While the need for speed is a big part of motorcycle culture, driving stylish, sexy, and even iconic machines is just as important. And they don’t come much more iconic than Harley Davidson bikes. From the moment they were immortalized on film by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in the 1969 film Easy Rider, Harleys have come to symbolize rebelliousness, defiance, and even outright revolution–especially among those who saw the counterculture movement of the '60s and the '70s as a threat to the American way of life!
Motorcycles remain hugely popular today, although you don’t have to be an aging hippie to ride one. In fact, some of the most expensive bikes are ridden by high-paid corporate executives, the very people the Easy Rider bikers were rebelling against!
As of 2016, there were over 8 million motorcycles registered in the US, including 840,000 in the state of California alone. Harley Davidson has retained its popularity from the Swinging Sixties to remain one of the bestselling manufacturers in the US, reporting worldwide revenue figures of nearly $6 billion in 2016.
And a Harley even features in the list below of the most expensive motorcycles in the world, along with modern machines featuring cutting-edge technology, as well as classic vintage bikes whose limited manufacturing runs only add to their value. Do you think these expensive motorcycles are worth their hefty price tags?
15 MTT Turbine Streetfighter - $175,000
Made by Marine Turbine Technologies, the MTT Turbine Streetfighter bike was launched in 2006, boasting a powerful 420 hp engine and with a top speed of an incredible 240 mph, making it one of the fastest production motorcycles ever made.
The Streetfighter isn’t mass-manufactured but is instead made for each individual customer, to their own specifications when it comes to engineering and design.
Some might argue that a price tag of $175,000 to own a unique version of one of the fastest motorcycles in the world is actually quite reasonable, though if you're just planning on riding it on regular roads, that top speed really is unnecessarily fast. The only place you can really open up the throttle is on the racetrack or the German autobahn…
14 Suzuki Carbon Fiber Hayabusa - $200,000
Launched at the prestigious SEMA motor show in 2008, the Suzuki Hayabusa, made in conjunction with engineering company AEM, comes with a $200,000 price tag and an innovative carbon-fiber body, which makes this motorcycle incredibly light compared to its competitors.
This carbon-fiber bodywork, coupled with a powerful four-cylinder engine, gives the Suzuki Hayabusa an impressive top speed of 186 mph.
The Suzuki Carbon Fiber Hayabusa’s engineering certainly lives up to its price tag, as does its super sleek and customizable design, but this isn't a motorcycle for the faint-hearted, and the lighter carbon-fiber bodywork can take a bit of getting used to, especially if you've ridden only old-school, heavy motorcycles in the past.
13 Ducati Testa Stretta NCR Macchia Nera Concept - $225,000
Ducati is one of the best-known names in motorcycle design and manufacture, and their top machines change hands for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Ducati Testa Stretta NCR Macchia Nera Concept motorcycle comes with a price tag of $225,000, but many serious fans of serious motorbikes would see that as a small price to pay to own such an exquisite piece of machinery. Designed by legendary MotoGP designer Aldo Drudi and featuring a frame made with carbon fiber and titanium, the Ducati Testa Stretta NCR Macchia Nera Concept bike is almost demonic in appearance, and its 185 hp engine and top speed of 230 mph almost guarantee that you'll turn heads as you roar past. And if you’re going to pay that much for a motorcycle, you want people to notice!
12 Ducati Desmosedici D16RR NCR M16 - $232,500
If even $250,000 seems too cheap for your Ducati motorbike, then why not splash out an additional $7500 and buy a Ducati Desmosedici D16RR NCR M16? The Ducati Desmosedici was originally designed for MotoGP racing, and the 2018 version will be ridden by Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo as they chase MotoGP glory.
The Ducati Desmosedici D16RR NCR M16 is the road-legal version of the MotoGP favorite and is a great machine if you want to experience what it’s like to ride a real racing motorbike.
Only a limited number were manufactured, so their rarity certainly adds to the value of their hefty price tag, although this collector’s item is one bike that you'll definitely want to take out of the garage from time to time.
11 Ecosse FE Ti XX Titanium Series - $300,000
Ecosse may be a thoroughly modern motorbike manufacturer established by former road racer and engineer Donald Aitchison in 2001, but the bikes he now builds have a nostalgic feel to them. In fact, while the Ecosse FE Ti XX Titanium Series may use the latest technology and sleek titanium bodywork, the bikes themselves could've driven straight from the 1950s. If you want to pay tribute to old-school machines while enjoying the benefit of 21st-century engineering, then the Ecosse FE Ti XX Titanium Series is a great option, even taking its $300,000 price tag into consideration. With a 200 hp engine, the Ecosse FE Ti XX Titanium Series is certainly much more powerful than the retro motorcycles that inspired its design.
10 Vincent-HRD Black Lightning - $400,000
However, if the idea of a motorbike inspired by the machines of yesterday doesn’t quite float your boat, then you can always splash out on a bona fide legend of motorbike history. The Vincent-HRD Black Lightning motorcycle was in production for only four years between 1948 and 1952, and just 31 machines rolled off the production line, making this model one of the rarest and most sought-after collector’s items. As well as its classic design, the British Vintage Black boasts a 250cc engine and a surprisingly swift top speed of 150 mph–impressive for an antique! $400,000 might seem like a lot of money to pay for something that's almost 70 years old, but bike fans will think nothing of shelling out that and more to have a rare Black Lightning in their collection.
9 Yamaha Roadstar BMS Chopper - $500,000
American bike designer BMS came up with the look of the highly unusual Yamaha Roadstar BMS Chopper, a gold-plated motorcycle that somehow manages to look both vintage and futuristic at the same time. Designed around the high-performance 1.7 Yamaha Roadstar engine, the Yamaha Roadstar BMS Chopper may be the epitome of modern motorcycle design, but at first glance, it isn’t easy to figure out how you'd actually ride it! This particular design seems to be all about style over substance, something which will look great in your collection but which isn’t really designed to be taken out onto the road. And what's the point of spending half a million dollars on a motorcycle that's impossible to ride?
