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Honda's new 919 traces its lineage back through 33 years of inline-four Superbikes that literally defined high-performance motorcycling.
1969 CB750K0: THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE FOUR-CYLINDER IS BORN
For those who didn't personally experience the revolution that Honda launched with the 1969 CB750, it's difficult to fully comprehend the impact of this landmark motorcycle. In 1969 Honda had been in America for only 10 years, and at that time European bikes--especially British--defined the parameters of high performance. In one deft move, Honda instantly elevated the entire motorcycle industry to a new and higher plane. Suddenly, the heretofore contradictory elements of jaw-dropping performance, engineering sophistication and mechanical reliability would become interwoven into a seamless whole, thanks to the CB750K0.
Here was modern motorcycling's first large inline four-cylinder production bike, a SOHC 736cc marvel of engineering that introduced power and civility as flip sides of the same coin. Just as significant was the CB750's disc brake, the very first to be fitted on a production motorcycle, plus a new level of all-around competence. With more than 400,000 CB750s sold during its nine-year life, this bike single-handedly shifted the center of the high-performance motorcycling world from England to Japan, and ushered in a whole new level of expectation on the part of discerning motorcyclists.
1979 CB750F: CELEBRATING THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY WITH TWO CAMS
How does a company go about replacing a motorcycle that had become a legend in its own time? Well, if you're a company like Honda, you do it with sheer elegance of engineering. The 1979 CB750 weighed in with some pretty impressive technical credentials, specifically a new 749cc twin-cam engine with four cylinders, four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts that employed bucket-and-shim adjusters in place of rocker arms.
Such impressive credentials boosted performance to record-high levels, with the CB750F Super Sport model in particular offering horsepower and handling unsurpassed in its class.
1980 CB900C: A GOOD IDEA GROWS ON YOU
If a DOHC 749cc engine was a good idea--and the CB750F proved that it was a fine idea indeed--then just imagine how much better that engine could be with 20 percent more displacement! Honda's engineers didn't wait around very long; a year after the new 750's introduction, the CB900C custom made its debut, featuring an enlarged 902cc DOHC engine with four valves per cylinder, plus a dual-range gearbox and shaft drive. Here was a custom cruiser that could perform with the best of the day--bar none.
1981 CB900F: FROM SUPER SPORT TO SUPERBIKE
A strong case can be made for the CB900F's status as the first Superbike to be shoehorned into a mid-sized package. Springing forth from the CB750F, the CB900F featured a slightly shorter wheelbase and a mere 22.5-pound increase in weight, while boasting a whopping 20 percent increase in displacement. The bored and stroked DOHC 16-valve engine now displaced 902cc, and a lengthy list of upgrades made the 900 a force to be reckoned with: larger valves and carburetors, a stiffer frame made of larger-diameter tubing plus reinforcing gussets, a heftier fork, plus adjustable-damping shocks with external aluminum-body reservoirs.
The CB900F also served as the basis for Honda's Superbike racing efforts in the capable hands of Freddie Spencer and Mike Baldwin, lending further eyeball appeal and prestige. And perhaps best of all, the suggested retail price of the 900F topped the CB750F's price tag by a mere $350, making it an irresistible bargain.
1983 CB1100F: SUPERSPORTS GO LARGE
All of the attributes of the CB900F--plus a lot more--applied to the 1983 CB1100F. By punching out the cylinder bores from 64.5 to 70.0mm, the big sporting CB grew to a towering 1062cc in displacement to become the quickest and fastest bike of that era. A new anti-dive system, adjustable handlebars and a new box-section swingarm added to the CB1100F's prowess while tacking on a trifling 8.5 pounds. It was the apex of engineering refinement for the air-cooled four-cylinder series, and a worthy representative at that. Moreover, once again the CB-F was a bargain-and-a-half, thanks to a mere $200 increase in price over the 1982 CB900F.
