It’s a plus to know the newest riding trends. But you have to understand the origins if you want to enjoy anything deeply. And there is no doubt that the history of motorcycles has profound roots.
Many motorcycle models have been developed throughout the years, but only a select few have distinguished themselves as classic.
Each classic motorcycle brand has a unique selling point, like a ground-breaking mechanical advancement or a standout design.
Some products have the perfect characteristics in the right market at the right moment by accident. They all made a difference in establishing the strong pedigree of today’s top-speed machines.
The top vintage motorcycle brands are listed below:
1. Triumph Bonneville
A good bike can’t be kept down, and the Triumph Bonneville is proof of that. Triumph continues to exist despite almost continual ownership changes and a horrific factory fire, and the iconic Bonneville is a big part of that.
The Bonneville is a just-minimal-enough roadster with the sleek appearance of a cafe racer but a somewhat more comfort-first design. It is named after the well-known testing area for land speed record attempts.
The Bonneville was an obvious option for appealing to both young hipsters and old heads when the proprietors of Triumph started planning these classic motorcycle brands in the middle of the 2000s.
This is because of its classic style. The new Bonnevilles are also no laughing matter. Anyone who rides it will be amazed by its 1200cc engine, which is included only in the base model.
In 1932, Crocker began producing single-cylinder speedway racing bikes. Although these bikes were successful racers, the business began to focus on bigger V-twin-powered road bikes in 1936.
Compared to its rivals, which mostly consisted of Harley Davidson and Indian, the Crocker V-Twins were superbikes.
Indian and Harley had 38 hp to 40 hp, while Crocker’s entry-level 61-ci engine often produced 55 hp to 60 horsepower.
The largest known engine fitted at the factory for these vintage motorcycle brands, which were made to order, had a displacement of 91 ci (about 1,491 ccs).
This engine size record for a production motorcycle remained for many years until Yamaha shattered it with the XV1600A in 1998.
The 1942 production ceased. Only approximately 100 V-Twin bikes were made, and as of today, 68 of them are still in existence.
This bike is extremely uncommon and sells for a lot of money. The one in the aforementioned picture brought $230,000 at auction in 2007.
After selling Henderson Motorcycle to Schwinn, William G. Henderson founded The Ace Motor Corporation. The 1920 production run came to an end in 1924 due to bankruptcy.
India eventually acquired the rights and Ace’s tooling. Ace featured a unique architecture of a longitudinal four-cylinder with a chain drive, as with Henderson bikes.
The Aces, in my opinion, are far more attractive than the previous Hendersons. These motorcycles are uncommon because the first manufacturing run lasted only four years. The Ace should undoubtedly be listed among the classic motorcycle brands.
4. Indian Scouts
These vintage motorcycle brands were significant participants in the American motorcycle market before its bankruptcy in 1953. Harley-Davidson was their main competition.
One of their most significant models, the Scout, was smaller and less expensive than their other well-liked model, the Chief.
By today’s standards, the Scout’s manufacture ran for an absurdly long time, from 1920 until 1949. Initially 596cc, engines were expanded to 745cc in 1927.
The Scout had considerable racing success, taking home three victories at Daytona. The US used scouts. The World’s Fastest Indian tells the tale of Burt Munro and his 1920s Scout during his attempts to break the Land Speed Record during World War II.
5. Henderson-Excelsior Streamline “KJ
Henderson-Excelsior was in a very strong position when the Streamline debuted in 1929; they were #3, only behind Harley Davidson and Indian.
Regrettably, they would leave the motorcycle industry in a few years. Most people agree that one of the most attractive American vintage motorcycle brands ever is Streamline.
The business had returned to the IOE design with the 40-horsepower engine. It had a down-draft carburetor, better cooling, and a crankshaft with five main bearings.
The Streamline was capable of an accurate 100 mph right out of the gate. A leading link fork and an illuminated speedometer at the top of the gasoline tank were two rare and cutting-edge innovations for the time.
