Honda Super Cub

With modern technology in a classic design and high performance in a commercial package, the Honda Super Cub has it all. In fact, out of all the other motorcycles, superbikes, and scooters in the history of the world, none has been produced as much as the Cub.

But what makes the Honda Super Cub the most popular motor vehicle ever produced? Climb onto the pillion and I’ll show you what I mean!

History

The Super Cub first entered production in 1958, two years after two of Honda’s founders returned from a visit to Germany with the knowledge that they either needed to find a way to compete with the widespread popularity of lightweight mopeds or to let their business fall by the wayside.

In the end, Honda chose not only to compete, but to set the industry standard for decades to come by mass-producing affordable, lightweight chassis with a single-cylinder, bullet-proof engine in a sleek design.

Tech Specific to the Motorcycle

Nowadays, the Super Cub is more than just a moped-inspired motorcycle.

The 2019 Honda Super Cub C125 comes with: a 124.9cc air-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke engine; a fully transistorized ignition; a 9.3:1 compression ratio; and a SOHC valve train with two valves per cylinder.

All of these specifications serve to elevate the Super Cub from a timeless classic to a high-performance motor vehicle.

Timeline of Versions with Changes and Pictures

Given a 61-year production line, the designers at Honda have had plenty of time to improve upon their original design.

  • Super Cub C100 (1958-1965)

The 1958 Super Cub initially found a very limited market, due to a recession in Japan at the time of production as well as consumer complaints regarding slipping clutches.

  • Super Cub C50 (1966-1977)

The introduction of the OHC engine enabled Honda to better design the lighting systems of their motor vehicles. The C50 saw improved headlights, taillights, and flashers.

  • Super Cub C50 (1978-1982)

In 1978, the C50 model received design alterations that resulted in a quieter exhaust and improved rev torque for an even safer ride.

  • Super Cub 50 Super Custom (1983-1990)

This version of the Super Cub’s primary difference from previous versions was a new engine with improved fuel economy.

  • Super Cub 50 Standard (1991-2006)

Aside from a few minor design changes, the 50 Standard most notably differentiated itself from the 50 Super Custom with the addition of a mechanical fuel gauge.

  • Super Cub 50 Standard (2007-2016)

This version of the 50 Standard model saw few changes but significantly increased safety performance by decreasing the probability of punctures.

  • Super Cub 50 (2017-2018)

This model sought to revert to the original C100 style by removing all of the minor changes that accrued throughout the decades. The 2017 model also included LED lights for the first time. 

  • Super Cub C125 (2019-)

The newest addition to the Super Cub family, discussed in greater detail above, maintained the classic design of the C100.

The Cub in the Spotlight

As recently as 2017, news outlets were heralding Honda’s production of its 100-millionth Super Cub motorcycle, further cementing the design’s rank as the most-produced motor vehicle of all time.

Celebrity Endorsements of the Super Cub

While Honda’s Super Cub hasn’t appeared in any major video games or been endorsed by any prominent American celebrities, it has achieved widespread critical acclaim the rest of the world over, particularly in Japan.

Super Clubs for the Super Cub

With more than one hundred million of these models having been produced, you would be hard pressed to not be able to find any social groups surrounding it. Despite its lower popularity in the US, there are even Facebook groups explicitly dedicated to American owners of the Super Cub.

The Honda Super Cub – A Timeless Classic

After nearly a dozen major model changes, one hundred million models produced, and more than six decades of history, the design and style of the Super Cub C100 lives on, manifest in the chassis of every Super Cub that has ever followed. You should expect nothing less of such a timeless classic!

Honda Rune

Have you ever wondered what Japanese styling could do to an American style superbike? The answer is the Honda Valkyrie Rune.

This is one of those superbikes that only had a short run. Honda created and manufactured this motorcycle to appeal to the American muscle motorcycle market. They did their job well, infusing it with enough Japanese style to make anyone look twice and wonder if they just saw a superhero ride by.

Is That a Real Motorcycle?

This motorcycle is that stunning and unique. It seems so much like a movie prop that owners report people asking them on the street if it’s real. Some people call it ugly. Others call it breathtaking. Everyone stops to have a look. 