1987 CBR1000: A HURRICANE FORCE
When Honda's four-cylinder CBR®1000 landed in 1987, it truly hit the market with Hurricane® force. A new day dawned as an entire era of air-cooled powerplants yielded to the new wave of liquid-cooled big-inch inline-fours. The CBR's 998cc DOHC engine featured four valves per cylinder plus liquid cooling for more consistent power, longer engine life, stricter emissions control and quieter operation. It was a complete package brimming with sophistication and refinement--and plenty of performance. This new-generation Big Four was stronger, quicker and faster than its CB1100F predecessor and also lighter--by just a pinch. With great handling, fantastic brakes and sufficient rider amenities to qualify for long-distance work, the Hurricane laid waste to tradition, proving that better is as better does.
1991 NIGHTHAWK CB750: A CLASSIC RETURNS
As proof that a good idea never goes out of style, the air-cooled 750 inline four-cylinder is born once again, this time under Honda's Nighthawk® moniker. An entirely new engine displaces 747cc, but the cylinder head still incorporates double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Hydraulic valve lash adjusters simplify maintenance chores, as does an automatic cam-chain tensioner, solid-state ignition and a spin-on oil filter. Cast in a traditional mold with touches of hot-rod styling, the new Nighthawk 750 soon proves to be a favorite among people who simply enjoy being out on two wheels. And an eminently affordable price makes the Nighthawk 750 accessible to just about anyone with an urge to ride.
1993 CBR900RR: LIGHT MAKES MIGHT
Power-to-weight ratios make interesting bench-racing fodder. But in 1993, hypothetical concepts crumbled under the irresistible force of the CBR900RR's new math. This brand-new machine weighed in at an inconceivable 408 pounds, packing liter-class horsepower into a package that weighed a whopping 80 pounds less than its next-lightest rival. This was truly liter-class power in a 600-sized chassis, the Holy Grail of sport bike enthusiasts.
Powered by an ultra-sophisticated four-cylinder 893cc DOHC 16-valve liquid-cooled engine, the aluminum-frame CBR900RR embodied the perfection of cutting-edge sporting performance, earning a wealth of awards, including Motorcyclist magazine's motorcycle of the year in 1993 plus four appearances on Cycle World's coveted 10 Best List. For the ultimate in sport performance--and race track performance as proven by Erion Racing--the CBR900RR was simply and literally without peer.
1994 CB1000: THE SUPERBIKE SPIRIT REVIVED
As the advent of the incredible CBR900RR redefined and expanded the parameters of the Superbike market, a niche was created between it and Honda's sophisticated Hurricane/ CBR1000F. Based on the latter bike's 998cc DOHC liquid-cooled powerplant, but featuring a new chassis sans bodywork, the 1994 CB1000 carried the spirit of the big-bore Superbike from the '80s into the 1990s. This robust, no-frills powerhouse trimmed more than 30 pounds off the CBR1000's curb weight, yet its expanded 60.6-inch wheelbase gave a rider and passenger plenty of room to stretch out.
1998: HORNETS TAKE TO THE STREETS OF EUROPE
As the specialization of sport bikes grows ever more focused toward the race track, a cry goes out-especially in Europe-for a motorcycle that is centered on the needs of street riders once again. So Honda sends the Continent the Hornet, an unfaired 600cc performance machine that offers aggressive power and handling in a lightweight package with compact proportions. In addition, the Hornet's clean lines and more upright riding stance help secure its place in the market as a versatile do-anything machine that immediately sees duty in a wide variety of applications.
2002 919: A LEAN, MEAN STREET MACHINE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Drawing from a deep and varied history, the 919 could well be considered the street-going inline-four created from the best of all worlds. Wrapped around a 16-valve liquid-cooled inline 919cc engine derived from the race-proven CBR900RR series is a pared-down, mid-sized lightweight chassis set up specifically for taking it to the streets--no matter what the job may be. Cruising, sport riding, commuting or long trips all fall within the job description for this hot new high-performance machine.