Although in production for only three years, the R90S was the most significant post-war production BMW motorcycle. Its release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the BMW boxer motorcycle, and started a new era for the boxer twin.
Before the R90S BMW motorcycles were idiosyncratic, expensive and primarily luxury touring machines designed to appeal to the older rider.
Although the new-generation R75/5 did much to change the staid image that existed during the 1960s, the R75/5 still couldn't compete with the new high-performance Japanese Superbikes that came in the early 1970s. That all changed when Bob Lutz persuaded BMW's conservative management to sanction the development of the R90S, a sporting machine that could take on the best in the world.
As ace BMW tuner Udo Gietl says, "The R90S was a pivotal bike for BMW. It showed the world that the 'always black' bike could be very pretty, and win races. The R90S provided a new face for BMW motorcycles around the world and is to BMW as the 300SL Gull Wing is to Mercedes-Benz. Neither was perfect but they were iconic. The R90S wasn't BMW's best product, but it had a profound impact on their marketing direction. The R90S was an example of the perfect combination of timing and product."
Author Ian Falloon tells the story of this important bike and how it evolved, noting all significant changes from year to year. Beautifully laid out with big full-color pictures, this book could stand alone as a coffee table book. But it's much more than that. Falloon writes with enough detail to make restoring these great bikes much easier, and also includes a chapter on how to live with an R90S, using them as reliable daily commuters, making popular upgrades, and what to look for if you are in the market for one.
Because the R90S was built in relatively large numbers, it is still possible to buy one at a reasonable price. Excellent parts availability, a wealth of specialist services, and an enthusiastic owners circle ensure the R90S is not merely a show pony, but a classic motorcycle to be ridden. Restoration is relatively straightforward, and with outstanding looks and high-quality equipment, the R90S has justifiably garnered a huge following.
When rumors reached Honda that BSA/Triumph were developing a 750cc triple, it galvanized the Japanese giant into creating the world-beating CB750 Four. The British triples may have reached the market first, but the launch just a few months later of Honda's four-cylinder "Dream Four" (with electric-start, disc brakes and Candy-painted bodywork) caused a sensation in 1968. A new word now joined the lexicon: Superbikes. The opening salvos in a horsepower war had begun!
Superbikes and the '70s by Dave Sheehan captures the spirit of those heady days. It tells the story of a Britain emerging from the dull, gray years of postwar austerity into the colorful, gritty and psychedelic reality of the '70s. Despite a backcloth of dubious fashion, rampant inflation, oil embargoes and wildcat strikes, these lightning-fast, chromium-plated polychromatic motorcycles suddenly became affordable in an age of full employment. For motorcyclists the '70s meant reliable, beautifully designed machines delivering record-shattering performance!
Superbikes and the '70s brings this all home. However, it isn't just about the bikes. It's about their times, too, as reflected in its popular culture, politics, and the people key to the story of superbikes - the engineers and designers, the larger-than-life racers (such as Dick Mann, Gary Nixon, Barry Sheene and Paul Smart), the dealers and salesmen, and the industry's titans: Edward Turner and Soichiro Honda. It gets behind-the-scenes to give the full story of bikes like the Triumph and BSA triples (including the Vetter-designed Hurricane), the Honda CB750, the awesome Gold Wing and the outrageous six-cylinder Honda CBX1000 and Kawasaki Z1300 megabikes. There is also the seriously mad Kawasaki Mach III and Mach IV two-stroke triples, Ducati's remarkable Daytona-winning 750 twin, Laverda's hairy-chested Jota - and, of course, Milwaukee's XLCH Sportster, the seed of the Harley come-back.
Well-illustrated and packed with anecdotes, Superbikes and the '70s offers a wealth of thoroughly-researched detail. Sheehan presents the story from the perspective of those involved at the time, the outcomes of whose decisions were by no means certain, with the result that the narrative reads like a thriller. A recurring thread throughout the book is Cycle magazine's seminal "Superbike 7" comparison tests in 1970 and 1973, which demonstrated that superbikes were changing: Riders no longer had to sacrifice civility, comfort and reliability in the pursuit of handling, speed and acceleration.
Superbikes and the '70s is their story.
Ted Simon rode a motorcycle around the world in the '70s, when such a thing was unheard of. In four years he covered 78,000 miles through 45 countries, living with peasants and presidents, in prisons and palaces, through wars and revolutions. Jupiter's Travels recounts the enthralling tale of his trek, and what distinguishes this book is that Simon was already an accomplished writer. In 25 years this book has changed many lives, and inspired many to travel, including Ewan McGregor.