The ‘70s had been a great time for motorcycle lovers. It marked the dawn of a huge phenomenon: the rise of the motorbike. In that decade, bike lovers were first introduced to many things that we have since come to know and love. You see, the companies debuted and established many trends during that time. The list includes highly specialized vehicles and vintage styles, so we hope that you are ready. Those days saw the biggest rise in motorcycle riders in history. Let us take a look at what the ‘70s brought to the table – we are sure that you are going to recognize some of these at the very least!
Kawasaki H2 750
We have the H2 Mach IV, which came equipped with a 750 cc 3-cylinder engine. Kawasaki designed it and then produced this design for five years. It was in production from 1970 to 1975 and could drive down a quarter-mile in a matter of 12 seconds. On top of that, it came with upgraded handling when compared to its predecessor, the Mach III. Its inspiration came from the H1 Mach III, the previous model that was also equipped with a 750 cc engine with 3,500 rpm and redlined at 7,500 rpm. The next item on our list is an Italian model that was in production as far back as the ‘30s.
Moto Morini 3
In 1937, Moto introduced this Italian motorbike to the world. It was made and designed by none other than Alfonso Morino. It has undergone a lot of improvements and changes in terms of engine, style, and body. After that, it morphed into a new V-twin engine motorcycle called the Moto Morino 3 1/2 . Of course, the new iteration was faster and stronger than the original. To this day, the Moto Morini 3 ½ is a hit among motorcycle lovers. When it first came out, it had the same price as the Honda CB750.
Hodaka Super Combat Wombat
The design of the Hodaka Super Combat Wombat is the result of a merger between an American and a Japanese company. This hybrid was on the market from 1964 to 1978. Not only that, but it was very popular back in the ‘70s. During its 14 years of production, Hodaka sold more than 150,000 units. The company that created this beauty had been located in Oregon. It used to be owned by the Shell Oil Company.
Moto Guzzi V7 Sport
In 1971, an Italian company called Moto Guzzi introduced the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport. It took inspiration from the V7 Roadster and came with a totally new design and clip-on handlebars. Compared to the one that came before it, it was lighter and came with better handling. This explains why it was generally more popular. The company introduced the V7 Special in 2008 as a tribute to the ‘70s model.
The Suzuki RE-5 was in production from 1974 to 1976. It was equipped with a liquid-cooled single rotor from Wankel that was considered unique. You see, these engines came with specific structures such as a smooth rotary engine that was basic yet powerful. Users had the opportunity to receive more power with less displacement. It was just as rare now than it had been at the time. Unfortunately, the Wankel engine in this motorbike was not used to its full capacity and remains this way to this day.
MV Agusta 350B Sport
During the turn of the decade, Agusta created the MV Agusta 350B Sport. It came with a new sporty look and a better engine. Even though there is nothing all that special about it now, it was quite advanced for a motorbike back in the day. Its 350B engine with its top speed of 96 mph had been considered to be top-of-the-line. In the following decades, Agusta improved its engine and body type.
The Suzuki GS750 was an entry to the GS series and came with a full range of 4-stroke powered road motorcycles. People found it very impressive because only 2-stroke bikes had been on the market at the time. In 1955, the company first introduced a bike with a 4-strike engine under the name Colleda COX. It had 93 and 125 cc engines. After doing its homework, the Japanese company created the GS series and perfected the 4-stroke bike design. Despite this, the 2-strike bikes continued to do well.
Benelli 900 Sei
Alejandro de Tomaso was the designer of the Benelli 900 Sei. It was on the market from 1972 to 1978. It was a very popular Italian bike compared to its peers at the time. But why did it stand out from the others in the market? For one thing, it had a max speed of 120 mph when it first came out and impressed people with its design. A lot of people loved the bike thanks to the popularity of angular designs over round ones.
1970 Triumph Bonneville
In reality, the 1970 Triumph Bonneville was not seen as a standout. It was just a regular bike that had a twin 4-stroke engine, after all. The company perfected the engine after three generations. Fun fact, the company was named after the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Triumph and other manufacturers raced their motorcycles there in an attempt to break record speeds. The Triumph came with a 650cc parallel-twin engine.
Introduced in 1972, the Kawasaki Z1 came out after the Honda CB750 did. This was one of the first Japanese motorbikes that earned the title of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle. The status meant that it was a motorcycle that followed the guidelines and regulations of global bodies that governed the industry. It also made history with its large-capacity 4-cylinder development motorcycle with a double-overhead camshaft system. People like to say that this paved the way for the imports that came after it.
