When you just have the sky above and the horizon before you, everything else fades away. That’s one way to describe what it’s like to hit the pavement on two feels. There’s a certain freedom that comes with being on a motorcycle that can only be explained by those who live that lifestyle. Even then, there are absolutely no words any motorist could ever use that can capture the full feeling of being on a motorcycle. The only way to truly understand is for you to get on one yourself and get one with the road.
The first true motorcycle wasn’t made until the late 19th century when Hildebrand and Wolfmüller adapted their designs in 1894. A few other companies followed after that, but we didn’t see mass production of motorcycles until the turn of the 19th century. In 1898, Triumph Motorcycles was established in England, and it was producing 500 bikes per year by 1903. One of the most popular motorcycle manufacturers, Harley Davidson, was established that same year. By the First World War, an Indian manufacturer was producing 20,000 bikes a year. By the end of WWI in the 20s, Harley Davidson was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles.
The development of motorcycles was as fast as the vehicles were on the road. Before long, having motorcycles became a form of self-expression. So many different styles and types of motorcycles have come out over the years, but the most impressive motorcycles that we’ve seen are those that also break the bank. Here are the 20 most expensive motorcycles we’ve seen throughout the history of motorcycles.
Suzuki AEM Carbon Fiber Hayabusa - $200,000
It’s sleek. It’s elegant. It’s a great looking bike that’s sure to turn heads on the street. It has a sturdy body that you wouldn’t hesitate to lean on as you ride. Launched in 1999, the Hayabusa is Suzuki’s pride and joy. Coming in at $200k, this bike also happens to be the cheapest one on this list. The Hayabusa had an upgrade in 2008, and the newer model retained many of the qualities of the original, including the price. The biggest sell of this Suzuki is speed. The Hayabusa remains to be the world’s fastest production motorcycle. With speeds that can reach up to 188 mph, there’s no chasing this bike down.
NCR Macchia Nera - $225,000
If you’re into the heavy industrial look and you happen to be an avid collector, this might be the perfect bike to add on to whatever you already have in your collection. NCR may be unfamiliar to non-motorcycle aficionados, but the Italian manufacturer is a favorite among bikers. The Macchia Nera is a limited edition NCR with a $225,000 price tag. If you’re asking what you get for that tag, let us tell you. You’re getting an extremely light 135 kg bike that’s designed by celebrated Italian designer Aldo Drudi. The Macchia Nera may not be as powerful in comparison to other bikes, but it’s probably also the bike that you’ll never want to take out on the road too much. It might be the star of your collection though. It’s just too pretty.
1940 Crocker (Big Tank) - $230,000
A legendary bike, the 1940 Crocker was one of America’s most popular and exclusive motorcycles. Only roughly 60 Crockers were ever made, and out of these 60, every single one was hand-made. You had to special order one of these luxury bikes in order to get one. Considered to be the equivalent to the American muscle car, the Crocker was a heavy and bulky motorcycle. It’s a statement of strength and performance, especially since it’s pretty capable of doing impressive things. The Crocker, while manufactured in the 1940s, had engine sizes that ranged from 1000cc to 1500cc. That was absolutely unheard of for bikes from that time. Something else that was unbelievable about the Crocker was the fact that it was capable of going over 190 kph.
Ducati Desmosedici D16RR NCR M16 - $232,500
The Ducati brand is one of the most popular sports bike brands in the world. They have a distinct style that’s highly recognizable anywhere. The Desmosedici is a classic Ducati, built with carbon fiber fenders and that striking bright red. The bike also uses other materials such as aluminum, avionic, and titanium. With all the components, the bike weighs in at 377 lbs. This bike was a prototype made to compete in the MotoGP World Championship. The Desmosedici can reach speeds of up to 190 mph. This bike has an impressive power-to-weight ratio, something that many bikers look for in a motorcycle. Only 1,500 units of the Desmosedici were ever made, and at that price point, we’re thinking that not many people might easily just fork that out.
Ecosse Moto Works FE Ti XX - $300,000
Overtly stylish and unique, the Ecosse Moto Works FE Ti XX is a one-of-a-kind bike. At $300,000 per unit, it better be, and Ecosse surely delivers as well. Ecosse is known for manufacturing a wide and highly exclusive range of motorcycles. This one is the most expensive one in Ecosse’s Titanium Series. To keep the bike’s weight low, Ecosse uses an abundant amount of carbon fiber throughout the bike. But what makes this bike so unique are the finishing touches. The handcrafted leather saddle was designed and made by classy Italian leathermaker Berluti. Its exhaust pipes uses grade-9 titanium with a ceramic media shot-peened finish. If you can’t imagine how exclusive that looks, just know how exclusive this bike truly is—only 13 units were ever made.
