Motorbikes of the 80s – Nothing is impossible
The motorbike experienced something of a revival in the 80s. At the latest when Tom Cruise rode off into the sunset on a Kawasaki (and without a helmet) in Top Gun, everyone wanted a motorbike. A longing that inspired many other classics and makes motorbikes of the 80s particularly desirable.
The 80s were colourful, wild and diverse. This also applies to the world of two-wheelers. For never before has the range of motorbikes on the world market been so varied. Tom Cruise’s romantically coloured ride into the sunset, filmed in 1985, may not have been the trigger for this boom. But it was certainly a key moment in the lives of many people who had lost sight of the motorbike as a means of rebellion. Suddenly it was there again, the slightly kitschy longing for freedom and moderate non-conformity.
Motorcycles of the 80s – Multifaceted and full of variety
A fully disguised and blazingly fast Kawasaki. GPZ 900 R fit perfectly into the picture. Because with the reinvention of the biker concept in the 80s, the common cliché of the non-conformist outlaw also fell apart. Of course, the motorcycle had lost little of its rebellious side – strictly speaking, even to this day. But thanks to an unprecedented wealth of facets, in the 80s one could afford to be more as a motorcyclist than a cheap copy of Peter Fonda or Marlon Brando. The image of the biker had changed. Suddenly, you were an explorer, a connoisseur, a horsepower junkie, a traditionalist – or even a sportsman.
The fierce Ninja – today understood more as a tourer than a racer – was just one example of this development. For the phalanx of Japanese manufacturers had literally overrun the world with a flood of potent four-cylinder machines. Suzuki’s GSX-R (from 1985), for example, with its lightweight aluminum bridge frame, was an absolute game changer, as they say today. But over 100 usable horsepower was also soon available from Honda, for example in the form of a Bol D ́Or (from 1978) or the progressively styled Suzuki Katana (from 1981). With the Yamaha Vmax, the 150 hp mark was even scratched in 1985, although its concept was more like a dragster.
Motorcycles of the 80s – classics from Japan and Germany
Thanks to increased performance and better reliability, it was also finally possible to reel off many thousands of kilometers at a stretch without major hurdles. No comparison to the 60s and 70s. Many adventurers around the globe emancipated themselves and set off on epoch-making journeys on their new BMW R 80 G/S (from 1980), and later perhaps in the saddle of a Honda Africa Twin (from 1988). But they didn’t want to leave it at just playing on foreign continents. The Japanese in particular also tried to sell relatively middle-class street bikes with chopper-typical add-on parts – higher handlebars, forward-mounted footrests, chrome parts or a sissy bar. Today, these half-heartedly redesigned soft choppers are smiled at, which does not change the fact that, for example, the Yamaha Virago series (from 1981) was a great success. Significantly lower unit numbers, but similar consolidation, resulted in the appearance of the Ducati Pantah (from 1980). The surprisingly sleek sports machine pointed to the future with its timing belt engine and saved the brand from ruin. It became the mother of such sought-after classics as the Ducati TT, F1 or 851, and the DNA of its powertrain can be traced right up to the 2000s.
Motorcycles of the 80s – Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson, on the other hand, behaved completely differently, as expected. American culture, promoted by Hollywood and MTV, was on everyone’s lips in the eighties, so Milwaukee could rest on its laurels. Especially since the Big Twins achieved the cult status in the 80s that is still celebrated today. The fact that Sportster, Softail or Dyna Glide offered little in the way of innovation was irrelevant, to say the least.Because those who were looking for technical masterpieces bought in Japan anyway. Or, more recently, BMW, which broke new ground with the K75 (from 1985) and the even more impressive K1 (from 1988). The 80s really knew no limits.
Photos BMW AG, Ducati Motor Holdings spa, Ruote de Sogno Srl
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