Time spares no one. The once great mountains of millions of years ago have probably corroded into the dust we walk on and the building that once housed an entire city of spectators are nothing more than mere ruins today. Father Time has that effect on everything; from civilizations to nature, architecture to machinery. In fact, time spares nothing, be they living or non-living, natural or man-made. So why should motorcycles be any different?
The boldest, brashest and the most expensive of all motorcycles can be reduced to mere shells when time and abandonment come into play. That's the thing with machines. On one hand, there are the vintage vehicles that people lovingly pass down generations and keep running. Since these oldies are taken care of, they manage to last and weather time as well as they can. And then there are vehicles that get lost and abandoned on the way and lose just about everything that made them run on the road like kings, including their dignity.
Over time, these 25 motorcycles have been reduced to nothing more than their skeletal basics and are not ride worthy at all. And these were all majestic machines once, loved for their brawny appeal and roadworthiness. But time and a lack of care turned these beauties into rusted relics that no one can or should ride anymore. Even so, they still have a ruined beauty about them…
According to Daily Mail, the motorcycle in the picture is a victim of Japan tsunami of 2011. This Harley got washed up on the shores of Canada. It was later spotted by Peter Mark a year after the wave that sent water all across the lower countryside and cities of Japan. He was, in fact, beachcombing Graham Islands and found this rusted motorcycle in a large white container. When he went back to have a second look at the bike, he was astonished to find it half buried in the sands while the large white shipping container had washed away into the sea.
The neglected motorcycle in the picture is a BSA. The cover plate on the side of the cylinder bears the legendary logo of The Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) Company. In its heydays, BSA was one of the largest producers of motorcycles in the auto bazaar. It went on sales between 1910 and 1970 in the global markets. Stalwarts from Japan like Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki debuted in 1965 with electric-start and put a heavy dent on the sales of kick-start BSA motorcycles, leading to its eventual demise.
This one is a deserted Brough Superior. It was made by its creator George Brough between 1919 and 1940. According to The Motor Cycle newspaper, his masterpieces were dubbed as the Rolls-Royces of motorcycles. He named his work of art "Brough Superior" as these motorcycles were superior from its rivals in that era. Why not? He created around 3,048 motorcycles and it is believed that one-third of them still exist, even after almost eighty years. However, the one in the picture is totally unloved.
This one was a motorcycle giant from erstwhile Czechoslovakia. In its glory days in the 1950s, Jawa ruled the global motorcycle marketplace. It was a big name in almost 120 nations while it was being exported from Czechoslovakia during its lifetime. The legendary Jawa was born in 1929 and it still enjoys a cult following in many markets and seems to be on the revival as well. The most-loved Jawa was the renowned 350cc two-stroke twin that is still alive in some markets. The abandoned motorcycle in the picture is a Jawa Californian 350cc Twin.
The classic, vintage, and forsaken motorcycle in the picture is a 1940 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. It debuted in 1936 in the motorcycling world and was dubbed as design perfection from America. This magic line is something that this legendary motorcycle brand is still mining today. It carried a beautiful 1.0-liter V-Twin engine as its heart. It is also dubbed as Harley’s first production V-twin with an overhead valve, OHV engine. However, the corroded Harley still looks charming in its own way minus the functioning underpinnings.
Ariel started its journey in the automobile world by manufacturing bicycles. Later, the company ventured into making motorcycles and they are still labeled as innovators in the UK's motorcycling history. The Ariel Red Hunter nameplate was used by the company for their lineup of single and twin cylinder motorcycles. They all had distinctive dark red fuel tanks. The Red Hunter was a huge success and turned the company’s fortune so much so that the company could afford to buy Triumph. However, Ariel was sold to BSA in 1951 and the last Red Hunter rolled out in 1959.
According to Ultimate Motorcycling, the Yamaha YZ250 has been a longtime staple of the Yamaha motocross lineup. It debuted in 1974 and is one of the only two-stroke bikes of this displacement that is still alive. This motocross race bike has many wins to its name and is considered as a champion in the motocross arena. Ever since its launch, this 250cc single-cylinder two-stroke bike has received regular updates year on year. However, the one in the picture looks broken down and has been left for its own fate.