Though it’s got a Japanese design, the Honda Valkyrie Rune was made in the United States. Specifically in Maryville, Ohio. This limited edition was released in 2003 and was only produced for the single production year, 2004. 

Lacquered all in black and chrome, it looks more like a fully custom motorcycle than a production line bike. How has this motorcycle never had a starring role in a film? It’s a shame. Hollywood, if you’re listening you need to make a film starring this motorcycle. 

Low-slung Cruiser

Unlike a lot of Japanese bikes that sit up high, this monster bike is slung down low to the ground. It’s a smoother ride than most other low bikes, thanks in large part to the largest brake discs of any Honda superbike, clocking in at 330mm in front and 336mm in the back. 

The weight of this motorcycle makes it way more substantial than the little scooters running around out there. A massive 400kg monster, this bike feels like a solid piece when riding it. It’s made for high speeds, which makes handling it at in-town speeds tougher. It’s worth it for the looks and comments that passers-by call out along the route. 

This thing was made for being looked at.

Production of the Rune

With only a year and a half of production, this is among the coolest but hardest to find motorcycles out there. 

The bike boasts a 1832cc, six cylinder motor that’s horizontally mounted. It’s part of the Valkyrie line of motorcycles by Honda, which were in production from 1996-2003 and then restarted in 2018.

Originally inspired by the 1995 Tokyo motorcycle show, the creators at Honda set out to take design and muscle to the next level, creating a truly unique bike that would be unlike anything they’d ever built. More power, exploding onto the highway, and pushing past old manufacturing limitations that they knew they could move beyond. It was that quest for power that in part took so long to get from the spark of genius to the finished product. 

Production of the Rune affected other American made Honda motorcycles, like the Gold Wing, which now boasts the same 1832cc engine as the Rune. The designers of this motorcycle intentionally sought to boost the power of their motorcycles across the board through the hefting of the Rune, and it worked. 

Cool for a price

Originally selling for a cool thirty thousand dollars, the Honda Rune has only gone up in value since it was released. Repair costs are substantial due to its low production time. The original production cost was estimated to be more than three times the selling price of the motorcycle when it was new, meaning Honda always intended to make their money back on parts and in free marketing.

The concept for the design was called “neo-retro” by the marketing people at Honda, and that honestly pretty well captures it. 

This motorcycle was meant to inspire consumers, and it’s hard not to feel inspired by it.

Honda CB750

One of the first superbikes, the Honda CB750 has been blowing its competition out of the water since it first hit the asphalt in 1969. Let’s take a look at its history and see what’s in the engine that makes this superbike tick.

Civil Unrest

The world was in turmoil in 1969, with Martin Luther King Jr. and Kennedy being assassinated, protests roaring over military involvement in Vietnam, and crime in city streets was at an all-time high. The CB750, a revolution in the world of motorcycling, became a natural fit.

The Revs in the Revolution

The Honda CB750 captures all of this unrest and pumped it into a 736cc SOHC, air-cooled, straight four engine with 68 horsepower at 8500 revolutions per minute and a top speed of 125 miles per hour. In 1969, this superbike was one of the fastest motorcycles on the market.

Timeline of Versions with Changes and Pictures

Honda CB750

This revolutionary sports bike underwent revolutions in design almost every year it was in production, but only five major models were ever produced.

  • CB750 and CB750K series (1969-1978)

The original CB750 and all versions of the CB750K0 series from the CB750K to the CB750K8 had the original SOHC engine, but the model was modernized in style beginning with the 1975 production line. Production numbers were highest for the CB750K1.

  • CB750A “Hondamatic” (1976-1978)

The CB750A was the first in this line to feature an automatic transmission system. Technically the transmission was a 2-speed automatic and wasn’t fully automated, unlike the line of cars under the same name that would come later.

  • CB750K, CB750F, and CB750C (1979-1997)

Beginning in 1979, the SOHC engine was replaced with the newer, more efficient DOHC engine. Production for each of the nearly dozen versions varied year to year with the last version continuing until being replaced by the Nighthawk 750.

