Honda had introduced their CB750 in1969 and it became clear very quickly that they had created a world beater, but even as Honda basked in the booming sales, rival Kawasaki unveiled their Z1 900cc superbike in 1972 and the CB750 was instantly overshadowed. Soichiro Honda realized that a new motorcycle was needed, and that there would be little point in engaging in an arms race with Kawasaki and the other Japanese makers. What was needed was not a faster more powerful motorcycle, but a new concept. Just as the Honda CB750 had pretty much invented a new category of motorcycle, the modern “superbike”, so the safest strategy for Honda was to do the same thing again; to target a new genre of motorcycle, hopefully one that others would not be easily able to compete with. Design work began on the new motorcycle concept in 1972, the same year as Kawasaki introduced the Z1.

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