The FIVE GREATEST Motorcycles - Feature

Choosing the five most influential motorcycles of all-time is no easy task. Which is why we picked six.

The FIVE GREATEST Motorcycles - Feature

The FIVE GREATEST Motorcycles - Feature

Suppose your editor knew you had been reading a lot of history and wanted to salvage something beyond antiquarian interest from that. Suppose he said, "It's CW's 50th anniversary and we want to celebrate the history of motorcycles. Write me something about the five greatest machines of all time." How could you pick?

You could let the public decide and choose machines like Edward Turner’s Triumph Speed Twin and the Honda 50cc step-through, which were the choices of hundreds of thousands of riders. You could look for pure innovation and pick the early-days Peugeot parallel-Twin with its dohc and four valves per cylinder—although sadly, it just overheated and gave innovation a bad name. You could look for intensity of development and find it in the 1920s at AJS, early adopters of circulating oil systems, overhead cams and aluminum rather than iron for heads.

What I’ve decided to do instead is pick designs for their influence on later work; that way, I can start writing and stop dithering.