The world of motorcycles is quite an interesting one. They were a natural progression from bicycles, both share two wheels but now you had a combustion engine to push you forward. Since motorcycles only had two wheels, they also ended up being cheaper than cars and more fuel efficient, a perfect mode of transportation for those on a budget. Just like cars, however, a lot has been done with motorcycles since then. They've been built to perform and regularly have motorsport events such as MotoGP dedicated to them.
Many great motorcycles have been produced over the years but just like everything else, there have been bad eggs in there as well. Even some of the most well-known motorcycle manufacturers around the world such as Harley Davidson and Ducati end up coming out with something that simply doesn't work, yet people still end up buying most of these just because they have a particular manufacturer name attached to them. Most of them end up regretting their decision because a lot of these motorcycles cause mechanical issues as time goes by and at that point they are simply not worth the effort. So, we decided to head out and do a little bit of our own research in the motorcycle community and see what particular motorcycle models ended up selling a lot of units despite the fact that they were plagued with a number of issues. Here we have compiled a list of 23 motorcycles that people actually bought so continue reading and see if a motorcycle that you know about has made the list.
23 Ariel Arrow
The Arrow was produced in 1958 and 1965. The handling of the bike was good overall; however, the design had a problem. The steel pressed back-bone style frame looked pretty good but the mufflers were designed too low.
Riders had a problem to even clear the ground on a daily basis due to these mufflers being designed so low to the ground, especially on turns and curves of the road.
The Arrow was thus rejected by most riders even though it did great in other aspects but this one flaw led it to be considered as one of the worst motorcycles.
22 Honda C series
The C series had a step-through chassis, and it was considered one of the best selling bikes ever. The step-through chassis style made the C-series something between a scooter and motorcycle. Over 60 million units have been sold since it was first offered on the market in 1958.
It had a three-speed automatic transmission which had problems leading to people not wanting to ride this motorcycle. On earlier versions, the transmission made the bike prone to rear wheel locking if the rider had changed gears down too quickly which was a huge risk. Because of this flaw, there were safety concerns, along with some issues with the suspension which lead to the earlier versions some of the worst motorcycles.
21 Kawasaki H2 750 Triple
The H2 was one of the fastest motorcycles in its time thanks to the 748 cc three-cylinder engine. They were really fast, but only in a straight line as the handling and brakes were the worst.
Being really fast and having no control made it equivalent to a final ride for many bikers and it was famously known as the widow maker.
Due to obvious safety concerns, the 1V was dropped in 1976 after just being released in 1972. Slight bends on roads, curves or bumps caused the rider to lose control of the bike, and the brakes did not do well either. So, the bike was dubbed one of the worst bikes of all time.
20 Suzuki GT380
The GT380 was sold from 1972 to 1980 in most countries. The GT380 is a motorcycle most riders want to forget because it had a handful of problems that could not be tolerated.
The first problem was the same as the Ariel Arrow, the muffler was designed too low. The low muffler did not allow ground clearance and made it hard on twists and turns on bendy roads for riders. The engine width also contributed to bad ground clearance. The front disc of the brakes provided non-existent braking in wet conditions and below par performance in normal conditions. Lastly, it had a very flexible swing arm and the shocks had soft damping which added to the cons of this bike making it one of the worst.
19 1981 Harley Davidson Sportster
Harley Davidson is known to be a producer of some of the best motorbikes of all time even today. The 1981 Sportster, however, was one of their worst creations. The Sportster was not only bad in design, but it also underperformed from what was expected from it. The design flaw was that it was heavy on the top and the long forks used were steep.
These two features did not show their flaws during straight-line travel, however, if a rider faced turns every now and then the Sportster did not perform.
The only solution was to ride it at very low speeds for good handling, which is obviously not ideal at all times for a vehicle making the Sportster disregarded as a good motorcycle.
18 Husqvarna 250 MX 1970
Husqvarna produced some of the fastest bikes back in the day, and the 250 MX lived up to the name. The 250 MX and other MX series were really fast, and the 250 did great in a straight line. Braking was great as expected for a bike that goes this fast and not many complained in this area. The shocks, however, were really poor and even a minor bump in the road would make the rear of the bike wiggle a lot.
Another problem was the weak wing arm, however, the two most prominent issues were the crotch pad and the exhaust placement. The crotch pad was made of leather to avoid the rider from sliding towards the gas tank, they did succeed at this and as a result, riders experienced a lot of pain in their “sensitive” areas. The exhaust routing caused the discomfort of burning the left leg of the rider.
17 Kawasaki 500 H1
Kawasaki is still regarded as one of the best motorcycle makers in the industry to date. The Kawasaki 500 H1 made its name, but not as most Kawasaki bikes did. One of the most important factors of any fast vehicle is the safety of the rider. The 500 H1 was a bike that disregarded safety due to it having really poor handling. The braking was not enough for the highs speeds either.
