A Brief History of the Kawasaki KLR650

The Kawasaki KLR650 was such a good multi-purpose motorcycle that it was used by the Marines and formed the basis for the US Marines M1030M1 motorcycle created by the folks at Hayes Diversified Technologies. The Kawasaki KLR650 is a bike that Kawasaki got right all the way back in 1987 and had no need for…

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A Brief History of the Honda CB550

The Honda CB550 was probably the best balanced Honda of the seventies. It did not have the awe-inspiring power of the legendary CB750, but it had a stiffer frame and was a lighter and more nimble motorcycle. We might describe the Honda CB550 as Honda’s “Goldilocks bike” – the CB750 was too big and powerful…

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A Brief History of the Honda CX Series

Before the movie “Back to the Future” had been thought of Honda introduced its new model for 1978 as “First to the Future”. This was a new model that had big shoes to fill. Its predecessor, the Honda CB550 had been a simply brilliant motorcycle with good handling and balance. So the new motorcycle from…

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A Brief History of the Harley-Davidson XR-750

Prior to 1969 the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) rules for the AMA Grand National Championship were deliberately structured to favor side-valve engines rather than overhead-valve engines. The result of this was to favor American made bikes such as those from Harley-Davidson with their side-valve engines, and to disadvantage the overseas competition which was mainly from…

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A Brief History of Military Motorcycles

The creation of the first viable motorcycles began in earnest in the early twentieth century, and as is often the case with new types of vehicle – their militarisation was to happen not long after that. When we think about World War I we tend to think of the mechanisation of warfare, the emergence of…

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A Brief History of Diesel Motorcycles

If you are way out the back of nowhere, a long way from civilisation, there are few things so comforting as the sound of a diesel engine on tick-over; if you are in a car or truck that is. If you are on a motorcycle the probability that you will have the comfort of a…

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A Brief History of the Triple Cylinder Motorcycle Engine

The triple-cylinder engine, as applied to motorcycles, provides an engine that can be inherently balanced. If you listen to a triple-cylinder motorcycle, such as a Triumph Trident or BMW K75, it sounds smoothly balanced for good reason. You will also coincidently notice that an engine with a multiple of three cylinders sounds smooth by comparison…

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A Brief History of the Inline-4 Cylinder Motorcycle

Curiously the inline-4 cylinder engine was being fitted into motorcycles very early in motorbike history. I say curiously because we like to think of technology as starting out with the simplest design and then evolving into more complex forms. So although some early motorcycles were built using a single cylinder or horizontally opposed “boxer” twin,…

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A Brief History of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle

The creation of the Japanese sword gives us an insight into the thinking behind the creation of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM). In the time prior to the Japanese creating their own sword design they used a variety of design concepts mostly borrowed from China. But there came a point at which they seem to have collectively decided that the two handed sabre was the best choice…

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Harley-Davidson Big Twins – The Evolution

Thankfully 1984 was a great year for Harley-Davidson and not at all like the “1984” of British writer George Orwell’s novel. 1984 was the year Harley-Davidson introduced what many regard as their greatest engine, and for a true blue motorcycle enthusiast who wants to be able to strip his bike down to the last nut…

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