This one is an old and legendary 1922 Harley Davidson track racer. And it is armed with a flexible sidecar. In the early 20s, Harley Davidson was the largest player in the motorcycling world and they had a presence in more than 67 countries. In those times, Harley’s 1.0-liter JD Racer model became the first ever motorcycle to tip the speedometer at 100mph and win the race on a board track in California. However, this one looks redundant and has no takers.
This classic vintage motorcycle is known for its unique engine knock: whing…ding…ding…ding…ding…ding. Back in the day, two-stroke motorcycles were a significant part of the biking business. Sachs Motorcycles was one of the earliest players and was known to be one of the oldest ones in the motorcycling world. Their first one rolled out way back in 1904. The dismissed motorcycle in the picture is a 1966 Sachs Lebre, a 50cc two-stroke motorcycles that carried exceptional styling and design. It was way ahead of its contemporaries back then but unfortunately, this one is way behind now.
Indian Motorcycles is yet another major player in the motorcycling world and has been churning out cruiser after cruiser for long. Founded in 1901, this was the first domestic motorcycling company and lasted till 1953, when the company itself went bankrupt. Many tried to revive the brand but failed until finally, Polaris Industries brought the brand and has since been churning our retro-styled motorcycles under the Indian name. This rusted relic still looks regal despite its haggard and unworthy condition.
The rusted and sacked motorcycle above is a Harley-Davidson Flathead. Flatheads were standard for pre-war era motorcycles and had side-valve cylinder heads. The Harley Flatheads were intake-inlet over exhaust-type motors. These influential powerplants were further powered by Harley-Davidson flathead Big Twin engines that debuted in the late 1930s, which then took the motorcycle world by storm. In that era, it was one of the only two players that could withstand the Great Depression. And Harley has never looked back ever since, though maybe they should have retrieved this piece of beauty.
The RF Series from Suzuki was the class-leader in the range of touring motorcycles. The RF 900R came armed with a 937cc inline four-cylinder liquid-cooled four-stroke powerplant that coughed up a peak 125 horsepower and 71 ft-lb worth of torque. According to Classic Motorbikes, the Suzuki RF900R makes for an ideal modern classic, especially for buyers who are in the hunt for convenience, speed, and outright power of a modern machine minus any peripheral costs. Plus, it could tip the odometer at 162 mph in no time. So we wonder why this one lies so forlorn?
This one is a legend, an unloved but vintage 1958 Lambretta Prior scooter. The Lambretta name is enough to attract any scooter collector or enthusiast even today. Classic rides today don’t include just the top-end marquee brands. A restored scooter from another era is also considered to be a treasure. Perhaps, because it’s a rarity today and people have moved on to better, comfortable, and technologically advanced motorcycles. However, Lamby has a legacy of its own and it’s a name synonymous with scooters in many parts of the world. Hopefully, someone restores this one.
These track bikes were super common back in the day. They were one of the best intermediate bikes for buyers who had a shoestring budget. The one in the picture is a 75-horsepower Czechslovakian JAWA 500 Speedway motorcycle that looks completely ignored. Even if it looks super cool in the garage, this one seems to have been left to rust and fall apart. According to Motocross Action Magazine, the JAWA 500’s power-to-weight ratio pulls your arms out of their sockets when you get on the gas, so maybe someone should pay attention to this abandoned beauty.
It’s a BSA, a long-forgotten motorcycle. The brand BSA stood for Birmingham Small Arms Company. Back in 1919, it was a prominent industrial brand. The company literally ruled the global motorcycle marketplace for almost half a century. However, it could not handle the cutthroat competition from auto giants from Japan that floored the markets with electric-start motorcycles. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, their motorcycle sales went spiraling down as a result of the amateurish management board and its inability to bring out a better motorcycle that could lock horns with its rivals.
This old and rusted motorcycle has a long history. It’s an AJS, a 1926ish model that was a brainchild of AJ Stevens, who owned this motorcycle brand. Not many of us know that this legendary motorcycle nameplate started its journey in 1909 and had 117 motorcycle world records to its name by 1931. After 1931, AJS was sold to Matchless, which is one of the oldest names in the UK's motorcycle bazaar. Matchless introduced G3 and G3/L models and became one of the most popular motorcycles used during World War II.
