The final installment from the Barber Museum – mostly Japanese bikes this time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, it’s certainly worth a visit in person if you can ever manage it.
1953 Honda 145 Dream E
Honda Cub F 58cc. Honda Benly J 125cc
1957 Showa Cruiser 250. Far better known for their suspension components, Showa also produced this complete bike, the Cruiser, in 1957.
The 246cc two-stroke single used an Amal carb, made 10hp at 5500rpm, weighed 150kg and had a top speed of 100km/h. Like the majority of middle weight Japanese bikes of the period it was greatly influenced by contemporary German designs.
1959 Lilac CF 40. Marusho started constructing shaft drive four-stroke singles, and later flat twins, in 1951 – mostly under the Lilac name. In 1959 the first of the V-twins appeared, the 247cc Lilac LS-18. This 66 degree design was obviously heavily influenced by the German V35 Bergmeister but featured an electric starter.
Many thousands of V-twin Lilacs were produced over the years across many models. This is a 125cc CF-40 from 1961 (as evidenced by the heavily finned heads) which made 10.5hp and was good for about 110km/h. All Lilac V-twins had the same 66 degree cylinder angle apart from the C-81/C82 125/150cc models that used a 90 degree design.
1953 Marusho Magnum 500 and BMW inspiration
1969 Bridgestone 175 Dual Twin Scrambler
1969 Honda CB750
1974 Honda CB550
1976 Honda CB400F
1972 Suzuki T500
1969 Kawasaki H1 Mach III 500
1972 Kawasaki S2 Mach II 350
The rise of the off road motorcycle. Left to right: 1963 Parilla 250 Wildcat. 1965 Ducati 250 Scrambler. 1968 Yamaha DT-1 250. 1970 Honda SL175. 1974 Alouette AX175. 1974 Hodaka 125 Combat Wombat.
1974 Alouette AX175. Not your usual dirt bike, the Alouette AX-125 was produced by the Canadian snowmobile manufacturer of the same name. The company needed a non snowmobile product to keep the assembly lines and dealers busy during the summer months so introduced the AX in 1973.
It was powered by a Sachs 125cc motor but combined with steel rims, fibre glass bodywork, average suspension and even more average looks it was not a success with only around 800 sold.
The full house of Japanese turbos from the early ‘80s. The 1985 Kawasaki 750 Turbo (112hp at 9,000rpm, 252kg), 1982 Yamaha XJ 650 Turbo Seca (85hp at 8,700rpm, 250kg), 1983 Honda CX 650 TD (100hp at 8,000rpm, 234kg), 1983 Suzuki XN 85 D (85hp at 8,500rpm, 230kg).
While the 1978 Kawasaki Z1R-TC was the first production turbo powered bike, things didn’t really start to heat up in this segment of the market until the release of the Honda CX 500 TC (on display elsewhere in the museum) and the Yamaha in 1982. Suzuki and finally Kawasaki (again) followed.
However all the bikes suffered from varying degrees of turbo lag, complexity and excess weight compared to normally aspirated models. As a result these bikes were only produced for one or two years before the short lived turbo era ran out of puff.
1979 Honda CBX1000
1974 Kawasaki 900 Z1A
Left to right: 1987 Suzuki GSX-R 1100. 1979 Suzuki GS 1000S. 1989 Suzuki RGV 250
‘80s Sportsbikes. Left top to bottom: 1989 Honda RC30. 1989 Ducati 851 Strada. 1990 Gilera SP-01.
Centre top to bottom: 1983 Honda CB1100R. 1989 Yamaha FZR750 – OW01
Right top to bottom: 1990 Honda VFR400R – NC30. 1985 Ducati Mille S2. 1982 Suzuki GS1000S Katana
1985 Ducati Mille S2. 1982 Suzuki GS1000S Katana
1983 Honda CB1100R
Front to rear: 1986 Honda VF500F. 1986 Honda VF1000R.
1993 Yamaha GTS1000. The GTS1000 was not a commercial success despite working quite well. The James Parker RADD front suspension was not hub-centre steering but a steered upright design instead.
The bike used a detuned FZR1000 EXUP motor housed in a completely unique “Omega” alloy chassis. While poor sales meant the bike was withdrawn from sale in the US in 1994 it continued to be sold in Europe until 1999. 102hp at 9000rpm. Top speed 227km/h.
1997 Honda NR750
As a nuclear research engineer, Briton Allen Millyard is used to dealing with heavy metals. After producing four and five cylinder Kawasaki two-strokes, Allen moved on to the Kawasaki Z1 based 1600cc V-8 and Z1300 based 2300cc V-12 seen here.
Both look amazingly like production machines which tends to hide the extraordinary level of engineering detail involved. The V-8 makes approximately 130hp at 8,000rpm, while the V-12 approaches 260hp!
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum Part 7 – With Phil Aynsley
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