The bike was rejected by most riders when, upon reaching an rpm of 4,000, the front wheel rose making it highly unsafe to ride. The 500 H1 was not regarded as great simply because of safety standards it could not meet.
16 Honda CX 500
Another respectable brand with many great vehicles produced. The CX 500 was, however, was one of the few failures produced by Honda.
The CX 500 sold many units still, but many of these units had problems reported with the crankshafts in the UK which eventually led to its downfall.
Another problem was the handling at low speeds which annoyed riders as the bike felt heavy. The rear wheels on shaft drive bikes were prone to locking if the gear was shifted down too quick, which was a safety risk in the CX 500. Honda would not want to look back at the CX 500 unless it would want to not make such a mistake again.
15 Suzuki GS500E
The Suzuki GS500E was really great on mileage and it was affordable compared to other options at that time. However, there are a few flaws with it and it would be a better option to pay a little more and go for a better motorcycle. The handling is really tiring on this motorbike, especially while making turns. That said, the braking is even worse. Over time, the thin paint on the body of this bike rusts easily and the parts corrode really easily. Although the bike might be cheap, it is not worth all the trouble to go for just to avoid a little extra cash.
14 Kawasaki ZX-6R
The ZX-6R is a great bike overall, and it's really common on the roads. However, the ZX-6R produced between 1995 and 1997 is to be avoided. You should rather go for the Honda CBR 600 because you would have to repair the ZX-6R a lot.
The ZX-6R is also comparatively slow compared to its competitors.
On the track, the ZX-6R underperforms as most riders complain of not being able to feel the track below them. The ZX-6R has problems with brakes and suspension over time as they need to be replaced. The ZX-6R although a great bike, has problems over time, especially the ones through the years 1995 and 1997 failed and were considered some of the worst.
13 Yamaha WR250X
Yamaha came off great with the looks on the WR250X; however, that may have been the only thing that came off right. The biggest gripe from customers is that the WR250X is really overpriced; you could end up with another motorbike with a price half of what this costs and it would perform better.
Another problem is the turning on sharp corners where the bike may even topple, and so the maneuverability is not top notch either.
The bike may have some plus points, but it has a lot of shortcomings for the price that Yamaha put it up for. The WR250X seems average for the price that Yamaha asks for making it not the best buy.
12 Ducati 900SS
The bikes coming from Ducati nowadays are really great and have made a massive impact on the brand. If you wanted to own a Ducati motorcycle, even the 900SS, you should be prepared to get your hands dirty.
The 900SS has a long list of issues, even if you buy a brand new one. It looks really sporty, however, it does not live up to its design and it’s pretty slow. The clutch is really bad, and most of the parts used were not of high quality. The 900SS if bought would empty your bank account and hence bike enthusiasts stayed away from it, or for that matter most of the bikes Ducati produced in the 90s.
11 Ducati 620 Sport
Here's another Ducati on the list. The 620 Sport was not that bad, though. It had a few issues, but the idea was that you could pay for better bikes in the same price range and avoid all the hassle.
If you still want to go for the brand name, you should be ready for some electronic problems with this model. The wiring and the circuit are both problematic and could require you to replace them in your tenure of ownership. The style of this is not aesthetically pleasing compared to other Ducatis either. So it would be best to avoid this Ducati and go for other bikes in the same price range if you want to avoid incurring financial loss.
10 Royal Enfield Bullet Electra
The Bullet Electra is a classic looking motorcycle with retro looks which attracts customers. Unfortunately, that is all there is to it. People who want to go for the retro looks have many other options. Those options have better and newer technology compared to the Bullet Electra. There are so many downsides, and you get this for a large price tag which honestly is not even worth it.
The Bullet Electra does not have a lot of speed or power, which is ironic due to the name it carries.
Many other mechanical issues which - although solvable with a simple set of tools - still exist. Electronics are problematic in this one as well. So a better option would be to just go push this option aside and go for the better vintage looking motorcycles available.
9 Benelli TRK 502
The TRK 502 is a new motorcycle, it was released in 2017. It has a 500cc parallel twin engine; however, it does not output as much power as expected from a 500cc engine. The power output seems low because of the power to weight ratio, as the bike weighs about 230kg which is a lot.
The paintwork also feels cheap and it does not seem like it was built in 2017. The TRK 502 just does not live up to the expectations of a bike built in 2017 and it does not perform either. Maybe if it was built in the early 2000s it would have been sufficient. Hence it is one of the bikes to avoid, like a bike maybe one or two years older than this one may be much better.
