THE BEST OF THE WORST
Historical (and subjective) panorama of the 24 ugliest motorcycles !
If some motorcycles will remain in the annals thanks to their beauty, some on the contrary are illustrated by their ungrateful appearance. MNC lists about twenty of these stylistic accidents…
Let’s clarify things right away: the perception of the aesthetics of a motorcycle is by nature a subjective notion because it is very personal, and therefore impossible to gauge universally. Clearly, each to their own and as Oscar Wilde said: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".
- MNC Guide : Motorcycle news 2018 and editorial analysis
Once is not customary, MNC nevertheless engages in a value judgment by establishing its own list of motorcycles considered ugly … A classification – alphabetical – fatally criticized and potentially unfair to take second degree, especially by the owners concerned !
Aprilia La Motó 6.5 (1996)
The famous French designer Philippe Starck has an extremely varied field of action: interior decoration, street furniture, kitchen equipment, toys, lighting and even hotels like the spectacular (Brazil).
Passionate biker, this creative jack-of-all-trades collaborated with Aprilia in the mid-90s on a daring project: The Motó 6.5, built around the Pegaso’s Rotax 650 cc single cylinder. Its round egg-shaped lines never found their audience and its marketing stopped very discreetly in 2002.
Starck will collaborate twelve years later with Voxan, to give birth to a prototype much more inspired … or less disturbing, according to the points of view: the Starck Super Naked Café Racer above. But this project launched in 2007 has not been followed up..
BFG 1300 (1982)
The French manufacturer BFG (the initials of its designers Louis Boccardo, Dominique Favario and Thierry Grange) is at the origin of a road motorcycle designed around a car engine, a Citroën GS flat 4-cylinder (nân, not!) installed facing the road.
Combining motorbikes and cars, a funny idea? Not that much: Citroën mechanics were well known, a criterion likely to reassure the customers of a nascent brand. And if necessary, a garage of the brand with the rafters could ensure the maintenance !
The first prototype was unveiled in 1978, four years before it went into production at the BFG factory near Chambery (73). Deemed comfortable and rigorous at the time, the motorcycle also seduced by its protective fairing and its very complete Renault R5 Alpine instrumentation..
Problem: the BFG 1300 is heavy (267 kg dry) and its 70 hp engine offers a (lack of) car-like character … The testers of the time appreciated its torque but regretted its high inertia, a setback to its design automobile: it is a unit designed to tow a heavy vehicle at low speeds.
Add to that a design to say the least questionable and you get a very "lukewarm" reception. Another obstacle to its success: the lack of support from the French state. To make its project profitable, BFG hoped to supply the administrative markets and had even approached MBK in order to increase its industrial rate….
Bimota DB3 Mantra (1995)
Everything has already been said about the enviable ability of Italian manufacturers to design beautiful motorcycles. Italy is the homeland of motorized beauty, pure masterpieces like the Ducati 916 and MV Agusta F4. But sometimes it doesn’t: the Bimota DB3 Mantra is one of those duds.
Presented in 1994 at the Cologne Motor Show (Germany), the Mantra is the first roadster designed by the elitist brand of Rimini until then exclusively focused on sports motorcycles. The result is not really convincing due to the heaviness of his features…
We will note with interest that this motorcycle – equipped with the twin of the Ducati Monster – is designed by Sacha Lakic, to whom we owe several marvels motorcyclists – like the Voxan Black Magic or the Charade – but also some "nanars" like this Bimota and … the Venturi Wattman to discover at the end of our list of ugly motorcycles.
BMW K1 (1988)
It is a real school "K": in 1988 BMW designed an ambitious sporty road whose very streamlined fairing was the result of aerodynamic studies in a wind tunnel. It will be the K1, with its unforgettable marriages of "flashy" colors such as this "splendid" red with yellow rims and saddle. !
But function takes precedence over form, as is often the case with the German manufacturer … Of course, the K1 easily penetrates the air thanks to its 100 hp 4-cylinder, but its general appearance is a dessert. The huge rectangular headlight and the front fender that "eats" the wheel, no, really, it won’t be possible !
BMW R1200 ST (2005)
MNC has its own theory about the R1200ST: its genesis actually stems from a bet made near the coffee machine at the headquarters in Munich (Germany). "Hey Günter, the R1200 series is such a hit that I’m sure it would continue to sell even with an impossible face.".
Bet held in: the R1200 ST and its improbable front end becomes the third motorcycle equipped with the Boxer of 1170 cc after the GS and the RT. Its release then causes a wave of nausea worthy of an epidemic of gastroenteritis and would even have given rise to complaints for endangering the sight of others. !
