Race Bikes

Kawasaki Z1 Racer

Personally, I have always harboured a soft spot for those high bar monster muscle bikes that the yanks seem to have so much fun racing on throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Unlike the UK on the other side of the pond “proper” fully faired race machines regularly did battle with high bar naked monsters.

 

Honda NS500R

Honda finally found themselves perched right on the top of the biking world after desperate attempts to capture the 500cc crown during the latter stages of the 70s. The bike that gave them this authority was an unlikely race machine, surrounded as it was by totally complex, lunatic and rev happy, powerhouse machines.

 

Kawasaki KR750

Kawasaki’s two-stroke Superbike, known in the factory as the 602, came out of the period immediately following the furore created by Yamaha TZ750. Shortly after the introduction of the big Yam, in the October of 1974, the homologation rules were changed meaning manufacturers only had to produce 25 machines thus making machines not based upon road based engines more feasible.

 

Yamaha YZ250R Road Test

Most things in racing are born out of necessity and none more so than this particular motorcycle. Way back in the late 70’s racing was hot and competitive. Young lads were hurling stock RD’s around the UK race tracks with gay abandon (trust me it did not mean the same then) and there was very little preventing the top club and national racers from entering the GP circus within a couple of seasons.

 

Kay 750 MV Agusta

The owner of this superb machine is Zach Law, a quantity surveyor. Zach is based in London for his working week, before returning to the serenity of Bewdley, near Kidderminster in the West Midlands, for the weekends. Once home he now has the enviable task of lavishing care and love upon this beautiful machine.

 

Suzuki XR69

With the late 70s came the resurgence of big capacity four-stroke racing after a mixed few years. F750 began earlier in that decade as road machines grew in size and gave a platform for the Triumph and BSA triples to compete against the Nortons, Harleys and Ducatis on the racetracks of the world.

 

Suzuki RG500 Barry Sheene Replica

You cannot have visited a major bike show in the UK over the last few years without seeing Pete Tantrum and his RG500. The bike is beautifully painted in the same DAF trucks livery as the one that Barry Sheene last rode with, the bike looks stunning and stands out from the crowd wherever it may be parked.

It began life as a red and black RG and from the moment Pete acquired the bike the end result was clear in his mind, if not quite every one else’s. When ever he mentioned a Barry Sheene replica most people immediately thought of the red and yellow Heron machine upon which Barry romped to his two world titles in 1976 and 77 but not Pete, for him the tribute to this great man would take the form of the final year that Sheene rode in GP’s.

 

Yamaha TZ

Every now and then a machine comes along that grabs the racing world by the scruff of its neck, and opens up a whole new range of possibilities for the private racer. Inconceivable in modern times, during the 70s, it was entirely possible to afford and buy a competitive machine from your local dealer and, with a little preparation, be the owner of a machine capable of winning a club race or grand prix alike.

 

Air-Cooled: The Yamaha TZ Ancestry

It would be difficult to write a technical article on any of the Yamaha twin cylinder production racers without mentioning their road going cousins. In more recent time, the link may have been more for homologation purposes but initially it…

 

Yamaha TD1C

This is what happens when the Japanese get it so nearly right and proceed to improve on the ethos year on year, finally nailing it at the third attempt. First seen in the UK during 1962, the TD1, based heavily upon the YDS2 road machine, made competitive 250cc racing a real possibility for all.