8 Buell XB12S Lightning
The Buell Company was discontinued in 2009 after Harley Davidson bought it in 2003. This would cause most motorbikes produced by the company to be problematic for any owner. Riders who already own a motorbike from this company will find it hard to buy spare parts or get any dealership support.
The XB12S lightning in particular has a divided opinion. This is because most owners do not have many complaints, while the rest have a lot of problems with the unit they have bought.
The lightning has really bad fuel company, and it is really uncomfortable for long rides. Most problems were electronic, and some related to the body. Basically, the Buell XB12S Lightning is too hard to maintain and it is not a bike you would enjoy riding with the discomfort and fuel economy so it is one bike to avoid owning.
7 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
This bike is really large in size, and Harley Davidson has made it really comfortable. The comfort, however, came with a price; the design is just plain ugly. The seat looks like a mini sofa, and the square-shaped luggage space makes you look like a pizza delivery boy.
The dash and the gauge are mostly made out of plastic, giving it a cheap feel just to keep it light with the huge body it has. Another gripe some riders had was that all the lights on the bike are LEDs, except for the tail lights and the blinkers. Although it rides well, some of the features in the design may make the owner reconsider their own choice of buying this bike.
6 Buell Thunderbolt S3T
The touring bike from Buell which is a successor to the S2T is more of a sporty and performance oriented touring bike. The Thunderbolt S3T rides pretty well and is a real companion when it comes to long rides. The problem is with the design and the maintenance issues.
Firstly, for a touring bike, the S3T does not have a backrest like some of the better touring bikes. Secondly, the bike engine looks ugly because of a really thick pipe wrapped awkwardly around the engine.
The maintenance is an issue firstly because the Buell Company does not exist anymore, so dealership help and spare part availability is an obvious issue. Other maintenance issues include replacement of motors and gasket problems mainly. All in all, this bike does provide a great ride for long tours, needs constant maintenance and doesn't make up for any of that with its looks.
5 Ducati Multistrada 1100S
Ducati usually makes really good looking bikes, however the Multistrada 1100S went sideways for them unfortunately. Honestly, the bike in red just looks toy-ish, and the headlight that Ducati went with makes it look like a cyclops from some angles. The windscreen is really short and has a weird shape, so buyers usually went for an aftermarket screen.
The swing bars are also really tall and wide which has given some complaints of not letting the rider steer well. The bike being tall had a strange wiggle at times especially on provocative roads. In the end, this bike is to be purchased only on personal preference, so it is not the bike which would suit most riders.
4 Bimota Tesi 3-D
The Tesi 3D was kind of a prototype and not a perfect product by Bimota, it was an idea. The Tesi 3D is the closest Bimota has come to replicating their ideas and it still was not good enough. The front of the bike looks like it is stuck in mid-air as there are front forks. The front end is hub centered, that is what makes these unique, however this means that braking forces are not felt on the suspension which leads to the rider not feeling much from the front end of the bike.
The engine had complaints of not being powerful enough either. Since it was just a way of showing what Bimota can do with its bikes, it is not a bike you would want to own as it is not a finished product and just an idea.
3 Honda vf750 (v45 Magna)
Firstly, this bike had a brown paint job, which made it look really disgusting for a bike. The large exhaust pipes were another culprit to make it hard to look at. Honda attempted to make a speed packed cruiser with the v45 Magna, and they did to some extent achieve it. Most people who have owned it have not had many problems with the performance; it is pretty good in fact.
The design, however, is a huge upset as it looks like a bike made up of different part bins and awkwardly put together. If you do not care about looks and just want a bike with few problems and average performance then this might be the one for you.
2 Honda Valkyrie Rune
The Valkyrie Rune must be one of the ugliest bikes ever produced by Honda. It looks like a 6 wheeler truck from hot wheels had its parts shrunk and fit into a bike. The engine looks like the ones on a truck; secondly, the exhaust pipes used are huge.
The huge pipes will lead to burning the rider's legs and making ground clearance really troublesome.
Then there is the weight of the bike, to which each part contributes a lot. The engine is great though however so the weight would not be an issue. Only riders who are willing to sacrifice enough of their garage space and have the muscle to handle such a heavy weighted bike would probably go for this.
1 Suzuki RE-5
The RE-5 was one of the rotary-powered motorcycles, a decision everyone wants to forget. Suzuki went wrong with the RE-5 and they realized this after a short time. They had invested in and installed many technologies to control the engine that were redundant, adding to the weight and costs of the bike.
Even with the revolutionary rotary engine of that time, the RE-5 underperformed compared to its competitors. Vibrations were uncontrollably annoying above 4,000 RPM.
The bike was eventually discontinued in 1976 due to so many issues. The RE-5 can be found still although only 6500 units were produced; however, a bike of this standard should be purchased by any bike enthusiast as there are many better options available.