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Round and round - Tony's obsession


Round and round - Tony's obsession

Nik Ellwood

I have something to admit……I have an obsession. Calm down, not like that. It’s motorcycle-related, honest. But it’s not just bikes.  If you are reading this, you are already afflicted by that disease.  No, I’m talking about something more specific.

Just like the rest of the Retro-RR crew I’ve always had a fascination with all manner of two-wheeled machines, but when it comes to sports bikes there’s a styling trait that has always attracted me.

Dual Headlights.

To be specific - dual, round headlights.

I couldn’t tell you why they stand out more for me. I don’t know what it is about them. Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism they bring to a bike, but more likely it’s the nostalgia of the period from which these machines came. The hot spot for this ‘look’ was the decade from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s. This, in my humble opinion is when some of the best-looking sports bikes were created. The bikes that have always resonated with me as the epitome of the breed. Rounded and voluptuous lines mixed with angular (but not boxy) designs. It’s hard to beat a well proportioned bike from this era, particularly when its got two beady eyes whose stare bores into the rear view mirror of the vehicle in front!

Its was the Suzuki GSX-R750 which first grabbed my attention. Launched in 1985 it was I guess the first ‘modern’ race replica. A bike built with one thing, and one thing only in mind. Performance. A true racetrack pedigree for the street,  and it was those dual headlamps that drew me in.  (Unfortunately they weren’t the only big beautiful eyes that got me in trouble, but that’s a story for another time). Suzuki followed up with its bigger sibling, the GSX-R1100, the following year and thankfully kept the looks almost identical. 

The twin headlamp race replica game got pushed up several notches in 1988 when Honda unleashed the RC30 with a race-bred V4 engine, lightweight aluminum frame and single-sided swing arm. This homologation special became an instant classic and if you want one now, you’ve got to reach deep into your pockets.

Notable successors that pushed my ‘particular’ buttons included the Kawasaki ZXR750, Bimota YB6 and Yamaha FZR1000.  Sadly moving into the 90’s the FZR switched to a single headlamp, however bikes like the Triumph Daytona 1200 stuck with the twin set up.

Then, just as my married life started, the bike that really did it for me hit the streets, the Honda CBR900RR. Those iconic eyes where still there, and combined with the perforated fairing and stunning paint finish it was love at first sight.

Sadly, this beautiful machine has never seen the inside of any of my garages, and although I haven’t run the idea past my significant other I think the launch of Retro-RR is the perfect excuse to rectify that situation.

Watch this space.