1949 Vincent Black Lightning Supercharged - $383,000
Black leather jacket, black leather boots—these are some of things that come to mind when you want to outfit yourself before giving this bike ago. The 1989 Vincent Black Lightning Supercharged was made specifically for just one thing: to attempt Reg Dearden’s World Land Speed Record. At the time, the Black Lightning Supercharged was the fastest motorcycle in production. Many people consider this motorcycle the Holy Grail of post war motorcycles. Only 11 of these wonders were ever made, and many collectors consider these bikes true gems. At $383,000 per unit, you’ll only need roughly $5.9 million to collect all 11 motorcycles. That’s probably chump change for some people. Many have tried to get all 11, but once you’ve got your hands on even one, it’s really hard to just let go.
Legendary British Vintage Black - $400,000
There was a time when this motorcycle was able to boast its speed to be faster than the Jaguar Sports Car. That was back in 1948. Jaguar may have surpassed this bike in terms of speed nowadays, but not a lot of the Legendary British were made. In fact, only 33 were built. The Legendary British Vintage Black was once known as Vincent-HRD and was one of the most rugged bikes you could ever see. The shine of steel against the black body of this Legendary is stunning, and the yellow gold trimmings add a touch of character to an already beautiful bike. Richard Thompson dedicated a song to this bike in his 1991 album, Rumor and Sigh; he called it “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”
1958 Ariel Cyclone 650 - $450,000
Talk about a vintage car—this particular 1958 Ariel Cyclone was once owned by Buddy Holly after he bought from a dealership in Dallas. Holly at the time was playing for a band called The Crickets, and they had just finished a show in the city. After deciding to stay, the band canceled their flights and decided to go back home on a motorcycle. Each band member bought a motorcycle for the trip, and Holly ended up with one of only 174 Ariel Cyclone 650s that were ever built. After Holly died, his motorcycle was sold off. However, the remaining members of The Crickets plus a new member all bought the motorcycle back from the current owner then in 1979. They gave the Ariel Cyclone to Holly’s best friend, Waylon Jennings, for his 42nd birthday. When Jennings passed in 2015, the bike was auctioned off for $450,000.
1922 Brough Superior SS80 - $463,000
This motorcycle carries the name of its designer and creator, George Brough of Brough Superior in Nottingham. That may sound like a mouthful, but it’s an important part of history that many people should know. This particular bike, the 1922 Brough Superior, was used primarily by George Brough himself. He even gave it a heartfelt nickname, “Old Bill.” This motorcycle has even more historical value than that considering that during its time, the 1922 Brough Superior won more than 50 races in various competitions. Eventually the bike was sold off to one “Titch” Allen, the President of the Vintage Motorcycle Club.
1939 BMW RS255 Kompressor - $480,000
This list will not be complete without at least one BMW in it. The 1939 BMW Kompressor is a feat of BMW engineering. At first, motorcycle owner Walter Zeller thought that he could impose some changes to the original by using private parts sourced directly from the BMW factory. After its initial success, a recreation of the 1939 BMW Kompressor was made, but this time, it used genuine parts and more. The remake also sported a 1951 Rennsport frame and other various modifications. All in all, the result was a solid, vintage looking motorcycle. It has the feel of an authentic Kompressor that came from the pre war era. This is a good bike to feel nostalgic on and a good bike to look cool with as well.
Dodge Tomahawk V10 Superbike - $550,000
If you’re looking for the bike of the future, this motorcycle will give you more than you could ever handle. The Dodge Tomahawk is hands down the most futuristic bike you’ll ever see. It can very well be part of a sci-fi feature, but it isn’t. It’s only one of the most expensive motorcycles out there, marking the halfway point of this list. While all the chrome adds the bling, they all add the weight as well. This bike weighs well over 680 kg. However, don’t let that fool you because the futuristic bike can go from 0 to 60 in just 2.5 seconds. That’s incredibly fast. In fact, it has maximum speeds of 482 kph. As great as all of that may sound, the Dodge Tomahawk is a concept automobile. We’ll never get to ride it legally on the streets.
1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer - $551,000
At just $1k over the Tomahawk, this 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer is completely the opposite. It’s the most vintage looking bike on this list. It actually looks more like a bicycle with a motor on it. As rare as these bikes are today, they were just as rare during its time. This particular Cyclone Board is still in impeccable condition even a century later. This motorcycle features a 996cc, 45 degree V-Twin. In 1915, this amazing racer clocked at 111 mph. Not too shabby for a thing of the past. When it was sold for auction back in 2008, this motorcycle had the world record for the most expensive motorcycle at an auction. It sold for just over $551k.
1910 Winchester 6 HP - $580,000
In keeping up with motorcycles that look more like bicycles, we’ll have to stick to the same era. Here’s another one that was just as impressive as the one before. The 1910 Winchester 6 HP was built by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. There were 200 of these motorcycles produced and only 2 survive to this day. In 2013, one of them was sold at auction for $580k. The latest owner only described the transaction as a good one. It must’ve been really good because he has kept a low profile since then. The Winchester will always be a reminder that before motorcycles got all beefed up, they were simply two-wheeled motor vehicles that got you faster where you needed to go. It’s a beautiful reminder of what was once and how far it has come along.
