A couple of boxes full of 'Motor' magazine from 1970 and 1971. Then I was about sixteen to seventeen and had a head full of dreams about motorcycles and girls. In that order. That tension of interest about the more pleasantly sculpted species has of course been playing and playing since the beginning of time. We just didn't have that many genders back then. But with those motorcycles it was very different. They had just been discovered!
At least: the motorcycles you could seriously dream about. Not the things you drove because you didn't have the money for a car. That was because the Japanese were conquering the world. The Japanese are a split people. Studies have been done and books written about it. They are pragmatic and future-oriented. From my family I learned how they coped with their loss of WWII and their crimes during that time. Gone is over. Don't talk about it anymore. Ai… That was actually the same as we did after the police actions.
What else but: Japanese are very status and prestige sensitive. Also among each other. This led to the Japanese motorcycle makers cheering each other after the final statement of the Honda CB750. And that led to the motorcycles that every right-minded 16+ year old Zündapp or Kreidler rider had the wettest dreams of. For the first time there were large, fast, highly dynamic engines.
Even better, that beauty didn't even come from Japan alone. At that time, Ducati had devised the 750 cc L-twins. Laverdas were invincible in long-distance races, the Benelli Tornado was the most revving British motorcycle ever to come out of Italy. The Yamaha XS650 was the best motorcycle BSA had ever made. And the ultra-touristy Moto Guzzi 750s even raced bravely and not without merit. The heavy Suzuki and Kawasaki two-strokes with expansion exhausts gave a whole new definition of noise pollution.
In short: in a world where speed limits were still quite symbolic, for the first time we had motorcycles that allowed you to trot at full trot to the Vosges or Alps instead of to the nearest dealer. All that beauty was – usually financed – just within reach of the motorcyclists who were on average decades younger than we are today.
Before that time you also had heavy, fast and extremely tough motorcycles. The BSA Spitfires, the Velo Thuxtons, the Triumph and BSA three-cylinders that were ready for production years before the introduction of the CB750. Triumph Bonnevilles, even Harley Sportsters. But in the innocently happy world of the early 69s, all those things came to a head in confrontation with the British legends on their deathbed. The only serious, heavy, fast motorcycle that was not only fast but also reliable was the BMW RXNUMXS. But that one was kind of priceless.
Meanwhile, this new, dynamic generation was so revolutionary that motorcycle journalism was also completely baffled by it. In texts and tests you can read genuine genuine enthusiasm. Because everything was all so new, so surprising, so fresh!
And the same was true for the 'import side', the importers and the dealers: A whole new world of advertising was discovered. A happy, enthusiastic and not yet purely marketing driven world without highly paid, double extra paid creatives and professionals. The world was still endearing in its innocence.
And about five years after the introduction? Then all that beauty was now affordable for the boys who were 16-17 when they were introduced. An R75/5 for 3.000 guilders, a Ducati 750 GT with a problem for 2.000 guilders. A Honda CB 750 K2 for two grand, a GT 500 Suzuki for six hundred bucks, a Triumph Trident T150V for 2.500 guilders, a Suzuki GT750 with sidecar and Reimo 3-in-1 for 2.750 guilders…. A TX for 1.000 guilders. A Laverda SF for 3.200 guilders… I've had them all…
That's all completely different now.
And that's a bit of a shame
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