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As with any list that compiles the best of the best, a list of the Top 10 Motorcycles Ever is going to depend upon your personal preferences. You might be partial to that Yamaha YZF-R1 you bought back in 2004. You remember the one. It had 180 horsepower and handled better than ever before.
Or, you may expect to list the first-ever Harley-Davidson FXS Low Rider born in 1977, with its raised tires and lowered seat.
In any event, the bikes we like the best don't necessarily cut it for a list as prestigious as the Top 10 Motorcycles Ever. We need bikes that cover all breeds of riders; bikes that can race or cruise with best of them. We need COOL bikes.
Most importantly, we need the bikes that started it all, which is how we'll begin our list of the Top 10 Motorcycles Ever.
It's not surprising that the majority of the motorcycles included in our list of Top 10 Motorcycles Ever come from the first motorcycles invented.
The First Gas-powered Engine
The 1901 Single
The First Harley-Davidson
The Kawasaki GPz1100
The 1951 Harley-Davidson Panhead
The Big Toe
The Kawasaki Ninja
The Honda Gold Wing
In 1867, American inventor Sylvester Howard Roper created the first bicycle powered by a steam engine. Roper was also the creator of the first car using a steam engine. However, we can thank German inventor Gottlieb Daimler for the first motorcycle ever created using a gas engine.
Daimler was the assistant of Nicolaus August Otto, the creator of the four-stroke internal-combustion engine in 1876. In 1885, Daimler combined the engine with a bicycle.
Sure, the bike was wooden, but it was the first time in history that a bicycle and a gas-powered engine were joined together. It was the bike that started it all. It's just too bad that it didn't have a cool name.
The first motorcycle production in America was the Orient-Aster, named after its engine, in 1898. The Orient-Aster was built in Waltham, Massachusetts by the Metz Company, and started the engines of American-produced motorcycles for the rest of time.
Few youngsters today are aware of the Indian Motorcycle Company, the company that was first founded in 1900 as Hendee Manufacturing Company and took the position as Harley-Davidson's fiercest competitor until 1953.
The Indian Motorcycle Company, as it came to be known in 1901, built its first motorcycle during the same year―the 1901 Single―which could reach 25 mph.
Because of Indian's success and ability to keep Harley-Davidson on their toes, it's only natural that the first be included in our list.
And of course, we can't close out a compilation of the best firsts without including the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
In 1903, William Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson joined together to launch the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and the very first "hog" was born, selling for a whopping $200 and beating the 1901 Single by reaching 35 mph.
Speed isn't the most important factor to look at when considering motorcycles; however, we must admit it's definitely alluring. Let's take a look at the bike that claims to be the fastest ever built.
The 1999 Hayabusa, also known as the Suzuki GSX1300R, is noted as being the fastest motorcycle ever built, with recorded speeds measuring up to 261 mph.
Starting in 2001, the Japanese companies starting including electronic speed limiters on the models in order to help stop the speed wars; therefore, no bike has rivaled the speed of the 1999 Hayabusa.
Many Harley-Davidson enthusiasts will jump at the chance to promote their favorites as being the smoothest cruising motorcycles out there―and they may be right.
However, it wouldn't be fair not to include the smooth-riding number six in our list of Top 10 Motorcycles Ever.
The Kawasaki GPz1100 has a long wheel base, which helps it to feel more grounded and balanced when riding, and provides a comfortable ride due to its large seat and practical riding position. Manufacturers set out to lessen vibration and gear noise, and they succeeded.
Plus, plastic panels are strategically placed in order to keep the heat of the engine from affecting riders on particularly hot days.
A comfortably sturdy ride that doesn't rattle or melt the rider? The Kawasaki GPz1100 is a smooth ride indeed.
Numbers seven through 10 might be the coolest, or kookiest, motorcycles on our list―it all depends on how you look at them.
Perhaps some of the coolest motorcycles earn their coolness rating due to their riders? This could definitely be the case for number seven on our list.
This flag-bearing, 1951 Harley-Davidson Panhead was made famous by "Captain America" Peter Fonda in the 1969 classic Easy Rider.
Although the bike is classic, Fonda's character, Wyatt, who along with his friend Billy, "went looking for America but couldn't find it anywhere," made it one of the coolest, and most-lusted-after, motorcycles ever.
Tom Wiberg of Sweden spent six years designing and building Big Toe, the gigantic 7 ft. 6 in. tall motorcycle.
Big Toe includes a CD player, a 1975 Vintage Type E Jaguar SOHC 2 valve 60 degree 300HP 5.3L 12-cylinder engine, and a cute little set of training wheels to keep the rider from tipping over.
Although Big Toe has since been overshadowed by American Gary Dunham's enormous 11 ft. 3 in. tall creation, it still remains on our list of Top 10 Motorcycles Ever.
This bike's claim to fame is odd indeed. In 2003, motorcycle stuntman Billy Baxter of Great Britain rode his 1200cc Kawasaki Ninja at a speed of 164.87 mph―without sight―setting the Blindfold Motorcycle Speed Record according to the Guinness World Records.
Baxter wasn't just another blindfolded competitor―he is actually blind. And the bike that helped him safely set this record is definitely cool.
This sturdy motorcycle is just about as cool as the rider who took it on a journey that lasted longer than 10 years.
In 1985, Emilio Scotto of Argentina left home, taking his Honda Gold Wing on the longest motorcycle trip ever―10 years. During the trip that covered 214 countries and territories, Scotto used 9 seats, 12 batteries, 86 tires, 700 liters of oil, and 42,000 liters of gasoline.
So, if you're ever planning a drive around the world, don't bother with a plane ticket―just hop on a Honda Gold Wing.Other Topics in This Section
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- Understanding CCs
- Helmets: A Matter of Choice?
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- Top 10 Motorcycles Ever
- Theft Prevention
- Review of Motorcycle Manufacturers
- A Word About Passengers
- Tips for a Safe Ride
- What to Look for During a Test Drive
- How To Buy a Motorcycle
- Learning to Ride a Motorcycle
- Consider Taking a Safety Course
- Group Riding: Safety in Numbers
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- How To Ride In Heavy Traffic
- Electric Motorcycles
- Vintage Motorcycles
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- Finding a Trustworthy Mechanic
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