Did the Hurricane really beat the Ninja?
The big four have long feuded. Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki have taken different approaches to advertising, but Honda has arguably often been the champion. This is nowhere more evident than in the example of the 1960's "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" ad that advertised the Honda Cub series of bikes, which went on to become the best selling series of motorcycles of all time. There certainly is power in an ad.
What is a little more questionable, however, is the marketing campaigns Honda resorted to in the 1980's. We touched on this with the truly bizarre songs the British ska band Madness used to advertised the Motocompo. This ad taking a direct shot at Kawasaki's Ninja is almost as bizarre. A ninja warrior, whose "strength and swiftness have become legendary", hides from the raging hurricane. Very subtle, Honda.
The company knew what it was going up against when it introduced the CBR600F Hurricane in 1987. Three years prior, competitor Kawi had introduced its own fully-faired, modern-day champion.
The first bike Kawasaki gave the moniker of "Ninja" to was the 1984 GPZ900R or ZX900A. It boasted unheard of performance stats for the time. The inline four made 115hp, making the first Ninja the fastest production bike on the road with a top speed of around 150mph. The Kawasaki engineers worked hard on the 900 and introduced a number of innovations along with the Ninja name, including the company's first diamond frame to help keep a low center of gravity. By the time this ad came out in 1986, Kawasaki had grown the Ninja lineup to include the ZX400 and ZX600 with a 250, 500, and 1,000 variants following.
While in the US, the Hurricane designated the CBR600F, in Europe, it referred to its big brother, the CBR1000F. The nameplate was dropped in 1996, however, the CBR legacy endured. So did the Ninja and nowadays, the two sportbike families are among the best-known and most popular on the market. So, who won: the ninja or the hurricane? Considering Honda might have been a little more bark than bite, I think it's fair to say that Team Green prevailed.