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lrutt 10-21-2010 11:22 AM

Why do some bikes just look so right??
2 that come to mind.

A Norton. I think for me it's the openness of the frame around the engine. The forward cant of the cylinders. The polished valve covers. The exhaust pipe shape and sweep are so classic it's copied on many other bikes. How many others have you seen with the famouse Norton pea-shooters on them.

the whole package just works so well. In my eye a Triumph or BSA just doesn't have the same appeal.

The only other bike that really works for me are Guzzi's. Primarily just for the motor. There is no doubt that a Guzzi constantly lets you know it's a MOTORcycle. From a side view it there big as life, from the front as well as the back you can see those cylinders out there. From the top when your riding with your knees right up by those heads and crouched down with hands on the clip ons, they're right there. Especially the first Lemans or V7sports. They are so long and low, like a missile, the Mandello missile.

They just look right. Others look nice but those 2 have to be at the top of the list.

What others would a general concensus reveal as the best of the best. A Goldstar clubman single? Vincents are nice but look kind of busy.

notarex 10-21-2010 11:47 AM

Any BMW R90S or R100S looks just right to me. Also round case Ducatis...:tb

Mista Vern 10-21-2010 11:59 AM

While I think this subject requires a lot of thought, as there are many aspects to what makes a bike look "right" I think the bikes mentioned so far are attractive because their design (sloping cyl. cases, sport fairings, etc.) gives them the aspect of forward motion.

Lines play an impotant parts too, as in the Triuph twins, where the tank, fenders, seat, bars and engine blended together in harmony.

Many things to think about here, and a great subject to ponder. :1drink

One thing for sure, none of us will have to ponder the new transformer looking bikes. :puke1 :puke1 :puke1 :puke1 :puke1

Quasi1960 10-21-2010 12:17 PM

I would have to put my vote in for the Triumph T160 Trident, and if its fitted with raygun silencers so much the better.

chazbird 10-21-2010 01:49 PM

It is in the very term: Motorcycle. If it blends those two elements harmoniously then it is headed towards "right" (and there's quite a few of ways to do that).

Generally, excepting boxers (classic design in my opinion too) if you can see daylight behind the engine under the carbs, its a contender for classic motorcycle style.

Look at the childrens book: The Mouse and the Motorcycle. What is it? Bathtub Triumph.

Later 20th century classic bikes: Easy to come up with Bonneville, Commando, even the T160...(I love the last year, actually) but there's dozens of others, notably many Italian bikes, e.g. Laverda SF750.

I am also think a bike that is reasonably slender (Commando, Bonneville) fits the category of "right", since it is closer to cycle than a Guzzi or Boxer, since they emphasize "motor".

I am wondering if cast wheels eliminate the bike from the "cycle" part of motorcycle? Bikes with spokes just look more "airy" and light. A Bonneville with cast wheels didn't fit the "looks so right" equation.

jeep44 10-21-2010 02:49 PM

A late '60s Triumph 650 looks to me to be the very essence of a motorcycle-very little else even comes close. The only other? a Sportster from the early '60s.

fishkens 10-21-2010 03:05 PM

A few thoughts:
  • A comprehensive design philosophy where all elements appear to have been designed with a single theme in common. Often, compromises are made over time that disrupts the original theme: a 1976 R90S is much more attractive than 1980 and later examples, a 77S is better than 84 and later models, a 56-57 Corvette is better looking than a 58-60 and the 58-60 a better than a 61-62, etc.
  • For a motorcycle, some airyness is required ("it's not a motorcycle if you can't see through it") and the BMW and Guzzi engine cases and transmissions lend a heaviness that takes away from their looks.
  • Balance.
With the exception of the front disc, this is a pretty good start...


Originally Posted by lrutt

pbarmy 10-21-2010 03:51 PM

I like bikes where you can see the motors.As Indian Larry said"the mechanicalness":clap Singles are especially cool.

lrutt 10-21-2010 04:03 PM

I really remember going to the art of the motorcycle show in Memphis and again in Orlando. Examinng a bike up close, detail by detail to see how it flows can take hours. I enjoy that.

Some one indicated the plastic fantastic bikes just don't have it and for the most part that is true, although some do break the mold, ie the first Ducati 916. That bike was revolutionary IMO for style, even if it is water cooled. One of the few water pumpers I'd consider.

True that that the Triumph 60's bikes are beautiful, I can look at mine for hours, but it doesn't have that look of the Norton Commando

Very nice to be sure but just not the same as the Norton posted above.

As for the Guzzi being chucky. That is true, but it is the fact that the motor is so overwhelming is what attracts me to it.

blaine.hale 10-21-2010 04:11 PM

Triumphs/Nortons and Guzzi's always come to mind for the ideal look of a motorcycle, to me.
I still love my BMW to death, though it's a goober looking bike that a select few love (me).

lrutt 10-21-2010 04:35 PM

I'd have to say the best looking BMW would have to go way back to the old flathead bikes with the stamped perimeter type frames where the tank fits between the rails. Now those just look right with the flat twin engine. "All others past that seem to have been compromised, IMO.

the saving grace for the R90S was the paint. From a mechanical style standpoint they don't quite cut it to me. But that Daytona Orange paint job is beautiful. Hard to meld that engine into a sporty motorcycle. It just seems contradictory.

It's a beautiful engine in the proper context, as in the first R100RS. Or just sticking with the very pedestrian R90/6 etc. or the toasters.

They are nice but not deeply moving. But I still want one.

Middleweightboxer 10-21-2010 05:04 PM

I agree with most of those named.

Yamaha RD400s and SR500s do it for me. They are just the right size and style for me, similar to the Norton's description.

vtwin 10-21-2010 06:50 PM

Vincent Black Shadow does it for me. It looks like Baldwin Locomotives designed the engine.

vtwin 10-21-2010 06:55 PM

i thought this was just about the perfect bike when it rolled into Victorville Harley a few weeks back, great patina.

danedg 10-21-2010 07:08 PM

It's Irrelephant

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