Bimota HB2

Bimota HB2 1980s Italian sports bike

The HB2 was the second offering from Bimota – the radical Italian bike builder. The HB1 had set the template. Massimo Tamburini – Bimota’s chief designer – totalled a Honda CB750, at Misano racetrack. Tamburini managed to salvage its four-cylinder engine from the wreckage. He then wrapped it in Bimota bodywork. The resulting HB1 – Honda/Bimota – hybrid became the first of the firm’s stylish, trend-setting roadsters.

The HB2 upped the ante, power-wise, from the HB1. The new bike sourced its motor from Honda’s CB900F. 95bhp was duly available. And the Bimota was lighter than the big Honda CB. It weighed just 441lb. State of the art suspension was then fitted. At the front, Ceriani teles were synced with a progressive-rate monoshock at the back. A tubular steel/aluminium plate frame added still more stability to the mix. With a 138mph top speed – and high-class handling – the HB2 etched a technical benchmark. Bimota had taken the superbike fight to its Oriental rivals. Pretty impressive from a small-scale manufacturer – certainly as compared with the Japanese ‘big four’.

Not that the Bimota challenge came as a surprise to Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha. In no particular order, by the way! After all, Bimota had been around the GP scene a while by then. In the showrooms, their unique selling-point was super-cool Italian looks – plus a Japanese engine! Sadly – even for a bespoke builder like Bimota – less than 200 HB2s were sold. The HB3 came to the rescue – to some extent, at least. It sealed the deal on the Honda/Bimota alliance. Like the HB2, the HB3 upgraded the package. This time, the Honda CB1100R engine was used. By that point, the Japanese marques were leading the pack again, in terms of overall performance. Notwithstanding – with their HB2 – Bimota had blazed a trail for beautiful, brain-bending motorbikes!

BMW K1

Back in the day, BMW bikes were borderline staid. That all changed with the K1. Design-led flair and panache were dripping off it. The K1 looked the absolute business – and BMW did plenty of it, as a result!

In engineering terms, the K1 was straight out of the top drawer. That said, BMW know no other way! Suspension was set up per the Paralever system – specially formulated for shaft-drive power trains. The K-series engine featured four horizontally-opposed cylinders – the flat layout having been a BMW trademark since the year dot. This time around, though, it was fuel-injected. Cue 100bhp. And a top speed of 145mph.

The K1 was stylistically stunning. Paint and bodywork blended into a cool mélange. Cool was not a word which had been overused for BMW, in the past … at least, not so far as its motorcycle department was concerned! The K1, though, was a visual harbinger of ‘Beemers’ to come. Indeed, BMW would go on to produce some of the best-looking bikes on the planet. Of course, Teutonic technical class came as standard!

Yamaha FZR1000

Genesis is one heck of a tag to give a motorbike. But, that is what the the Yamaha FZR1000 was dubbed, when introduced in ’87. No pressure, then! In the beginning, there had been the FZR1000 race bike. That begat the Genesis roadster … which multiplied in great profusion. The first follow-up model was the Exup – or Exhaust Ultimate Powervalve. By that point, the FZR1000 was already selling in shedloads.

The FZR topped out at a dizzying 168mph. Output was 140bhp. It tipped the scales at a scant 461lb dry. Upside-down forks, on later models, reduced unsprung weight – and thereby improved handling. A 17″ front wheel – and radial tyre – helped raise the roadholding bar. At the back, a rock-solid swingarm pivoted on an aluminium twin-spar Deltabox frame. The engine’s electronic Exup system extended the FZR’s powerband into the middle of the rev range.

The FZR was one sweetly-styled sports bike. The twists and turns of its bodywork went every which way. Rather than being a cause of confusion, though, in the case of the Genesis, it worked. With the FZR1000, then, Yamaha gave a blank sheet to its engineers/designers. They seized the invitation to move motorbikes into new territory!

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