When you think of it, the most expensive motorcycles found, bought and sold at auctions aren't that much different from each other. Rarity alone will not guarantee a bulky price tag riding on novelty value.
These mechanical marvels on two wheels are impressive for their performance in racing, or star-studded appearances in popular film and literature, well-documented production histories and unique characteristics.
From all over the world, here are four standout bikes that have ever graced auctions.
1. “Captain America” Harley-Davidson Panhead
The skeptics will say that other motorcycles would have enjoyed just as much fame as the Captain America had they appeared in the 1969 iconic biking film, Easy Rider. Sold at an auction in 2014 for more than USD 1.6 million, this easily-recognisable Harley actually started life out as a police bike before capping off active duty with its evergreen appearance on the silver screen.
The Harley's illustrious past in popular culture will make it a coveted model for a very long time to come.
2. 1910 Winchester 6 HP
More famed for producing “the gun that won the West”, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company also happened to produce motorcycles for two years between 1909 and 1911. Only 200 were ever made, of which two have survived, making this an extremely rare model. Worldwide Auctioneers sold one of this in 2013 for USD 580,000.
3. 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer
It's hard to imagine that right after the First World War, a motorcycle could hit a top-speed of 111mph but this was exactly what the Cyclone did. Setting pulses racing everywhere in the circuits, the bright yellow bike had an overhead cam and 4-valve cylinder V-twin design. Mecum auctioned one model off in 2008 for over half a million dollars.
4. 1929 Brough Superior SS100 'Airplane Grand Sports'
Never mind the mouthful… the original SS100 bike won six trophies at the 1925 Alpine Trials, known at the time for being the toughest reliability event (later evolving into today's World Rally Championship).
Named after its rider George Brough, the modified version of the original SS100 included a small fly-screen, lower compression ratio and a couple of toolboxes. London's Bonhams fetched USD 493,000 for this beauty.