  • CB750SC Nighthawk / Nighthawk 750 (1982-2003)

Production of the Nighthawk 750 was on and off throughout this timeframe. While in production, the Nighthawk sported a 4-stroke engine, more effective braking systems, and a 5-speed transmission.

  • CB750 Special Edition (2007)

Honda revived the earlier designs of the CB750 in 2007 to be released exclusively in Japan. The CB750 Special Edition was essentially identical to earlier version in an effort to market nostalgia for the trend-setting 1969 CB750 model.

The CB750 in the News

Honda just celebrated the 50th anniversary of its inline-fours, adding to the already legendary legacy of the chain of production models pioneering a revolution in motorcycling design set into motion by the CB750. 

Celebrity Endorsements

Ryan Renolds famously stated that he used to cruise on a cherished CB750 when he was 15. Given his age, the model he used most likely would have been a Nighthawk.

Social Groups

If you’re looking for places with like-minded people to talk to about your fascination with the CB750, then Facebook is a great place to start. If that doesn’t satisfy your need for cruising chatter, check out the online forums.

The CB750 – a Revolution in Motorcycling

Despite its removal from production, the CB750 lives on in the designs of countless superbikes, motorcycles, and scooters the world over. If the victor writes the history books, then we have to admit that the CB750 was motorcycling history’s victor.

Kawasaki Z1

The first of its kind, the Kawasaki Z1 was born to be a legendary motorcycle. Despite production only lasting a total of just about three years before being replaced by other models, Kawasaki managed to produce an estimated 85,000 Kawasaki Z1 models.

The First of its Kind

The Kawasaki Z1 first entered production in 1973. Production lasted until 1975, at which time manufacturers switched out production of the Z1 for other models such as the Kawasaki KZ900.

Even though the production was so incredibly short, those three years were all the time that the Z1 needed to carve its name into the asphalt of history.

Because of its unique, trailblazing design that incorporated four-cylinder and four-stroke technology, the Kawasaki Z1 had a weighty feel and a growling power in its chassis that instantly became massively popular with bikers of all varieties.

A Metal Giant

Kawasaki Z1

Comparatively simple in relation to later versions based on the same design principles, the Kawasaki Z1 nonetheless had bleeding-edge technological specifications.

The engine was an enormous 903cc in-line, four-cylinder engine equipped with a modernized air-cooling system. Operating at factory settings, the engine was capable of putting out 82 horsepower at 8,500 rpm, and that was before any super bikers made their own modifications.

Naturally, such a high-volume and high-power engine made the Kawasaki Z1 anything but lightweight. Compared to the 1962 Honda CA100 Super Cub, heralded for its lightweight design, the Kawasaki Z1 was a giant.

You could stack three CA100s on top of one another and still not come close to the 542lb heap of metal that is the Z1.

A Solitary Timeline

Due in part to its incredibly short production history before being replaced by other members of the Kawasaki Z-series, the Z1 only managed to go through two iterations before being pulled from the production: the Z1 and the Z1-B.

  • Kawasaki Z1 (1973-1975)

The original design specifications and aesthetic of the Z1 remained almost completely unchanged throughout the limited time that it was in production. Sporting a 903cc engine with its first-in-the-world design and a weight of more than 500 pounds, this motorcycle was a monster.

  • Kawasaki Z1-B (1975)

In 1975, the Kawasaki Z1 was improved to enable increased performance via improved power output, a more responsive suspension, and a more impact-resistant frame to support the weight of this enormous superbike.

The Z1 in the News

The high-performance capabilities of this bike compared to other superbikes, motorcycles, and scooters of its time earned it the award of “Machine of the Year” by The Motorcycle News every year that it was in production.

Nowadays, however, there is little news pertaining to the Z1, other than in legacy. As recently as 2018, Kawasaki began production of two Z-series motorcycles based on the designs of the Z1: the Z125 and the Z400.

Famous Media

While not many celebrities have expressed their love for the Kawasaki Z1, the American Motorcycle Association certainly has. In the Classic Bikes section of its Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the AMA has a 1973 Kawasaki Z1.

