In the '90s the World Superbike series reached its peak both in terms of the racing action and the motorcycles it spawned into showroom around the world. It was a glorious decade of mechanical decadence, and a hotbed of development as manufacturers feverishly battled to outdo one another on the race track. But unlike the GP class, where the only winners were the ones standing on the top step of the podium, in WSB it was the consumer who reaped the spoils of victory.
Intense competition between motorcycle manufacturers saw motorcycles appear in showrooms that were not only drop dead gorgeous, they were also brimming with cutting edge technology and often hand build to perfection. They were little more than racers with lights. Watch them battling it out on track on Sunday; buy yourself one on Monday.
The economy was booming, and people were prepared to splash serious wedge to secure the ultimate road motorcycle, and the big guns were more than happy to make these motorcycles. The prestige associated with WSB meant that money lost its worth to the motorcycle manufacturers. Motorcycles cost millions to develop, and were sold at a substantial loss.
So, to celebrate this wonderful period in motorcycle development, we look back to four icons of the period. We have the Honda's RC30, arguably the best homologation special ever to leave HRC's underground secret lair, and the motorcycle that incited the expression 'racer for the road.' This was a road motorcycle that you reall could convert into a world beater, and many did.
Then we have Ducati's 916SP, the first in a long like of motorcycles that dominated WSB throughout the '90s at the hands of famous riders. A legend in terms of styling as well as performance.
Next we have Yamaha's stunning R7, a motorcycle that's so rare that few have ever seen one, let alone actually ridden it. This was the last true homologation special to come out of Japan and was Yamaha's open chequebook WSB challenger.
Finally we have Kawasaki's ZXR750, a motorcycle that epitomizes the true spirit of WSB. This is no homologation special, just a stock road going motorcycle that cost a fraction of the price of the competition, but it still stuck it to them on the race track, and won.