To most Millennials, the 90s were the Golden Age of Motorcycle GP and the World Superbike Championship, and it’s from this popularity that spawned some of the best sportbikes. Consequently, the technologies on those sportbikes continued to influence motorcycle design and engineering today.
Do note that the four-cylinder superbikes racing in WSB were capped at 750cc, while twins were limited to 1000cc.
Here are the Top Ten 1990s Sportbikes, arranged by their significance. Some are race replicas, some are just plain awesome sportbikes.
10. Yamaha FZR750R OW01 (1989 – 1992)
Yamaha FZR750R OW01 - Courtesy of www.motorcyclespecs.co.za
Yamaha was very close to winning the inaugural WSB year of 1988, having been beaten by dominant Honda VFR750R RC30.
Yamaha released the FZR750R OW01 for the 1989 season, featuring an aluminum frame, Öhlins rear shock, magnesium and titanium parts and a race-ready engine. Speaking of the engine, it was an inline-Four with the Genesis head which had 5 valves-per-cylinder, with two-ring pistons.
Yamaha campaigned with the OW01 until it was replaced by the YZF750R in 1993.
9. Kawasaki Ninja ZXR-750 (1989 – 2003)
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-7R - Courtesy of wikipedia.org
Ducati was doing most of the winning in WSB but lost the 1993 WSB title. It was the Scott Russell and Kawasaki ZX-7R tuned by Rob Muzzy that broke the Ducati stranglehold. Doug Toland also won the FIM World Endurance title with this bike that same year.
There were two versions, the dual seat variant was called the ZX-7 and the single-seat racing homologation model was called the ZX-7R.
Kawasaki never won another title since then until Tom Sykes took his long-awaited championship exactly 20 years later, in 2013.
8. Honda CBR600F2 to F4 (1991 – 2000)
Honda CBR600F2 - Courtesy of ww.bike-urious.com
The CBR600 was the 600 which ruled them all. Evolved from the 600 Hurricane, the CBR600 series featured plenty of good power and ride-ability, comfort and practicality to boot. This was one bike that you could ride for miles to the racetrack, remove the mirrors and tape up the lights, hammer it around the track, reinstall everything and ride home on.
7. Ducati 888 (1991 – 1993)
Ducati 888 SP5
Raymond Roche had won Ducati’s first WSB title in 1990 on the 851, but the competition was getting closer.
Ducati enlarged the 851’s bore to go racing and they ended up with the 888cc, hence giving birth to the Ducati 888. The digital fuel-injection and four-valve head of the 851 were brought over to the new bike.
Success was immediate, when American rider Doug Polen rode the bike to the 1991 and 1992 WSB titles.
6. Honda CBR900RR (1992 – 2003)
The CBR900RR project started as a 750cc machine as a reflection of Honda’s WSB bike, but Project leader Tadao Baba convinced management that the public will buy a powerful, light, agile and affordable bike, nonetheless.
The CBR900RR was all about lack of weight. Anything which didn’t contribute to its performance was thrown out while those that couldn’t were lightened. As a result, at 450 lb. wet, it was only 4 lb. heavier than the manufacturer’s own CBR600F2. The next lightest 1000cc bike, the Yamaha FZR1000 was an astounding 75 lb. heavier.
The CBR900RR outsold everything else for years to come.