Worst motorcycle ever!

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by wpbarlow, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,768
    Location:
    Central NJ
    [​IMG]

    Yeah, what he said!


    So a couple of friends and I were sitting at the bar tonight talking bikes and we got on the topic of bikes that were not big sellers when they came out but over time have become somewhat desireable to cult-like in following. This is a subject near to my heart as I've had (and have) more than one of these kinds of bikes :D

    So we went through a reasonably common litany of them: i.e., Honda (seemed like a lot of Hondas fit this description) Hawk, TransAlp, Pacific Coast, CB1, CBX, Yamaha GTS1000, SRX6, TDM850, Suzuki Rotary, etc..

    We then went on to bikes that didn't sell well then and still don't: Yamaha Vision, Seca, and XV920 (one on ebay right now!) Suzuki VX800, etc.

    But sooner or later we got to the real issue; what was the worst modern (post 1965) bike ever sold? Several strong candidates- a lot depends on what you mean by "worst". Lots of potential for worst looking (late 60's MV Agusta GT, couple of 80's Italian cruisers, Suzuki Rotary, BMW crusiers, etc.); couple that were clear financial disasters (various Indian reincarnations, Excelsior, Bimota V-Due).

    In the end, I came up with the Yamaha TX750. It had the "advantage" of being a major disaster from a major manufacturer- not because it did anything so terribly wrong or was too radical an approach or too weird looking, but just because it totally failed to capture the imagination of hardly anyone.

    [​IMG]

    Cycle had this to say...
    An extended trip leaves the rider with a multitude of impressions of where he's been, and no impressions whatsoever of what he's been there on. It's not fast, not slow, neither handy nor awkward, visually between striking and overcooked, neither expensive enough to drop your jaw nor cheap enough to be disposable. It is rational, reliable, quiet [85 dB(A)], elaborate, and entirely serviceable; the 1973 Yamaha TX750 is the Chevrolet Biscayne of big-bore motorcycling. It gives you nothing to put up with--and no reason for doing so if it did.

    My dirty little secret of the time was that I really liked the way it looked and thought the vibration solution was pretty elegant and advanced for the time (counter-balancers).

    My 2nd choice was the equally star crossed TX500; which was a bike that I really liked- first modern production 8 valve twin iirc.

    Both bikes may have lasted 2 years, and were unmitigated disasters for Yamaha.

    There was another bike that was under consideration but, despite being heavily advertised, I don't know that it ever reached production: the 1970ish BSA Fury/Triumph Bandit- a a modern DOHC twin dual sport- the development of which went a long way towards putting BSA (who owned Triumph at the time iirc) out of business. Maybe it should get the award just for that. Certainly worth a picture
    [​IMG]


    You have any other candidates?
    #1
  2. BARB

    BARB Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,895
    Location:
    ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
    Are you talking USA? couple of bikes mentioned are still in production overseas (transalp, pacific coast, vx800) Barb
    #2
  3. Gerg

    Gerg Cupcake

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2001
    Oddometer:
    8,524
    Location:
    Left Coast
    Yamaha had a shafty 850 that was a smoldering POS from the same vintage. Can't remember what it was called but it didn't hold up well and was pretty unremarkable. Sold in the mid 70's

    Gerg
    #3
  4. mitch

    mitch Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,326
    Location:
    Townsville ,Queensland, Australia
    The XS 850 here in Australia, the best thing about it was the headlight it was about 10" dia. The first and only m/c I have had with a great stock light .
    #4
  5. RT jim

    RT jim Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,006
    Location:
    NH
    How about the Hondamatic (i think 450cc) Knew someone who bought one for wife.And didn't Honda build a 900 with high and low range transmission back around 75
    #5
  6. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,768
    Location:
    Central NJ
    Interesting comment. My recollection of that bike was that it was rather well received and a very viable alternative to the BMWs of the time. Only knew a couple of people who had them, but they had nothing but praise for them.
    #6
  7. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,768
    Location:
    Central NJ
    Yes, it was a decidedly US perspective. But that makes me wonder- were there bikes that were successful here in the US that were turds everywhere else?
    #7
  8. RT jim

    RT jim Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,006
    Location:
    NH
    After thinking I think the 900 was a Kaw.
    #8
  9. Bikerboy108

    Bikerboy108 Pat from Jersey

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,206
    Location:
    Jersey "Land of the Lane Closure"
    Hands down, my 1956 Triumph cub !!! It was my first bike. I bought it in 1968 had it 6 months ran a total of 10 minutes!!!!!!!
    #9
  10. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2002
    Oddometer:
    8,789
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Nope, the dual range tranny was on the Honda CB900 and CB1000 (I think).
    Honda did have a 450 auto but they made the CB750A before that. The 750 was the old SOHC lump ('69-'78).
    Seems like the Yam XS850 triple has a pretty good (if boring) rep.
    Weren't the TX500 and TX750 notorious for the balancers getting out of time and shaking them to death?
    As far as cult Hondas, you left out the GB500.
    #10
  11. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,009
    Location:
    41.655984,-71.302657
    that line had me laughing so hard I almost spit coffee all over my keyboard!:rofl
    #11
  12. Rick G

