Motorcycling in America – 1979

Life In America
1979  – The average income is $17,500/year, interest rates are 15.25%. Lee Iacocca has asked the Feds for money to bail out Chrysler. Ayatollah Khomeini establishes an Islamic Republic in Iran, in the process 23 American embassy workers are taken hostage. Sony introduces the Walkman at $200. The Dukes of Hazard, ESPN and This Old House debut. My Sharona hits number one in record sales but the year’s best seller is What a Fool Believes, by the Doobie Brothers. Disco officially ends at Chicago’s Cominskey Park in the Disco Demolition. On the big screen its Apocalypse Now, Alien and starring former Kawasaki exec’s daughter, Bo Derek, 10. The new Cougar XR2 is $6,430. Fuel is $.86 per gallon. A new full-coverage Arai will set you back $89.95.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1979:
The Japanese OEs have been building quicker and faster motorcycles in four and six-cylinder configurations capable of turning sub-12 second quarter miles, and there’s no end in sight. The horsepower race is on!

European Brands
Bimota: KBI Kawasaki 1000. BMW: R100T. Bultaco: Sherpa 350. CCM 600. Husqvarna: OR390, CR390. Maico: Magnum 250. SWM: 250GS.

Asian Brands
Honda: CB750K, CBX1000, CB650, XR500, XR185, XL185, CX500, CR125R, CB750F, XR250, XL500S, XL100S, XL125S, XR80, Z50. Kawasaki: KZ400, KZ1300, KX250, KX125, KZ1000 MkII, KZ1000ST, KDX400, L:X250, KE100, KE250, KX80. Suzuki: GS850, RM400M, GS750EN, RM125N, GS1000K, GS425, DS125, MX100, RM80, RM50, JR80. Yamaha: IT250F, XS1100 Special, XS650F, YZ250F, XS750F, YZ125F, IT175F, RD400F, XS400F, YZ80

American Brands
Can-AM: Qualifier 370. Harley-Davidson: XLS 1000 Sportster.

Jay Springsteen wins GNC for the third straight year.

Bob Hannah becomes first American to win the Trans-AMA series, perennial winner, Roger DeCoster finishes 6th.

FIM phases out 750cc and 350cc classes in international road racing.

Daytona – Suzuki sweeps Superbike race, 1, 2, 3.  In 250cc Expert class, 8 of top 10 positions are won by riders on Yamahas. Jimmy Weinert wins Supercross using a paddle-type rear tire, subsequently outlawed.

Baja 500 won by a solo rider for the first time, Jack Johnson takes the checkers when partner Larry Roessler is injured and can’t compete. Race is fastest to date.

Honda unveils new GP race bike, RC500.

Vintage racing added to AAMRR schedule in the East and Manning Racing schedule in the West.

The factory making Hodakas closes, ending a run of very successful small displacement motorcycles.

Other Issues
Motorcycle insurance is difficult to get and expensive. Honda announces partnership with 1st American Insurance Co., to allow motorcycle dealers to sell insurance, something prohibited in many states.

Cagiva agrees to buy Aermacchi factory from Harley-Davidson, marking Harley’s departure from the small displacement motorcycle category.

The Hurt motorcycle accident study, releases some information; 45% of all accidents involve a car turning left in front of a motorcycle. 41% of accidents are rider error. Many motorcyclists over brake the rear and under brake the front. 55% of fatalities involve alcohol.

It’s estimated that the US loses $22.5 million per year from motorcyclists riding off-road in Mexico, rather than in the US which is undergoing major land closures.

Gas rationing is in effect with Sunday closings creating long lines at gas stations. Motorcycles are exempt from law.

Federally mandated 85 MPH speedometers will become standard issue on 1980 model year motorcycles.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issues statement that all cars’ speed should be limited to National Speed Limit of 55 MPH.

Scott USA introduces all plastic motocross boots.