This 1970 Honda CT90 motorcycle is desolate in the woods. The retro CT90 was an 89cc, four-stroke, air-cooled single paired with a four-speed transmission and a semi-automatic clutch. Thanks to the social media that can offer a plethora of information and advice, the CT90 is being dragged out of barns and garages and being given a new lease of life. As a result, the CT90 owners came to know that this step-through motorcycle’s 89cc powerplant is powerful enough and convenient to ride around in the modern city traffic.
This one is an abandoned 1965 Black Suzuki 125 S30. And this was the time when motorcycles from Japan started to overtake domestically built motorcycles and took the motorcycling world by storm. They were faster, sleeker, cheaper and even more reliable than the domestic and even counterparts from the UK—and the world could not get enough of them. So it is surprising to see one of the Suzuki successes lying so forlornly abandoned in the middle of weeds and such. But sometimes, life gets pretty complicated, no?
According to Bikeexif, Harley-Davidson forayed into the Sportster motorcycle’s arena in 1957 and the sports bikes were all powered by the legendary “Ironhead” motors. These iconic engines remained in production till 1985. The dilapidated picture above is of a Harley carrying the same Ironhead engine unit. This engine was so iconic that it actually has the longest production history of an engine that the Harley Sportsters ever used. There are still many Ironhead Sporsters on the streets, however, this one is not that lucky.
With the launch of Ducati 350 Mark III Desmo, Desmodromic valve actuation became a reality in the motorcycling world. The ramshackle motorcycle in the picture is a 1969 example of the same motorcycle that used a 340cc OHC, desmodromic drive, air-cooled single engine to power itself. The claimed power output was 22 horsepower and it could tip the scales at 112 mph, quite an impressive result for the 70s era. This single-cylinder desmo engine was an all-alloy unit with polished cases. But for all its advancement, it lies abandoned today.
The iconic Honda Gold Wing was born in 1974 and won a million hearts all over the world. North America, Western Europe, Australia, and Japan have since been its much-loved markets. The above picture is of the third-generation Honda Gold Wing GL1200 that used a 1182cc flat-four engine as its heart. In 1983, Honda wanted to lock horns with the Yamaha Venture XVZ1200 and so the Gold Wing GL1200 was born. Also, Honda wanted to take charge of the Full-Dress Tourer segment and did so in style. Sad to see this abandoned stalwart laid to waste.
In 1938, the army in Germany needed a reliable vehicle in a motorcycle and sidecar combination for the troops. As a result, BMW came up with R75 and became one of the very few World War II-era motorcycles that people never forgot. The motorcycle carried an all-new, OHV, 750cc engine. This OHV engine, in fact, proved to be the foundation for subsequent post-war twin BMW powerplants that was later used in R67 and R68 examples. Only 16,510 BMW R75 were ever produced in its five-year-long journey, one of them being this ill-fated one.
This one is a 1990 Yamaha XV1100 Virago that carries a 1,063cc, air-cooled gasoline engine. The Virago line was born in 1981 and it was Yamaha’s maiden entry in the global V-Twin cruiser motorcycle segment. Furthermore, it was one of the first mass-produced motorcycles with a mono-shock rear suspension. It had a tear-drop shaped fuel tank and posed a threat to Harleys in the mid-80s. However, according to Motorcyclist magazine, early Virago examples were faced with a design flaw in the starter system; this may be the reason behind its abandonment.
These Honda CX-Series motorcycles were floored in the bike bazaar in the late-1970s. By the mid-80s, Honda drew the curtains on this line in most markets internationally. The 1978 Honda CX500 had a large gas tank and stepped seats. It was also nicknamed as the “plastic maggot” for its rather unusual design. The overall design was actually a mix of standard, sport, and cruiser motorcycles. A lot of CX500 have been turned into Café Racer by the customizers and they look stunning in their newfound avatar, so there might be hope for this one too.
The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company built this classic Indian Four motorcycle between 1928 and 1942. It borrowed its design and underpinnings from the Ace Motorcycle that Indian had picked up in 1927. It was labeled as Indian Four because it used a 1180cc, four-stroke, inline-four engine to power itself. Indian Four was so popular that despite the falling demand for luxury motorcycles during the Great Depression that marred the economy in the 1930s, it remained in continuous production.
Sources: The Motor Cycle Newspaper, Ultimate Motorcycling, Bikeexif, Classic Motorbikes, and Motorcyclist.