The Story of Seventies Superbikes

The Story of Seventies Superbikes

A review of the most important Japanese motorcycles of the 1970s, as featured in Classic Bike Magazine, John Naish tells the story from behind the handlebars of the era’s legendary bikes: the Honda CB750 Four, Honda 500 Four, Kawasaki H2 750, Kawasaki Z1, Suzuki GT750, Honda GoldWing, Suzuki GS1000 and Honda CBX.

The 70s was an incredible period of motorcycle development. In less than 8 years, everything changed forever – before 1969, features such as electronic ignition, disc brakes, top speeds of over 130 mp/h or quarter mile times of around 12 seconds were almost unheard of. These unique Superbikes made that performance accessible to the mass market.

Shot at Paul Brace’s Proper Bikes in Sussex, England.

A Brightside Media production

Readers Comments (50)

  1. He totally missed the grand champion of the LATE 70’s. The Ultra smooth, shaft driven, blazingly fast Yamaha XS11In 1978 it was the fastest Superbike in the Quarter Mile.

  2. Ronald Tartaglia April 12, 2021 @ 11:44 pm

    So well done, can you do a episode on the Ducati Monster?

  3. The Z1 and the Kettle were my faves 😉

  4. Ronald Tartaglia April 12, 2021 @ 11:47 pm

    I’m from the United States, can I still say “ZED” instead of “Z”? Please.

  5. Brightside Media April 12, 2021 @ 11:48 pm

    Watch our latest film about the birth of the 1st modern superbike: the Honda CB750:

  6. Fuck you and your comment on the stones. . May all your bikes stop dead

  7. Kamper VanKrazy April 12, 2021 @ 11:49 pm

    OMG I used to own many of these bikes 750 four/ 750 kettle Z1 superb! the GT750 was THE DOGS WOTSITS!!! i HAD A CBX and the engine sounded AWESOME!!
    MODERN BIKES? You couldnt PAY ME to own one………….total DIRTY PANTS! The ONLY decent one – the GIXER! GS750R!

  8. 70s super bikes were scary and dangerous and beautiful and sex was safe …today …reverse

  9. I’m a Harley guy but back in the early 70’s you weren’t shit if you were 18 years old and didn’t have a Honda CB 350,550, 750 with ape hangers and a sissy bar ! Then my neighbor bought a Z1 900 with a Kerker 4into 1 header that was a wicked sounding machine! The original crotch rocket! I love the 70’s bikes!

  10. PonyCar Resurrection April 12, 2021 @ 11:53 pm

    No Susuki has ever gone by any MC I have been on in my lifetime. Certainly not a GS1100 in 1981 when I was riding my Kz1000 thru Condor curves just before the Marine Base front gate at 29 Palms Ca. He tried and he did not have the nuts. There was only one Super bike in 1977 and I was 24 years old and fearless. I bought a 1977 KZ 1000 that had been built and ran as a purple drag bike for one season. A Marine in Albany GA. bought it, rebuilt it and sold it to me. I weighed 165 lbs. and that bike was the fastest vehicle on the road. It would bury the needle past 140 mph and continue to accelerate. Passing 3-5 cars on a twisty GA 2 lane from 55 mph took but the blink of an eye. I wore that bike out over the next six years. Now I’m 65 and ride a Rocket 3.Thinking about a V-Max.

  11. The Kawasaki Z-1 could do everything – except go round bends! The handling was lethal!

  12. I look at all the amazing pieces in the Shed, and wonder in awe, wish i could own some of them..mind you, looking at that shed door, wont be too hard to own them all.

  13. TheDancingLionRules April 12, 2021 @ 11:55 pm

    What was the song at 0:42?

  14. Had 2 of the bikes shown in this video: a red 1978 Suzuki GS1000E and a silver 1979 Honda GL1000K3 Gold Wing with full Vetter fairing and 3 cases and a lot of other stuff to make it a grand tourer, both completely restored by my father and me over several years. Sadly both had to find new homes due to need for space and money. 🙁

  15. Honda wiped the floor every time they brought out something new. THe CB77 OHC 305, the CB450 DOHC, the CB750 4-cylinder, the GL1000 (everything), the CB400F six-speed, the CBX 6-cylinder, the CX500T Turbo-charged Pushrod V-Twin, The VFR 500, 750 & 1100 V-Fours, the GL1500 Boxer 6-Cylinder. Not to mention the five & six cylinder racing 4-strokes of the 1960’s! Honda covered the bases with home runs!

