Top Ten Cult Classics
BMW HP2 Megamoto
Why? One of the first signs that BMW had loosened its tie and started drinking in the morning. Powered by a highly tuned version of the fuel-injected, 1170cc, 8-valve Boxer engine, it is the most playful BMW ever built. Well, I say playful, playful like sporting a lamb chop waistcoat and having a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ with a grizzly bear.
+ It is a BMW the Batman would ride
– Short tank range. Loves expensive petrol
Why? It’s a dumb as a rock-chewing dog but it’s unlikely there’s been a sturdier motorcycle ever built. JCB could paint one yellow and use it in quarries. The engine is predecessor of the mighty GSX-R1100, but this bike has no fussy fairing to complicate or beautify. Cormac McCarthy’s Road will be patrolled by GSX1100s.
+ Simple, brutal and tougher than a herring gull
– Most have been turned into hideous drag bikes
Why? From the days when a tiny Italian firm, more used to making industrial heating and ventilation ducts, created the most advanced road bike the world had ever seen. Motive power is supplied by a tuned Suzuki GS750 motor. It’s also Massimo ‘916’ Tamburini’s first masterpiece.
+ The frame unbolts and splits in two for engine removal.
– Only 140 were ever built
Triumph Speed Triple T309
Why? The very first Hinckley Triumphs didn’t set the blood pumping. Reliable. Bulletproof. British. Yes, yes, yes, but a bit briar pipe for a 20-year-old. Until 1994’s Speed Triple T309. It’s a high watermark in motorcycle minimalism. Subsequent Speed Triples have all been technically better but didn’t capture the imagination in the same way.
+ Built to last. And British.
– It’s a pensioner magnet. ‘I used to ‘ave a Triumph…’
Penton 125 Six Day
Why? There’s something about these early-1970s dirt bikes that is just so right. The metal tank, yellow number boards, tiny drum brake and radial-fin heads. Of course, I could’ve chosen a Husqvarna 400, but this tiddler is close to perfect. These early bikes were produced by KTM for American company set up by enduro rider John Penton.
+ Weighs the same as loaf of bread, but climbs like an ibex
– A modern washing machine has more torque
Honda ST70 Dax
Why? Yes, its cousin, the C90, is the best-seller of all-time, but the Dax has fold-up bars so you can easily more store it on your yacht. What do you mean you haven’t got a yacht? You’ve got a Dax though, right?
+ Named Dax due to its similarity to the dachshund
– Doesn’t come with a free yacht.
Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5
Why? Every now and then the Japanese build a bike that so stunning lorry drivers stop owners and demand to lick their headlights. But, due to their relentless new product timescales the Japanese forced on the market, replace it in two years, and chuck away what made it so gorgeous. Yamaha did it with the R1 of ’02, and Suzuki did just the same in 2005.
+ The ultimate disposable Japanese hyperbike
– Blue and white can clash with your leathers
Scott TT Replica
Why? Between-the-wars, two-stroke racer for the road. The earlier Flying Squirrel is more famous, but the TT is the one I’d have. Long-stroke engine, fishtail exhausts and sturdy Scott front forks. And it’s liquid-cooled. The Japanese didn’t get to grips with that until the 1970s.
+ Pokey, even 70 years later
– Not named after a gliding rodent
Wood Yamaha YZ450
Why? A pure competition bike made in small numbers in Costa Mesa, California. This chro-mo framed beauty is built to compete in dirt track races on the short ovals of the Mid-West. It is as pared-down as an HB pencil. Everything fit perfectly, and has a purpose. It is the purest distilled essence of a racing motorcycle on the planet.
+ Absolute minimalism
– Not much good for touring the Alps
Why? Like the majority of, but not all, the bikes in the list it was built to last. They left the factory a few years after The Great War and some, still 90% original, are still earning their keep on the various Walls of Death around the world. The other reason I love them is for their left-hand throttle, swapped to allow Patrolman to ride and shoot at the same time.
+ The tooled-up vigilante’s ideal ride.
– Unless the bad guys are in anything faster than an Austin 7
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