Social Groups

Despite only a three-year production window, the Kawasaki Z1 has managed to captivate tens of thousands of individuals across the world. One great place to talk about it in the Kawasaki Z1 Owners Facebook group, which has more than 3,000 members.

The Kawasaki Z1 – a Beast of a Machine

If the trailblazing design specifications, high-performance structure, and enormous engine volume aren’t enough to carve this bike’s place in the asphalt of history, then its monstrous metal weight certainly is, both figuratively and literally.

Kawasaki Triple

Both deadly and liberating, the Kawasaki Triple was as loved by experienced riders as it was feared by newcomers for the same single reason: the Kawasaki Triples had a never-before-seen power-to-weight ratio capable of extreme acceleration at the cost of difficult handling.

The History of the “Widowmaker”

Motorcycle Engine

The first Kawasaki Triple entered production in 1968 with the Mach III H1 500, production of which lasted until 1976. The S2 Mach II 350 came out shortly after in 1971, followed by the smaller S1 Mach I 250 in 1972.

Kawasaki Triples were also referred to as Widowmakers, a pejorative nickname earned because of the severe handling difficulties, tendency for rapid acceleration to cause the front wheel to lift off the ground, and of course the high likelihood of death or injury for inexperienced riders.

The Design Specs

Specifications differed widely from model to model, but the first Kawasaki Triple, the Mach III H1 500, initially saw an inline-triple 498.75cc engine equipped with three Mikuni 28mm carburetors.

The general design threw fuel economy to the wind and trampled safety on its way out the door of the showroom. Just listen to the 750’s roar:

Timeline of Versions with Changes and Pictures

The phrase “Kawasaki Triple” refers more so to the engine design than the model itself, meaning that there are quite a few Kawasaki Triples out there. However, the most influential of all time were the Mach-series models.

  • H1 500 Mach III (1968-1976)

The original 1968 Mach III weighed in at about 384 pounds dry and 414 pounds wet. With the Mach III’s 60 horsepower at between 7,500 and 8,000 rpm, that brings the total power-to-weight ratio to a whopping 0.145 horsepower per pound, making it instantly popular among auto enthusiasts.

  • S2 350 Mach II (1971-1974)

The second model in the series boasted three-cylinder, two-stroke engine with a much smaller 346cc engine.

  • S1 250 Mach I (1972-1975)

The smallest model in the line-up by far is the Mach 1. Designed to cut down one excess weight and shed bulk, the Mach 1 only had an engine displacement of 250cc and weighed about 350 pounds.

  • H2 750 Mach IV (1972-1975)

The Mach IV was the pinnacle of power for the Widowmakers. It increased the engine displacement to 748cc, slightly raised the compression ratio, and increased the torque by almost 50%.

  • S3 400 (1974-1975)

The last model produced before the line was discontinued in ‘75 was the S3 400, essentially the same as the S2 except for the increased engine displacement and power.

The Widowmaker in the News

On July 21st, 2019, the Kawasaki Triple was featured in HotCars’s list of “Ten Great Motorcycles which Deserve to be Back on the Market.”

But other than that, there’s not much going on for the Widowmaker today. 44 years after production was discontinued, the motorcycle news industry has, with a few minor exceptions, moved on to covering more recent developments.

Celebrity Endorsements

Frankly, you’re not likely to find any celebrities endorsing a motorcycle as deadly, both for its rider and the environment, as a Kawasaki Triple. That said, there are still collectors and museums offering their support to the influential design.

Social Groups

As with all classic motorcycles, superbikes, and scooters, there are plenty of people on social media and online forums with whom you can chat about your love for the Kawasaki Triple. This Facebook group, for instance, has more than 9,000 members.

The Kawasaki Triple – The Widowmaker

Despite its checkered past and its deadly nature, nobody can deny the sheer power of the Widowmaker. Whether this beast of a machine lives on a classic because of its danger to its rider or its power-to-weight ratio, who knows? There’s only one way to find out.