Boss Hoss BH-3 LS3 (1990)
This is a unique case in current production: the Boss Hoss BH-3 LS3 is the only production motorcycle powered by a V8 (!), An engine architecture already remarkable on a car but downright disproportionate on a two-wheeler. This crazy association obviously comes from the United States, where Monte Warne introduced a block of Chevrolet of 6 liters (!!) in a motorcycle frame in 1990.
Its characteristics make you dizzy: the 6200 cc V8 of the current LS3 develops the incredible power of 445 hp, the equivalent of two with their Race kit! Extremely wide and massive (check out the 63 mm fork), this custom "XXXXL" weighs nearly 500 kg….
Equipped with a three-speed manual transmission (drive, overdrive and reverse), the Boss delivers incredible thrust and titanic overturning torque. Heavy and as demanding as it is exciting because of its (over) motorization and its 574 Nm of torque, it is an exclusive motorcycle down to its price: from 65,000 to 100,000 € depending on the equipment !
Against all expectations, interest in Boss Hoss motorcycles is not limited to the land of Uncle Sam and its tradition of "bigger is better". The brand from Dyersburg (Tennessee) obtained CE approval in 2006 and was exported to Europe with some success, then landed on the French market from 2013.
Its annual production would be around 200 machines – all built by hand -, also well helped by its reassuring Trike versions. Still, if the boat gurgles delivered by its V8 flatter the ear, the eye is less delighted with its fatally "big size" line…
2008 Buell 1125CR
Erik Buell is a brilliant engineer, as evidenced by his daring technical choices developed on his motorcycles to improve balance and reduce unsprung masses: perimeter brake disc with 8-piston caliper or even fuel tank integrated into the frame..
This atypical positioning reflects the aesthetic bias, let’s say "original", of the late American production, starting with the above! This Café Racer launched in 2008 derives from the sporty 1125 R, already not particularly a beauty cannon…
Powered by a 146 hp Rotax twin cylinder, the 1125 CR was rather pleasant to drive because it generated "raw" sensations. But its scoops at the front are disproportionate and more like a squirrel with cheeks filled with hazelnuts! Note that Buell had already done very hard in 1987 with the 1000 RR Battletwin below…
Dropped by his historic partner Harley-Davidson in, Erik Buell has since tried to continue his business with new partners. The most recent, the investment fund Liquid Assets Partners, dropped the deal in …
- MNC test –
Ducati Paso 750 (1985)
Like Bimota above, Ducati didn’t just build beautiful motorcycles: the 906 Paso released in 1988 is just one example. This sport-touring oriented motorcycle is nevertheless designed by Massimo Tamburini, one of the masters of motorcycle design almost elevated to the rank of divinity..
Completely streamlined – a shocking choice for Ducatists of the time – this 748 cc-powered Paso has a tasteless style with its hull and rectangular headlight. Ducati – which then belonged to Cagiva – will make it evolve (Paso 906 in 1988, then Paso 907 in 1991), before abandoning it in favor of its new ST range.
Ducati 999 (2003)
By entrusting the heavy task of ensuring the offspring of the sublime 916, 996 and 998 de, Ducati took a risk … It did not fail: the 999 created by the South African designer – already contested for his choices with the Multistrada 1000 – is a complete break with the graceful fluidity of previous generations.
All in sharp angles, the 999 – and its 749 declination launched in stride – hits especially because of its very special vertical double lens. Fans of the brand are also indignant at the abandonment of the single-sided arm and the radical transformation of the design of the double exhaust outlet..
From a dynamic point of view, however, the 999 is a real success and will lead Ducati to three WSBK titles in 2003 with Hodgson, in 2004 with Toseland and in 2006 with Bayliss. Admittedly, the latter could have won a 125 cc trestle, but the fact is that the record of the 999 silences a lot of criticism about its look. !
Ducati will return to a less radical design in 2007 with the 1098, whose slender appearance everyone agrees. Pierre Terblanche will leave his duties at Ducati in to briefly join Piaggio the following year, before successively moving to Norton in, Confederate Motorcycles and then Royal Enfield in !
Honda NM4 Vultus (2014)
Honda loves to think outside the box … even if it means being painfully bogged down at times. The proof among others with the ("Face" in Latin), fruit of the guilty love between the Integra scooter, a custom and a Star Wars ship.
Honda had already risked in this delirious style in 2005 with the DN-01, without causing the expected success: the 14-year-old Geeks certainly find it "deadly", but no biker aged 18 to 77 can imagine slamming 12,000 € to acquire it! Result: the Vultus leaves the catalog in as little time as it takes to say "ugly".
