Top 5 classic motorcycles of all time

Motorcycles have always been a symbol of freedom, defiance, speed and rebellion, their status cemented by countless pop culture references.

Of course, the age-old debate of what the greatest motorcycles of all time actually are tends to crop up over and over again, with opinions constantly shifting. The following is a list of what we think the five greatest classic motorcycles of all time are.

Brough Superior SS100

Brough motorcycles used to be unofficially advertised as the ‘Rolls Royce of motorbikes’. It’s an unsurprising moniker, given the smooth, sleek design and the fact that each and every one of them was customised to the rider’s desire, even down to the handlebars.

It was named the SS100 because every bike came with a guarantee that it could go over 100 miles per hour. Fantastically expensive at the time, the bike’s fame was cemented by being owned by Lawrence of Arabia, who owned other Broughs too. In fact, it was the bike he died riding.

Vincent Black Shadow

Hunter S. Thompson once said that if “you rode the Black Shadow at top speed for any length of time, you would almost certainly die.” What better endorsement for a symbol of speed and defiance?

These bikes were hand-built, and were as durable as they were fast. Interestingly, the vehicle’s design was inspired by Royal Air Force pilots who’d been injured during the war; the designers wanted to produce a motorbike that was capable of being used and maintained with little difficulty.

Honda CB750

Often called the first ever ‘superbike’, the Honda CB750 was famous for a new type of four-cylinder engine introduced with it, the first of its kind to be produced by a bike manufacturer.

Extremely durable, it was hailed by motor vehicle aficionados, who praised its top speed of 120 miles per hour, its kill switch, electric starter, dual mirrors, turning indicators, and other innovative features at the time.

Moto Guzzi V8

The bizarre-looking V8 is a symbol of motorcycles’ unmistakable, inherent, adrenaline-pumping riskiness. Its unreliability is legend, but it could reach a whopping 178 miles per hour.

At one point, only two bikes remained, with racers unwilling to ride them, given how dangerously unreliable they were. Two of the engines remain in the Moto Guzzi Museum in Mandello.

The Norton Manx

Designed in Britain from 1947 to 1962, the Norton Manx typified the classic weapon of choice at the Isle of Man TT races. It was made famous by its ‘featherbed’ double-cradle frame that ensured smooth handling at high speeds, something that other motorcycles at the time couldn’t do.