The 90s were a truly magical time for motorcycles. Japanese manufacturers were at each other’s throats, fighting the horse wars in the form of Yamaha’s FZR and finally peaked at the end of the decade with Suzuki’s Hayabusa freight train. Wars continued into the 2000s, but the economic downturn tore the fuel line from motorcycle development around 2008. The 1990s had such an impact on motorcycle technology that some of the motorcycles from that era are still around. considered to be the fastest motorcycles ever made. . America hasn’t really caught on the same way as Japan, but it still produced some interesting and creative bikes from its most notable brands.
Japanese: 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa – 195 MPH
Everything the Hayabusa has ever been has already been explained. It is synonymous with speed. It was the fastest motorcycle in the world for a while. Its shape is iconic, unmistakable, and those lucky enough to ride one and live to tell the story all say it’s a terrifying experience.
The Hayabusa is over 20 years old at this point and has been eclipsed by much more powerful motorcycles since its inception. However, the ‘Busa will always carry with it the idealism that such speed was possible. Now, the most powerful bikes are equipped with driver aids, making the power all the more accessible.
Japanese: 1999 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird – 188 MPH
The first motorcycle to dethrone the Kawasaki ZX-11 was the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird, named after the SR-71. The Blackbird could reach 188 mph with 164 horsepower from its 1,137cc transverse four-cylinder, fitted with two overhead camshafts. The 1999 model year saw several updates including fuel injection, dynamic air intake, and multiple fuel injection maps.
The Honda record would be broken by the Suzuki Hayabusa before the end of the decade. Considering modern bikes barely reach that speed with traction control and ABS, these ’90s titans are even more terrifying.
Japanese: 1990 Kawasaki ZX-11 – 177 MPH
The ZX-11 was the bike that started the horse wars in the 90s. Kawasaki was getting nervous now that other manufacturers caught the speed bug in the 80s and needed to assert its dominance. The ZX-11 could reach 177 mph with a 1052cc inline four cylinder twin overhead camshaft producing 139 horsepower at the rear wheels.
Its dry weight was 500 pounds, but with aerodynamics and an induction system that sucked air through the front fairing, the bike cruised through revs to its redline of 11,500 rpm.
Japanese: 1990-99 Yamaha FZR1000 “EXUP” – 169 MPH
Yamaha had to enter the fray alongside Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki. Now Yamaha is known for its R1 track beast, but in the 90s Yamaha to buy was the FZR. The FZR was the first production motorcycle to integrate the engine as a stressed member of the motorcycle frame.
The FZR 400 and 1000cc had aluminum frames, while the 600 had a steel Deltabox frame. The FZR1000 used a 1,000cc inline-four engine with two overhead camshafts and five valves per cylinder, to create 145 horsepower and a top speed of 169 mph.
Japanese: 1990 Kawasaki Tomcat ZX-10 – 166 MPH
The horse wars of the 90s are actually rooted in the 80s, when Kawasaki declared their ZX-10 to be the fastest motorcycle ever made. At the time, it was okay. Using its 997cc inline-four, the ZX-10 could reach 166 mph. Despite its fierce 1990 liter looks, the ZX-10 offers a comfortable ride, with a plush saddle and flexible suspension.
Its power output would be very smooth, making the ZX-10 a luxury V12 sedan rather than a small sports car. While it will no longer break any records, the ZX-10 is perfectly suited to long journeys.
American: 1994 Curtiss Hellcat F131 – 124 MPH
What started as “Confederate Motorcycles” became Curtiss Motorcycles in 2017, but before that the company produced a nasty machine called the Hellcat F131. The Hellcat used a 1,400cc chain-drive air-cooled V-twin engine, which produced 125 horsepower using carburetors.
It weighed around 416 pounds and could reach 124 mph. The Hellcat’s styling mimics that of a jagged Harley Davidson, where it honed before spending too much time in the gym getting ripped off on tons of steroids. Its twisted headlights give the bike a menacing quality.
American: 1999 Indian Chief – 114 MPH
Some of the finest motorcycles ever made have been sculpted by Indian Motorcycles. The Chief is no exception, with lavish contours enveloping the wheels, the insulated fuel tank atop the engine. It uses a belt-driven 1442cc V-twin that produces 75 horsepower, which brings the bike to 114 mph, which isn’t much.
The bike’s gargantuan 650-pound dry weight may have something to do with how slow it is. However, this is not the reason to get an Indian. These bikes are time capsules. Even in 1994, the chef took on some of his ancestor’s finest attributes.
American: 1994 Harley Davidson VR 1000 – 170 MPH
American bicycle makers missed the mark when it comes to sportbikes until Harley Davidson of all companies took over. In 1994, the company known for noisy cruisers produced a specially designed racing bike called the VR1000. It had a 1000cc V-twin with two overhead camshafts that developed 135 horsepower, bringing the bike to 170 mph.
He sat on inverted forks and was slim at 388 pounds. It was approved for road use, sports headlights and turn signals, but thanks to countless delays the bike only reached competition after several years of delay.
American: 1993 Buell RS1200 – 124 MPH
The idea of American sports motorcycles always comes back to Buell. Now gone, Buell was making small, belt-driven motorcycles that looked like sports motorcycles but lacked that all-important speed factor. The RS1200 stepped away from that stigma a bit with a chain-driven, air-cooled V-twin that only put out 61 horsepower.
It was good enough to bring the bike up to 124 mph. In other words, a respectable speed for an almost sporty American motorcycle. It had interesting features, such as a horizontal single shock mounted under the engine, and was successful in V-twin racing.
American: 1990 Harley Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy – 105 MPH
If this bike seems unrecognizable, turn on Terminator 2 and observe the vehicle escaping from a robotic semi-truck. Its pedigree is impressive and iconic, and on the outside it looks straightforward for a Harley. Its disc wheels and exhaust add to its elegant design.
It used an air-cooled, belt-driven 1337cc V-twin that produced 67 horsepower for a modest top speed of 105 mph. Don’t expect to break records on this bike, as its 700+ pound curb weight can hamper acceleration a bit.
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