Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Greatest Motorcycles

The Discovery Channel recently aired a show called "The Greatest Ever: Motorcycles" which was basically a Top-10 list of sorts. It was interesting to me as all styles of motorcycles (i.e. cruisers, sportbikes, UJM) were represented and the jury was made up of well respected motorcyclists. For the most part, I am in total agreement with their choices - though I'm sure many will not be.

Among the bikes to make the list, we find the Harley Davidson Knucklehead, MTT's Y2K Turbine Bike, Ducati's 916, Moto Guzzi's V8, the Vespa and Honda's CB750. One of the things that I noticed was that there's only one American bike represented (above noted Knucklehead - number 10) and only one Japanese manufacturer (Honda). All other bikes are European-bred except for one very notable exception: kiwi John Britten's magnificent V1000 racebike.

Marine Turbine Technology's Y2K jet bike probably garnered the most opposing comments from the jury, with some calling it "technical masturbation" while others drooled over its 320hp and 425ft/lbs of torque. Whatever your take on it, you can't deny that this is one very fast bike. Jay Leno's anecdote about melting the front bumper on an Infinity with the Y2K's exhaust jet was hilarious.

Their pick for number one sure surprised me at first, but after thinking about it for a few minutes it makes perfect sense: the Honda C50 Cub. No other motorcycle has known such a long production run (still going after over 50 years) and sold so many units (over 30 million to date). Actor and motorcyclist Charley Boorman (of Long Way Round fame) even ran the poor C50 with used cooking oil in its crankcase to prove how tough the little bugger actually is. The final coup-de-grace was pitching the poor bike off a three story building, then picking it up and kick starting it - on the first try! This is probably another reason why the Cub made it to number one - it is quite possibly indestructible.

"Thank god for Roger Corman. He gave me the part because he'd say, 'Alright, you got to ride this motorcycle and jump off this cliff into this bag.' And I'd do it. It got me a reputation, and people kept hiring me." - Robert Patrick

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