Bikers, independent by nature, choose two-wheelers that reflect their personality and taste. So, we knew that choosing the greatest motorcycles would be arbitrary and divisive. Most people can agree that some machines have risen to the top of the pack thanks to truly revolutionary designs. Here’s what we’ve done by year after consulting historical sources, talking with respected colleagues and engaging in some heated debates. Does our list of Top Ten Greatest Bikes of the Last Century include your favorite two-wheeler?
Top Ten Greatest Bikes of Last Century – Top Rated
1923 BMW R32
It all started with this bike for BMW. The BMW R32 was the company’s first motorcycle after initially developing engines for the German Air Force during World War I. It was created during the rapid manufacturing boom of the 1920s.
The flat-twin/boxer architecture combined with the final shaft drive served as the basis for BMW’s future two-wheelers, and the design is currently used on most of the company’s products. The bike’s 494 cc engine gave it a top speed of 60 mph. Even after 97 years, the R32 is still among the most sought-after motorcycles ever produced thanks to its timeless design.
1937 Brough Superior SS100
The first superbike in existence. A certificate from entrepreneur George Burrow, guaranteeing that the SS100 would surpass the 100 mph mark, was included with the delivery of the motorcycle. When anything over 30 HP was considered too big, the SS100’s 990 ccs air-cooled 50-degree V-twin engine produced an astonishing 48 hp.
Lawrence of Arabia author T.E. Lawrence had eight Burrows, including the one pictured (1920s model year). He was killed in one when it crashed near his Dorset, England, home. Since then, Mark Upham has revived the Brough Superior brand, and 21st Century SS100s are now being produced.
1950 Vincent Black Shadow
If the Bro Superior was the first superbike in history, the Vincent Black Shadow was the progenitor of the Suzuki GSX-R1300R Hayabusa. It was the fastest bike ever built. The Black Shadow, produced between 1948 and 1955, had a 55 horsepower, 998 cc twin monster and could reach a top speed of 125 mph.
In his famous novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson memorializes the Black Shadow, saying, “If you ride the Black Shadow at high speed for any length of time, you’re sure to die.” said Vincent Black Shadow Society. Because of this, a small number of life members.
1955 Moto Guzzi V8
The Moto Guzzi V8 was a technical marvel built by a business at the height of its powers and the most daring motorcycle ever to make a Grand Prix debut. In the 1950s, Moto Guzzi was the leading Italian racing manufacturer. Giulio Cesare Carcano developed the 500 cc V8, which was raced by famous riders such as Fergus Anderson, Stanley Woods, Dickie Dale, and Ken Kavanagh, among others.
Although the bike was influential for the period, its chassis, tires and brakes were far behind. Today, two authentic examples can be seen at Moto Guzzi’s facility in Lake Como in northern Italy. Although it only raced for three seasons (1955–1957), it is known as the most significant Grand Prix motorcycles.
1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster
The Harley-Davidson Sportster certainly evokes more excitement and determination than any other motorcycle. The Sportster, still produced today, debuted in 1957 with a four-stroke, 45-degree V-twin engine. Regarding the latter, the Ironhead motor, with a displacement between 900 and 1000 cc, was initially used before being replaced by the Evolution motor (883 ccs to 1100cc).
For Harley-Davidson, the Sportster range is undoubtedly the most important and profitable. It has helped the business through numerous financial setbacks and is as much a part of Harley-Davidson’s legacy as the company itself.
1962 Norton Manx
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Norton Manx served as the base for Grand Prix racing. As an economical, reliable racer, he supported grids worldwide as the sport gradually became more professional. The last Manx was produced in 1962, and this photo was the last to roll off an assembly line, but the vehicle was still in widespread use for ten years before it was officially phased out for use in professional expeditions should be stopped.
The Manx is still a competitive vehicle in classic racing, with a 54 hp 499 cc single-cylinder engine and four-speed gearbox winning races such as the Goodwood Revival in Great Britain and the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama.
1969 Honda CB750
Honda’s first major success, the CB750, signaled a move away from British singles and twins to the four-cylinder Japanese vehicles that still dominate the landscape fifty years later. The CB750 was one of the first motorcycles in what is now known as Superbike Racing, a motorcycle race series for production motorcycles, and is often referred to as the first of the UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle). The CB750 signaled Honda’s arrival and helped build the company into the dominant force it is today.
1969 Honda Z50A (Monkey Bike)
Honda’s little Z50A, sometimes known as the monkey bike, was the vehicle that made the firm famous, surpassing the CB750. How do you persuade people who don’t ride a motorcycle to start doing so? Get them to laugh! Monkey Bikes did precisely that and were a huge success, especially in America, cementing the company’s legacy there.
The Monkey Bike, a straightforward 50cc, single-cylinder four-stroke, was the exact opposite of what Harley-Davidson was selling at the time—no rough-and-tumble biker image, just fun times. Honda brought it back to the US in 2018 because it was such a hit. Our test drive showed that the smaller model’s great sense of enjoyment explains it.
1971 MV Agusta 750S
While MV Agusta has a long history of building beautiful machines, the 750S, built from 1970 to 1975, is a milestone. Before his death in 1971, Count Domenico Augusta worked on another production vehicle, the 750S. It took the MV Agusta 600 motor as a starting point, increased its displacement to 750cc, and then wrapped it in a stunning red, white and blue cafe racer design.
It was a resounding success. When it was first introduced, the 750S was the fastest four-cylinder in the world, paired with a proper race-spec chassis that was far superior to anything available from Britain or Japan.
1972 Kawasaki Z1
Honda may have started the four-cylinder street bike trend, with MV Agusta trailing a bit further back, but Kawasaki was the one to hit the ground running with their Z1. The Z1 was the first large-capacity Japanese four-cylinder motorcycle to feature two overhead camshafts, superseding Honda’s CB750 and increasing the rider’s capacity to 153cc. It coined the name “New York Steak.” The Z1 was the pinnacle of production sports cars on two wheels in the 1970s, with 82 horsepower and a top speed of nearly 130 mph, at least until Honda began a comeback in the early 1980s.
Top Ten Greatest Bikes of Last Century – Top List
|Sr. #||Top Ten Greatest Bikes of Last Century|
|1||1923 BMW R32|
|2||1937 Brough Superior SS100|
|3||1950 Vincent Black Shadow|
|4||1955 Moto Guzzi V8|
|5||1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster|
|6||1962 Norton Manx|
|7||1969 Honda CB750|
|8||1969 Honda Z50A (Monkey Bike)|
|9||1971 MV Agusta 750S|
|10||1972 Kawasaki Z1|