Best Japanese-Made Motorcycles of All Time

Japanese manufacturing companies began refining their motorcycles during the late 1960s, causing many countries to produce more sophisticated, dependable, and refined bikes.

The nation has created some of the fastest, coolest, and most reliable bikes in history. There are of course, some stand-out makes and models that many riders would be proud to own.

Many of the following iconic bikes likely inspired the one you’re riding now. Keep reading to learn about the best Japanese-made motorcycles of all time.

1975 Yamaha RD400

The 1975 Yamaha RD400 helped the motorcycle company enjoy greater success in the export market. Aware it needed to compete with Kawasaki and Honda, Yamaha created this small but mighty bike, which offered a sporty aesthetic, a lightweight design, and an agile ride, helping it pass by other motorcycles with ease.

Kawasaki Z1

The Kawasaki Z1 was the first purpose-built motorcycle for the US market. It enabled the motorcycle company to compete with Harley Davidson and Indian, which were well-regarded for producing powerful bikes with larger engines. The Kawasaki Z1 shook up the market, moving away from the brand’s conservative style and providing a faster, more agile ride.

1981 Suzuki GS1100S Katana

Before the 1980s, Suzuki struggled to compete with the likes of Harley Davidson and Kawasaki, which offered more sought-after designs. Eager to move away from the outdated 1970s UJM aesthetic, the motorcycle company turned to Hans Muth, a former BMW motorcycle design chief, to create a more European aesthetic and so the 1981 Suzuki GS1100S Katana was born. The cyberpunk-futuristic aesthetic was an instant hit with motorcyclists, and it arguably includes one of the best engines from the 1980s.

1978 Honda CBX

There is no question the 1978 Honda CBA is a masterpiece. It is the first superbike in motorcycling history and possibly has the best exhaust note ever created, roaring at 105 HP. Of course, it offered more than a thrilling noise, as it had the power to reach 140 MPH, inspiring the superbike and supersport craze during the 1980s.

1985 Kawasaki GPZ900R

The 1985 Kawasaki GPZ900R changed the future of the motorcycle industry. It was the first sport bike from Kawasaki to include 16 valves and is well-regarded as the first supersport motorcycle, as it exceeded 151 MPH. To the shock of many, it managed to produce 115 HP under 1000ccs, which was unheard of before the mid-1980s.

1985 Yamaha VMAX

Rather than producing a supersport bike that was popular during the 1980s, Yamaha decided to introduce one of the fastest power cruisers in the world, and it still is to this day. The first-generation 1985 Yamaha VMAX is, without a doubt, one of the fastest power cruisers in history, and the second generation is the fastest. Thanks to its impeccable initial design, only a few adjustments were made to upgrade the bike, including a wider but stiffer front fork to improve handling.

1999 Suzuki SV650

Motorcyclists of all ages and experience levels will never regret buying the 1999 Suzuki SV650, as it provides beginners and seasoned riders with a nimble, lightweight, and affordable ride. It has a powerful 645cc V-twin engine, which has had minor adjustments over the past 25 years. For this reason, it is deemed by many as one of the best beginner bikes of all time, and it’s still available to own today.

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