BSA Gold Star Clubman

When it comes to the Gold Star, “BSA” definitely doesn’t stand for “Boy Scouts of America.” This powerhouse of a machine produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company was specifically designed to bring power to the road and victory to the tracks.

History

In 1937, the inspiration for the BSA Gold Star came from watching pro-racer Wal Handley earn one of the gold star pins that officials awarded to racers who managed to hit a 100-mile-per-hour lap around the Brooklands racetrack.

The first model was released for purchase a year later. Its power, maneuverability, and reputation as one of the fastest motorcycles, superbikes, or scooters of the ‘50s made it an instant favorite among racers and collectors alike. From 1949 to 1946, the Gold Star won almost every Clubmans TT race.

The Design Specs

The 1938 model held a modest assortment of alloy in the frame, engine, and gearbox; a 496cc engine; and absolutely no possibility for sidecar attachments. This is the model that was produced up until 1948, at which time it was altered to allow for an almost limitless assortment of attachments.

Timeline of Versions with Changes and Pictures

By the time 1963 rolled around, the BSA Gold Star had gone through 14 iterations. Unfortunately, BSA determined the Gold Star wasn’t suitable for unit construction and canceled production, moving forward instead with the BSA C15.

  • BSA Gold Star (1938-1947)

The original model was inspired by and built for racing, where it saw wide use and was considered a prime competitor by other manufacturers.

  • BSA Gold Star YB32 and BSA Gold Star YB34 (1948)

These models were modified to allow for more customizability of the Gold Star, since a lack thereof was considered a major drawback of the line prior to 1948.

  • BSA Gold Star ZB32 and BSA Gold Star ZB34 (1949-1952)

These were, to some extent, considered continuations of the YB32 and YB34 models. However, these models had major design changes to main bearing systems, frames, and front brakes.

  • BSA Gold Star BB34 and BSA Gold Star BB32 (1953)

These models saw the introduction of a swingarm duplex frame and a more efficient gearbox, as well as previous versions of the frame offered as an optional alteration.

  • BSA Gold Star CB34 and BSA Gold Star CB32 (1954)

During production of these models, BSA introduced a new engine with better finning and improvements to the crankshaft, connecting rod, valve gear, and pretty much everything else.

  • BSA Gold Star DB32 and BSA Gold Star DB34 (1955)

This engine year, BSA improved many parts of the engine, adding additional functionalities for racers who specifically mentioned that the bike’s purpose would be to race.

  • Gold Star Daytona (1954-1957)

The Daytona was designed to compete in the Daytona 200 rather than the same Clubmans TT circuits every year. Unfortunately, this ultimately proved unsuccessful.

  • BSA Gold Star DBD34 (1956 – 1963)

The DBD34’s signature additions included clip-on handlebars, a redesigned head, and bell-mouth Amal carburetor.

  • Gold Star Catalina (1959-1963)

This design was based on Chuck Minert’s customizations to his Gold Star, which he used to win the Catalina Grand Prix in 1956.

The Gold Star in the News

There hasn’t been much information regarding the Gold Star as of late, since it has long been removed from the world of racing, but many racers still consider it a classic.

Celebrities and Famous Media

Due to BSA’s refusal to enable the Gold Star line for unit production, it simply wasn’t practical for anybody other than professional racers to buy and own a Gold Star.

Social Groups

Here is a great Facebook group dedicated to the BSA Gold Star with about 2,000 members.

BSA Gold Star – A Racing Classic

BSA Gold Star Clubman

Though it made its name as a custom-built line specifically designed for dominating the Clubman TT racing circuit, the Gold Star now dominates the world of class motorcycles.

Moto Guzzi Le Mans

If you do a Google search for “Moto Guzzi Le Mans,” chances are the first couple pages of results will be people desperately trying to buy one for themselves. That’s just how popular the LeMans really is!

A History of Endurance

Moto Guzzi, an Italian motorcycle company, first produced the Le Mans in 1976, giving it the name of the infamous 24-hour motorcycle race that has taken place annually since 1923.

Built with the goal in mind of outclassing other superbikes of the time, the LeMans initially had a rocky start due to its dangerously poor handling at low speeds. However, if you managed to live long enough to get it up to speed, the LeMans became an agile force to be reckoned with.

