Top Ten Cult Classics


BMW HP2 Megamoto

Why? One of the first signs that BMW had loosened its tie and started drinking in the morning. Powered by a highly tuned version of the fuel-injected, 1170cc, 8-valve Boxer engine, it is the most playful BMW ever built. Well, I say playful, playful like sporting a lamb chop waistcoat and having a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ with a grizzly bear.

+ It is a BMW the Batman would ride

– Short tank range. Loves expensive petrol

Suzuki GSX1100EFE

Why? It’s a dumb as a rock-chewing dog but it’s unlikely there’s been a sturdier motorcycle ever built. JCB could paint one yellow and use it in quarries. The engine is predecessor of the mighty GSX-R1100, but this bike has no fussy fairing to complicate or beautify. Cormac McCarthy’s Road will be patrolled by GSX1100s.

+ Simple, brutal and tougher than a herring gull

– Most have been turned into hideous drag bikes

Bimota SB2

Why? From the days when a tiny Italian firm, more used to making industrial heating and ventilation ducts, created the most advanced road bike the world had ever seen. Motive power is supplied by a tuned Suzuki GS750 motor. It’s also Massimo ‘916’ Tamburini’s first masterpiece.

+ The frame unbolts and splits in two for engine removal.

– Only 140 were ever built

Triumph Speed Triple T309

Why? The very first Hinckley Triumphs didn’t set the blood pumping. Reliable. Bulletproof. British. Yes, yes, yes, but a bit briar pipe for a 20-year-old. Until 1994’s Speed Triple T309. It’s a high watermark in motorcycle minimalism. Subsequent Speed Triples have all been technically better but didn’t capture the imagination in the same way.

+ Built to last. And British.

– It’s a pensioner magnet. ‘I used to ‘ave a Triumph…’

Penton 125 Six Day

Why? There’s something about these early-1970s dirt bikes that is just so right. The metal tank, yellow number boards, tiny drum brake and radial-fin heads. Of course, I could’ve chosen a Husqvarna 400, but this tiddler is close to perfect. These early bikes were produced by KTM for American company set up by enduro rider John Penton.

+ Weighs the same as loaf of bread, but climbs like an ibex

– A modern washing machine has more torque

Honda ST70 Dax

Why? Yes, its cousin, the C90, is the best-seller of all-time, but the Dax has fold-up bars so you can easily more store it on your yacht. What do you mean you haven’t got a yacht? You’ve got a Dax though, right?

+ Named Dax due to its similarity to the dachshund

– Doesn’t come with a free yacht.


Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5

Why? Every now and then the Japanese build a bike that so stunning lorry drivers stop owners and demand to lick their headlights. But, due to their relentless new product timescales the Japanese forced on the market, replace it in two years, and chuck away what made it so gorgeous. Yamaha did it with the R1 of ’02, and Suzuki did just the same in 2005.

+ The ultimate disposable Japanese hyperbike

– Blue and white can clash with your leathers

Scott TT Replica

Why? Between-the-wars, two-stroke racer for the road. The earlier Flying Squirrel is more famous, but the TT is the one I’d have. Long-stroke engine, fishtail exhausts and sturdy Scott front forks. And it’s liquid-cooled. The Japanese didn’t get to grips with that until the 1970s.

+ Pokey, even 70 years later

– Not named after a gliding rodent

Wood Yamaha YZ450

Why? A pure competition bike made in small numbers in Costa Mesa, California. This chro-mo framed beauty is built to compete in dirt track races on the short ovals of the Mid-West. It is as pared-down as an HB pencil. Everything fit perfectly, and has a purpose. It is the purest distilled essence of a racing motorcycle on the planet.

+ Absolute minimalism

– Not much good for touring the Alps

Indian Scout

Why? Like the majority of, but not all, the bikes in the list it was built to last. They left the factory a few years after The Great War and some, still 90% original, are still earning their keep on the various Walls of Death around the world. The other reason I love them is for their left-hand throttle, swapped to allow Patrolman to ride and shoot at the same time.

+ The tooled-up vigilante’s ideal ride.

– Unless the bad guys are in anything faster than an Austin 7


14 Responses to “Top Ten Cult Classics”

  1. robwhitton

    No 916!
    No R1
    No Z1! (72/73)
    No Bonneville (60's not 70's)

    No accounting taste!!

  2. scwelsher

    I know that there is a lot to choose from but surely the Katana was worth a mention? An 80's icon!

  3. bobcoombs

    BSA DBD34 Gold Star.
    The bike that did everything. TT Racing, Scrambles, Trials solo and sidecar, Grasstrack, Enduro(six day), Sprinting and all this from a road based pushrod single.


  4. phill68

    how can you have a top ten of bikes without the word 'fireblade' in it ? tut tut

  5. cobra3570

    a lot to choose from what about yamaha's xt500 enduro winner of the paris/dakar a few times

  6. I am quite sure that if your article was on the top 100 bikes people would be saying “What no………?” so you will never please everyone…I agree with various comments about the likes of a 916 or Z1, no one mentioned anything pre 50's???
    My two penny worth is….If you are going to include any modern day Jap sports bikes for a mention or inclusion, then surely you must include the Fireblade which started it all off in the 900 super sports catergory???? Great article even without the Blade….

  7. What about a Harley v rod……….good looking, comfortable, quick and of course it's a Harley

  8. What about the RD125LC and its biger brothers and what about the Suzuki GT rang thay are cult classics and still highly sort after these bikes MUST be on the list

  9. What about the BSA 750 Rocket 3, in my opinion the first real superbike, until Honda introduced the 750 Four.

  10. outkast

    Your all missing the point, any top ten list is subjective, we all have our opinions and they all differ.
    Sit back and enjoy this particular top ten.

  11. brian jones

    What list can be complete without the first superbike the fireblade and the best bike of all time VFR750,these are bikes that sold and not rode by the elite few who may or maybe not know what they would spend they own money on.

  12. Cool, most of these would find their way onto my top ten list but they are lovely machines – rightly identified as riotous rides I’m sure. My list would include an 81 Laverda Jota, the Vincent/HRD twin and the three bikes that live in my garage; 51 Ariel Red Hunter 500, 56 Triumph Thunderbird 650 and 2000 Triumph Sprint ST 955.

  13. Cool, most of these would find their way onto my top ten list but they are lovely machines – rightly identified as riotous rides I’m sure. My list would include an 81 Laverda Jota, the Vincent/HRD twin and the three bikes that live in my garage; 51 Ariel Red Hunter 500, 56 Triumph Thunderbird 650 and 2000 Triumph Sprint ST 955.