As the title suggests, today’s topic gathers its inspiration from some of the most awe-inspiring motorcycles that have been introduced to the world of motorcycling. Our list will include makes from many different eras and brands around the globe, each with its own legendary tale that made them the very best of the best.
It’s the early 1910s, and motorcycles were a far more effective mode of transport for those at war in comparison to horses. Production of the two-wheeled commuter was at an all-time high. With over 20,000 bikes produced each year, Indian was the largest manufacturer in the world by a longshot. Indian’s fame was about to reach new heights because, while horses were being replaced on the battlefield, they were also being replaced on the track at home. Board track racing was fast, dangerous, and crazy, the perfect ingredients for captivating motorsport, and Indian had the perfect ride. The Indian board track racer had a reputation for its capability, with its 1000cc twin-cylinder engine sending bike and rider across a slippery wooden track at speeds close to 100mph; this machine was meant to win races.
In 1936, Harley Davidson took a big risk when they introduced the EL. It was literally like no other motorcycle on the road at that time, and that isn’t just when referring to its design. Along with a completely modern appearance at the time of its release, the EL introduced the 61 cubic inch Knucklehead V-twin engine with features like a recirculating oil system and a four-speed gearbox when almost every bike at the time only had three. The styling of EL is undoubtedly one of the most legendary moments in the company’s history, as it is recognized to have created the iconic Harley-Davidson form that many of its current models inherit to this day.
When Norton’s then Chairman Dennis Poore secured a deal with John Player to promote a new brand of cigarettes, his idea was that the best way to achieve this was by forming a racing team who would build a motorbike to compete in the 1971 Formula 750. The inspiration for the design behind the Commando came from Peter Williams, who was the lead designer and team rider at the time. The team found success in the following years, winning 14 international events. Norton eventually released a production John Player Special variant of the motorcycle in honor of the works racing team.
At some point in the mid-90s, the board members at Suzuki sat down with the intent to ignite a spark in the motorcycle world, something more than just exciting. Somewhere down the line, somebody lifted their hand and said, “Let’s make it faster than the fastest motorcycle in the world right now,” and everybody else seemed to think it was a good idea. They were right. With a 1299cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke inline-four engine producing a top speed of 194mph after reaching 60mph in a mere 2.8 seconds, the Hayabusa quickly gained its reputation as the world’s fastest production motorcycle. But, straight-line speed isn’t the only notable thing about the motorcycle, as Suzuki did so well to make sure riders can achieve that level pace with the confidence that they are sitting on a perfectly centered bike.
The CBR1000RR, also known as the “Fireblade,” is the 7th generation of the CBR series first introduced in 1990. The motorcycle draws power from a 999cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder and was developed entirely by the team behind the Moto GP series, which means that this motorcycle is the definition of the perfect superbike. The redesigned 9th generation, like the one featured in our virtual museum, debuted at the Paris International Motorcycle Show. Virtually every part of the new bike was redesigned for weight reduction, along with a new 999cc inline-four that now revved to 13,000rpm.