Motorcycling in America – 1983

Life In America
1983 –Household income averages $21,070. Unemployment is at 9.7 percent, the highest since 1941. Microsoft introduces Word. The first mobile phones are introduced by Motorola. On TV we’re being entertained by the men of the A-Team. Michael Jackson’s video, Thriller, is aired for the first time and goes on to become the most often repeated video of all time. Tom Cruise gets his big break in Risky Business. Jackson has another big hit with Beat It. Gas has gone down and is $1.24 per gallon. The new Honda Aspencade will set you back $6998.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1983:
All of the Japanese OEMs have recognized the growing touring segment and have brought out fully equipped touring bikes, some especially designed for the market, like Honda’s Aspencade, Yamaha’s Venture Royale and Kawasaki’s Voyager. Suzuki has outfitted an existing model with touring bags and fairing, but will soon bring out a purpose built tourer of their own.

European Brands

BMW: R80ST. Cagiva: 200 Enduro. Husqvarna: XC500. KTM: 250MXC. Maico: 250 Spider.

Asian Brands
Honda: CB1100F, CB650SC Night Hawk, CR480R, VT750 Shadow, V-65 Magna, VF750F, XR350R, CB1000 Custom, Aspencade, KR500R, CR250R, Ascot VT500, XL600, CR125R, Night Hawk 550, CR500R. Kawasaki: GPz750, GPz1100, KX500, KDX200, KDX250, GPz305, Voyager 1300. Suzuki: GS1100S Katana, GS450E, RM250, XN85 Turbo, GS750, RM125, GR650 Tempter, GS550ES, GS1100E, RM500. Yamaha: XJ750XJ Seca, Vision 550, YZ250, IT490K, XV500 Virago, Venture Royale, Seca 900, TT600, IT250.

North American Brands
Harley-Davidson: XR 1000, FXRT, FLHTC.

AMA motocross undergoes major restructuring. Outdoor championships will consist of 125, 250 and 500cc classes. Supercross will be 250cc. Overall AMA Motocross Championship will be decided by the rider with the highest combination of Supercross points and points collected in anyone of outdoor classes.

Daytona. Roberts wins 200 mile F1 race. Spencer wins Superbike in new for ’83 750cc class. Jay Springsteen and Harley-Davidson win Battle of the Twins.

David Bailey and Honda win the Supercross title.

Wayne Rainey and Kawasaki win Superbike title.

Mike Baldwin and Honda win F1 Championship.

US Teams sweep Motocross Des Nations and Trophee Des Nations.

Elmer Trett hit 200 MPH in the quarter-mile aboard his Kawasaki.

Other Issues
Congress passes bill allowing motorcycle use in HOV lanes.

All Japanese OEMs are advertising significant price cuts on new units, some going back to 1979 models.

A.C. Nielson reports motorcycling as the 5th fastest growing sport in America.

ITC grants relief to Harley-Davidson with a 45% tariff on imported motorcycles over 750cc. Tariff will decline annually and cease after five years.

43 States have mandatory helmet laws.

Triumph ceases production, splits assets; factory and grounds and intellectual assets. Looks for buyer.
Ducati announces they will cease production of motorcycles and focus on building engines for Cagiva.

MIC reports that even though sales of new motorcycles is down, aftermarket sales remain high.

For the first time since the ‘60s Honda has over 50% market share.

Cycle World’s editors castigate Japanese for building V-Twin powered cruisers. (Harley clones)

A man in Florida announces plans to legally marry his motorcycle, named Moonlady. The bride to be is a 34-year old Harley-Davidson.

0 thoughts on “Motorcycling in America – 1983

  1. “The A Team” was great and I was never all that crazy about Michael Jackson….but who cares ? How can anyone write an article about motorcycling in 1983 without even a mention of how the, now legendary, Honda VF750F Interceptor would change the world of motorcycling, both on the track and the street forever !??



  2. 1983 also brought what many believe to be the start of the muscle bikes, with Honda’s 1100cc version of the VF engines in the V65 Magna. Advertised and tested in Cycle Magazine as the first production motorcycle to lay down a 10.xx second quarter mile. We should see how other manufacturers followed suit with power cruisers of their own in the upcoming year’s report.

    As another post stated, Honda’s v-four engines are worthy of much recognition.


  3. Let’s not forget the legendary Honda V65 Magna 1100. This bike was designed to compete with Harley in styling, the first real Japanese cruiser style bike. This bike was not only a looker, it was a performer. V-4 engine design, water cooled and balanced to run like sewing machine, and perform like a rocket. Cycle Guide did a shoot with all the imports at the time, and this bike held up to all the “crotch rockets” of the day:

    Kawasaki 750 Turbo and GPz1100 – 145.07mph
    Suzuki 1100 Katana – 142.05 mph
    Honda V65 & Suzuki GS1100ES – 139.15mph

    The v65 was the only cruiser style, yet was less than 6mph slower, and in the quarter mile was the second quickest (10.901 sec @ 123.28mph) behind the Kaw 750 Turbo (10.839 sec 122.95 mph)…not bad for the introductory model.

    Where was Yamaha you ask? They asked the same thing, and began working on the Yamaha Vmax 1200, which came out in 1984. The war was on!


  4. Those were some wild times then lots of left overs at ridiculous prices. Motorcycling was taking off like gangbusters….I was working at single line dealer and we were busy from open to close…..I had a GS850G then still have it and got a small V-Twin from Yamaha the Vision, had great times on that lil bike….The comment about the VF 750 F is spot on they made such an impact on motorcycles…these stories are great need the whole thing in print


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