This is a medium-sized motorbike created and distributed by Yamaha Motor Company. It came out in 1968 and remained in production until 1979. After that, the Japanese company made a “Special” cruiser that was on the market until the mid-‘80s. Apparently, the original engine of the XS650 goes all the way back to the ‘50s in the form of a Hosk 500 cc single overhead. After some ownership issues, Yamaha worked on the design instead. It also introduced the 650 cc twin and was for sale until the mid-‘80s.
Did you know that the Yamaha YZR500 was meant to be a racing bike? It represented the company in various 500cc Grand Prix from 1970 all the way to the ‘00s. The design caught the attention of bike fans and the general public alike. Sadly, authorities forbid driving most racing bikes on the road. We are glad to hear that Yamaha stepped up by allowing its mass-production after some time.
The automaker created three models of this: the R69US, R69, and R69S. They all caught the interest of those looking for a luxurious and aesthetically appealing luxury sports bike. BMW designed and manufactured them in Munich. They all came with a 594 cc boxer twin engine. The company sold 15,000 models from 1955 to 1969. BMW changed a number of its components so that it would suit the rules in the region where it was being sold.
Here is a bike that continues to be manufactured to this day. It is impressive to hear that the Yamaha YZ 250 has been on the market ever since it came out in 1974. This is a popular bike among riders and racers. Over the years, it has won various championships and awards. It has 9 AMA National Supercross and 5 AMA National Motorcross titles to its name. If you want one, get ready to spend over $12,000.
Up next, we have a single-cylinder two-passenger motorcycle created by the Yamaha Motor Company. It debuted in 1978 and was for sale until 2000. It is considered to be the street-like cousin of the Yamaha XT400. The model has been sold in various parts of the world from North America to Asia to Europe. Its engineers and designers made it with the goal of making an “easy to use” motorcycle. Even though its production ceased in 1981, it continued to be on the market for 18 more years.
This vehicle was created by Kawasaki with the goal of making a motorcycle that did not just perform on the track but stayed useful for everyday riders. Kawasaki came up with the KR250, which it distributed from 1975 until 1982. It was a hit among racers and buyers since it has won a number of championship races across the globe. It won consecutive medals from 1978 to 1981.
From 1973 until 1975, Yamaha distributed this two-stroke five-speed motorcycle. At the time, it had been in high demand. The RD350 came with a front drum brake and a piston port with it. Aside from that, it was air-cooled and had a parallel twin 6-speed transmission 2-strike engine as well. All this even though it was a sports bike. Each unit of the Yamaha RD350 came with “Autolube,” which refers to its automated oil system. It helped avoid combining gas and oil. This model was followed by the RD400.
If you compare the Honda CG125 with the other bikes on the list, it is safer and duller. It was a safe choice since it was reliable, long-lasting, and easy to use. Honda has a reputation for its accessibility and quality since it likes to make bikes for the average Joe. It was produced in Brazil, Japan, and Turkey.
Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor
The British motorcycle company manufactured and distributed this car from the early ‘60s until the ‘70s. The Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor was an updated version of a model called the Constellation. The company modified the bike every year until it thought the model was good enough for all domains by 1962. The company finally introduced it that year. It boasted a 736 cc twin-cylinder engine with more torque for extra force.
Tunturi Super Sport
This must be one of the rarer motorcycles you will find on the list. The Tunturi Super Sport had been in distribution from the end of the ‘70s to the late ‘80s. It is a hit Finnish product that made it to various markets in different parts of the globe. The company also makes fitness equipment and bicycles.
Suzuki GT750 Water Buffalo
This model is known as the first Japanese motorcycle to have the first water-cooled engine. Suzuki made the GT750 Water Buffalo to be a 2-stroke 3-cylinder motorcycle. The company manufactured it from 1971 up to 1977. Suzuki first introduced it to the general public at the 1970 International Tokyo Motor Show. People had been so fascinated with it that it was even added to the 240 Landmarks of Japanese Technology by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan. Pretty cool, huh?
There are not a lot of Indian motorcycles on the list, but the Yezdi Roadking is one of them. Yezdi sold and manufactured the model from 1978 to 1996. During the Motorcross World Championship races in 1974, it was declared the first runner-up. It had been equipped with a 250 cc engine with a semi-automatic clutch and dual exhausts.
