10 Sports Bikes From the 90s That Are A Collector’s Dream - SUV VEHICLE

10 Sports Bikes From the 90s That Are A Collector’s Dream

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The 90s was the decade when the sports bike came of age and a template was established that is still adhered to today. This was the decade when the Japanese finally got their head around the ideas of lightweight and compact dimensions to go with their new-found appreciation of chassis design. Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha were at the top of their games and dominated the market, but a small Italian manufacturer gave notice of its intentions to take the fight to the Orientals.




Meanwhile, another (even smaller Italian manufacturer) confirmed that when it came to creating art out of metal, Italians had no equals in the world. The market was buoyant, interference from do-gooders regarding speeds had yet to rear its ugly head, electronic interference was at a minimum, and it was a glorious free-for-all of engineering and performance. No wonder collectors still lust after these models, particularly the ones we’re about to discuss below.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including www.motorcyclespecs.co.za, www.cycleworld.com, and www.motorcyclenews.com. Entries are arranged in ascending price order.

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10 Suzuki TL1000S

Price Guideline: $4,000-5,000

1997 Suzuki TL1000S side left shot
Bring a Trailer


A great bike let down by its bad reputation (which was due to the use of a rotary rear damper). This would overheat and be in the habit of seizing, effectively removing any rear suspension, leading to ‘interesting’ handling. Happily, the rotary damper is easily replaced with an aftermarket telescopic coil-over damper, which is great as there’s a lot to like here. The lusty 996cc, 90° V-Twin engine gives 125 horsepower, 79 pound-feet of torque, and a 160mph top speed with stable handling and a most un-sportbike-like level of comfort from the large padded seat and generous screen. Not to mention, a riding position that was nowhere near as extreme as the likes of the Yamaha R1. Hugely underrated at the moment, but don’t expect it to stay that way forever.


Performance Specifications

Displacement

996cc

Engine Type

V-Twin

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

125 horsepower

Max Torque

76 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

9 Suzuki Hayabusa

Price Guideline: $4,000-5,000

A Left Hand-Side Perspective View Of A Suzuki Hayabusa
Iconic Motorbike Auctions

Anything you can do, we can do better, said Suzuki to Honda in the late 1990s. Speed sold in those days of limited governmental (and environmental) interference and the Hayabusa had only one thing in mind: straight-line speed. To that end, it sported the most outrageous bodywork ever seen on a motorcycle, designed to make it not only as slippery as possible but also as stable as possible.


With a top speed of 194mph, that was very much needed and, if the long, long wheelbase hurt ultimate handling agility, then no one was going to complain too loudly. Ironically, the sheer speed of the Hayabusa led to fears of a European regulatory backlash or import ban on such bikes, so the Japanese manufacturers made a gentleman’s agreement to limit top speeds to 186mph, or roughly 300km/h (for the ones across the pond). And, why ‘Hayabusa’? Well, the name is Japanese for the peregrine falcon, a bird that has a 200mph dive speed. It also preys on…blackbirds!

Performance Specifications

Displacement

1,298cc

Engine Type

Inline four-cylinder

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

175 horsepower

Max Torque

102 pound-feet


(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

8 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird

Price Guideline: $5,000-6,000

Honda_CBR1100XX Super Blackbird
Honda: Uffe Brännström

Speed, glorious speed! In the mid-1990s, an unofficial top speed war had broken out between Kawasaki and Honda. Kawasaki fired the first shots with the Ninja ZX-11, but Honda beat that with the Super Blackbird, which could reach a top speed of 177mph (only around 2mph more than the Kawasaki). More impressively, it did this while still being a comfortable, not-extreme motorcycle. It had stylishly restrained looks and typical Honda build-quality and engineering integrity, meaning that good examples are still available today, perhaps thanks to the fact that it was never a boy racer’s choice for scratching along twisty open roads or the race track. Unwittingly, it gave rise to the best-named motorcycle ever as the speed wars reached their peak.


Performance Specifications

Displacement

1.137cc

Engine Type

Inline four-cylinder

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

164 horsepower

Max Torque

91 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

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7 Triumph T595 Daytona

Price Guideline: $5,000-6,000

Triumph T595 Daytona
Triumph


We don’t normally associate Triumph with faired sports bikes but, in the early 1990s, the company was still trying to work out its place in the world. It made a big deal about its modular design philosophy, which was all well and good, but did mean the bikes tended to look the same. The T595 changed all that and, if it wasn’t necessarily great as a motorcycle, it was an important marker in the ground as a sign that Triumph really did mean business. Without this first stepping stone, we might never have got to ride such brilliance as the Street and Speed Triples, not to mention the Daytona 765 Moto2.

Performance Specifications

Displacement

955cc

Engine Type

Inline three-cylinder

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

130 horsepower

Max Torque

73 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)


6 Honda CBR900RR Fireblade

Price Guideline: $8,000

Honda CBR900RR Fireblade Tadao Baba
Honda

Japanese sports bikes tended to be overweight prior to the 90s, if certainly not lacking in power. Then, the Fireblade arrived and changed the rule book. For the first time, there was a sports bike that was powerful, with compact dimensions, ensuring excellent handling. It was a good 76 pounds lighter than the nearest competitor. If 120 horsepower sounds meager by today’s 200+ horsepower outputs, it was good for the day. If the graphics of the original scream ‘1990s’, then they were also ground-breaking and helped attract a new audience of young riders to the class (if that needed doing). Original examples are now seen by the pioneers they are, and, if you find a good one, the price can only go up.


