CW 25 Years Ago: May, 1989


The past 25 years basically cover the entire length of cover subject Jay Leno's Tonight Show career. In 1989, Leno, pictured here with his Vincent Black Shadow, was just a Monday night fill-in for Johnny Carson, but it was immediately clear to us back then that Jay was a complete and total motorcycle nut. His collection at the time included Harleys, a Cagiva Paso, a second Vincent (a Black Knight), some Brough Superiors, and a Honda CBX.

Multiple letters complained about the price of motorcycles in 1989. Readers cited the $11,000 Honda Gold Wing, $7,700 Yamaha FZR1000, and $5,000 Honda 600 Hurricane as over the top. Using an inflation calculator, those prices adjust to $20,665, $14,466, and $9,393 in today's dollars. Interestingly, the current versions of those bikes are even pricier: The Yamaha YZF-R1, at $14,290, is actually very close, but the Gold Wing, at $23,990, and the CBR600RR, at $11,490, are considerably more.

In Race Watch, a certain Frenchman was touted as the "next big thing." He went on to win the 250 MX world championship that year, followed by the AMA 250 SX, 250, and 500 MX titles in 1991 before turning his focus to Grand Prix racing. Remember him? Jean-Michel Bayle.