Motorcycles are victims of many strange design choices at the hands of major brands. Even the most popular ones, such as Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Harley-Davidson, are guilty of odd designs. Part of making vehicles requires risks and experimentation that don’t always translate into a home run with the public.
Motorcycle brands have to find new ways to reinvent their lineups. That can lead makers into pushing their bike designs into weird territories. Whether it is adding an unnecessary part or trying to make motorcycles feel more luxurious—or even going so far as to make bikes feel more like cars—these features appear desperate in appealing more to riders.
Major brands appear as whiny toddlers waving their toys at consumers in an attempt to raise sales figures. Brands aren’t the only ones guilty of introducing strange features—modders turn their motorcycles into super weird things all the time.
If there's one thing both motorcycle brands and modders share in this regard, it's that these off-ball features either completely strike us as genius or serve no purpose. It rarely leaves a flat note, instead of landing somewhere in the middle.
We’re going to look at strange motorcycle features actual brands attempted. Not only did these make it out of the planning phase but ended up in actual bikes on the road today. Some managed to take off, ending up in actual bikes, while others quietly failed never to emerge again. Whether these designs stuck around or not, they remain strange features on motorcycles.
This bike is bonkers. Appropriately dubbed “Anaconda,” this extended Harley looks like it can accommodate eight in all—including the rider—by the number of seat humps. It’s something of a miracle the bike is able to stand upright in the first place.
There’s even a long platform along the bottom for people to step on when boarding. This feature is not only odd but looks impractical as well, adding difficulty to turns; nevertheless, it's a design the creators look to have pulled off without a hitch.
In an effort to make motorcycles adaptable to snowy terrains, Indian added an unusual feature to some of their Scout models. Affixed underneath the bike was a skiing apparatus. According to RM Rider Exchange, it was a separate kit that could fit on Scout or Arrow models.
On each side of the kit were large skis that Indian intended would help the bike drift across the snow. It makes one wonder whether they really tested it or not, as there isn’t really a way for the rider to control it.
Highlighted earlier was the Rokon Trail Breaker bike. This was a bike that had not just one, but two weird features. In addition to front and rear wheel drive, it could also float in water.
While it might appeal to hunters, campers and other outdoorsy folks, how often is someone going to be around rivers? Going even further, in what circumstances would they actually need to float it down said river? The chances are slim, making this one weird but an inventive feature.
This may not have been an attempt to make motorcycles more like cars, but it looks that way on the surface. This odd bike went by the name of Quasar. What strikes it as odd from the get-go is the roof.
It must give riders an enclosed feeling while on the go. According to Ultimate Motorcycling, they used fiberglass for the roof. Although it protected riders more from rain and other conditions, it seems to serve very little purpose otherwise.
Someone might want to ride their motorcycle in an area that's far away without racking up miles. If only their bike could fit inside the trunk of a car. That’s exactly what this Harley-Davidson Sportser has to offer.
RM Rider Exchange notes that not only is it a functioning motorcycle, but one that goes conveniently inside the back of a car. Someone even made a custom ramp that draws the Harley into its cozy enclosure. It’s a weird but inventive kind of motorcycle.
This motorcycle attempts to give riders something akin to the car driving experience. What makes this motorcycle different from most out there are its three wheels that accommodate two bucket seats.
Although the front half looks like a conventional bike, the back half is able to seat two passengers for a scenic cruise. It is a departure from conventional bikes in its attempt to give passengers two comfy seats. It’s an odd feature that while many would love to have on their bikes, never caught on.
Motorcycles that play around with inventive new features tend to be Frankenstein monsters. They’re hybrids between two different classes of vehicles. The Kettenkrad was a part tank, part motorcycle.
The front half was a conventional motorcycle triple clamp, fender and wheel; the back half was a miniaturized tank. It even had treads. According to RM Rider Exchange, these Kettenkrads were roaming battlefields during WWII. It was an interesting take on motorcycles that proved makers were willing to try anything as long as it worked.
It’s common for motorcycles to have storage compartments on the back. With so little room on a motorcycle, these can be essential for riders. Then there are bikes like the EsCargo. This takes storage to a whole new level.
It manages to fit more items thanks to an economic platform, which will come in handy for those making deliveries or for a short-distance move. Still, it’s a weird feature to come up with for a motorcycle, which traditionally isn’t known for transporting valuables.
Kick starters were more common on older bikes. According to Ride Apart, riders had to kick a small pedal on the side in order to start the bike. They point out that performing something as simple as that could lead to frustrations, or worse, injury.
It’s reminiscent of the experience of pulling the cord of a lawnmower. It’s a feature many riders today will look back on with wonder, glad they don’t have to start their bike any other way.
Bike makers are always looking at new ways to power their vehicles. They don’t rule out any possibility. One of the wildest motorcycle designs came from Ernest Archdeacon out of France. He created what RM Rider Exchange confirms is the Aéromotocyclette, which had a large propeller on the front.
The engine worked to power the propeller instead of the wheels, which translated to a top speed of as much as 50 mph. A half plane, half motorcycle, the Aéromotocyclette had a wild feature.
In an unusual take on motorcycles, the RADD concept reinvented the frame. Bikes Republic reports that James Parker helped come up with a radical idea: a forkless front suspension. Those who gravitate towards a cleaner aesthetic in bikes will appreciate this design.
The same source points out that the Honda XL600R was a prototype to use this idea. Many tourers even employed a swinging arm that could change the riding experience whether it was down or up. This is an odd feature that stands in contrast to the majority of bikes today.
Even years ago, makers were daring to push bikes to new extremes. They wanted to give it more power, even as much as a car could have.
