Inline-Four History

Honda® invented the transverse inline-four motorcycle concept with the CB750K0, and forged the very foundation of motorcycling for generations to come. The mighty CB750K0 and all-new CBR®1000RR serve as technological bookends to Honda's rich history of four-cylinder Superbikes.

1969 CB750K0: The High-Performance Four-Cylinder is Born

For those who didn't personally experience the revolution that Honda launched with the 1969 CB750, it's difficult to fully comprehend the impact of this landmark motorcycle. In 1969 Honda had been in America for only 10 years, and at that time European bikes--especially British--defined the parameters of high performance. In one deft move, Honda instantly elevated the entire motorcycle industry to a new and higher plane. Suddenly, the heretofore contradictory elements of jaw-dropping performance, engineering sophistication and mechanical reliability would become interwoven into a seamless whole, thanks to the CB750K0.

Here was modern motorcycling's first large inline four-cylinder production bike, a SOHC 736cc marvel of engineering that introduced power and civility as flip sides of the same coin. Just as significant was the CB750's disc brake, the very first to be fitted on a production motorcycle, plus a new level of all-around competence. With more than 400,000 CB750s sold during its nine-year life, this bike single-handedly shifted the center of the high-performance motorcycling world from England to Japan and ushered in a whole new level of expectation on the part of discerning motorcyclists.

1979 CB750F: Celebrating the 10th Anniversary with Two Cams

How does a company go about replacing a motorcycle that had become a legend in its own time? Well, if you're a company like Honda, you do it with sheer elegance of engineering. The 1979 CB750 weighed in with some pretty impressive technical credentials, specifically a new 749cc twin cam engine with four cylinders, four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts that employed bucket-and-shim adjusters in place of rocker arms.

Such impressive credentials boosted performance to record-high levels, with the CB750F Super Sport model in particular offering horsepower and handling unsurpassed in its class.

1981 CB900F: From Super Sport to Superbike

A strong case can be made for the CB900F's status as the first Superbike to be shoehorned into a mid-sized package. Springing forth from the CB750F, the CB900F featured a slightly shorter wheelbase and a mere 22.5-pound increase in weight while boasting a whopping 20 percent increase in displacement. The bored and stroked DOHC 16-valve engine now displaced 902cc and a lengthy list of upgrades made the 900 a force to be reckoned with: larger valves and carburetors, a stiffer frame made of larger-diameter tubing plus reinforcing gussets, a heftier fork, plus adjustable-damping shocks with external aluminum-body reservoirs.

The CB900F also served as the basis for Honda's Superbike racing efforts in the capable hands of Freddie Spencer and Mike Baldwin, lending further eyeball appeal and prestige. And perhaps best of all, the suggested retail price of the 900F made it an irresistible bargain.

1983 CB1100F: Supersports Go Large

All of the attributes of the CB900F--plus a lot more--applied to the 1983 CB1100F. By punching out the cylinder bores from 64.5 to 70.0mm, the big sporting CB grew to a towering 1062cc in displacement to become the quickest and fastest bike of that era. A new anti-dive system, adjustable handlebars and a new box-section swingarm added to the CB1100F's prowess while tacking on a trifling 8.5 pounds. It was the apex of engineering refinement for the air-cooled four-cylinder series, and a worthy representative at that. Moreover, once again the CB-F was a bargain-and-a-half, thanks to a modest price increase in price over the 1982 CB900F.

1987 CBR1000: A Hurricane Force

When Honda's four-cylinder CBR1000 landed in 1987, it truly impacted the market with Hurricane® force. A new day dawned as an entire era of air-cooled powerplants yielded to the new wave of liquid-cooled big-inch inline fours. The CBR's 998cc DOHC engine featured four valves per cylinder plus liquid cooling for more consistent power, longer engine life, stricter emissions control and quieter operation. It was a complete package brimming with sophistication and refinement--and plenty of performance. This new-generation Big Four was stronger, quicker and faster than its CB1100F predecessor and also lighter--by just a pinch. With great handling, fantastic brakes and sufficient rider amenities to qualify for long-distance work, the Hurricane laid waste to tradition, proving that better is as better does.

