Summer of '69

1969 was a pretty special year, Nixon became President of the United States, the Apollo 11 mission put man on the moon for the first time, the Beatles recorded their final album ‘Abbey Road’ and played their final live performance on the roof of the Apple Studios, Concorde conducted its first test flight, Sesame Street aired for the first time on public television and the worlds first modern superbike, the Honda cb750 FOUR was released.

The cb750 brought new technology to everyday mass-production bikes that had only previously existed in racing such as disc brakes and of course, that four-cylinder engine. It was also the first to use an electric starter, replacing the traditional kick-start mechanism. Combining this all into one package, Honda had reset the standard and the ‘superbike’ was born.

It was in January 1969 that the Honda cb750 was officially released in America, with the first bike rolling off the production line in March. The orders immediately came flooding in and Honda’s conservative production forecast of 1,500 a year didn’t even come close as the target had to be increased to 18,000 and then again to 36,000. Honda went on to sell an estimated half-a-million units of the original ‘K’ model cb750 from 1969 to 1978.

With Honda successfully bringing modern, reliable engineering to the large motorcycle market for the very first time. They forced all other manufacturers to evolve and improve or implode, which many of the British brands inevitably did.

The cb750 also paved the way for the other Japanese motorcycle companies such as Kawasaki and suzuki as they rushed to produce their own ‘UJM’ or ‘Universal Japanese Motorcycle’. The storm of four-cylinder bikes from Asia had started a new era of dominance from the Japanese Motorcycle companies that is still holding strong to this day.

issued: Monday, October 03, 2022
updated: Monday, October 03, 2022

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