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It’s an age old question motorcyclists have been asking each other for decades. What makes the ultimate motorcycle collection?
Is it a blend of new high-performance bikes mixed with stunning classics? Or is it made purely of the most expensive motorbikes on the planet? Either way it is of course completely subjective.
One thing isn’t subjective though is stats. We analysed search data from Google to answer this very question: which motorcycles are people in the UK searching for the most? If you owned all of the most searched-for bikes, what would that collection look like? And could it be called the ultimate collection?
And while there were some surprises in the list like the Aprilia RS 250, which surprisingly was the fourth most searched for! There was of course motorcycles you would no doubt expect to see on the list including, the Kawasaki Ninja and the glorious Honda Gold Wing, which came out on top.
Once we assembled the surprising list we then asked four time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty to give his expert opinions on what should’ve made the list and which bikes shouldn’t, with a full version which can be seen here.
Ultimate motorcycle collection:
1. Honda Gold Wing
This is a well-deserved inclusion. It takes me back to when I was a kid in the 1970s. One of my dad’s mates pulled up at the house on one – they used to go touring all over the place. I remember saying: ‘it’s got a radio on! How cool is that?!’ It had speakers and these big soft seats.
The bike was way ahead of its time. It’s not what you’d want to go round a track on, or even too fast round a corner on the roads, but it was perfect for touring because of its design and because Honda are incredibly reliable, even back then. This is an iconic bike.”
2. BSA Gold Star
I expected to see this or a Manx Norton or something similar in the list. The bike was a bit before my time, but they were clearly ahead of their time and what’s made them the legendary bikes they are – that, and they were very good on the track. I guess if you wanted to go fast and look cool in the 1930s and 1940s you had to have one of these bikes.”
3. Kawasaki Ninja
This one does not surprise me, ‘Ninja’ is a brand of its own – you don’t even need to say Kawasaki Ninja, it’s just a Ninja… Some models become that. It’s always been a popular bike, even today. The original was more sit-up-and-beg but now it’s more of a track bike – a powerful, aggressive sports bike. And it’s an icon.”
4. Aprilia RS 250
That’s a strange one – I wouldn’t expect that to be in the list. It’s quite a modern bike and it’s not as iconic as something like, say, the Yamaha RD350 or 250 that I would expect to see in here.”
5. Vincent Black Shadow
I’ve heard of these bikes but it’s a bit before my time so I don’t know about the engine or anything. I know Vincents but it’s like BSA, and probably all types of bike, it’s very subjective: whoever you ask, you’ll get a different opinion. Age group is probably a deciding factor too. That iconic picture of Rollie Free breaking the world record [in 1948] on it is better known than the bike itself, but it’s still an icon for that generation, so I can understand why this is in the list.”
6. Ducati 916
Finally, I agree with you on something! This is an iconic bike. The 916 was genuinely ahead of its time and I guess that’s why it’s in this list. For any bike to be considered an icon – and to be desired by collectors – they have to have that ‘wow’ factor when they come out on the streets or the race track. The 916 was so ahead of its time that it still looks like a brand-new model, it just doesn’t age, it’s incredible. Most 20-year-old bikes look 40 years old, but the 916 is ageless.
“The design was stunning, but it’s more than that: the Ducati 916 dominated the world superbikes, I won four world titles on the bike… which says it all really! It wasn’t that reliable, but I bet most of the top 10 won’t be… highly collectible for sure.”
7. BMW S1000RR
This is a strange one to include because it’s quite modern, but it has been considered the pinnacle of superbikes for the road for years now. I know that it’s popular with people who do track days. If there’s a row of bikes – Yamaha, Honda, Ducati – people like to pick the BMW. It’s an incredible road bike: it really looks the part, there’s a lot of stuff that works on it – the electronics and so on; it’s the ultimate package. And it’s a very, very fast bike – they’ve been great at the TT.
“But if you’d told me 10-13 years ago that BMW would be making the best superbikes out there, I’d think you want locking up!”
8. Laverda Jota
The Jota was a very popular bike at the time. I remember my dad had one. He rode the little one, the 600 in the TT. It’s a great bike, 1000cc, a big statement of a bike at the time.
“I’m not surprised this one made the list, it was an icon then and it’s probably more collectible now than ever.”
9. Norton Commando
Nortons, Triumphs, classic British bikes, they’re icons, real icons. You think of people like Steve McQueen riding these bikes in the movies of the 1950s and ‘60s. I really like that stuff…”
10. Yamaha R1
In many ways, the R1 is today’s ultimate superbike. It hasn’t changed much over the years, but it hasn’t had to because it’s such a good bike. It’s a fantastic track bike, it’s a great road bike and it’s been going for 20-odd years. When something lasts that long you know you got it right from the start.”
11. Triumph Bonneville T120
“Good! This bike needs to be in there. These classic British bikes are icons. They’re so collectible, because they’ve stood the test of time. Young people today like modern versions of classics like this: the Triumph Scrambler and Triumph Thruxton R – I’ve got one. These newer bikes have retained their heritage, but they’ve got all the mod cons that you need for the 21st century. When I pull up on my Thruxton, I get more looks than I do when I’m on a superbike with all the paint and carbon fibre.
“Kids used to be into whatever the newest sport bike was. When I was young you wanted the latest ‘80s bikes. If it was six years old, we weren’t interested. But now it seems to be going the other way. People want naked bikes. They want to see the chrome and engine parts.
“I took a picture of the two new Ducati MotoGP bikes (for 2018) and put them on social media side-by-side with my 1998 Ducati. People were saying, how ugly the new one looked compared to my older bike. They do look bloody awful to be honest – with these big wings on the side of them.
“Science is defining how bikes need to be designed to go round tracks but they don’t always look that great. Modern versions of classics like the Bonneville appeal to people – chrome and comfort – and lots of manufacturers are doing that now. But this is the original and they’re clearly still in demand.”
12. Suzuki GSXR 750
“This belongs in the list. They’re very popular bikes. If you want to look cool and go fast, they’re the bike. I look back now and think it looks bloody awful, but at the time… everyone had one for racing in the mid ‘80s. I remember Kevin Schwantz riding one in the Transatlantic Challenge at Donington and doing well at the TT on a GSXR in 1986 or ‘87.”
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