Blazing the trail of the Superbike in 1968, the 4-cylinder CB750 was bound to be upstaged, but it took until 1973 when Kawasaki released the Z1 upon the world. Not only a larger capacity, 903cc “4”, it had a pair of overhead camshafts to Honda’s single. Honda responded with the CB900F, but it did not arrive until 1979, by which time Kawasaki had moved on to the Z1000. However, the CB900’s twin-cam cylinder head boasted sixteen valves, compared to the opposition’s eight, enabling it to produce 95bhp against the Big K’s 93 and deliver an almost identical straight-line performance. The Honda could also ride around the Kawasaki in the twisties.
1981 Honda CB900F on offer here was subject to a custom café racer treatment. Stripped of unnecessary weighty parts, a few performance upgrades, a sporty nose fairing, tank and seat unit in bright yellow all go to re-constitute the bike to something far more reminiscent of the Triumphs and Nortons hacking around London’s North Circular of the 1950s.