5 speed gearboxes. Of course, hiring top rank riders like Lawson and Spencer also helped both development and lap times. With more weight over the front wheel, a lot less rake and trail, stiffer frames and swingarms, long rear wheel travel and improved brakes combines with better grip from advanced tyres, lap times dropped quickly.


Privateers had it tough, though. Put a standard Z1000J or GSX1000M or CB900F on the grid and you wouldn't even know where the field went after 2 corners. In order to be even remotely competitive, you had to change virtually everything; wheels, brakes, suspension, frames and engines all needed massive modifications at best or most likely complete replacement. I do not know how fast a stock bike could lap Daytona in 1981, but Superbikes did 2:05s.


In 1982, Kawasaki offered a race ready Superbike for $11,000. Compare that to $3.999 list price of a Suzuki GS1100EZ. Then consider that the off-the-shelf racer probably wasn't more competitive than a stock BMW S1000RR fitted with race rubber would be in a Superbike race today.


1983 was the firts year that we saw some serious race technology applied to streetbikes. The RG250 Gamma even had an aluminium frame! And the Honda VF750F had been designed with racing in mind, although it was still quite some way from what was actually raced.


Now things moved rapidly. In 1984, Honda fitted a radial rear tyre to their VF1000R race replica street motorcycle, although tyre and rim were still narrow compared to current standards. And overall, streetbikes were still pretty far from what was raced, however. Until 1988 and the introduction of the VFR750R. Since then, we have been able to buy motorcycles right off the showroom floor that are pretty darn great.


But development never stops, and today streetbikes - still sold at surprisingly sensible prices - offer ABS, traction control and variable intakes and exhausts for power delivery so smooth, so wide and flexible, yet with a level of top end power so high that people would probably literally kill to have one 30 years ago. Add to that superior suspension bits that can be adjusted for any- and everything, top notch brakes and tyres with more grip than pure race rubber back in 1982.


Just think about it. For a list price of $14,000 you can buy a motorcycle that straight off the showroom floor would leave a priceless pure racer of 30 years ago for dead on a race circuit. And not even that - bone stock it will be closer to a Superbike racer than a 1978 Superbike racer was to a 1981 Superbike racer!


Yeah, sportbike enthusiasts really are the winners in today's market.



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True that! Anyone who is in the market for a new sportsbike today will be facing some really tough decisions. But what a decision to have! laugh.gif


It's pretty amazing when you compare the stock bikes of today with race bikes of even 10 years ago, but don't forget just how far ahead todays race bikes are from OEM bikes. And what will OEM bikes be like in 10 years time? blink.gif


I think it's the pinnacle of internal combustion engines, the horsepower wars are over, now everyone wants to develop the best electronics package to let average people use the crazy power that comes with the bikes. And it's pretty amazing to think that you could commute 5 days a week on your latest sporbike, then go for a track day on Saturday, a ride in the twisties on Sunday and it just takes it in it's stride, everything these days is just so capable and reliable.

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