What happened to the sports bike?

I remember a time (isn’t that how every sentence starts said by someone over a certain age) not that long ago when all we were interested in was what the latest sports-bike was but something has changed.  

I’m not saying that the sports-bike is dead but it looks like it’s becoming a niche.  So what’s happened?  Through the 90s (when my motorcycle knowledge really starts) we were obsessed with them, it was a race by manufacturers to produce the fastest sleekest bike they could.  The fireblade was king for nearly 10 years. We had the likes of the gsxr’s, zx7r’s, cbr’s and yzf’s. These were just the big hitters each with a number of engine variants.  Not to mention the many others.

Coming to the end of the 90’s we saw the launch of the hyper bike which changed the market again; it was all about who had the fastest top speed and the hyabusa was born.  Followed by the zzr1400.  

Could this have been the beginning of the end for sports bikes?  I think the public sat there and said hmm OK but where can I do 200mph, this is getting silly.  That coupled with the Long Way Round showing that it is possible to go around the world on a bike you can just buy with no major modifications.  I’m not saying that everyone wants to be like Ewan McGreggor and Charlie Borehman but I think we saw that there was another way.

Yes there were sports-tourers but these were still sports biased like the vtr, vfr’s and rf’s.

The last few years have seen an increase of people returning to biking or people using bikes to commute.  This has been helped by busier roads and rising fuel prices but also the quality of bikes.  You no longer sit there thinking that you would need to change your bike every 30,000 miles, a quick look at autotrader and you’ll find a lot of bikes with 50,000 miles.

Our thirst for adventure seems to be growing also, a quick flick through this month’s ride magazine and you’ll find nearly half the mag is filled with articles of people travelling, best routes and adventure bike weekends.

Don’t get me wrong manufacturers are still making sports bikes and they are still great but sales of these are in decline in comparison to adventure and ‘real’ world bikes.  We still have the cbr’s,  yzf’s and zxr’s.  Ducati is making some great stuff as well but they are so track biased now that people are buying less of them.  But they all have an adventure range and all are now doing a retro range as well.

I think the tides have well and truly turned. Whatever you ride and whatever your reason it’s great to see you out there.


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