It may not appear a sportbike by today’s standards, but Honda’s 1969 CB750 Four literally created the superbike market. For $1,500 the CB750 Four was the first motorcycle from a major OEM to feature an oil-tight SOHC, inline-Four engine with four 28mm Keihin carburetors, a front disc brake and an electric starter. The prototype’s unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1968 was an unrealized death knell for big-bike competitors such as BSA, Norton and Triumph.
Like Honda’s RC-designated racing models, the CB750 produced its horsepower high in the rev range with a claimed 67 hp at 8,000 rpm, 44 ft-lb of torque at 7,000 rpm and a 125-mph top speed. There was such a clamor for the machine that Honda’s initial forecast of 1,500 units per year became a sales figure that eventually jumped to 3,000 units per month. Unlike the superbike moniker, the CB750 Four didn’t coin the “game changer” phrase, but it comes closest in the world of motorcycling. So, if you’re looking to find the godfather of the modern superbike/sportbike, look no further than the 1969 CB750 Four.