CW 25 Years Ago: March, 1989

Cycle World March 1989 magazine cover

A rich purple backdrop supported the Suzuki double play on the cover, with the Katana 750 and GSX-R1100 "carving" their way through our studio. "Suzuki reloads its big gun" was the GSX-R story's subhead. The $6,599 bruiser did a 10.50-second quarter-mile and was billed as "a truly awesome motorcycle." The $5,299 Katana, meanwhile, got high praise for its sporty, comfortable nature.

Centerpiece of the issue was Peter Egan's "Time Machine," a riding impres­sion of Honda's lovely $4,200 GB500, Big Red's black-and-gold evocation of the classic British single. "There's always an element of danger in re-creating history," Egan wrote. "At worst, it comes off as a cheap trick, like a fiberglass Bugatti with fake exhaust pipes; at best, it makes the real pleasures of another age available to a whole new generation of people." The GB500 was proclaimed the latter.

The accompanying story, "The Purists' Point of View," compared the GB500 to a 1948 Norton International owned by my friend, Bill Getty, and a 1969 Velocette Venom Clubman owned by Brian Slark (now of the Barber Museum). Both were highly complimentary of the GB500 compared to their classics, but both still own old British while neither owns a GB500.

Of note in the news section was a piece proclaiming “New Nortons for the 1990s.” A $13,000 Com­mander sport-tourer and $20,000 P55 superbike (with Spondon frame) were both to be powered by liquid-cooled rotaries. While some machines were produced in the early ’90s, Norton was not on stable footing and the “second coming of the British superbike” didn’t come to fruition.

March 1989 full page magazine layout