Motorcycles are constantly evolving to use the latest technology, and it usually filters down from the race track. For instance, alloy frames have been around for more than a generation of bikes. Starting with the sportier models, it filtered down to most machines.
Back in the early 1980s mainstream motorcycles started to adopt alloy rather than steel to hold the engine in place. It was 1983 when Suzuki introduced the RG250 Gamma, which was the first mass-produced bike to have a lightweight aluminium alloy frame to give it a great power-to-weight ratio. It’s hard to argue with something that’s light and looks good.
But is aluminium alloy better than steel though?
Ducati obviously disagreed, even running their famed steel trellis frame in MotoGP, as well as succeeding in World Superbikes for many years. The theory was that both frames absorb energy under acceleration and braking, but that aluminium ‘snaps’ back more suddenly.
There’s another reason too. Take a look at this poor Honda Blackbird.
All it took was a slow speed punt to rip the fork stem out of the headstock. Despite pulling apart like the Incredible Hulks shirt when he gets a bit tetchy, the impact didn’t buckle a wheel or even break a mirror.
I think my next bike will have a steel frame.