Up until the late 1960's, motorcycles came in three basic formats:
- Working Bikes: generally below 250cc, low powered for the average working gentleman to get to work
- General Bikes: generally below 500cc/650cc, as working bikes but as they had higher power could also be used for fun at weekends
- Touring Bikes: anything above that size. Built mainly for touring
The first company to crack this mold was arguably Vincent Motorcycles. Designed as a gentleman's touring bike, their models turn of speed was astounding for days when motorways and freeways didn't exist. However, it's handling was basic, and it's short comings became clear when faced by a motorway - girder forks!
Then in the 1960's, two bikes were developed which could be both daily commute as well as weekend racer - these were the first true Superbikes. The first was the BSA Rocket 3, which was closely followed and overshadowed by the Honda CB750K.
The breed develops today further through the category of Superbike racing that employs modified production motorcycles, in the same manner that Touring car racing employs production cars. Many countries such as the USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada operate national superbike championships, and a World Superbike championship has run since 1988.
Superbike motorcycles today are generally 1000cc four-stroke machines with either two or four cylinders. 900cc triples are also permitted, but so far only Benelli and Foggy Petronas have fielded them in World Superbike competition, with limited success.
List of Pre-Superbikes
- Vincent Motorcycles Black Shadow and Black Lightening