Motorcycling in America – 1978

Life In America
1978  – The average income is $17,000/year, and inflation is still an issue. A new home sells for $58,000. The first mobile phone is introduced. The Japanese now account for 50% of import car sales. 918 followers of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple commit mass suicide in Guyana. The Blues Brothers debut on Saturday Night Live. When we’re not riding we’re watching Dallas, and Taxi, or listening to The Bee Gees, who dominate the charts with Night Fever and Stayin’ Alive. At the movies we’re torn between the Deer Hunter and Animal House, but the number one flick is Grease. Gas is about the same, $.65 and Suzuki’s RM400 will make your wallet $1,698 lighter.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1978:
While the number of European brands has shrunk somewhat, the number of models being imported by the Euros has fallen significantly, and with a few exceptions most are out of the street-bike business. The Japanese on the other hand are down to five OEs, but literally hundreds of models.

European Brands
BMW: R80/7, R100S, R65. Bultaco: Alpina 350. Ducati: 900SD Desmo. Husqvarna: 250CR, 390OR. KTM: 250MC-5.  Laverda: 500 Zeta Maico: Magnum 450. Montesa: Caprra VB360. Sachs: Hercules GS250 Enduro. Triumph: Bonneville 750.

Asian Brands
Hodaka: SL175. Honda: Elsinore CR250R, MT125R, CBX1000, CX500, CB750A, XL250S, XR75, Gold Wing GL1000. Kawasaki: KL250, KZ200, KZ1000A2, KX250A4, KX125, KZ650SR, KZ750 Twin, KD100. Suzuki: GS1000, GS550C, RM400, RM250C2, GS750, DR360, SP250, PE125. Yamaha: SR500, XL1100, RD400, XS750E, IT250, SR500, XL1100, RD400, XS750E, IT250, YZ250E, XS750, XT500, GT80MX, IT175.

American Brands
Can-AM: 250MX-4, 175 Qualifier, 370 MX-4. Harley-Davidson: FXS Low Rider, FLH-80.

ISDT – Czechs win World Trophy, US takes 4th.

Marty Smith wins 500cc AMA Motocross title.

Kenny Robert’s 750 two-stroke flat-tracker is raced to a 4th place finish at the British Long Track Speedway Grand Prix.

Mike Bast wins 3rd straight National Speedway Title.

DeCoster wins 4th Trans-AMA Motocross series championship in a row.

Daytona 200 miler won by Kenny Roberts at record 108.485 MPH. Steve McLaughlin wins Superbike Race and Marty Tripes wins the Supercross.

Kenney Roberts becomes first American to win a 500cc GP World Championship.

Other Issues
Studies report the biggest problem facing motorcycles is noise.

The US Treasury, in response to Harley’s dumping complaint finds Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha guilty of dumping. Suzuki is exempted by findings.

NYC passes bill banning motorcycles from the city streets. The bill is not enforced.

Minnesota adopts helmet law that precludes anyone not wearing a helmet from suing for head injuries that could have been prevented by wearing one.

Laverda shows a longitudinally V-6 1000cc power motorcycle that it claims produces 140 HP.

KTM will no longer be sold in the US under the Penton name.

Can-Am announces it will no longer build or sell street bikes due to cost of certification.

Joan Claybrook is appointed Administrator of the NHTSA, and now the fun really begins!

Motorcycling in America – 1977

Life In America
1977  – The average income is $15,000/year, inflation is coming under control. The Department of Energy is created in the wake of the fuel crisis. Gary Gilmore becomes the first prisoner to be executed since capital punishment was halted in 1972. The first Apple computers go on sale. On TV, if you’re a motorcyclist, CHiPs, is probably on your list of favorites. Roots becomes the top mini-series of all time. Elvis has not only left the room, but the world, and a guy named Jimmy Buffet has introduced us to Margaritaville. At the movies, John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever is about to launch us into a new era of music and apparel. A gallon of gas is $.65 and the new Sportster will cost you $3,231.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1977:
Kawasaki with its late ’76 introduction of the KZ900 LTD, and Harley-Davidson’s ’77 FXS Low-Rider, along with Honda’s humble CM185T have launched a new style of motorcycle, the cruiser, that will become the most popular motorcycle style in America for years to come.