Designed to Last

Moto Guzzi Le Mans Engine

The Le Mans line proceeded the 750 S3 and bore many similarities to earlier models. A few of the key differences, however, included the revamping of the V7 Sport engine, which increased horsepower from 53 to 71, bringing the new top speed to 130 miles per hour.

A Uniform Timeline

About thirteen generations of the LeMans entered the market between 1976 and 2005, with the core series ceasing production in 1993.

  • 850 Le Mans (1976-1978)

The original model came with a modified V7 Sport engine with an 844cc displacement, parallel carburetors, and a whopping 81 horsepower at 7,600 rpm.

  • 850 Le Mans Mark II (1978-1982)

The Mark II underwent severe design changes including everything from the headlights to the fenders, many of which were purely cosmetic; however, this generation managed to keep true to the general design of the model.

  • 850 Le Mans Mark III (1983)

Once again, the designers at Moto Guzzi reworked the cosmetics of the Le Mans, this time producing the Mark III, which had different seating, a subtly altered frame, and a new signature tachometer.

  • Le Mans 1000 (1984-1993)

The LeMans 1000 was the first time the Le Mans experienced any significant structural design changes, although the frame itself was not altered, despite the introduction of a smaller front wheel.

  • Le Mans 1000 SE (1986-1988)

The special edition of the Le Mans entered production in 1986. It had almost the exact same specifications as the Le Mans 1000 but with signature cosmetic features and somewhat rearranged gearing.

  • Le Mans 1000CI (1988-1993)

The final generation motorcycle of the core lineup of the Le Mans series received upgrades and updates to modernize the technological specifications of the Le Mans. Other than that and the cosmetics, this series almost never really changed.

The Le Mans in the News

Back in 1977, professional racer Roy Armstrong rode a Le Mans to victory in the Avon Production Machine championship. Since then, most of the news for the Le Mans has been in the form of what new versions will be based on it in the future, if any.

A Hollywood Icon

The 850 Le Mans wasn’t just famous for its street capabilities; its acting was famous too! Between the years 1978-1999, the 850 Le Mans appeared in a combined total of six films and TV series.

Social Groups

If you’re looking to talk to others about your fascination with the Le Mans series, there are plenty of places online to do that. One of the best locations is this Facebook group with almost 2,000 members.

The Moto Guzzi Le Mans – an Unchanging Classic

Not even the designers at Moto Guzzi were able to alter this timeless classic’s trademarked appearance, and they sure won’t be able to alter its membership among the classics. Between all of the Le Mans series’s hollywood credits, horsepower, and performance, this superbike is certain to live on.

Norton Commando

Named for combat, the silhouette of this road-roaring machine could easily be confused with a weapon of war. These superbikes were so well-suited for speed that the racing community coined the phrase “unapproachable Norton” specifically to describe Commando motorcycles.

History of Power

In an attempt to better compete in the racing industry, Norton hired an engineer from the car-manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce and developed a totally unique, rubber-mounted engine frame capable of significantly reducing the vibration of the frame and increasing handling.

This first model became available to the public in 1969, when it was marketed as a racing bike. The line quickly took off and now there are five major generations for the history books.

Designed to Dominate the Road

Norton Commando Engine

The original Norton Commando 750 sported a 745cc displacement engine with a 9.0:1 compression ratio and 58 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. The four-speed chain suspension and telescopic forks on the chassis helped support this monster at speeds of 115 miles per hour. 

Timeline of Versions with Changes

Considering the Commando’s 40-year-long history of conquering the roads, it’s no wonder that it’s gone through five different generations.

  • Norton Commando 750 (1969-1972)

The engine for the first three generations of Commandos was almost identical in the design of its general mechanical parts. It sported an air-cooled, four-stroke, parallel twin-cylinder design with a push rod and two valves per cylinder.

  • Norton Commando 750 Interstate (1972-1975)

For the 750 Interstate, Norton added a wet multi-plate clutch, replaced the front drum brake with a single disc, and made a few other minor changes to the design to improve overall comfort and handling.