The company designed and manufactured the Venom as a single-cylinder motorcycle. Its engine was a 4-stroke 499 cc motorcycle that was in distribution from 1955 to 1970. During that time frame, the company sold 5,721 of these bikes. Did you know that a team of riders set the 24-hour world record for driving at 100.05 mph in the manufacturing plant? Back then, the Venom was the first motorcycle of that size that could reach a speed of more than 100 mph for an incredible 24 hours.
Did you know that Honda made the NR500 specifically for the Grand Prix? This means that it was not a mass-produced everyday driver. Honda had been manufacturing faster motorcycles at around the same time, so this was totally made for the track. Sadly, it did not reach the end of the race at the 1979 British Grand Prix.
Triumph X-75 Hurricane
Once again, we have yet another Triumph on the list. The X-75 Hurricane was a factory special because its concept was solely the brainchild of Craig Vetter. It came with a 3-gallon gas tank, lowered gearing, fiberglass bodywork, and a triple exhaust system on the right-hand side. At the time, it inspired bike enthusiasts in different parts of the globe. It even continues to do so to this day. It was for sale from 1972 to 1973.
When it comes to mopeds, one of the most well-known ones would be the Honda MB50. Mopeds had been very popular during the ‘70s. This one was on the more affordable and slower side, however. At any rate, those qualities did not stop it from being a hit both in the United States and in Europe.
From 1973 to 1976, BMW distributed the R90S. It was a 990 cc sports motorcycle that was known as the flagship model for its “/6” range. People especially how it looked. They could not get enough of its new tail and two-tone paintwork. In only three years, BMW managed to produce and distribute 17,455 units.
In the ‘70s, BMW had been busy designing and introducing bikes left and right. The company had been doing very well at the time. In 1978, it released the R65 as a variant of the Mercedes R Series. It turned out to be a hit! The bikes were meant to be fast vehicles for experienced riders. It had a max speed of 109 mph. Its triangular fairing was created by none other than the talented designer Hans Muth.
We are sure that you are familiar with this brand! Harley-Davidson took inspiration from the ‘40s when it worked on the FL. It was named for the large size of its frame. In 1977, the company debuted a Confederate Edition of the Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide. It showcased the commemorative decals and paint job. However, the company only ever made 44 units of this model.
From 1979 until 1983, Honda manufactured and distributed the popular CY50. The Japanese company made it at the height of the mopeds, so it was made to be reliable and affordable. It had a max speed of 25 mph. Honda referred to it as a motorcycle with a clean engine that could run on gasoline, so a fuel-oil mix is not needed.
The Bimota KB1 was on the market for nearly a whole decade! The company made a name for itself by giving great Japanese engines a more sophisticated and fitting home. This company targeted people who owned a Kawasaki but wanted to upgrade. It was usually sold in the form of a kit, although its production stopped in 1982. By then, Bimota only sold 827 units of this model.
In 1976, Yamaha introduced the XT660 to the world. The bike was marketed not just as a multi-purpose bike, but as an off-road venture too. When you compare it to the XT600, it is more lightweight and faster. It was such a huge hit among customers that the United States Military used this model as well!
Did you know that many people consider the CBX as the flagship model of Honda? It was on the market from 1978 to 1982. This motorcycle model came equipped with an in-line 6-cylinder 1047 cc engine that could put out 105 hp. This was the best among the Honda offerings back in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The Yamaha XT500 was produced out of Shizuoka, Japan. It was another entry to the lineup of popular motorcycles by Yamaha. Aside from being a hit in Japan, it was well-received in North America as well. The model was known for its great power to weight ratio. A lot of people say that it was nearly perfect!
The Ducati 750SS was part of a series made up of air-cooled bikes that had 4-stroke V-twin engines. It came out in 1973 and was the first entry in its SuperSport series. Ducati made the prototypes of the GT and Sport by using the bodywork of Imola motorcycles. The 750SS was developed together with the 900SS.
Ducati 860 GT
Giurgetto Giugiaro and Fabio Taglioni worked together to work on the masterpiece we now call the Ducati 860 GT. It came out in 1974 and impressed people when it tested at a max speed of 109 mph. According to Giugiaro, they received inspiration from a folded paper. This explains all the straight lines and edges. This look was eventually adopted by the 192 Lotus Espirit, the Volkswagen Golf, and more.
Norton 850 Commando
The Norton 850 Commando was a British motorcycle that boasted an overhead valve engine. It was in distribution from 1967 to 1977. During that decade, it received good reception all over the globe. Motor Cycle News even named it the “Machine of the Year” for five consecutive years. It received inspiration from the ‘40s, which was the era of the twin model.
