At first, the leadership in the unspoken race of power and speed was taken by the British. It was they who, before the First World War, came up with the idea of launching "replicas" - copies of "purebred" race cars adapted for driving on public roads. The first "magic barrier" in the English transcription was: 100 miles per hour (in our opinion, this is 160.9 km / h).
… George Braff grew up surrounded by cars, motorcycles and machine tools: his father, William, was one of the first in England to master the production of "self-propelled crews." When Braff Jr. grew up, he fired up on the stupid (according to his father) idea - to build the most advanced motorcycle in the world. The offspring gave the name of the car a boyish defiant: Brough-Superior, that is, “Braff is excellent.” And he caught luck by the tail: the device liked the buyers (although it cost a lot of money, but it cost them), and the admiring journalists (George quickly saw through how useful this tribe was and arranged the first in the world for them special test drives) his "Rolls-Royce Among Motorcycles." The authority of the young designer ascended to unattainable heights when at the end of 1924 he introduced the world's first production motorcycle, capable of speeds of 100 miles per hour. The model was called: “SS100”, each car came to the buyer with a certificate confirming that the tester on the track had dispersed it to that same “hundreds”.
For his motorcycles, Braff used 2-cylinder V-shaped 1000 cc engines, initially the JAP brand, and in the 30s - Matchless. Then the British manufacturers did not indicate the maximum power of the motors, while modern measurements of those "ancestors" give 45-50 hp. - depending on the year of manufacture and the preservation of the specimen.
George Braff reigned supreme on the market of super motorcycles until World War II, but after its end he did not return to motorcycle production. His banner was picked up by another Englishman - Philip Vincent. Even before the war, the great engineer Phil Irving designed for him a V-shaped "deuce", and the peak of her fame came at the end of the 40s - on the territory cleared by Braff. The speedometer of the 55-horsepower Vincent Black Shadow was optimistically marked at 150 mph (241 km / h), although in reality the motorcycle developed “only” 125 (201 km / h). However, one must understand that neither Porsche nor Jaguar could develop such speeds in those years!
Alas, the number of wealthy enthusiasts in the impoverished post-war world did not even meet the modest demands of Philip Vincent (who did several hundred cars a year), and in 1956 the company went bankrupt. For more than twenty years, I had to wait until production motorcycles approached the Vincent performance: neither the British “deuces”, nor the cocky “Japanese”, nor the impressive “Harleys” could race at speeds of “under two hundred”.
(Note. We are only talking about those motorcycles that were built, albeit small, but in series and fell into official catalogs. The works of single enthusiasts and tuners are beyond the scope of our story).
But in the late 60s, the "magic bag" broke through! Almost simultaneously, the British “shot” (3-cylinder “twins” - BSA Rocket 3 and Triumph Trident) and the Japanese (4-cylinder Honda CB750). And if English motorcycles with a declared power of 58 hp just did not reach the coveted 200-kilometer barrier, then he took a 67-strong "Japanese". Everything else, this “super” was quite affordable for the average motorcyclist - the working masses were able to get involved in the game!
Do you think that from that moment the palm passed to the Japanese brands and the old Europe, there was nothing to catch? Hell no! This could happen anytime later, but not in the 70s. Yes, the British were thirty years behind, but the Italians finally applied their rich experience in creating racing motorcycles to large-capacity vehicles. In 1971, two beautiful “Italians” entered the market at once - the 70-horsepower Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, and with it the 67-horsepower Ducati 750 Sport. Maybe they lacked the mortal charm of four cylinders (the fashion for sports V-twins will come much later), but they could easily gobble up a Japanese rival not only on mountain roads (where Honda was completely helpless against them), but straight: 205 km / h!
The wheel spun faster and faster! Only a year passed - and another couple took the next milestone - 210 km / h. Both walkers are 4-cylinder: 82-horsepower Kawasaki Z1 and 69-horsepower MV Agusta 750 Sport (eh, the Italians are weak in technology and design … But for some reason they didn’t have enough inventions for the name). One can argue: how real is the declared figure for the Italian car - with such a gap in power levels? And is this aristocrat worthy of his scanty release, so that we include him in our review? There is no need to think long about this: in 1973, Ducati engineers added a desmodrome drive to the V-twin (or L-twin?), Thereby raising the power to 73 hp. - and took the next barrier: 215 km / h.
But they didn’t calm down on that. Fabio Taglioni, the chief designer of Ducati, designed the 900 cc version of the engine, and in 1975 the 80-strong model 900 S / S Desmo conquered another bar - 225 km / h. (If you are interested in how the "Italians" beat the "Japanese", losing them in power, look at the figures of dry mass in the table and think about the benefits of the procedure called "drive fat"). And only in 1977, the Japanese brand broke ahead: in Kawasaki, the engine was boosted to 90 hp. and presented customers with the Z-1R another fantastic speed indicator of 230 km / h.
And then suddenly - a lull … European companies were exhausting their resources in a fierce competitive fight, in Japan in an atmosphere of secrecy, as if they were "writing" superweapons, they were preparing new generation motorcycles - with 4-valve cylinder heads, liquid-cooled engines and revolutionary chassis. An absolutely unusual car exploded in silence in 1982: the 112-horsepower Kawasaki ZX750 Turbo. The fruit of a short hobby for turbocharged engines, this bike accelerated to 235 km / h. This is also a special kind of first-ever walker in history: they “guessed” to put on a fairing that reduces aerodynamic drag.
But that same "secret weapon" thundered a year later. Two sportbikes at once (that's it - a breed with the same name appeared on the stage) took the barrier of 250 km / h: the 115-horsepower Kawasaki GPZ900R, the firstborn of the glorious Ninja family, and the 122-horsepower Honda VF1000R.