I always love to make our Muscleheaded readers happy if I can…
Today, I had a unique opportunity to do that in this post.
And me, too — ’cause I LOVE to ride, –
this is a post on four –
(count ‘em- four!)
– gorgeous vintage (old) motorcycles.
One of my readers had sent me an email mentioning a post I did some time ago called “The Best of Vintage British Motorcycles“.
The writer asked if I liked any other kinds of sleds other than Brit ones….
and, further inquired what I thought of German ones, since she was …
… well.., from Germany.
And truthfully, although I’m obviously a huge fan of English and American bikes, my all time favorite bike was made in Germany, in the 1930’s.
Here it is.
It’s called the 1934 BMW R-7.
This one-of-a-kind concept bike was made by BMW in 1933, and designed by the renowned German engineer Alfred Böning.
It’s striking appearance draws from the Art Deco movement, with it’s aero-dynamic wrap-around body,
——– but it’s beauty was much more than skin deep.
It featured a pressed-steel frame, and the first telescopic forks ever featured on a motorcycle.
The power plant, based on a 800 cc Boxer engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, made only about 40 horsepower,
….but could reach speeds of almost 100 miles per hour.
An automotive style shifter, controlling a four speed gear box, was mounted under the right handlebar.
The design was so cutting edge, that the bike is still winning awards today…
Perhaps, that’s because until 2005, the bike had been sealed in a container in the BMW warehouse…
It hadn’t been seen by the public since before World War II.
It had been a prototype for a new model, and with all the ‘excitement’ going on in Europe during the time, it was ‘put on ice’ until later.
Like, much later, man.
It’s currently valued at over 1.2 million dollars,
……. and resides at the BMW museum in Munich.
It’s a damn shame I won’t get to ride it…
A bike that doesn’t get ridden, especially by ME, isn’t really living up to it’s cosmic potential, but it sure is pretty, anyway.
I’m sure there’s other stuff I could say the same about, now that I think about it.
My second favorite is kind of singing the same tune as far as aerodynamics is concerned….
But it’s a British design from the late 1950’s.
This motorcycle, called the 1958 Ariel Leader, was a beautifully thought out machine, with wrap around panels that concealed much of the workings, and had an ultra-modern sleekness to it -
The modernity extended even to the finishing touches,
For instance, it came with full advanced instrumentation including a clock, and an integrated windscreen.
the wrap around enclosure panels themselves were not new to English motorcycle design-
(and the Germans had pioneered the idea in the R-7 …. )
Vincent’s “Black Prince” had also used a very similar setup.
But, the Ariel promised a sharper, sleeker look, and offered an interesting array of colors, including red or blue offset with gray two tone paint schemes.
This bike might have done well if plans for models with larger displacement engines had come to fruition…
…… as it stood, it won the award for 1959 “Motorcycle of the Year“.
It was a really cool look .
I can’t help but think that a 1000 CC size “Leader” would have taken the American market by storm, if it could have been marketed and engineered properly….
Which brings me,
….. to this bike.
You probably think of Ducati as a manufacturer of exotic Italian racing bikes.
And, despite my pick isn’t a crotch rocket, you’d still be right .
This one, although it doesn’t look like it, I guess, would literally accelerate until the tires came off.
Developed to directly compete with Harley Davidson, especially in the United States market, it never made it into mass production…..
the full name of which was the:
1964 Ducati Berliner 1260 Apollo–
– packed a 76 cubic inch (1250cc) 90 degree V-4 punch—
and it would actually accelerate faster than it’s tires would tolerate…..
Yep… to over 120 mph—
…… at a time when motorcycle tires weren’t sturdy enough to take speeds over 90.
Yoooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwweeeeee — that’s for me, man.
Only two were made before the whole project went up in black smoke.
( Is that rubber burning, or are you just happy to see me ? )
Now, I know a couple of my fellow 1%ers are responding to my choices so far with some skepticism and probably more than a little profanity about the lack of an American bike on this list.
Hey, so be it, shovel head…. I’m getting there, brother, I’m getting there.
Don’t rush me, s’all.
‘Cause my last choice is sure to make the whole read worth it.
No, it ain’t a 1929 Henderson Streamline K-J or a 1930’s Super-X –
— too hard to keep in tune for an incompetent mechanic like me.
No, it ain’t a 1945 Harley Davidson WLA , although I’d kill for one of them.
No, it ain’t even an Indian,
………… and I’m a huge fan, especially of the Indian Chief.
It’s this bike, right t’yere.
A 1937 Crocker Hemi 91 cubic inch V-Twin –
For fifty years, it was the largest displacement motorcycle engine to ever have been produced… up until 1993.
It was available in three colors– blue, red or black.
You did have three choices in trim color too….
or ,,,,, ummmm… lessee….
oh, yeah, black.
It was built at 1436 Venice Blvd, in Los Angeles, USA–
… by the Crocker Motorcycle Company,
a year after they started making V-Twins,
and only four years before they went belly up completely.
Their production of motorcycles had, at one time, been third behind Harley Davidson and Indian,
But now, even simple parts for them,
like gas tanks– ($200,000)–
—- are very expensive,
and even harder to get than a date at the V-D clinic.
You don’t see one of these bad boys running on the road very often,
…. and when you do, the waxer that’s riding it has got more money than Elvis.
Which kinda ruins it for me, but still.