1991 Nighthawk CB750: A Classic Returns

As proof that a good idea never goes out of style, the air-cooled 750 inline four-cylinder is born once again, this time under Honda's Nighthawk® moniker. An entirely new engine displaces 747cc, but the cylinder head still incorporates double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Hydraulic valve lash adjusters simplify maintenance chores, as does an automatic cam-chain tensioner, solid-state ignition and a spin-on oil filter. Cast in a traditional mold with touches of hot-road styling, the new Nighthawk 750 soon proves to be a favorite among people who simply enjoy being out on two wheels. And an eminently affordable price makes the Nighthawk 750 accessible to just about anyone with an urge to ride.

1993 CBR900RR: Light Makes Right

Unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace in the spring of 1992, the most potent pure-performance Honda ever redefined sport bike performance overnight. Weighing in at an inconceivable 408 pounds, the original CBR900RR puts liter-class horsepower in a package that is 80 pounds lighter than its lightest rivals, and just 2 pounds heavier than Honda's own CBR600F2. From the twin-spar aluminum chassis to the 147-pound, 893cc 16-valve four-cylinder engine inside, every facet of the first CBR900RR is lighter than comparable sport bikes. The result: Suddenly, there are no comparable sport bikes.

Powered by an ultra-sophisticated four-cylinder 893cc DOHC 16-valve liquid-cooled engine, the aluminum-frame CBR900RR embodied the perfection of cutting-edge sporting performance. Big changes would come in 1996, with the CBR gaining a more powerful, 919cc engine and loosing nearly 5 pounds thanks to a totally new, triple-box section aluminum frame. The ultimate riding tool becomes sharper and more friendly as well.

1994 CB1000: The Superbike Spirit Revived

As the advent of the incredible CBR900RR redefined and expanded the parameters of the Superbike market, a niche was created between it and Honda's sophisticated Hurricane/CBR1000F. Based on the latter bike's 998cc DOHC liquid-cooled powerplant but featuring a new chassis sans bodywork, the 1994 CB1000 carried the spirit of the big-bore Superbike from the '80s into the 1990s. This robust, no-frills powerhouse trimmed more than 30 pounds off the CBR1000's curb weight yet its expanded 60.6-inch wheelbase gave a rider and passenger plenty of room to stretch out.

2000 CBR929RR

The overarching concept of maximum power and minimum weight remains, but all similarities to the CBR900RR end there. With 160 horses per liter propelling a 375-pound package, the CBR929RR transcends conventional sport bike wisdom as only 52 years of Honda engineering can. Integrated, computer-controlled variable intake and exhaust management systems let the compact, fuel-injected, 929cc engine embarrass larger competitors with the quantity and quality of its power. The pivotless aluminum frame is just as sophisticated, delivering a ride that explodes conventional chassis orthodoxy as thoroughly as the original CBR900RR did eight years earlier. Now as then, the ultimate CBR makes ordinary sport bikes feel pretty much the same: ordinary.

2002 CBR954RR

As stark evidence to the extraordinary competition driving the forward evolution of sport bikes, a mere two years passes before the new CBR929RR is reborn as the CBR954RR. Already acclaimed by many to be the best-in-class in 929 guise, the big CBR now boasts even more power with less weight to retain its premier standing for power-to-weight ratio--the ultimate virtue in the motorcycling world because it enhances so many other areas of performance. Whether you measure performance on the racetrack or in day-to-day streetability, the CBR954RR continues to offer riders an amazing advantage; an enviable balance of power, handling and rideability in a totally integrated package that has become a Honda hallmark.

2002 919: A Lean, Mean Street Machine for the 21st Century

Drawing from a deep and varied history, the 919™ could well be considered the street-going inline four created from the best of all worlds. Wrapped around a 16-valve liquid-cooled inline 919cc engine derived from the race-proven CBR900RR series in a pared-down, mid-sized lightweight chassis set up specifically for taking it to the streets--no matter what the job may be. Cruising, sport riding, commuting or long trips, all fall within the job description for this hot new and versatile high-performance machine.