    Rick G Ranger Rick

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,187
    Location:
    Euclid, OH
    Though I have never ridden it, I have read a couple of articles on this topic and the Suzuki Madura is generally regarded as the worst of the mid '80s Jap bikes. A cruiser that looks as if it were styled by someone experimenting with halucinogens. I saw one once at Mid Ohio during Vintage, and I have to agree. One ugly mofo bike!

    I think any of the bikes from HD during the AMF years would also qualify. They put a new meaning to the term, "quality control", as they obviously did not have any!

    Just my uniformed and opinionated $0.02 worth.

    Rick

    :thumb
    #12
  13. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,768
    Location:
    Central NJ
    Nope- it was a Honda- the CB900 Custom. Worked pretty well actually, and sold for a few years. There was also an 1100C that had the two range trans also.
    #13
  14. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,009
    Location:
    41.655984,-71.302657
    kinda looks like a V-Rod :lol3

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. mutineer

    mutineer pierpont lives

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2003
    Oddometer:
    18,942
    Location:
    Eastern Chaingolia
    my buddy has one.

    Fucking thing is indestrucible.

    I keep trying to talk him into turning into a rat bobber.

    Here is is next to my thumper

    Neither one of us knew the tranny was a 10 speed until I read a Salvadori article about the CB900 custom.

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. ThirdCoast

    ThirdCoast Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    332
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I have two submissions for you. My first bike - The Water Buffalo, A Suzuki 750, three cylinder, two stroke, water cooled, chain drive. I loved that bike. That might have been the first water cooled bike, I don't know.

    Another wonder, in that I wonder what it was for, the Honda 750 with automatic transmission, WTF. :huh
    #16
  17. kbasa

    kbasa Roubaix! Super Moderator

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Oddometer:
    70,349
    Location:
    Marin County, California
    Yep. The CB900C circa 1982 or so.

    Honda sold, to my knowledge, two automatic variants in the USA. The CB750A and the CM400A. I think they both used a two speed trans and the "clutch" lever on the left bar was a parking brake.
    #17
  18. kbasa

    kbasa Roubaix! Super Moderator

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Oddometer:
    70,349
    Location:
    Marin County, California
    My personal worst bike of all time - the Madura. :nod

    Japan tried to build all kinds of customs back in the 80s and damn near all of them looked simply horrid. The original Suzuki Intruder was the first one that sort of started to get it right, but even those weren't exactly attractive.
    #18
  19. Rider

    Rider Moderator Emeritus Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2001
    Oddometer:
    6,482
    Location:
    The Heart Of It All
    My worst: the 1976 Kawasaki KZ750 verticle twin.
    DAMHIK it sucked. :uhoh
    #19
  20. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    10,501
    Location:
    Swellvue, WA
    Very interesting tangent here. I don't think the Bandit/Fury ever reached production - it was pulled at the last instant when Triumph/BSA realized that they bike wasn't going to be reliable and was going to have difficulty matching the performance of the ubiquitious Honda 350 of the era, let alone the two-stokes like the Yamaha RD350, Kawa A7, etc.

    Certainly the Madura ranks up there.

    I'm not sure the RE5 has ever really made it out of the doghouse - yes it has some collectable value now, but only because of its oddness - it's cool only in the same way an Edsel is cool and you don't see Edsels selling for six figures on Barrett Jackson like other 50's American cars.

    I'm not sure the TX750 really deserves such a bad reputation. It has some problems, but they were generally not fatal and a bunch of folks put 50K+ on them without major issues, albeit with some oil leaks, noise, and vibration. The TX500s were Okay and sold reasonably well. I think the big issue with the TX750 was that it came out after the CB750 and about the time of the Z1, H2 750, and Suzuki GT750. Tough time to be coming out with a plain air-cooled parallel twin.

    This is going back to an earlier era, but the W650 Kawasaki wasn't a very good bike and never sold well.

    I'd probably put the early oil-in-frame Triumph twins right up there. From 69 to 71, Triumph somehow managed to go from having one of the best bikes in the Bonny to one of the worst. The Victor 441s were pretty awful too. And this was about the time of the Bandit/Fury debacle. Wow, the British motorcycle industry just imploded on the early 70's, so if you're choosing a bottom ten list you almost have to choose a couple of these turkeys.

    - Mark
    #20