European Brands
BMW: R100S. Bultaco: Alpina 250 & 350, Pursang 370. Ducati: 500GTL Husqvarna: 360WR Burleson Replica. Laverda: Jota1000 Maico: Cross Country 400WR. Moto-Morini 3 ½. Ossa: Super Pioneer250

Asian Brands
Honda: CB400F, CB750F, CB750A, GL1000 Goldwing, CB400A, CB400TI, CB400TZ, CB550F-77, XL100, XL125, XL175, CM185T. Kawasaki: KZ650, Z1-R. Suzuki: GS750, RM125B, TS250, GS400, RM80, GS550, RM250. Yamaha: XT500, DT250, DT400, 400D, SX7502D, YZ80, XS400, IT175D, DT125B, SX500E

American Brands
Can-AM: TNT 175, Qualifier 175, MX-3. Harley-Davidson: MX250, Sportster XL1000, XLCR1000.

Jay Springsteen beats out Gary Scott for GNC 310 to 280.

AMA considers splitting GNC into roadracing and flat track segments.

Yamaha announces that Steve Baker will join their international roadrace GP team in Europe. Pat Hennen is already competing with Suzuki on the international circuit.

Dick Burleson wins AMA National Enduro series on a Husqvarna.

Honda re-enters US roadracing with MT125R available to consumers.

Daytona Novice event won by future world racing star Eddie Lawson.

MV Agusta announces their withdraw from racing after75 world titles and 3028 victories.

Other Issues
Harley-Davidson petitions the feds to determine if the Japanese OEs are guilty of dumping, and if so is requesting redress.

Kawasaki 650 becomes the country’s hottest selling new motorcycle, beating the previous record-holder the 1970 CB750 by over 6,000 units.

Suzuki announces it will discontinue sales of two-stroke streetbikes. Sales are down 75%.
Cycle World reduces cover price from $1.00 to $.75.

Joe Parkhurst, founder and former publisher of Cycle World appears in a Honda ad for the CB750A.
Jay Springsteen accidentally shoots himself in the leg.

EPA announces motorcycle emissions regulations to take effect in January of ’78 and ’80.

Motorcycling in America – 1976

Life In America
1976  –Its the year of the Bi-Centennial. Family income continues to rise, but is eroded by ongoing inflation. Jimmy Carter is elected president. Microsoft and Apple are formed. The US Naval Academy accepts its first female midshipmen (err…women). Musically the nation’s rocking to The Eagle’s Hotel California, their album Greatest Hits, becomes the number one seller. AC/DC serenades us with Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. On TV it’s Laverne & Shirley, The Gong Show and Charlie’s Angels. At the movies we’re inspired by Rocky and infatuated with Taxi Driver…”You lookin’ at me?” Gas is now $.59 a gallon, cars are pretty boring and Suzuki’s new motocrosser, the RM250 will set you back $1410.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1976:
Off-road and motocross motorcycles have been the traditional turf of European OE’s Their products are being displaced increasingly by Japanese competitors. Every Japanese OE now has several highly competitive machines for sale.

European Brands
Bultaco: Sherpa T350, 125 Pursang. Hercules: Wankel 2000. Husqvarna: 250WR, 360 Automatic. KTM 250M/C-5. Maico: 250WR Cross Country. Montesa: Cota 348.

Asian Brands
Hodaka: 250ED (Thunderdog). Honda: CR125M2, CR250, CB400F, MR250, XL250, CB750F, CB750A. Kawasaki: KH400, KZ400, KZ750 Twin, DX250, KZ1000, KD125. Suzuki: RM100MX, GT500A, RM250, RM125A, GT380, PE250. Yamaha: RD400C, YZ250, XS500C, XS750D, IT400C.

American Brands
Harley-Davidson: RR250.

ISDT at Isle Of Man. W. Germany breaks Czech stranglehold on series to finish in first place. USA finishes sixth.

Trans-AMA series won by DeCoster, but Americans take seven of top ten places. First American is Tony DiStefano in third.

Roberts lights a fire in AMA dirt track series with TZ750 based bike run at Indy Mile.