  • Norton Commando 850 Interstate MK3 (1975-1978)

This generation saw the introduction of an electric starter to the Commando series as well as further improvements to the braking system and an increased displacement size of 829cc.

  • Norton 952 Commando (2005-present)

In 2005, the engine displacement was further increased from 829cc to 952cc and the compression ratio was brought up from 9.0:1 to 10.1:1. Horsepower also increased significantly to 80KW, and designers managed to set the standard torque firmly at 70.1 pounds per foot.

  • Norton Commando 961 SS (year-year)

The 2006 model of the Norton Commando 961 SS included a newly designed air-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder engine with push-rod valve actuation and a displacement value of 961cc.

The Commando in the News

The biggest story in the news regarding Norton Commandos is the fact that, as of 2013, Norton has finally begun shipping models to the United States after about 40 years of not even considering doing so. Norton has claimed that the manufacturers are still struggling to meet demand and satisfy the massive waitlists for new models.

Commandeering the Silver Screen

The various generations of the Commando model have appeared in countless films and TV series since first being made available for purchase in 1969.

Many celebrities and actors famously rode on the back of one of Norton’s Commando as a theatrical symbol of power, freedom, and rebellion over the past several decades.

The Commando’s Squads

If you’re looking to meet up and chat with like-minded people about your affinity for Norton’s motorcycles, particularly its Commando series, consider joining this Facebook group where you can associate with thousands of other auto-enthusiasts.

Norton Commando – One Mighty Machine

Over the past nearly four decades, the Norton Commando has done more than idle into the annals of history. It has roared its way down the asphalt and speed directly into the halls of fame for classic superbikes, motorcycles, and scooters.

Ducati 900SS

The Ducati 900SS was one of the only non-Japanese supersports capable of rising to popularity and clinching Ducati’s grip on a multi-million dollar market cap. Faced with considerable pressure by Japanese competition, the 900SS was Ducati’s only real hope at breaking through to the market.

History of the Underdog

In the beginning, Ducati was the underdog. Compared to the massive market capitalization of the supersport wing of the motorcycle industry by Japanese manufacturers and designers, there was almost no way for Ducati to win over a large enough share of consumers to succeed.

At least, this was the case until the 900SS hit the market in 1975, becoming an instant success.

The Design of a Newcomer

The 1976 Ducati 900SS sported an air-cooled, bi-valved four-stroke, 90-degree, desmodromic, V-twin engine. The power and handling capabilities of this superbike enabled riders to enjoy a pristine sense of speed and control while behind the handlebars of this newcomer.

Timeline of Versions with Changes and Pictures

Since it first entered production in 1975, the Ducati 900SS has undergone countless changes with the number of unofficial generations being around 18, although many of them were meant to be simply updated versions of the previous calendar year generations.

  • Ducati 900SS (1975-1976)

The original 900SS was designed for speed. In order to upseat the entrenched Japanese designers, Ducati had to prove themselves capable of manufacturing a total powerhouse; and that’s just what they did.

The 1975 Ducati 900SS had an 864cc engine and was capable of 80 horsepower at 7,500 rpm.

  • Ducati 900SS (1978-1979)

Models produced during these two years tend to be held in the highest esteem compared to the entire series. With less horsepower than the original model, it’s a wonder how this generation was capable of increased speeds and taking hair-pin bends with ease.

  • Ducati 900SS (1989-1990)

The 1989 and 1990 production years marked the introduction of Ducati’s six-speed manual transmission system to the 900SS series. Further modifications included changing the engine’s displacement to 904cc and getting horsepower up to 84hp at only 7,000 rpm.

  • Ducati 900SS (2000-2001)

The most recent generation of the Ducati 900SS was last produced in 2001. The most notable differences between this and prior generations were the alterations made to the now 43mm Showa upside-down fork front suspension and Showa adjustable monoshock with progressive linkage back suspension.

The Ducati 900SS in the News

Since it was removed from production in 2001, there has been little buzz surrounding the Ducati 900SS series. However, on July 21, 2019, the website Hotcars.com featured the Ducati 900SS in its list of “Ten Great Motorcycles Which Deserve to Be Back on the Market.”