- MNC test – Honda NM4 Vultus: in the face
Honda Pacific Coast (1989)
On paper, the Pacific Coast is a brilliant motorcycle: its enveloping fairing protects very well and even houses a unique trunk on its rear part. A real "motorcycle-mobile"! Its engine, an indestructible 800cc V-twin of 60 hp, will then be fitted to the Deauville..
His arrival does not really trigger hysteria in France – and elsewhere either! -, but rather a very measured interest … even a total disdain. The general mollassone look is largely responsible for this, as well as its "utilitarian" positioning, which was poorly perceived at the time..
For many bikers, Honda goes astray by sacrificing all the passion dimension of a motorcycle on the altar of functionality: scooters are there to meet this task. In retrospect, this PC800 was perhaps too far ahead of its time … or not !
Still, the winged coat of arms has learned the lessons of this failure and now follows a different approach: the and above all the excellent thus mix the practical aspects of a scooter with the dynamic qualities of a motorcycle, the NC750 series.
Kawasaki Verys 1000 (2012)
After transforming its roadster into in 2006, Kawasaki takes it to the next level with the in 2012. This maxi-trail inherits the excellent 4-cylinder of the and its rigorous chassis: the Greens rush into the trail sportsmen cleared in 2010 by the first generation of Ducati Multistrada 1200.
But, go find out why, the Japanese designers realize a completely absurd front part with two superimposed optics! The fear of overshadowing the reference R1200GS, perhaps ?! Still, this delicate physique weighs down the Versys 1000, which has become one of the standard bearers of mochattitude…
It was not until its successful transformation (comparison above) that the Versys was finally withdrawn from the "emetic" departments in pharmacies! And yet, let’s face it: the Versys 1000 is from its first version a fantastic motorcycle, comfortable and formidably efficient. !
- Comparo MNC : BMW R1200GS Vs Honda Crosstourer Vs Kawasaki Versys 1000 Vs Triumph Explorer
- MNC test – 2015 Versys 1000: Kawasaki does an about-face
KTM 690 SM 2007
KTM has made a specialty of lines drawn squarely and then cut with a billhook, a hallmark of the Kiska studio responsible for the design of Austrian motorcycles. Lovers of fluid design and sensual curves, go your way! But the 690 SM pushes this approach a little far…
Released in 2007 to succeed the 640 Supermoto, the "690" strikes people with its spectacular heron’s beak and its almost vertical silencers, like the chimneys of an agricultural tractor. The rejection is immediate, despite its precision and lightness (152 kg dry) and the enjoyable energy of its 64 hp single cylinder.
But between its particular design, the constraints of mono (limited extension and vibrations), the general discomfort and its salty price (8,300 € at the time), the mass was said !
Münch Mammuth (1966)
Impossible to list the unsightly motorcycles without mentioning the, this German machine with elephantine dimensions originally designed around a 996 cc car engine. Its progenitor, Friedel Münch, is a former engineer at Horex who will develop more powerful versions before closing shop in 1980..
Bought, the brand tries a comeback in 2000 with the Mammut 2000 below, an even more disproportionate motorcycle powered by a 4-cylinder Opel turbocharged 260 hp! The beast weighs a dead donkey (380 kg) and costs an arm (€ 86,000, on order!), Two aspects likely to justify its deliberately limited distribution to 250 copies.
In 2010, the French actor Gérard Depardieu traveled across France on the handlebars of a first generation Mammuth in the eponymous film. A monstrous duo, in short !
- MNC of April 16, 2010 : La Munch Mammuth on screen with Gérard Depardieu and Serge Nuques
MZ 1000 SP (2005)
The German manufacturer ("Motorradwerke Zschopau", the Zschopau motorcycle factory where the brand was born in 1946) has several significant design failures, such as the 1000 SP roadster launched at the Intermot show in Munich (Germany).
This bike is the "stripped" version of the brand’s sports car, the 1000 S, which was already not exquisitely beautiful … The bizarre front face of this SP is frightening, to the point of having provoked cases of spontaneous blindness in the – rare – brand dealerships.
The 1000 SP was powered by a 999 cc, 117 hp, 95 Nm parallel twin with a perimeter-type chassis made of steel tubes. In addition to its strange design, its weight was too important (235 kg all full facts) with regard to its sporting claims.
Suzuki GSX1100S Katana (1981)
To give a stylistic boost to its range, Suzuki called on the Target Design studio at the end of the 70s. The hoped-for impulse rather took the form of a sledgehammer with the Katana, presented in the form of 650 prototypes. cc and 1100 cc in Cologne (Germany) in 1980.
