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sjlee said:
Better engine design and manufacturing. New 600s are making as much HP as liter bikes from the late 80s.
And it's not just the increase in horsepower, though that's a big part of it. The newer bikes are lighter, the riding positions are more extreme, the brakes are more powerful, the throttle is more responsive, etc, etc, etc. Maybe more people could get away with starting on a 600cc bike 10 or 15 years ago, but it gets more and more difficult with each passing year as the big 4 try to one-up each other.
 
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