The feeling of freedom you get from riding a motorcycle is frankly incomparable to anything else. Imagine cruising down an empty highway, wind in your hair as you push that throttle to the max. The sound of the engine filling your ears, the smell of nature seeping into your lungs.
There are many incredible motorcycles to choose from if you are an enthusiast. The options are endless, but today, we focus on the past. Read on and learn about ten forgotten and discontinued motorcycle models, and why they should be brought back.
10 BSA Gold Star
The BSA Gold Star was made from 1938 to 1963 and was produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company, a British company known for making cars, motorcycles, buses, tools, and more. During the 1950s, the Gold Star was recognized as being one of the fastest bikes of the decade and was released with a 350cc and 500cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine.
Each motorcycle was hand-built and came from the factory with a dynamometer test, which was extremely uncommon during this time and allowed the owner to view the horsepower produced. Over the years, the Gold Star had 8 variations produced, and ceased production in 1963.
9 Vincent Black Shadow
Another British bike on this list, the Vincent Black Shadow. In February of 1948, the British manufacturer Vincent HRD announced a bike to rival their most popular model, the Rapide. The Rapide, in 1948 had a top speed of 110 mph. The Black Shadow came out in 1948 with a max speed of 125 mph and became the fastest bike in the world.
The Black Shadow was produced with a four-stroke 50-degree V-twin engine, similar to the one in the Rapide, but modifications allowed the Black Shadow to produce 55 hp compared to the Rapide's 45 hp. Over the course of its life, three series of the Black Shadow was built, and the line was discontinued in 1955.
8 Honda CB77
Moving away from British-made motorcycles, lets talk about the Honda CB77. The CB77 was produced first in 1961 and was also known as the Super Hawk, a 305 cc straight-twin motorcycle. Although discontinued in '67, this epic model is remembered today as Honda's first sports bike.
Not only was this bike known for its speed, power, and reliability, but it also reflects Honda's move into the Western markets and is famous for setting the standard for most modern motorcycles. The CB77 had a large engine at 305 ccs when compared to other Japanese motorcycles but faced adversity and competition in the international markets. Despite its untimely demise, the CB77 has a legacy that is still remembered today as the first modern Japanese motorcycle.
7 Kawasaki Triple
The Kawasaki Triple was a two-stroke motorcycle that first retailed in 1978. The bike was powered by an air-cooled, three-cylinder engine and was the first street motorcycle with a CDI. The CDI, or Capacitor Discharge Ignition, contributed to the Triple’s immediate popularity along with its other advantages as well.
The Triple model's unmatched acceleration at the time, along with its notorious power-to-weight ratio was admired in the sporting community, but also served as a danger to inexperienced riders trying to wield the bike. To be fair, the Triple was not intended for regular riding, but as an aggressive sporting motorcycle that disregarded both fuel economy and noise. Nonetheless, the Kawasaki Triple was a great race bike.
6 Ducati 900SS
The Ducati SS was a series of 90-degree v-twin air-cooled, desmodromic four-stroke, two-valve, motorcycles produced back in 1988. The Ducati 900SS, in particular, was produced in 1991 and differentiated from the other supersport models on the market by their carbon fiber fenders and clutch covers.
Beginning in 1997, the popularity of the SS series began to dwindle. The rising popularity of the Ducati Monster and the Ducati Superbike lines interfered with the sales of the SS series, and in 1998, the SS was discontinued. Despite its short-lived life, the 900SS was a fine sports bike and will be missed by many.
5 Kawasaki Z1
The Kawasaki Z1 was a four-cylinder, double-overhead camshaft, carbureted, chain drive motorcycle produced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries in 1972. Following the release of the Honda CB750 in 1968, the Z1 helped popularize the style associated with both bikes: the in-line across the frame four-cylinder, a style that would later be known as the Universal Japanese Motorcycle.
Another quality that gained a lot of interest in this bike was its double-overhead camshaft system on a street motorcycle. At the time, only one other bike used this system, but the Kawasaki Z1 was half its price. Despite its popularity, the Z1 was discontinued in 1975 but would make an excellent addition to the motorcycles on the market today.
4 Brough Superior SS100
Another fine example of British engineering is the Brough Superior SS100. Each SS100 was hand-crafted and individualized to each customer's demands; not one detail was missed right down to the customizable handlebars. Apart from the promise that this bike could achieve speeds of up to 100 mph, the manufacturer, Brough Superior advertised the SS100 as "The Rolls-Royce of motorcycles."
After a Rolls-Royce exec toured the company's factory, Brough was officially given permission to run those ads. Apart from its popularity and sleek design, the SS100 also holds a few world records, one of them being the most expensive British bike to ever be sold at auction. The production of the SS100 only ran from 1924 to 1940, but the demand for this fine bike is still rampant.
3 Panther Model 120
The Panther Model 120 was a British vehicle made by Phelon & Moore from 1959 to 1966. The 120 was an enlarged version of the company's model 100, but had a reputation for being unreliable. The 120 quickly gained a reputation for heavy consumption of motor oil, rapid clutch wear, dubious roll bearings. Considering these issues, combined with the increase of competitors, Panther had some problems.
By 1966, Panther could no longer obtain gearboxes from Burman and Lucas Magdynos, and the Model 120 was forced out of production. Despite its numerous mechanical issues, the Model 120 remains to be one of the classiest-looking rides out there and would most likely thrive in today's markets.
2 Norton Commando
The Norton Commando is another iconic motorcycle missed by many. The motorcycle itself has a deep red hue, a funny looking kickstand, and the word "Norton" across the side in Gaelic font. The Commando was produced by the Norton-Villers motorcycle company from 1967 to 1977.
The bike initially had an engine displacement of 750 ccs, which became 850 ccs in 1973. The motorcycle was equipped with an OHV pre-unit parallel engine and had a top speed of 115 mph. From 1968 to 1972, the Commando won Motor Cycle News’ "Machine of the Year" award for five successive years. The CEO at the time, Dennis Poore, expressed surprise over the Commando's remarkable success, something nobody expected considering the bike ran on an engine based on an old pre-unit design.
1 Triumph Bonneville
Finally, we present to you the Triumph Bonneville, more fondly known as Bonnie. Bonnie was a standard motorcycle that was manufactured in three generations and featured a parallel-twin four-stroke engine. Technically, the third generation of the Bonnie is still in production today.
The first two generations of the Bonneville featured their mechanics in a classic duplex frame model. While the modern lines of this bike bear some resemblance to the duplex frame, they do not compare to the original T120. The Bonnie was produced from 1959-1983, and again in 1985-1988, and finally from 2001-present. The Bonneville's name is derived from the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, where this beloved motorcycle attempted to break the motorcycle speed records.