Cars sure told their share of automotive history. But, their two-wheeled counterparts also have their stories to tell. In the last century, truly incredible motorcycles have been produced, ones that command incredibly steep prices despite their size and purpose. Some embody the very pinnacle of performance and technology, others withstood the test of time as an irrefutable piece of history, and some are just pure art.
That said, motorbikes deserve just as much attention as automobiles. So today, we take a look at the most elite and extravagant models as we count down the 10 most expensive bikes currently in existence. Enjoy!
10 BMS Nehmesis – $500,000
This bike's innovative design elements and bold use of materials separate it from every other motorcycle in the world and elevate it to the level of a true art piece. This creation was hand-built by Sam Nehme who operates a renowned custom chopper workshop called BMS Choppers.
Using the base of the Yamaha Roadstar 1.7L engine, Nehme created a truly unique one-off chopper that unifies futuristic, gothic, and traditional chopper design elements into a masterpiece almost fully plated in 24-karat gold. Although it's not for sale, the value of the bike is estimated to be at least $500,000.
9 Dodge Tomahawk V10 Superbike – $550,000
This is a 500-horsepower bike packed with an 8.3L V10 engine straight out of the Dodge Viper. Let that sink in for a minute. Now, if the Tomahawk doesn't already seem ridiculous enough, the bike is actually claimed to be capable of speeds of over 300 mph, while some sources even cite its limit to exceed 420 mph. Needless to say, the Tomahawk is unlike anything ever created.
Have no fear though, because this thing is not (and probably never will be) road legal; it's merely a concept developed by Dodge in 2003 as a display of the company's technical prowess (probably?). Nevertheless, being so unique and terrifying, the Tomahawk is worth an estimated $550,000.
8 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank – $715,000
A beautiful example of one of the earliest efforts of the great Harley-Davidson, the Strap tank is an irrefutable piece of automotive history. It was created in 1907 among the first 100 Harleys to ever come out of the factory. What makes this model truly special is the fact that the only change to its appearance is due to the passage of time.
No attempt at restoration has been made on the bike, which is why collectors who appreciate the untouched and original beauty of this iconic model are prepared to pay a pretty penny for this bike. One such collector made the Strap Tank the most expensive Harley Davidson model ever sold at auction when they bid a massive $715,000 for it in 2015.
7 Cyclone Board Track Racer – $852,500
It may look like a tricked out, banana-colored bicycle, but a hundred years ago, this was the most fearsome two-wheeled racer in the world. Only 12 of these are believed to have survived the last century, and the very model in this picture recently sold at a Las Vegas Mecum auction for a staggering $852,000.
The amazing thing is that the bike was able to actually attain a top speed of 111 mph. So naturally, with its aesthetic appeal and historic significance, it managed to attract the attention of the great Steve McQueen, who was one of its previous owners. Today, it's in the same perfect condition as it was when it was first created, and its price can only go up.
6 Vincent Black Lightning – $929,000
One of the most legendary motorcycles in existence, the Black Lightning became the most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction in 2018 when it fetched an incredible sum of $929,000. Although it doesn't look intimidating today, this bike was one of the fastest in the world in its time, claiming the Australian speed record by carrying Jack Ehret to a top speed of 141,5 mph 1953 and winning multiple races across the country.
Although 30 of these were produced, this one is likely one of the very few that had survived to this day. As such, the Black Lightning is today a treasured piece of automotive history, with a song from a 1991 Richard Thompson album, "Rumor and Sigh," dedicated and named after this very motorcycle model.
5 Harley-Davidson Cosmic Starship – $3,000,000
The name perfectly illustrates that this bike is truly out of this world. The Cosmic Starship is no less a piece of art than it is a motorcycle. Underneath all the glam hides a mere $18,000 Harley-Davidson V-Rod, packing a 1.25L, 120-horsepower engine.
Of course, it's not the fastest or the most powerful motorbike, but being decorated by a renowned painter Jack Armstrong in his signature "cosmic existentialism" style, it's definitely unique. When finished, it commanded a $1 million price tag; however, it's already been sold in 2012 for no less than $3 million.
4 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller – $131,200 - $3,500,000
Feast your eyes on the very first production motorcycle ever created. When it was new in 1894, it was considered an engineering marvel, effectively starting a long and fruitful tradition of vehicles we now love so much. The first bike didn't start out small, it featured a 1.5L four-stroke two-cylinder, which is a large engine by today's standards.
The fact that this engine was only able to propel the bike to about 28 mph tells you a lot about how far automotive technology has come over the last century. Although the model you're seeing is one of the very few that persists to this day, making it priceless, one of these could supposedly fetch an astonishing $3,5 million with the right buyer. That said, the bike has been known to sell for considerably cheaper.
3 Ecosse Spirit – $3,600,000
Inspired by a Formula One car, this sleek superbike was designed with one thing in mind: Gut-wrenching speed. Its smooth and aerodynamic body enables the Spirit's engine to unleash its full potential on the road. The fact that taming this beast requires the owner to first take a 2-week class at Ecosse should be a clear indication of the force this Spirit conjures on the track.
Under the bodywork is a 200-horsepower four-stroke V4 that's able to propel the bike to a top speed of 370 km/h (about 230 mph). Only ten of these have ever been made, each commanding a price of no less than $3,6 million.
2 E90 AJS Porcupine – $675,000 - $7,000,000
The Porcupine is a renowned motorcycle, both for its motorsports achievements and its fabled, timeless design. What helps justify the estimated price tag is the fact that only 4 of these have ever been created, and seeing one on the road would be a rare wonder.
The bike carried the famous Les Graham ahead of the competition and to a win in the 1949 World Championship race. For a true collector, few vehicles can come close to the level of significance and value the Porcupine holds in the context of automotive history. While a price tag of around $7,000,000 is occasionally cited for the 1949 model, the 1954 version sold for $675,000 at a Bonham auction in 2011.
1 Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter – $11,000,000
In 2009, a luxury department store chain known as Neiman Marcus decided to try their hand at making an exclusive limited-edition motorcycle. Despite the company having no previous experience or business in the motorcycle industry, the result of their effort was surprisingly interesting. Initially priced at a steep $110,000, the dubbed Fighter was a bare-boned, rugged, and extravagant fashion statement.
Things would only get crazier from there, as the bike was so unique its price soon rocketed exponentially. Today, it's known as the most expensive motorcycle ever, valued at approximately $11,000,000. Delving into its carbon-fiber and steel structure reveals a sizable 2.0L V-Twin engine making the Fighter quite a terrifying fashion accessory, one able to exceed speeds of 190 mph.