"Captain America” Harley Davidson Panhead (from Easy Rider) - $1.35 million
It’s surprising that not a lot of film motorcycles made it into this list. There was one that made it though, and it’s just the right one. This motorcycle also happens to be the first Harley on our list. This “Captain America” bike was the very same one that Peter Fonda used in the classic “Easy Rider” film. It was originally a FLH police motorcycle that was used by the LAPD before it somehow found its way into the silver screen. The Harley has always depicted an “outlaw” image in films and television, but this one can be an exception. It’s now in the hands of a private collector after he bid well over a million to own this gem.
Harley Davidson Cosmic Starship - $1.5 million
The second and final Harley on this list is more than just a motorcycle. It’s actually a true work of art. This is also the very same reason why this bike can ask for a hefty price tag of $1.5 million. The Cosmic Starship is hand painted by Jack Armstrong, the famous American artist. Considering that most of Armstrong’s art start off at $3 million apiece, the Cosmic Starship is a bargain. It’s truly a visually remarkable bike, and if it weren’t so expensive, this bike will probably blow the competition out of the park. The price tag makes this more of the type of bike you probably will just keep in the garage. It’s unfortunate because this Harley is a high-performing bike otherwise, and without all the paint, it would only cost your wallet $16k.
The Yamaha BMS Chopper - $3 million
This Yamaha is something that is absolutely inexplicable, but we’ll do our best. Imagine a combination of different styles: industrial, ethnic, futuristic, and completely out of this world. Put all of those together and you’ll get the Yamaha BMS Chopper. From here on out, this list only features collectibles; they’re really not meant to be used on the road. For the Yamaha, it only means that its biggest selling factor is its unusual design. You can’t help but feel the luxury just looking at this vehicle. It even has a red velvet upholstered seat just for that luxe factor. But the true luxury in this motorcycle is the fact that it’s almost entirely covered in 24-karat gold.
1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller - $3.5 million
We’ve mentioned Hildebrand & Wolfmüller early on in this article because they were the first ones that produced a bona fide motorcycle. That happened in 1894. Within 3 years, the company sold their first motorcycle design. At least one of those original bikes still exists today, and it’s a striking piece of history that can be owned for just over $3.5 million. Compared to a lot of other bikes on this list, this is quite the bargain considering that this was the one and only original motorcycle. This Hildebrand & Wolfmüller bike is something that will look good in any space, not as a decorative piece, but truly a historical piece and a product of visionary creation.
Ecosse Spirit - $3.6 million
The clean and fluid design of the Ecosse Spirit makes it one of the most unique pieces of machinery on this list. At $3.6 million per unit, it’s certainly not something that everyone can have as a toy. It looks as much as it costs, but it also drives as fast. This bike can actually go with maximum speeds of 370 kmh. It’s fluid design can be attributed to at least some of that capability, but mostly it’s just the engineering as well. In addition, the design of the Spirit is actually based on Formula-1 car designs. This is also one of the most exclusive bikes out there. Only 10 Spirits were ever built. Fortunately, you can take a ride on one of these without having to fork out the millions. All you would have to do is take a two-week class at the Ecosse headquarters and you’ll be good to go.
1949 E90 AJS Porcupine - $7 million
At first glance, you might think that there aren’t many things about this motorcycle that makes it special. Sure it looks super cool and sleek, but it seems just like another standard bike. Originally made in 1949, some have argued that this might be the most beautiful racer ever built. Others suggest that it’s the functionality of the vehicle that makes it so special. It could also be the fact that only 4 of these bikes ever made it to production. There’s also history there. The AJS Porcupine won the world championship in 1949 with Les Graham on its helm. All of that may not add up to $7 million for some, but the mystery of its distinctness is maybe what ultimately drives the price tag high on this seemingly ordinary bike. Someone out there knows why this bike costs as much as it does, and they paid that much for it because of that reason--whatever it may be.
Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter - $11 million
Some people might say that it’s ridiculous for any bike to cost $11 million. Some might even say that it’s ridiculous for a brand such as Neiman Marcus to produce a motorcycle—let alone the most expensive motorcycle in the world and of all time. The truth is this Limited Edition Fighter had much humbler beginnings. When Neiman Marcus unveiled the bike, it started off at $110k, a far cost from what it is valued at now. Its innovative design is what ultimately hiked up the price up 100%. The motorcycle itself is a sight to behold and it’s surely a marvel in engineering. But we’re still questioning why Neiman Marcus made this marvel to begin with. We know we won’t be seeing these beauties behind the display window any time soon, so we maintain that this will remain to be Neiman Marcus’ mystery at least for a while. We also don't know if this bike is just the beginning of Neiman Marcus' voyage into the world of motorcycles, but if it was, it sure was a tremendous way to start.
Written by Garrett Parker
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