The 1970s brought about a new era of motorcycles. The beginning of something big. In the 1970s bike lovers witnessed a lot of what we have come to know ow and love today. A few of the trends established in the ’70s include vintage styling and highly specialized motor vehicles. The 1970s was the year that had the largest rise in riders still to this very day. The best of what the ’70s has to offer is listed below, you might just recognize a loo or two.
Kawasaki H2 750
First up is the H2 Mach IV which back then was a 750 cc 3-cylinder engine bike produced and designed by Kawasaki for five consecutive years, up until 1975. Straight out of the workshop, it had the ability to race a 1/4 mile in only 12 seconds. Additionally, it had upgraded handling in comparison to the previous model, the Mach III. The inspiration to build this model stemmed from the previous model which was the H1 Mach III- it too had a 750 cc engine and had 3,500 rpm redlining at 7,500 rpm. Next up is a special Italian model that has been being manufactured as early as the 30s.
Moto Morini 3
The Italian motorbike was designed and made by Alfonso Morino beginning in 1937. Over the years it underwent many changes and improvements to its body, style, and engine. The Moto Morino 3 1/2 was the home of the new V-twin engined motorcycles which were stronger and faster. Still, to this very day, the Moto Morini 3 1/2 is a favorite and extremely desired amongst fans. When it was originally released it was priced the same as a Honda CB750.
Hodaka Super Combat Wombat
This design was the outcome of a Japanese and American company merge, resulting in the birth of this hybrid. The Hodaka Super Combat Wombat was sold between 1964 and 1978 and was extremely popular in the ’70s. More than 150,000 units were sold in those 14-years. The company that manufactured this beauty was situated in Oregon and previously belonged to Shell Oil Company.
Moto Guzzi V7 Sport
The first motorcycle made by Moto Guzzi, an Italian known company. Inspired by the V7 Roadster, the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport was equipped with clip-on handlebars and boasted an entirely new design. In comparison to the preceding model, the V7 was not as heavy, had better handling and was overall seen as more popular. In 2008, Moto Guzzi revealed the “V7 Special” which paid tribute to the 1970’s model.
Manufactured and distributed from 1974 to 1976, the Suzuki RE-5 had a liquid-cooled single-rotor Wankel engine which was known for its uniqueness. Wankel engines had specific structures like a smooth rotary engine that may have been basic but were powerful and had the potential to be even more powerful with a smaller displacement. As rare then as it is now, the Wankel engine in the RE-5 was not fully utilized in other motorcycles and is still not. The upcoming MV debuted just at the end of the decade…
MV Agusta 350B Sport
Just as the decade was turning, the MV Agusta 350B Sport was developed by Agusta during the early ’70s. It boasted a new and improved sporty look as well as a better and faster engine. Although, it is not seen as very special today but when it was made the 350B had a top speed of 96 mph. In the decades that followed, Agusta would improve the engine and try out a bunch of body types.
Part of the GS series, the Suzuki GS750 had a full range of 4-stroke powered road motorcycles, impressive as until then they had only had 2-stroke bikes. The first designed by the company with a 4-stroke engine was the Colleda COX in 1955 which had 125 and 93 cc engines. Suzuki did their research and designed the GS series which perfected 4-stroke bikes but still managed to sell the beloved 2-stroke bikes. Sold with the GS750 was also the GS400.
Benelli 900 Sei
Designed by Alejandro de Tomaso, the Benelli 900 Sei was sold during 1972 through to 1978. It was an extremely popular Italian bike in comparison to other Italian bikes on the market. Its speed and design differentiated it from the other Italian bikes. When released, the Benelli 900 Sei could reach a speed of 120 mph. One of the 900 Sei’s most attractive qualities was the tren of angular designed bikes versus round forms. Next up, a bike named after the Salt Flats in Utah…
1970 Triumph Bonneville
The 1970 Triumph Bonneville did not necessarily stand out as a motorcycle and was seen as your regular bike with a twin 4-stroke engine. Bonneville managed to perfect their engine only after 3 generations. The name Bonneville originates from the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah where Triumph competed with other manufacturers to beat the record speeds of motorcycles. Back in 1970, the Triumph had a 650 cc parallel-twin engine.
After the Honda CB750, the Kawasaki Z1 was released in 1972. It was one of the first Japanese motorcycles and referred to as the Universal Japanese Motorcycle. Being a Universal Japanese Motorcycle meant it was a motorcycle that abided by the regulations and guidelines of bodies in power across the globe. The Z1 boasted the first large-capacity 4-cylinder motorcycle that has a double-overhead camshaft system on a development bike. This specific bike carved the path for more import trade to follow it.
A medium-sized motorcycle that was made and sold by Yamaha Motor Company. It was released in 1968 and made until 1979. Yamaha went on to make a “Special” cruiser which was sold until the mid-1980s. The original designs of the XS650 date back to the 1950s with the Hosk single overhead. Due to some ruffles in ownership, Yamaha took over the design and upgraded the engine with the 650 cc twin. The XS650 was distributed until the mid-80s.
The Yamaha YZR500 was supposed to be a racing bike and represented Yamaha during multiple 500cc Grand Prix between 1970 till the 200s. The YZR500 grasped public attention as well as that of motorcycle enthusiasts in search of the fastest model on the market. The majority of racing bikes do not meet regulations to be driven on the road however, due to high demand, Yamaha decided to allow for mass-production of the YZR500.
Three models of this bike were made, the R69S, R69US, and R69. They caught the attention of riders looking for a cool looking and luxury sports bike. Designed and manufactured by BMW in Munich all of the models boasted a 594 cc boxer twin engine. 15,000 models were sold between 1955 and 1969. BMW had to adjust a few of the components according to the region the bike was being sold in.
This is one of the bikes that vis, in fact, being manufactured today. The Yamaha YZ 250 has been around since its debut in 1974. It is popular amongst both riders and racers as it is known as top-notch for both. It won a number of racing awards and championships, amongst them was 5 AMA National Motorcross awards and 9 AMA National Supercross titles. Today the YZ250 will cost you a tad more than $12,000.
The single-cylinder, air-cooled, two-passenger motorcycle was created by none other than the Japanese Yamaha Motor Company in 1978. It was sold until 2000 and was regarded as a street-like version of the Yamaha XT400. The bike went on to be sold worldwide ranging from North America to Europe and Asia. The designers and engineers of the Yamaha SR5oo wanted to design a motorcycle that was “easy to use.” Although discontinued in 1981 it was still sold for another 18 years on other markets.
Kawasaki aimed to design a motorcycle that not only performed on the track but also targeted everyday riders. They developed the KR250 which was distributed out of Japan from 1975 to 1982. Popular amongst buyers and racers as it won world championship races. The Kawasaki KR250 won consecutive medals in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981. Maybe you know the next one? It was a well-known 5-speed motorcycle.
A 2-stroke motorcycle that was distributed between 1973 to 1975, again by Yamaha. The five-speed motorcycle was in high demand a the time. The RD350 had a piston port and front drum brake. It was also air-cooled with a parallel twin 6-speed transmission reed-valve 2-strike engine but was known and referred to as a sports bike. Every Yamaha RD350 model sold, had an automated oil system which was known as “Autolube.” The system avoided the combining of oil and gasoline. It was later upgraded to the RD400.
This is one of the more boring and safer bikes on this list. Known as a safe and reliable option, it was easy to drive and long-lasting. Honda is known for its quality and accessibility as they aimed to make motorcycles for anyone and everyone. This model was produced in Japan, Brazil, and Turkey with a top speed of 65 mph.
Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor
A British motorcycle which was manufactured and distributed between the early 1960s and 1970s. This model was a modified version of the Constellation. Each year, Royal Enfield modified the motorcycle until they believed that it was good enough to reach all domains. In 1962 it was introduced and known for its new 736 cc twin-cylinder engine that had increased torque for added force.
Tunturi Super Sport
One of the more rare motorcycles on this list, the Tunturi Super Sport was a motorcycle that was distributed from the end of the ’70s until the late 80s. This is one of few Finnish products that made it on to the market and markets worldwide. This was a great success Tunturi which also manufactured bicycles and fitness equipment.
Suzuki GT750 Water Buffalo
The Suzuki GT750 is known and inspired by having the first water-cooled engine on a Japanese motorcycle. It was also a 3-cylinder 2-stroke motorcycle that was manufactured from 1971 until 1977. However, it was first shown to the world at the International Tokyo Motor Show in 1970. It went on to be so popular that it was included in one of the 240 Landmarks of Japanese Technology in the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan.
This is one of very few Indian motorcycles that made it on to the list, the Yezdi Roadking was manufactured and sold from 1978 to 1996 by Yezdi. It placed as first-runner up in the 9174 Motorcross World Championship races. It also was equipped with a 250 cc engine that had dual exhausts and a semi-automatic clutch.
Velocette designed and manufactured this single-cylinder motorcycle. It was a 4-stroke 499 cc motorcycle that was distributed between 1955 and 1970. In that time frame, 5,721 bikes were sold. A cool fact about the manufacturing of these is that a team of riders actually set the 24-hour world record driving at 100.05 mph in the factory where they were made. At the time it made the Venom the first of its size to reach a speed of over 100 mph for 24 hours.
Made especially for the Grand Prix, the NR500 was not mass-produced for everyday drivers. Honda had released multiple faster motorcycles around the same time so this was designed in entirety for the track. It was designed to win, however, when it raced at the 1979 British Grand Prix it never made it to the end of the race.
Triumph X-75 Hurricane
Yet again, Triumph cracks the list. This was considered to be a factory special motorcycle as the concept was all Craig Vetter’s. The bike was equipped with fiberglass bodywork, a 3-gallon gas tank, lowered gearing and to top it off a triple exhaust system on its right-hand side. It inspired and still continues to inspire bike enthusiasts until this very day. It was sold from 1972 until 1973.
As one of the most popular mopeds, the MB50 may have been slower and more affordable but is a testament to how popular mopeds were in the ’70s. Honda made this one a hit both in the US and in Europe.
This was a 900 cc sports motorcycle that was distributed from 1973 until 1976 by BMW. It can be named the flagship motorcycle for the “/6” range. One of its most accredited features was its two-tone paintwork and new tail. In the three years, it was sold BMW produced and distributed 17,55 bikes.
BMW was designing and releasing bikes one after the other in the ’70s and they were doing extremely well. The R65 was released in 1978 and proved to be a huge win for the company, it was a variant of R Series designed by Mercedes. The bikes aimed to be faster and target individuals who were experienced. The highest speed of the R65 was 109 mph and it had a triangular fairing which was thought of by Hans Muth.
We all know and love a legendary Harley. The inspiration for the FL stemmed from the 1940s and the name came from Harley’s approach to the size as it was largely framed. Harley-Davidson released a Confederate Edition of the FLH Electra Glide in 1977 that showcased paint and decals attributing. However, only 44 units were manufactured.
Manufactured and distributed by Honda from 1979 to 1983 the CY50 was loved. following in the hype of mopeds at the time it was affordable and trusted. The Honda CY50’s highest speed was 25 mph and was marketed as a motorcycle that did not need a fuel-oil mixture but ran off gasoline and had a clean engine.
Sold for almost a decade, the Bimota KB1 was the first to showcase the Kawasaki powerplant. It was targeted at Kawasaki owners that wanted an upgrade, Bimota offered this newer solution which was equipped with new technology too. Often sold in kit form it stopped being produced in 1982 after a mere 827 units were sold.
Released in 1976, the XT660 was marketed as a multi-purpose bike that could be used for off-road venturing too. It was more lightweight and faster than the XT600. It was perceived so well that the US Military even used the bike.
Apparently seen as Honda’s flagship model, the CBX was sold from 1978 until 1982 and had been fitted with a 1047 cc in-line 6-cylinder engine which produced 105 horsepower. In the ’70s and ’80s, it offered the best of what Honda had ever developed.
Straight out of Shizuoka, Japan, the XT500 was an additional one of Yamaha’s popular motorcycles. It was well-received in both North America and Japan. It was known for its power to almost perfect weight ratio.
This Ducati was a piece of series of air-cooled 4-stroke V-twin motorcycles, released in 1973 the 750SS started the SuperSport series. The prototypes of both the sport and GT models were designed along with Imola motorcycle’s bodywork. During the 750SS production cycle, it was developed alongside the 900SS model too.
Ducati 860 GT
Fabio Taglioni and Giuorgetto Giugiaro are known for being the engineer and designer on this masterpiece. It was released in 1974 to the public and tested at a top speed of 109 mph. Giugiaro said the look was inspired by a folded paper and he aimed for straight lines and edges. The look actually went on to be adopted by Volkswagen Golf, the 192 Lotus Espirit and many more.
Norton 850 Commando
This British creation was equipped with an overhead valve engine and was distributed from 1967 until 1977. Throughout its 10-year production, it was well and widely received around the globe. The Norton 85o Commando won the Motor Cycle News “Machine of the Year” for 5 consecutive years. The inspiration dates back to the 1940s when a twin model was manufactured.
This model was only distributed for one year. It was often compared to the Honda CB200 and was equipped with an exhaust system that was mounted above the gearbox, with its pipes aligned to the left of the bike. It was released when smaller bikes were not necessarily going down well amongst the public and thus, sales did not do well-causing production to halt in the first year.
Manufactured mainly for racing on both a normal and dirt road, this Harley was driven by Mark Brelsford, Cal Rayborn Jay Springsteen, and even Evel Knievel. It was so popular that it is considered a rarity and is a must-have today to collectors. In 1998 an XR750 model was showcased at the Art of the Motorcycle and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on the Move.
This model was placed both 1st and 2nd in the Imola 200 race. It was manufactured from 1972 to 1981 and led the way for Ducati models o follow. Used by Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari in the Imola 200 race, the bike featured a twin-cylinder engine, upgraded handling, and a fresh body style.
1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing
Another win for Honda with this series of touring motorcycles that debuted in 1975. First seen by the public at the International Cologne Motorcycle Show in 1974. The model also made it on the 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology list. Honda sold over 640,000 units of the Gold Wing, primarily in the US.
Designed by Yamaha in the early ’70s and sold for three consecutive years from 1972 to 1975. This model was first seen at the International Tokyo Motor Show a few months before its release date and was received well. A known feature of the bike was its smooth handling.
Honda CB 750
The Discovery Channel rated this model as one of the greatest motorbikes. Why? The Honda CB750 had an air-cooled transverse in-line 4-cylinder engine which took years to perfect. It is often regarded as one of the original Universal Japanese Motorcycles, the CB750 set the bar for manufacturers worldwide.
With a 4-stroke cylinder engine, the motorcycle was rather average but extremely popular due to its price tag and accessibility. Manufactured with the same technology as the other Honda models, the CL100 was equipped with a 99 cc engine that reached a top speed of only 50 mph. It was also a dual-sport bike making it rather versatile.
Harley Davidson XLCR
This design embodied a racer-style that was designed by Willie G. Davidson from an existing XLCH Sportster, it was thought that the bike was actually intended for Davidson’s personal use and never meant to make it to mass production. Manufactured and distributed between 1977 and 1979- 20,000 units were sold.
1973 BMW R90S
This was the fastest of the R90 models and had not only the highest top speed but horsepower too. The R90S was designed by Hans Muth as part of the flagship of the boxer engine “/6” range. The models were known as some of Honda’s best work. The specs included 67 horsepower, a top speeds of 124 mph and it could run 1/4 of a mile in just 13.5 seconds.
1971 Yankee Z
Founded in Schenectady, New York by the Yankee Motor Company this bike had an air-cooled, 2-stroke engine configuration. Designed and produced by Eduard Gir and Ossa Manufacturing. Ossa Manufacturing was situated in Barcelona, Spain at the time. However, a few of the components were made and put together in the US.
1977 Kawasaki KZ1000
This model was released in 1977 and considered one of the fastest production bikes. The Kawasaki KZ1000 was equipped with an in-line-4-cylinder nine that was configured and paired with a 5-speed transmission that gave off an estimated 90 horsepower. Kawasaki at the time was already at work on what was to follow in this models footsteps.
1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
This model was the first sports motorcycle that came from the Italian company Moto Guzzi. The name was inspired by a 24-hour endurance race that occurs yearly in France. It is equipped with clip-on handlebars and a nose fairing, it went on to be equipped with a three-quarter fairing too. The Le Mans went through a few adjustments over time and became known as Mark I, Series I and Series II though in total less than 10,000 units were produced.
1975 Laverda 750GT
The Laverda was named after its size and engine size which was 750 cc. It followed the Laverda 650 and caused the sales for the 650 to cease. The names of both the 750 S and 750 GT deemed a revolution and major discovery amongst the motorcycle industry.