Performance Specifications

Displacement

893cc

Engine Type

Inline four-cylinder

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

121 horsepower

Max Torque

64 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

5 MV Agusta F4

Price Guideline: $9,000

MVAgusta F4S left side shot
www.bringatrailer.com

MV Agustas have always been utterly beautiful creations, whether for road or racing. But, by the late-1970s, it was all over, on all fronts. Come 1992, the Castiglioni family, of Cagiva and Ducati ownership fame, bought the Agusta name and set about reviving the famous marque.


With Ducati came Massimo Tamburini, who had designed the Ducati 916, and his next creation would further affirm Italy as the center of beautiful motorcycle design. The resulting F4 was a perfect update of the MV Agusta line, with an inline four-cylinder engine developing 126 horsepower, with the exhaust exiting through four under-seat exhaust mufflers. Finished in red and silver, the F4 was even exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum in New York as part of the Art of the Motorcycle exhibition in 1998. It was that beautiful. You’re more likely to see one in a glass case than on the road these days.

Performance Specifications

Displacement

749cc

Engine Type

Inline four-cylinder

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

126 horsepower

Max Torque

52 pound-feet


(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

4 Suzuki RGV250

Price Guideline: $10,000

Suzuki RGV250
Suzuki

The 1990s was the last hurrah of the two-stroke road bikes and Suzuki’s long-running RGV250 was one of the best. There was a lot of Grand Prix technology and ideas hiding inside the V-Twin engine, which helped the final versions produce 70 horsepower: you had to rev the engine hard to access it, but since when was that ever a problem with a screaming two-stroke? It’s not hugely fast in terms of top speed (around 135mph) but a well-ridden one will run rings around any other bike on this list when it comes to the twisty stuff.


It looks great, and we’ll never see the likes of them again. But they can be finicky to maintain and need regular engine rebuilds. Yet if you can handle that, you’ll have a bike that will make you feel like a ’90s GP rider every time you swing a leg over. They’re rapidly becoming very collectible.

Performance Specifications

Displacement

249cc

Engine Type

V-Twin Two Stroke

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

61 horsepower

Max Torque

29.5 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

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3 Yamaha YZF-R1

Price Guideline: $10,000

Yamaha-YZF-R1
Yamaha


Honda took the sports bike world so much by storm that it took its rivals a long time to catch up. The first Japanese manufacturer to respond in kind was Yamaha and, when the YZF-R1 appeared, it was almost as revolutionary as the Fireblade had been. Yamaha’s innovation was to shorten the engine/gearbox structure by ‘stacking’ the gearbox behind the crankcases.

This not only shortened the overall wheelbase but also allowed the swing arm to be longer without affecting the wheelbase, thus aiding stability with no adverse effect on agility. The 998cc, inline four-cylinder engine, with five valves per cylinder, gave 150 horsepower and, for the first time, Honda had a fight on its hands. Due to its popularity, there were always plenty around with the result that many were abused, so a good, unmolested one today is worth a lot of money.


Performance Specifications

Displacement

998cc

Engine Type

Inline four-cylinder

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

150 horsepower

Max Torque

79 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

2 Ducati 916

Price Guideline: $11,000

Ducati 916
Ducati


If the Honda Fireblade redefined the sports bike class, then the Ducati 916 gave it a sheen of glamour and looks to die for, with all the Italian flair you could ever ask for. Borrowing heavily from the NR750 (under-seat exhausts, single-sided swing arm, and twin slit headlights), the 916 melded them into one of the most beautiful sports bikes ever seen, with a bellowing performance from the 916cc V-Twin engine. Plus, a simplicity of line that looked spectacular in red which, let’s face it, is the default color of speed. Four World Superbike titles in five of arguably the best years of that championship cemented the 916’s reputation, and it remains one of the defining sports bikes of its own era.

Performance Specifications

Displacement

916cc

Engine Type

V-Twin

Frame Type

Aluminum beam

Max Power

114 horsepower

Max Torque

66 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)


1 Honda RVF750 RC45

Price Guideline: $50,000

Honda RVF750 RC45
Collecting Cars

Somehow, Honda has gained a reputation as being the more staid and sensible of the Japanese manufacturers. But that simply isn’t borne out by the evidence; six-cylinder 250cc Grand Prix bikes, six-cylinder 1,000cc road bikes, a V8 with oval pistons making it a V4, and this, the ultimate World Superbike homologation special. It came with a 750cc V4 engine with gear-driven camshafts, fuel injection, 118 horsepower (up to 200 horsepower in race trim), a single-sided swing-arm, a hefty price tag, and very limited production.


Only 200 were made and only 50 of those arrived in the U.S. Twenty of those went to race teams where they will have led a hard life, and it is estimated that only 20 are left in the States. As with all Hondas, this is beautifully engineered and put together. One for the serious collector, for sure.

Performance Specifications

Displacement

750cc

Engine Type

V-Four

Frame Type

Aluminium Beam

Max Power

118 horsepower

Max Torque

56 pound-feet

(Specs sourced from www.motorcyclespecs.co.za)

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