Motorcycles That Shook The World
With the thousands of motorcycle models and hundreds of manufacturers pushing out new designs and new innovations, you're assured of finding the bike that meets your needs and your desires.
Motorcycles are a curious machine – simple by design and borne out of practicality: a machine that gets you somewhere quickly on two wheels.
Motorcycle makers have always been a creative lot, and the smooth road-hugger that you own today is merely the offspring of countless amazing creations. In fact, most modern motorcycles still bear the hallmarks of their ground-breaking predecessors.
Here are some motorcycles that made their mark on history.
1. 1984 Hildebrand & Wolfmuller
The name is a giveaway and anyone familiar with German motoring will remember this creation from over 30 years ago. The world's first production motorcycle, the Motofahrrad-Fabrik H &W was a remarkable machine, featuring oil-in-the frame and a water-cooled ,four-stroke engine of almost 1500cc displacement. It was also the first motorcycle to come equipped with pneumatic tires. Motorcycles had come on a long way from Daimler's embryonic two wheeler in less than 10 years.
An icon of motorcycling that prevails even today, the Vespa (which means “wasp” in Italian) was born out of the ashes of World War Two in Italy. Stylish and affordable, a generation of Italians took to the streets with this personal transport, spawning a host of imitators and creating the scooter market.
The Mods, a youth movement that is still alive today, has also influenced music and fashion and helped more women get into motorcycling.
3. Kawasaki GPZ900R / SUZUKI GSX-R750
It's only fair not to distinguish between these two as they came out in 1984 and between them, made history as the first modern Race Replicas (RR). Japanese manufacturers had finally found a way to put fast engines into motorbikes without sacrificing handling, and all over the world, almost overnight, the market for aftermarket frame builders bottomed out, ensuring that more people could afford such bikes.
4. Ducati 916
After more than a decade of Japanese supremacy in sportsbiking, European giant Ducati finally found a way to release East Asia's vice-like grip on fast bikes. Fast and ultra-desirable, in many ways the 916 actually pinched innovative ideas off Honda's NR750 with its underseat exhaust, narrow waist, squared-off dual headlights and single-sided swingarm with a wide rear hoop. But whereas the Honda was a brick, the 916 was sexy-as-hell. Italian style can be innovative even when it's derivative.
5. Honda Goldwing
Perhaps always a niche market in Europe and Asia, the 1974 Gold Wing was a game changer in the USA, redefining what riders could expect of a grand tourer in the same way the 1969 Honda CB750 shook up the UK street bike scene. The Gold Wing is now a 1.8 litre, flat-six behemoth with integrated hard luggage, SatNav and airbag and has created a top-end SuperTourer class of machine.