The Honda CL200 did not stay in distribution for more than a year. It received a lot of comparison with the Honda CB200. Boasting an exhaust system mounted over its gearbox, its pipes were on the left side of the bike. This model came out when the public had not been all that fond of smaller bikes. This explains why it did so poorly in terms of sales, as well as the short period of production.
The Harley-Davidson XR750 was primarily manufactured for racing on the regular road and the dirt road. The likes of Mark Brelsford, Evel Knievel, Jay Springsteen, and Cal Rayborn have all driven this motorbike. After all, it is a truly impressive thing. It was actually so popular that it was eventually deemed a rarity, which is why collectors love it. An XR750 unit was displayed at exhibits called the American on the Move and the Art of the Motorcycle.
During the Imola 200 race, the Ducati Supersport bagged both the 1st and 2nd place. Bruno Spaggiari and Paul Smart used it in the race! It was made from 1972 to 1981. It is fair to say that it paved the way for newer models. The bike came with a new body style, better handling, and a twin-cylinder engine.
1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing
Honda earned more success with its touring motorcycles series, which came out in 1975. The Honda GL1000 Gold Wing made its public debut at the 1974 International Cologne Motorcycle Show. It went on to earn a spot on the 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology. Honda sold more than 640,000 units of this model, although they were mostly in the United States.
In the early ‘70s, Yamaha designed the TX50 and sold it for three consecutive years. It was on the market from 1972 up to 1975 and boasted smooth handling. It was revealed at the International Tokyo Motor Show just a couple of months before the release date. The reception had been good even back then.
Honda CB 750
Let us find out why the Discovery Channel said that this is one of the greatest motorbikes in history. The Honda CB750 came with an air-cooled in-line 4-cylinder engine that took many years to create. It is now seen as one of the first Universal Japanese Motorcycles. After Honda released it, the CB 750 set the bar for motorbike manufacturers!
What made the Honda CL100 such a hit even though it had an average 4-stroke cylinder engine? The answer is its accessibility and price tag. It was also versatile as a dual-sport bike. Honda made it with the same tech that it used for the creation of other models. It boasted a 99 cc engine that only had a max speed of 50 mph.
Harley Davidson XLCR
Willie G. Davidson designed the XLCR for Harley-Davidson based on the XLCH Sportster. It was first thought that it was supposed to be for his personal use. No one thought that it was going to be mass-produced, but it was manufactured and distributed from 1977 to 1979. It went on to sell 20,000 units.
1973 BMW R90S
Among the R90 models, the 1973 BMW R90S was considered the fastest. On top of that, it also had the highest horsepower. Hans Muth designed it as one of the flagship models in the “/6” range. Many agree that these models were some of his best work. When it comes to the specs, it had a max speed of 124 mph, could put out 67 hp, and ran a quarter-mile in only a matter of 13.5 seconds.
1971 Yankee Z
The Yankee Motor Company got its start in Schenectady, New York. The 1971 Yankee Z came with a 2-stroke air-cooled engine. Ossa Manufacturing and Eduard Gir worked together to design and produce this vehicle. The company had its HQ in Barcelona, Spain back then. Several parts had been made and assembled in the United States, however.
1977 Kawasaki KZ1000
In 1977, Kawasaki released the KZ1000. After this happened, it went on to be one of the speediest production bikes on the market. It came with an in-line 4-cylinder nine and a 5-speed transmission. With such a combination, this configuration resulted in 90 horsepower. At the time, Kawasaki had already been working on what was next after this model.
1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
The 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans was the first sports motorcycle made by an Italian company known as Moto Guzzi. Its name comes from the annual 24-hour endurance race that takes place in France. This model came with a nose fairing and clip-on handlebars. Le Mans later equipped it with a three-quarter fairing as well. The Le Mans saw a couple of adjustments over the years. After some time, it became known as Series I, Series II, and Mark I. Overall, however, the company produced fewer than 10,000 units of this model.
1975 Laverda 750GT
The Laverda got its name for the size of the body, as well as its 750 cc engine. The company introduced the 750GT in 1975, which means that it was released after the Laverda 650. Its release plummeted the sales of its predecessors. Fans of motorcycles consider the 750S and the 750GT to both be important models in the history of the motorcycle. After all, they pretty much revolutionized the industry!