RM Rider Exchange reports that Glenn Curtiss, who raced motorcycles at one point in his career, managed to outfit a bike with a V8 engine. In order to accommodate block with eight cylinders, he had to make the bikes longer. The same source notes he was able to go as fast as 136 mph in his V8 bike.
Conventional bikes today tend to have a large fuel tank in the center of the bike fixed in front of the triple clamp. The design of older bikes, especially that of the 1927 Bohmerland, was a little different.
It put the fuel tanks—yes, tanks, as in two of them—on the back. While some riders like to have a backup reserve tank on hand, these rear-mounted tanks served as the bike's primary fuel. That makes this one of the most unusual bikes out there.
One of the crazy ideas to come out, these small motorcycles. Planes parachuted these bikes onto battlefields, soldiers would retrieve them out of fallen capsules and hop on.
According to Bike-urious, they didn’t have many of the staple features conventional motorcycles have, such as suspension or a front brake. They were economical and likely not intended to last very long. It’s a strange motorcycle concept that the US actually created. We won't see these types of rides on the road today.
Instead of taking from cars, these multi-person motorcycles looked at regular bicycles instead. Taking the concept of tandem bikes to the extreme, RM Rider Exchange reports that some bikes allow two, three or even more passengers.
Although there are multiple sets of pedals and handlebars long enough to reach its extra riders, it doesn't appear to operate much differently. It would seem that whoever is closest to the front is still the rider who controls how fast it goes while turning is a team effort.
Some motorcycle features are different, like hub-center steering. Then there are weird ones, like dual hub-center steering. A dual hub-center steering apparatus actually steers both the front and rear wheels. An odd bike that exemplifies this odd feature is the Lazareth LM847.
The site Luxatic also notes that it can do an astounding 470 hp, making this a powerful motorcycle on top of it. Another oddity is the dual wheels side-by-side in both the front and the rear, thus making this bike a freak.
Motorcycle wheels all look the same. This must have played a role in motorcycle makers wanting to switch things up though. The Taurus 2x2 imagined a bike with huge treads for wheels.
According to RM Rider Exchange, Russia is behind this durable vehicle that’s able to put up with whatever the elements throw at it. That’s in large part due to its massive wheels. That doesn’t exclude it from being a weird bike though. Those wheels radically upend the riding experience most are familiar with today.
Motorcycles aren’t perfect yet, but they’re much more advanced than what’s come out before. Look to the cantilever suspension for further convincing. Before twin shocks became the norm, as per Bike Rider Magazine, many bikes had single shocks instead.
Supplementing the lone shock was what the same source calls a triangulated swingarm. Back in the early 1900s, it may have seemed less bizarre than it does by today’s standards, considering so many countries had adopted this design for its bikes.
It’s not exactly a motorcycle, but the monowheel is like an odd cousin to it. Instead of employing two small wheels, the monowheel is a single big one that the rider drives inside of its center.
There’s footage still available of this vehicle actually working on a busy street. At one point, the rider is leading the pack with a bunch of conventional bikes following after its wake. Even if it did work, a big wheel serving as the entire bike’s frame is strange.
Duplex Steering was a smart—but odd—design system. A picture is able to distill how this feature works much easier than words will afford. In essence, as per Cyber Motorcycle, it introduces a new range of possibilities for steering.
One user notes that although it works well, it can make for wide sweeping turns as well. Even more, it can be hard to maneuver the bike when going at slower speeds. The bike has seen here, as per Vintage Motorbikes and Bikes is a 1931 OEC Duplex.
It’s not unheard of for riders and brands to equip their motorcycles with ambulances. There were advantages to going this route instead of a full-fledged car ambulance.
According to RM Rider Exchange, they had WWI ambulance bikes that could carry injured soldiers while protecting them at the same time. It makes sense from a practical standpoint, in that these bikes can fit into harder to reach areas. It’s still odd seeing a bike with a massive enclosure on the back though.
An earlier bike on the list featured two bucket seats in the back, but it wasn’t the only one to experiment with seating configurations. According to RM Rider Exchange, Forecars were older fashioned vehicles that actually placed a passenger seat in the front.
It was unusual considering it put the passenger in arguably the most dangerous part of the vehicle. They also had three wheels, which now stands out as a peculiarity. These odd contraptions appear like distant cousins to motorcycles.
Most motorcycle wheels look trim and uncluttered. The front wheel on a 1921 Megola 640cc touring looks different from the norm. According to Ride Apart, these bikes had a five-cylinder radial engine. What made it unique was where the radial engine resided: on the front wheel.
The motor itself would spin with each rotation of the wheel even. It’s a weird way to power a motorcycle today, and it was weird then. The same source notes that only 2,000 units exist.
Behold the Uno. This is a motorcycle that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be, so it chose both. In one configuration, it has only two wheels sitting side by side to stabilize the bike. With the push of a button, it can change shapes: a third wheel pops forward and pushes the two parallel wheels back to the rear.
In this second configuration, it looks more like a conventional bike. It’s a weird bike that RM Rider Exchange reports never hit production despite going through three prototypes.
One motorcycle brand managed to take a feature in many cars and put it in a motorcycle. They decided to make a bike that had both front and wheel drive, which according to Ultimate Motorcycling, manifested in the Rokon Trail Breaker.
In a clever allusion to off-roading, the Rokon bike also came with thicker tires that could handle the terrain. This is the type of bike that appeals to a niche of riders who aren’t interested in being bound to roads.
Sources: Ride Apart, Vintage Motorbikes and Bikes, Cyber Motorcycle, Bike Rider Magazine, Ultimate Motorcycling, RM Rider Exchange, Bike-curious, Bikes Republic, Luxatic