It would be nearly impossible now...
If you wanted the "fastest" motorcycle made, you'd be buying a different bike every few months.
But for a few years, when I first got home from Viet Nam, that was my goal.
In 1970, that meant buying a Kawasaki triple.
There really wasn't anything faster than those two-stroke Kaws for several years. They were noisy, smoky, inefficient, and evil handling when you tried to persuade them to do anything but go straight.
But they were WICKED fast, and I loved the "light switch" way in which the engines produced power...
Twist the throttle and that Kawasaki would accelerate, sorta, until you got to 4,000 RPM.
At 4K the engine would shriek and all the horsepower it could produce would be transmitted to the rear wheel, causing the front tire to try to reach for the sun.
I loved mine. I now wish I had kept it, 'cause like everything else from "back in the day", decent versions of those bikes are now selling for ten times what they brought when new.
But I didn't keep it.
And the reason I didn't keep it is shown here:
That's a Yamaha "XS1100SF".
And reviews said it was faster than my Kaw.
It also had some things I had come to realize would improve my life on two wheels:
Two disc brakes up front. A disc brake at the rear wheel. Alloy wheels (so I wouldn't have to continually polish individual spokes.)
And it was shaft driven... no chain.
If you don't remember why "no chain" is important on a bike you intend to use to cover MANY miles with, you need to refresh your memory here.
The switch from the 750 Kaw to the big Yamaha was a learning experience.
The 1100 WAS fast.
But it was also quiet. It didn't smoke like a mosquito sprayer. The engine produced usable power at almost any RPM, so I didn't constantly have to downshift to pass. It didn't vibrate.
I bought a "Windjammer" full-fairing and a backrest/luggage rack for it, and proceeded to ride the thing 19,000 miles in three years.
But I missed the quirkiness of the two-stroke.
For years I had heard others sing the praises of the little Yamaha RD350/400.
Reviews said they had many of the characteristics I loved in my Kawasakis, but also handled well in the twisties.
So I added another bike to my stable. It looked like this:
And I was disappointed in it.
Yeah, it handled well.
But it didn't have the characteristics I loved about the "evil" Kawasakis.
I lent it to a buddy, who promptly seized the engine.
He then started to do the right thing and dismantled the engine, but then moved away and left me with a "basket case".
Some friend, huh?
I gave the pile of parts to another friend.
Sometime around 1984 Spring came, and I had no desire to ride.
That was weird because up to that time, every year the temperature would rise above 40 degrees, I'd bundle up and get on two wheels (and be miserable due to lack of proper cold-weather gear).
I sold the 1100.
And went without a motorcycle for over twenty years.
And then, for some reason, Spring came and I wanted to ride.
Bikes today are faster. Actually, "faster" doesn't begin to describe the power of today's motorcycles...
They truly are "stupid fast".
And I have no desire to scare myself anymore.
I want to be comfortable. I want to get great fuel mileage. I want my wife to ride along and enjoy the experience as much as I do.
So that brings us to why I've bought six very different motorcycles in three years.
More on all this later.