8 Dodge Tomahawk V10 Superbike - $550,000
As long as you can figure out how to ride it, you're at least allowed to take the Yamaha Roadstar BMS Chopper out on the road. The next bike on this list isn't even street legal, and its manufacturer claims that it's meant to be viewed as a “rolling sculpture” rather than something that's intended to be ridden.
The Dodge Tomahawk V10 Superbike, manufactured by Chrysler, nevertheless comes with a $550,000 price tag, and even though you can’t even ride them on the roads, collectors still bought nine of them.
Dodge claimed that their concept bike could reach a top speed of 420 mph and featured four close-coupled wheels, which led some to argue that the Tomahawk isn’t a motorbike at all.
7 1954 AJS E95 Porcupine - $695,000
The AJS E95 motorbike, nicknamed the "Porcupine" in homage to the unusual spikes on its cooling fins, was a classic of motorcycle racing in the years after the war. Boasting a 500 cc engine, it's easy to see why the Porcupine blew away the competition on the racetrack in the early '50s, although many experts in motorcycles of that era say that it doesn’t quite match up to the earlier models from the same manufacturer–one of the models featuring a little further down this list. Still, the few AJS E95 Porcupines that were made in 1954 now command a high price when they do make rare appearances at auctions. The last one to be sold by auctioneers the Bonhams fetched an impressive $695,000 when it was sold in 2011.
6 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer - $852,500
When a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer motorcycle came up for auction in Las Vegas in 1984, it was expected to fetch $650,000 but ended up selling for $200,000 more than the asking price. This was partly due to the rarity of this trailblazing motorcycle, first built in 1913, and partly due to the fact that it had been owned by Hollywood legend Steve McQueen.
The motorbike boasted a 45 hp engine—not bad for a bike without brakes built in the early days of the 20th century and was recorded making speeds of 111 mph in 1914, then the fastest speed ever recorded by a motorcycle.
The 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer is a true piece of motorcycling history, and bike aficionados would pay a lot more than $850,000 these days to make it the highlight of their collection.
5 Harley Davidson Cosmic Starship - $1.5 million
And so, we come to the first million-dollar motorbike on this list, and fittingly, that honor belongs to one of the most iconic names in motorcycle design and manufacturing: Harley Davidson. The Cosmic Starship is actually a souped-up version of the Harley Davidson FXTSB Softail Nighttrain, a valuable-enough piece of motorcycle memorabilia. But what makes this particular model so expensive is that it was given a custom paint job by artist Jack Armstrong. Considering that Armstrong’s paintings can sell for up to $3 million, $1.3 million for a hand-painted motorcycle might even feel like something of a bargain! Armstrong put his own artistic spin on the classic Harley Davidson design with striking red and orange images on the bodywork to create a unique motorcycle that'll only appreciate in value.
4 Hildebrand & Wolfmuller - $3.5 million
If you're fortunate enough to have a Hildebrand & Wolfmuller motorbike in your collection, then it's unlikely that you've ever actually ridden it. That doesn’t mean that the exquisite museum piece isn’t worth every cent of its $3.5-million price tag simply because of its importance to motorcycling history.
First built at the end of the 19th century in Germany, the simple design generated just 2.5 bhp and a top speed of only 28 mph, but when it was launched in 1894, it featured cutting-edge technology.
Of the two thousand Hildebrand and Wolfmullers that were made, just a handful survive, and most are now housed in motoring museums around the world, including the Science Museum in London and the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
3 Ecosse ES1 Spirit - $3.6 million
We go from a piece of motorcycling memorabilia to a machine that's every inch a 21st-century creation. Made by the same team responsible for the $300,000 Titanium Series earlier in the list, the ES1 Spirit Superbike used Formula 1 technology to create an aerodynamic motorbike that weighs just 265 pounds–and yet, which still packs a punch when it comes to its V4 200 hp engine and top speed of 230 mph. Ecosse appreciates that this combination of power and lightweight bodywork can be difficult to handle, especially for inexperienced riders, and if you want to buy one of the $3.6 million bikes, you'll also have to spend two weeks at their headquarters learning all there is to know about the ins and outs of the ES1 Spirit.
2 1949 AJS E90 Porcupine - $7 Million
Before the 1954 AJS E95 Porcupine came the 1949 AJS E90 model, a trailblazer in motorcycle racing, and the bike which saw the UK win its first-ever motor-racing championship. Only four of these motorbikes were ever built, which makes them not only extremely rare but also extremely valuable, with an estimated value of around $7 million, in the unlikely event that one of them ever comes to auction. Driven by Les Graham in the inaugural Grand Prix World Championships in 1949, the 500cc AJS E90 Porcupine took the British rider to glory, and its place in motoring history far outweighs its value as a vintage motorcycle. If you have the cash to buy an AJS E90 Porcupine, be aware that you're buying a museum piece and not something to take out on the roads.
1 Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter - $11 million
Finally, for the billionaire who has everything is the world’s most expensive motorcycle, the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter, which was bought for an eye-watering $11 million when it came to auction in 2010, ten times the anticipated $110,000 price tag. There were only 45 of these motorbikes ever made, and part of their attraction is the very unusual design that allows you to see the inner workings of the bike–machinery usually covered by bodywork in other more conventional motorcycles. The Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter’s carbon-fiber frame, with aluminum and titanium features, helps this powerful machine reach a top speed of 190 mph, while its futuristic style will draw attention whether it's being ridden on the street or stored in a collection.