Sportbikes from the ’90s

                          by Amir Rahman

For this month, we have decided to go back in time and look at some of the most iconic ‘90s vintage sportbikes.

Honda CBR900RR-N FireBlade

It’s the bike that set the ‘90s sports bike world on fire. In truth, there wasn’t anything too special about the technology but the thinking behind its design was clever and of course, they remain one of the most iconic sports bikes in history. A mix of a lightweight blended with enough power to bring it all to life, the original Blade bucked the trends of the time and went with a 16-inch front wheel to give it an edge in the handling department.

Engine Displacement: 893cc

Max power: 122HP @10,500RPM

Max torque: 88NM @ 10,000RPM

Weight: 203KG


Yamaha YZF-R1 4XV

Yamaha wanted a piece of the FireBlade when they came out with the first YZF-R1. And that’s exactly what they achieved in 1998, except the R1 had a lot more power to offer than the Honda. The 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1 4XV model was an all-new design that looked superb and more importantly, had the handling to match. It wasn’t until the early noughties that it would face stiff competition and for many, it represents the ultimate carb fed litre sports bike.


Engine Displacement: 998cc

Max power: 148HP @10,000RPM

Max torque: 108NM @ 8,500RPM

Weight: 192KG


Kawasaki ZX-7R NINJA

With its Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance race looks, and a chassis that boasted upside-down forks, six-pot brake calipers and a six-inch-wide rear wheel, the ZX-7R did little to hide its intentions. Truth is, it wasn’t the sharpest 750 of the era, but it was one of the best-looking bikes that Kawasaki made in that decade. The ZX-7R went on to be part of the Kawasaki range well into the new millennium.

Engine Displacement: 748cc

Max power: 111HP @ 11,700RPM

Max torque: 76NM @ 9,500RPM

Weight: 227KG


Ducati 916

Without doubt one of the most iconic looking motorcycles of all time. The Ducati 916 is an undisputed classic of the modern age. The L configuration water-cooled engine pumps out just over 100bhp in standard trim and with a weight of 198kg, it will run on to a 265KMPH top. The steel trellis frame might look like it came from an earlier decade, but it was more than good enough to deliver Ducati a rake of WSB wins and championships in the hands of Carl Fogarty.


Engine Displacement: 916cc

Max power: 114HP @ 9,000RPM

Max torque: 90NM @ 7,000RPM

Weight: 204KG

Yamaha R6

The 600cc class often saw technology from bigger machines in the range trickle down to these middleweight marvels. No bike highlights this more than the original R6. Honda had pulled the roost with their Jack of all trades CBR600, but Yamaha wasn’t interested in appealing to everyone with their all-new lithe four-cylinder 600.

Engine Displacement: 599cc

Max power: 120HP @ 13,000RPM

Max torque: 69NM @ 12,000RPM

Weight: 197KG


Honda RC45

The Honda RC45 is the RC that some people love to hate. Honda needed a replacement for their road-legal RC30 racer, and in 1994 they unveiled the RC45 complete with its £18,000 price tag. On the road and the race track it never really lived up to the gauntlet thrown down by the RC30, but that doesn’t make it a bad bike. Everyone had upped their game, but one area where the RC45 was head and shoulders above the competition was its attention to detail and overall finish. The V4 engine is a legend. It delivers its 120bhp across the entire rev range, unlike rev hungry across the frame four cylinders four strokes of the time.


Engine Displacement: 749cc

Max power: 119HP @ 12,000RPM

Max torque: 75NM @ 10,000RPM

Weight: 215KG


The Mille was Aprilia’s first go at a big bike, before then only building two-strokes like the RS50, RS125, and rather brilliant RS250. The Mille came in a variety of specifications with quality parts from Ohlins, Brembo, and Marchesini. It didn’t break any records or pioneer any new technology, but it was and still is a solid V-twin superbike that makes one hell of a racket.


Engine Displacement: 997cc

Max power: 128HP @ 9,500RPM

Max torque: 103NM @ 7,250RPM

Weight: 215KG


Suzuki RGV250M VJ22

The early ‘90s was a golden time for the sports 250, little did we realize at the time that the demise of the two-stroke 250 wasn’t too far away. There was no shortage of hot two-stroke 250s to choose from, and picking a favorite often came down to brand loyalty. Suzuki definitely picked up a few new customers when they gave the world the RGV250M. The earlier K and L models were great pocket rockets, but the M arrived wearing even more race track inspired tackle. The upside-down forks added kudos and a bit of weight when compared to the conventional forks on the earlier model.


Engine Displacement: 249cc

Max power: 50HP @ 9,500RPM

Max torque: 40NM @ 8,000RPM

Weight: 130KG



Not only did it take the top spot on the list of the fastest bikes ever made, but it also annihilated the Honda Blackbird and caused enough public outrage to warrant a 186mph speed cap on all bikes built after.


Engine Displacement: 1298cc

Max power: 175HP @ 9,800RPM

Max torque: 138NM @ 7,000RPM

Weight: 225KG