14 September 2016

History’s iconic motorbikes

Driving
Author
Francesca

The history of motorbikes is full of great models that have been successful among bikers and fans of the two wheels all over the world.

But what are the features that make a motorbike turn into a timeless myth?

Sometimes it’s a technical feature, sometimes just an aesthetic detail, other times, instead, a motorcycle becomes immortal because it is inextricably linked to an image, such as, for example, the legendary Triumph 6T Thunderbird ridden by Marlon Brando in “The wild one”.

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We have already talked to you about the 10 motorcycles that have marked the history of cinema and about the latest two-wheel concepts, this time we want to tell you which, according to us, are the 10 most iconic motorbikes in history.

10) BUELL XB12R

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Since its foundation in 1983, the motorcycle manufacturer founded by Erik Buell has pioneered cutting edge and innovative technological solutions for all of its models. The XB series is one of the best expressions of the creativity of this American brand. The inside-out front brake was revolutionary and beautiful at the same time, as well as the central exhaust, under its belly. The goal of the XB12R has never been to reach high speeds, but rather to be a superbike with an unrivalled design. And it seems that it has succeeded in its intent!

9) 1950 Norton Manx  

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Motor racing fans are well acquainted with the exploits that the Norton Manx accomplished for years at the TT on the Isle of Wight. A regular competitor since the first edition in 1907, the Norton has found the Tourist Trophy to be the ideal ground on which to express all of its power. The 1950 model introduced the revolutionary double-cradle Featherbed frame which, together with the 500 cc 36 hp engine, has made the Norton Manx one of the most successful motorcycles in history.

8) Honda CB750

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In 1969, Honda placed on the market a motorbike that would quickly become a real milestone of its genre: the CB750! This bike is universally recognized as one of the first true “superbikes. Its 4-valve, 4-cylinder, 736 cc engine with chain-operated overhead distribution, front disc brakes as standard equipment and electrical ignition, were revolutionary features for the market of those times and, together with the great reliability and the low maintenance that it required, have made the CB750 a real myth.

7) Ducati 900SS

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The Ducati 900 Super Sport was constructed to try to counteract the Japanese supremacy on the super sport bikes market in the seventies. Powered by an 860 cc engine, which was born as an evolution of the original L-shaped twin-cylinder engine designed for the 750 GT, during its history the 900 SS actually underwent very few changes, to the tank and to the alloy wheels, and was proposed in gold and black colour as an alternative to the classic silver and electric blue colouring.

According to Ducati fans, the 900SS reached its heyday with the 1978 version.

6) Kawasaki EX500 (Ninja)

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The Kawasaki EX500, the entry level of the Ninja series, is a motorbike that has been able to attract an audience of very heterogeneous enthusiasts. Its two-cylinder 498 cc engine, which is agile, powerful and very suitable for long trips due to reduced consumption, manages to combine performance with reduced maintenance costs. During the twenty years in which it was produced, the EX500 has long been the bestseller of the Japanese manufacturer.

5) KTM 250EXC  

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Any classification worth its name will include at least one motocross bike, and the KTM 250 EXC has all it takes to be placed in ours. A two-strike enduro bike, it moves with confidence both in the woods and in the city. Power, endurance and low price have made the success of one of the most fun bikes ever.

4) Yamaha R7

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The R7 can be considered a true technological masterpiece of the Japanese manufacturer. Put on the market in 1999, this motorbike was created almost exclusively to participate in the World Superbike Championship. Its four-stroke, four-cylinder, 750cc engine, its 100bhp (which become 135 when special fuel injectors are activated) and its frame twice as rigid as that of the R1, make this bike a true fury on the track and on the road.

3) Moto Guzzi 8 Cilindri  

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Despite its short existence (it was in production only from 1955 to 1957), the Moto Guzzi 8 Cilindri has left an indelible mark on the history of motorcycling. This bike was the brainchild of the engineer Giulio Carcano and was designed to compete in the World Motorcycle Championship. Carcano designed an ultra-modern 4-stroke 8-cylinder water-cooled engine, with a 498.5-cm³ displacement, coil ignition and dry sump lubrication. Its 72 hp at 12,000 revs/min (in the 1957 version) raised the top speed to 275 km/h, an enormous figure for that time.

2) Triumph Bonneville  

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What can be said about a bike that has been ridden by James Dean, Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen? An immortal icon of the biker culture, oozing with charm from every bolt. Its parallel twin engine has evolved from 650cc to 865cc, but its line continues to be an unmistakable constant since 1959.

1) Harley-Davidson WLA

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Put into production in 1940 for the US army engaged in the Second World War, the Harley Davidson WLA is powered by Flathead, a V-Twin 740-cm³ engine that has made the history of the brand. The WLA reached such a great success that many soldiers wanted to keep it even after their discharge, contributing decisively to the massive spread of the motorcycling culture in America and around the world.