A motorcycle serves as a daily mode of transportation for many people worldwide, giving them access to food markets, healthcare facilities, and other necessities of life.
The Honda is the undisputed market leader in this niche, as evidenced by its 60+ years of uninterrupted manufacturing and record-breaking sales of 100 million units throughout the model’s existence.
Remember to appreciate the Honda CB750, the great-grandfather of all vintage motorcycle brands, even if you prefer models like the Kawasaki Ninja or the Suzuki Hayabusa.
Due to its cutting-edge design, it became an instant bestseller and helped popularize the inline-four engine configuration that gives sport motorcycles their distinctive power today.
These classic motorcycle brands exemplify many underappreciated qualities of the motorcycle as a mode of transportation.
In addition to being incredibly fuel-efficient, easy to maintain, and rock-solid reliable, it is also a ton of fun to play with.
They also had cultural significance along with their commercial success. In the early 1960s, Honda used the Super Cub as the focal point of their “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” advertising campaign, which is widely credited with boosting American acceptance of Japanese motorcycles and motorcycles in general.
7. Triumph Thruxton RS
The interesting thing about Triumph is that it never truly ceased providing motorcycles in the classic café racer design.
The original café racer crowd, who customized their motorcycles to resemble the racing legends of the era and then roared off from one café social scene to the next while trying to “do the ton,” or hit 100 mph, was a big fan of the post-war motorcycles that bore a striking resemblance to the Bonneville.
Triumph says these “vintage motorcycle brands are renowned worldwide as motorcycle racing legends, born from amazing success at the Thruxton 500 and the Isle of Man TT, motivating a generation of fervent adolescent café racers.”
With a 1200cc liquid-cooled upright parallel-twin engine producing 103 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque, the Thruxton RS is a deserving addition to the series.
The front 43mm Showa USD forks and the rear Ohlins dual shocks on the bike are also fully adjustable. It is stopped by a single rear and two front Brembo discs.
Also, it weighs 434 pounds when empty, but if you add fuel, oil, and bearing grease, the final weight must be closer to 450 pounds.
In addition, it quickly resembles a genuine café racer on the road, although one that is bare and lacks the wind cowling that some of these motorcycles have.
After securing the clip-on hand grips, the seating posture necessitates a little forward lean that is comfortable for all-day riding.
As with many bikes, it will take you a few miles to get used to pushing this one hard through turns, but you do. More grip was available from the Metzeler Racetec RR tires than I could use.
The bike seems more than halfway toward the sport bike category overall, and its ease of cornering implies that there is still enough grip.
8. Harley-Davidson WLA
When discussing classic motorcycle brands, it’s difficult to leave out Harley-Davidson. The WLA was first manufactured by Harley-Davidson for the American Army in 1940, just before the country joined World War II.
It is essentially the WL concept in a militaristic form. Compared to the civilian model, there were some changes.
All surfaces were coated black or olive drab, and all polished or chrome surfaces were blued or Parkerized. To lessen mud clogging, the sides of the fenders were eliminated.
On some variants, leg guards and windshields were added. The engine crankcase breather was altered to lessen the chance of water entering when fording. There are blackout lights now.
Several extras were available, including skid plates, radio equipment, luggage racks, and leather scabbards for Thompson sub-machine guns.
There aren’t many sidecar types because, unlike the Germans, the Americans never utilized motorcycles as front-line troop transports.
The period of production was 1940–1945 and 1949–1952. 90 000 WLAs were manufactured in total. As a part of the Lend-Lease operation, 30,000 were shipped to Russia.
These are the coolest Harley-Davidsons ever made, and they are both classic. This is one of the first motorcycle companies that comes to mind when someone mentions American vintage motorcycle brands.
There are currently several bikes in practically every dealership waiting for you if you desire the vintage motorcycle brands of yesteryears but dislike carburetors and kick starts.
Simply choose the era of the past that you find appealing, and a bike will be ready and waiting for you. You may narrow your search for the top classic motorcycle brands with the aid of this article.