The Underdog Goes to Hollywood

Ryan Renolds, Kiera Nightly, Keanu Reeves. It seems like every day another celebrity buys another Ducati motorcycle. This is one popular motorcycle manufacturer in Hollywood today.

Social Groups

Given the massive popularity that the 900SS once enjoyed, it’s a shame to see so few social groups still actively enjoying their 900SS superbikes. Fortunately, there are a few Facebook groups like this one that still have over 2,000 members in them.

The Ducati 900SS – History’s Underdog

Ducati Motorbike

Everybody loves a good underdog story, and that’s exactly what the Ducati 900SS brings to the table. Not only has it rightfully earned its place in history, but it did so by upstaging many of the world-renowned superbike manufacturers from Japan in the 1970s, no easy feat.

The Sphero: Teaching Kids STEAM Skills

Human hand and robot's hand hovering around a blue electric ball

Your elementary school student has another science fair, and you dutifully attend expecting the standard baking soda volcanos and diagrams of the solar system that kids in your day made. Instead, you are greeted by what looks like a scene from the future. Robots of all shapes and sizes spin, walk and play music with children under 10 at the controls. As you wonder at the advancement of education, a small robotic ball rolls up to your feet, changes color three times and then rolls away again. That little guy is the Sphero.

What Is Happening in Education?

A lot has changed since the days of collecting leaves and flowers or dropping eggs from balconies. While these age-old lessons in ecology and physics are still essential and taught in schools, the focus of education has shifted to include STEAM skills.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. These are areas that are growing every day as society advances. The skills they embody are the ones that the next generation will use the most.

The Advent of Educational Robotics

With STEAM skills becoming increasingly more in demand, the toy industry began looking towards filling the need for toys that taught those skills. Sphero — originally called Orbitix — began designing their ball-shaped programmable robot to fill that very niche. After a successful campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, they launched their first Sphero app-controlled robotic ball in 2010.

It wasn’t long before other companies followed suit. Today, there are several manufacturers that make robotic toys that teach kids valuable STEAM skills. They include:

  • LEGO
  • Makeblock
  • WowWee
  • Anki
  • Wonder Workshop
  • Ozobot
  • Vortex

Schools and industrious parents are snatching up tools like the Sphero and its competitors. For instance, Trail Ridge Middle School near Sphero’s base in Denver, Colorado was highlighted in a New Yorker article for their use of iPads and Spheros to teach these STEAM skills.

What They Do

The Sphero specifically is a versatile little guy. It’s designed to grow with the student’s understanding of those STEAM skills. From pushing colors to get the Sphero to move, to write a full program for the robot ball using a smartphone or iPad, users can make the Sphero do all kinds of interesting things.

They can do more than just rolling around and changing colors. Kids — or adults learning to code — can program the Sphero to follow a specific path, complete a set of commands and are even able to design their own control app.

Sphero has its very own YouTube channel where you can see everything that’s possible with the versatile device. You can check out a Sphero in action there or in the clip below from the QuadSquad, four kids who review and play with items online.

Special Features of The Sphero

Sphero entered into an agreement with Disney in 2015. From that partnership, Sphero produced several branded programmable robots including its popular BB8 model. Looking like the robot from the second set of Star Wars movies, this cute little guy was fully programmable like all Spheros are.

The Future of Robotic Toys

Development of the Sphero and other toys like it shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, Sphero listed their new incarnation, the Sphero RVR, on Kickstarter in 2018 and earned more than a million dollars towards its launch.

It’s not alone though. A company called Zoetic AI listed its programmable robotic kitty they call Kiki on the popular crowdfunding site. So does SB Components Ltd. Their offering, STEM:BIT is a programmable block kit. Robotiky is another programmable robotic toy for children, and it raised £25,000.

 There’s no doubt that learning STEAM skills is important to the future of kids. These types of programmable robotic toys make teaching children these skills simple and fun. This makes them a vital product on the marketplace that the world is likely to see more of in the future.