Few engine configurations inspire the same amount of love as the V8. More powerful than the V6 and more affordable than the V12, it's a mighty engine that's been a staple of the muscle car world for years. But why should cars get all the fun? In the last few decades, we've seen more and more V8 powered motorcycles pop up. Some have made it to full-scale production, others have stayed at the prototype stage. But regardless of whether they're available to buy or not, they've all managed to inspire some serious adulation. Without further ado, here are the 10 best V8 powered motorcycles of all time.
1. Curtiss V8
If you're making a list of the best V8 powered motorcycles of all time, it'd be remiss not to mention the bike that started the craze. As motorcycle.com notes, the Curtiss V8 was the 'original gangsta V-8 motorcycle.' Made at the turn of the 20th century by motorcycle, engine, and aviation pioneer, Glenn Curtiss, the Curtiss V8 looked more like a bicycle than a motorbike - although considering Curtiss was a former bicycle racer, it was probably to be expected. But make no mistake - it may have looked like a regular pedal bike but it certainly didn't perform like one. With enough power to produce 40 hp (revolutionary at the time), the bike earned Curtiss the title of “the fastest man in the world” and the motorcycle speed record when he managed to reach top speeds of 136.7 mph.
2. Aurora V8 Hellfire OZ26
V8 engine bikes tend to be colossal. Weighing in just short of 600 lb, the Aurora Hellfire is no exception. But it's not just its size that makes your jaw drop. As carthrottle.com writes, this outrageous bike produces an insane 417bhp and 235ft-lb of torque from its 2575cc V8 engine. Despite its bulk, it handles unbelievably well thanks to its Hossack front end, Brembo GP4RX four-piston calipers, and Ohlins monotube and multi-link rear suspension setup.
3. Lazareth LM 847
Created by designer Ludovic Lazareth, the Lazareth LM 847 runs off a Maserati V-8 capable of delivering 470 hp at 7000 rpm and 457 lb.-ft at 4750 rpm. All that power comes at a cost - tipping the scales at 881 lbs. and with a wheelbase of 72, the Larazeth LM 847 is a monster by any other name. A beautiful monster, of course, but not necessarily one you want to run into any sharp corners with.
4. Drysdale V8
Only four Drysdale V8s have been made in total, although with each one retailing at around $80,000, they've still managed to be a huge money-spinner for their creator Ian Drysdale. Drysdale first got the idea for the Drysdale V8 when he built a 750cc-V8 from a couple of Yamaha FZR400 cylinder banks back in 1997. After deciding to push things one step further, he created a new version from FZR600 cylinders, a modified FZR1000 clutch, and a reworked YZF750 gearbox cluster. Motorcycle.com (www.motorcycle.com/features/featuresdrysdale-v8-1000-a-closer-look-html.html) says it sounds like a 'Ferrari on steroids'. It does. And that's part of the beauty. Its nimble handling and outstanding stability don't hurt matters either.
5. Moto Guzzi V8
As bikeexif.com writes, the Moto Guzzi V8 ‘Otto Cilindri’ is widely regarded as one of the ten greatest motorcycle designs of all time. Why? Its engine, a 499-cc water-cooled four-stroke with twin overhead cams and eight Dell’Orto carburetors. Designed by Giulio Cesare Carcano in 1954, it managed to clock top speeds of 170 mph. Despite production being limited to just 5 models, it still managed to go down in history as one of the finest V8s ever made.
6. PGM V8
V8 engines don't make for graceful, slim little things. Not usually, anyway. But every now and again, someone will come along with a design that manages to cram a V8 engine onto a bike that, while by no means tiny, is still lithe enough to be able to take a corner with aplomb. Take the PGM V8. Its 2-liter 12,800 rpm V8 manages to deliver 334 horsepower and a massive 214 Nm (158 ft-lbs.) of torque, but the fully fueled weight still keeps to a (relatively speaking) well-proportioned 522 lb. Described by Alan Cathcart at pgmv8.com (https://pgmv8.com.au/) as '"the single most impressive piece of multi-cylinder madness I've ever had the privilege of riding,” it's practical, rideable, and more powerful than you'd think possible.
7. Eisenberg EV8
As newatlas.com notes, the Eisenburg EV8 weighs in considerably less than a standard Harley Breakout 114, but delivers more than five times the power. Compact, high powered, and immensely rideable, the Eisenburg EV8 is a modern-day muscle bike with a difference. It may have taken Eisenburg 5 years to finalize its design, but clearly, it wasn't time wasted. If the brief was to create one of the most powerful compact bikes in the world, they've passed with flying colors.
8. Honda CB800 V8
Some homemade bikes look exactly that. Others look like they've just rolled off the production line at the factory. The Honda CB800 V8 falls into the 2nd category. Clean, sharp, and polished to perfection, this is a bike that looks as good as it performs.
9. Norton Nemesis
The Norton Nemesis may never have actually gone into production, but that doesn't stop it from being considered one of the finest V8 engine motorcycles ever designed. Designed by Norton with the express purpose of stealing the title of the world's fastest production motorcycle from the Suzuki Hayabusa, its 1500cc V-8 claimed to be capable of delivering 17,000 rpm, 290 hp, and top speeds of 360km/h. Even by today's standards, that would be impressive. Back in the 1990s, it was revolutionary. Unfortunately, the Norton Nemesis couldn't have come at a worse time: due to certain internal conflicts of interest at Norton, it was consigned to history before it could take a shot at world domination.
10. Boss Hoss
In some circles, the Boss Hoss is, if not necessarily frowned upon, then at least smirked at. Unlike most of our other entries, the Boss Hoss has taken the easy way to a V8 motorcycle by simply throwing an existing car motor and automatic transmission at a motorbike. But who really cares if it's the cheat's way or not when the result is this good? Weighing in at a staggering 1000lbs, this is a beast of the first order. But apparently, people are suckers for a heavyweight when it comes with 445 hp and 445 lb.-ft - in terms of units, more Boss Hosses have sold than any of our other entries combined. They might be flashy and they might be crude, but in terms of sheer power and size, they're without parallel.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith