As our test ride on the 2000 Honda CBR929RR draws closer, our thoughts turn to Tadao Baba. Who is Tadao Baba? How dare you ask such a question?! You should be ashamed of yourself.
Tadao Baba, in all practical manner, is the father of the CBR900RR, and the design genre that led to the development of today’s lightweight sportbikes, such as Yamaha’s R-1 and Kawasaki’s ZX9.
“Back in the day” when “sportbikes” were big heavy monsters, getting bigger and heavier every year, Baba decided enough was enough. He convinced Honda to develop the first CBR900RR (known as the Fireblade in Europe and other parts of the world) — and this bike’s power-to-weight ratio shocked the motorcycling establishment. Lighter than the 600s of its day, the first CBR900 was a benchmark bike. Honda’s competitors took years to catch up.
Baba is still the head of the development team which created the latest iteration known as the 929RR. We will be riding the 929RR next week, along with several other journalists in Las Vegas. Fortunately, Tadao Baba is expected to be at the press introduction of the 929, and we hope to have an interview for you soon thereafter.