Cycle World magazine celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Motorcycles have changed a lot over the last 50 years. Cycle World contributor Paul Dean made a list of the top motorcycle innovations since 1962.
Liquid-cooled motocross bikes
Although liquid-cooled motorcycles had been around for years, it wasn't until 1981 that Yamaha released a liquid-cooled motocross bike. The YZ 125 was the first.
Long-Travel rear suspension
In the early 60's, the travel for the rear suspension on an off-road machine was about 3 to 4 inches. This gradually increased to about 12 inches of travel to handle rough riding conditions.
Full face helmets
In 1967, Bell started selling full face helmets. Although the first models didn't have a lift up visor, they provided much better protection than previous models.
Radials have been around in automotive applications since the 1940's. It wasn't until 1987 that the first radial motorcycle street tire was sold.
Jofa mouth guard
The Swedish company Jofa made mouth guards for motocross riders in the 1960's based on their hockey mouth guards. They were replaced in the 1970's by better safety equipment.
Self-canceling turn signals
These were introduced on the 1976 Yamaha RD400 C, a two-stroke twin. Amazingly, they are still not standard equipment on many motorcycles today.
Aluminum alloy wheels
These have become the standard for many models today. Light and strong, the aluminum alloy wheel can be finished and cast in many different colors and styles. Interestingly enough, the first production model using these was again the 1976 Yamaha RD400 C.
Electronic fuel injection
First introduced on the 1980 KZ1000G, EFI was looked at sceptically by many riders. Today, fuel injection is being used on most new motorcycles.