CW 25 Years Ago: September, 1989

Cycle World September 1989 magazine cover

Our "Great Balls of Fire" cover story, a supersport 600 comparison, featured the Kawasaki Ninja 600, Suzuki Katana 600, Honda CBR600, and Yamaha FZR600. Over the years, I have personally owned two of those models, a Honda and a couple of Yamaha FZR600s, so it was interesting to see how the bikes that hooked me performed back then.

And how did they do? Well, 600s have progressed a ton in the past 25 years. Back then, the winning FZR600 posted an 11.44-second quarter-mile pass at 118.13 mph and a measured top speed of 140 mph. The latest breed of supersports, including the Kawasaki ZX-6R (636) that we most recently tested, posted a 10.71-second/131-mph pass at the strip and a top speed of nearly 160 mph.

A pair of oversize 250 MXers went head to head with a stock Kawasaki KX500 in an effort to prove that smaller is easier to ride faster around a racetrack. In the end, both the Noleen Yamaha YZ360 and Klemm Research KX285 were quicker.