The 1981 GSX1100S is the most famous: led by the 4-cylinder of the 1100 GSXF, this futuristic-looking motorcycle developed 111 hp for a dry weight of 232 kg. Its unique look – between unstructured style and damaged motorcycle – will long be remembered for a long time….
For the record, know that its creator Hans Arthur Muth is also at the origin of Münch Mammuth: a man of taste, certainly! Finally, it should be noted that Suzuki exhibited this year in Milan (Italy) the above concept called "Katana 3.0", without communicating any information on its potential production launch….
Voxan VX 10 (2009)
Voxan surprises in the course of the year 2009 with a roadster with a very particular style: the Nefertiti, very quickly renamed "VX10" following the many ironic reactions. The motorcycling world remains a "thing" in front of its double superimposed headlights and its improbable two-story rear part. The manufacturer of Issoire (63) had accustomed us to much more elegance, not to mention the mediocre finish…
Like all Voxans, the VX 10 is based on the excellent twin open at 72 ° dear to the Auvergne brand and on an efficient cycle part. Excellent assets that will not be enough to avoid the sinking initiated by its failed design. A year later, Voxan closed down for good after a .
Venturi Wattman (2013)
Sad second end for Voxan … The latest creation linked to the French brand – bought in 2010 by Venturi – takes the form of an improbable prototype of an electric motorcycle: the Wattman, unveiled at. A massive machine (350 kg) with improbable performance (200 hp and 180 km of autonomy).
- Electric motorcycles :
Its designer Sacha Lakic – to whom we also owe the very beautiful Black Magic – nevertheless estimated that "the object which is closest to this motorcycle, it is an Airbook". Except that the Apple laptop is as light as it is elegant, two qualifiers that are difficult to associate with this Wattman which has – fortunately – never been marketed !
Yamaha 900 TDM (2002)
So there, beware, dossier: the Yamaha TDM is the rolling proof that an unappealing motorcycle – to be polite – can be successful. MNC is well placed to talk about it in full knowledge of the facts since the 900 TDM is the official motorcycle of the editorial staff !
Launched in 1981 in the form of 850 TDM, the Yamaha "roadster-trail-utility" gained 48 cc in 2002 to reach 86 hp and 88.8 Nm of torque. Its strengths lie in its great versatility, its sobriety (between 4.5 and 6 l / 100 km for us) and its rigorous and comfortable cycle part.
It remains to compose with a very particular style, provided vibrations and an efficient but bland inline twin. That it is used by the police does not enhance its image either … Nevertheless, at the Journal moto du Net, we feel tenderness for our indestructible Death’s Head !
The Tracer 900 – and the new one – now replace it in the Yamaha catalog, with many additional assets including its very expressive 115 hp 3-cylinder and its excellent original equipment. Some will nevertheless point out that this faired MT-09 does not win the "Design of the year" award either, even if its hyper-angular appearance softens slightly on its .
- MNC duel – 2011 Honda Crossrunner Vs Yamaha TDM 900: five-legged bikes !
As stated in the introduction, this list of physically difficult bikes is not exhaustive for the simple reason that it would be endless! To avoid the overdose of "mothons" (species harmful to the digestion of the biker!), MNC concentrated on the most striking models in a completely arbitrary way.
Some "pearls" are therefore missing, such as the first generations of Aprilia Tuono with V2 engine (2002 to 2011) or the BMW F650 CS Scarver launched at the end of 2002 above. Without forgetting the unique K1300R roadster and its asymmetrical headlights (below with the Tuono)…
But since two BMWs are already on our list, MNC decided to show charity to German designers: a little decency, all the same. !
On the Japanese side, the recent ones also easily find their place in this "motorcycle museum of horrors" with their frightening front face. Yamaha like Kawasaki have pushed the "manga" look to its climax on these sporty roadsters: a pity, because they are pure machines with sensations !
- MNC duel – MT-10SP Vs Z1000R 2017: monstrous !
The opportunity to note that among the ugly described above, many are or were very good – even excellent – motorcycles. What bitterly regret their head to sleep outside, even if we note that some are judged less severely today than when they left.
Could it be because of the nostalgia that is currently all the rage in the motorcycle world? Or regret to have missed a good blow at the time? Still, a BMW K1 or a Honda Pacific Coast are for example one of these motorcycles perceived with more benevolence and interest than 30 years ago.
Doubtless this should be seen as a new demonstration of the spirit of contradiction – and of bad faith? – which bikers are used to. For MNC on the other hand, an ugly motorcycle yesterday is ugly today and will be ugly again – more? – tomorrow.
The late Serge Gainsbourg, quite concerned by these physical considerations, sums up this characteristic perfectly: "ugliness is superior to beauty in that it does not disappear over time". All is said !
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