  16. Yamaha XS1100 blew them all away

  17. Pcc RIKA DILANSARI April 12, 2021 @ 11:59 pm


  18. ‘kin grrrreat innem??! …f""k these modern horroirs class, no personality, …and as for the poseurs in their designer leathers …vomit!! ;-[

  19. What’s with the random "side on" profile shots of the narrator during his dialog? It serves no purpose, other than to show off the size of his nose?

  20. Forgot the Yamaha triples, the 79 xs750F, omg what a sweet exhaust note at 9500 rpms

  21. The RD Yamaha 350, was quicker than the CB Honda 750, over the quarter mile. Not always about horses baby.

  22. Norton 650!

  23. Terrific coverage of many of the bikes of that era. My first big road bike was the ’78 Z1R a beauty. I was lucky to have mates who had all of these machines so I got to ride a CBX 1000, a GS1000, a K7 750/4, Z1B 900, Z1300, an XS1100 ….and my second Kwaka a Z1R-II. They were all terrific bikes. A mate put his z900 into a Rickman kit and wow was that a nice bike. The power of the Kwaka and the wonderful handling geometry of the Rickman frame. Great days!!

  24. Cheers to the Stones comment. Spot on! ha

  25. The Kawasaki Z1 gave you just enough pleasant vibration and feel in transition from vertical twins with much more power , as a big bore 4 cylinder 4 stroke was to me the first super bike, I have to say though the H2 750 as a two stroke was in the 750 class the super bike of its time and could hang with the Z1 . Honda gets the prize for a mass production inline 4 with reliability opening up the door for the motorcycles of today , they are simply rockets with no soul for us who have experienced the bikes of the past !

  26. How much cost Honda 500 four

  27. Wow!! Just like I remember them, owned MANY!! 😎

  28. I’d like to look round that place.
    I wonder where in southern England it is

  29. At age 68 I kinda miss the shcwinn sting ray bike I never got.

  30. "We lost Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, the Beatles broke up, and worst of all, the Rolling Stones kept going!" "Keith Richardson found alive!". My neighbor at the end of my street had first a Harley M50, an H2, an H1, then a KZ900. I had a Harley M50, a Harley SS 250 Sprint, A Yamaha YR2 350 and later a Yamaha XS 750 2D, all between 1971 and 1980

  31. scott van tassel April 13, 2021 @ 12:14 am

    where’s the flood?

  32. We’re going to run out of gasoline !! , …

    45 years and 80 trillion gallons later , we’re going to run out of gasoline !! lol , those bikes were popular during the rationing

  33. I had two of these bikes, the Z-1, and the CBX…same color of both too…

  34. Would have thought that there would be a few European bikes worth a mention.

  35. A friend of mine took one of those big Kawasaki triple 2 strokes for a test ride, the owner was scared of it and wanted to get rid of it. The owner told my friend to watch out for that powerband . My friend headed out and woke up a week later in the hospital, when he came out of his coma.

  36. You forgot the Kawi KZ 1000

  37. Sumathi Sumathi April 13, 2021 @ 12:23 am

    All of my favorites ❤️

  38. Music junked video

  39. 100 रभ Pawar April 13, 2021 @ 12:25 am

    2:44 what song is this

  40. I miss those days, my cousin had a Datsun 240z i had a kettle exactly in the colours as the one in this video. I wish I never sold it. If it didn’t have a go faster stripe on it you gave it one.

  41. Worst of all the Blowing Scones kept going.

  42. yamaha? u left out yamaha.

  43. I was racing at Vaca Valley Raceway, west of Sacramento, California, back in 1972. Paul Smart from England, raced the new ’73 Z1 and won his race very easily. After the racing was over, I went to his pit to have a look at his bike. He was very congenial to talk to and said, "if you want to take a ride on it, go ahead". I took it around the track and came back in and handed the bike back to him. He could see that I had a large grin on my face. A week later, I bought one and enjoyed it for several years. It was, and still is, a very reliable, good handling and fast bike!

  44. I’m curious why the biggest and arguably smoothest superbikes of the seventies didn’t even get a mention. XS1100 and Z1300. I’ve owned 5 Yamaha XS1100s and can’t believe they didn’t get a mention here.

  45. Why no Norton Commando. Bike of the year 4 years in a row?

  46. Where is the 1979 Yamaha XS Eleven Special? Wiki, says you didn’t have that one but a more touring version. The power & torque of this bike was addictive. I wish I had mine back

  47. Not to mention the Munch Mammut that inspired Honda to build the 750

  48. Should have got someone, who knows about bikes to do this!! Z1 came out in 1972 Numpty

  49. Tony Dambrauskas April 13, 2021 @ 12:35 am

    When goldwings still looked like a proper bike

  50. this man is so sassy

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