Daytona, Steve McLaughlin wins first Superbike race, a 50-miler on a BMW. Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto wins 200 miler aboard a Yamaha.

Trans-Atlantic series is again won by Brits 412 to 384, but America’s Steve Baker puts on a stunning performance.

Jim Weinert, Kawasaki, wins Superbowl of Motocross Series.

Other Issues
Motorcycle sales are down. Hardest hit are the Euro brands, only Hodaka and Suzuki suffer decline on Japanese side.

NVT in trouble, Wolverton factory goes into receivership. US operations lay off most staff.

Albert B Kelley, VP Insurance Institute for Highway Safety proposes nation-wide ban on motorcycles, American Automobile Medicine VP agrees.

AMA officially becomes the American Motorcyclist Association, as opposed to the American Motorcycle Association.

“Willie G.” is introduced to American motorcyclists for the first time as designer of the XLCR.
Cycle World initiates Ten Best Awards.

Color pictures start to appear in the editorial sections. Everyone seems to have long curly hair.

It appears that trials will not be the salvation of the off-road side of the business as inventories of these bikes stack up in dealerships across the nation.

Motorcycling in America – 1975

Life In America
1975 – While the average family income has risen, now $14,100, the rate of inflation is still eroding real buying power. The war in Vietnam comes to an official close as the embassy in Saigon falls. Heiress Patty Hearst is captured. The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks in a storm on Lake Superior, and Jehovah’s Witnesses sell their homes and worldly goods in anticipation of the end of the world. We begin our long relationship with John Travolta when he appears in the sitcom, Welcome Back Kotter. Future murder suspect Robert Blake debuts along with his talking cockatoo, Fred, in Baretta. At the movies One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Jaws keep us entertained.  Bruce Springsteen has a big hit with Born to Run. A new car is $4,250. A gallon of gas $.44 and the hot new CCM motocrosser you lust after will set you back $2,600.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1975:
Trials and trials bikes are the rage. Cycle World even runs a monthly series on how to do it. Many industry execs think that trials will be the salvation of the off-road industry as off-road access is further constricted.

European Brands
Husqvarna 460WR, 360CR. Maico 250GP. BMW R75/6, R90/6. Bultaco 250 Pursang, 360 Frontera, Alpina 350, Astro 360. MZ TS250 ISDT. CZ250. Montesa 250 V75 MX, 250 Enduro. CCM 500 MX. Ducati 860. Triumph T160 Trident. Ossa 250 Super Pioneer. Norton 850 Interstate.

Asian Brands
Suzuki RE5, RM125, GT185M, RM370. Kawasaki Z1B, KT250, Mach IV H2 750, KX250A. Yamaha MX175B, DTB400, MX 400B Monocross, TY 175, XS500, YZC125 MX, TI500C. Honda GL1000, TL250 Trials, 500T, CB550 Super Sport, CR250M1, CB750 Super Sport, MR175. Rokon 340 MX II.

American Brands
Can-AM 125MXZ. Harley-Davidson SX250.

ISDT held in Italy, Czechs once again reign supreme. USA takes fourth overall. Six Americans win Gold.

Speedway racing at Costa Mesa is declared the most popular form of racing with 9,000 fans attending weekly. Steve Bast wins the US National; TV’s Billy Gray takes 14th.

Trans-AMA series is once again won by the Euros. Roger DeCoster takes first; first American is fourth place finisher, Jim Pomeroy.

Gene Romero wins the 200-miler at Daytona.

After five-years Americans, led by Kenny Roberts, win the Transatlantic Trophy Race series.

Other Issues
Motorcycle deaths increase by 16% while auto deaths decline by 19%.

Increase of sales of new motorcycles expected to drop to 5 – 8% as industry matures. Japan exports over 3-million motorcycles to US.

Goodyear introduces Glowall tires. Glass beads in sidewalls reflect light.

Yamaha introduces liquid cooling on their works MX machines – a first for motocross bikes.

Remote reservoir shocks are being seen on production off-road bikes.

You can buy a set of Lester cast alloy wheels for $297.

First cigarette advertising appears.