History of Honda’s Legendary Sport Bikes
Throughout its history, Honda has produced some of the most important, innovative, and iconic motorcycles in the sport bike category. Racing and performance are integral to Honda’s DNA. From the CB/CBR series to the VFR and RC superbikes, Honda sport bikes have achieved tremendous racing success and driven technology forward.
1960s Classics – CB/CR Series
Honda established itself as a performance leader in the 1960s with models like the CB72 Hawk, CB77 Super Hawk, CB450, and CB750. These inline-4 cylinder bikes delivered incredible high-rpm power from new DOHC engines. They were nimble, reliable, and affordable – a winning formula on track and street. The racing CR versions like the CR93 and CR450 pioneered Honda’s racing efforts.
1970s – The CB400F, CB500/550, and CB750F
Building on its 1960s foundations, Honda expanded its sport bike line during the 1970s. Notable models included the twin-cylinder CB350 and 4-cylinder CB400F, CB500, CB550F, and CB750F. These Honda bikes became popular on the street for their balance of power, handling, and practicality. On the track, customized CB750s dominated the Daytona 200 mile race from 1969 through 1977.
1980s – VFR Interceptors and Hurricane
In the 1980s, Honda leaned more into racing technology for the street with bikes like the VF and VFR Interceptors. The VFR750R RC30, debuted new racing-inspired features like the single-sided Pro Arm swingarm and gear-driven cams. The tiny 2-stroke NS400R and RS250R scooters provided incredible performance in small packages. Honda now set the bar in sport bike performance.
1990s – CBR900RR Fireblade and RC45
During the 1990s, Honda focused on lighter weights and more power with models like the iconic CBR900RR Fireblade that redefined superbike capabilities. The RC45 represented Honda’s return to superbike racing, using new tech like titanium connecting rods. The CBR600F series also matured into a top middleweight sport bike during the decade.
2000s – CBR600RR, 1000RR Fireblades
Honda’s 21st century sport bike development continued with advanced 600cc and 1000cc CBR superbikes. Models like the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR Fireblade incorporated new features like electronic fuel injection, inverted forks, and optional ABS braking systems. Developments in fueling, combustion efficiency, and aerodynamics pushed the high tech envelope.
2010s to Today – VFR1200F, CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
In recent years, innovation has continued on Honda sport bikes like the VFR1200F with its optional dual-clutch transmission. The CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP incorporates advanced aerodynamics and electronic wizardry like wheelie and torque control, customizable riding modes, cornering ABS, and smartphone integration. Honda builds on its racing legacy with cutting-edge performance tech.
Over more than 50 years, Honda has built its reputation as one of the premier sport bike brands through racing success, technology innovation, high-performance engines, and rider-focused design. For many motorcyclists, Honda represents the pinnacle of Japanese high-performance engineering.