Celebrating The Motorcycle Brands That Shaped the Industry

Imagine this: you’re surfing the web and you get lost down the Wikipedia rabbit hole (you know the one), and you come across a website with a database of nearly every motorcycle brand ever made. The records date back as far as the early 1900s. What do you do?

  • Do you buy a license to said database and then embark on a journey to update the information, dive deep into the history, and create a one-of-a-kind motorcycle history archive?
  • Do you dig into which brands from history made the biggest impact on the modern motorcycle?
  • Do you invest in having people spend quality time researching, investigating, and digging into the brands that helped make motorcycles grreat?
  • … all of the above?!

Well, if you’re wBW… “all of the above” is of course that’s what you do!

This ongoing project is our way of preserving and honoring where the Powersports industry came from, and the innovators and companies that are driving it forward. We know that it is isn’t complete, and it may never be – but we are committed to adding to it every month. If you think we’re missing something… let us know!

Updated August, 2020

Most Popular Motorcycle Brands

aprilia motorcycles

Aprilia

Aprilia is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded immediately after World War II in Noale, Italy by Alberto Beggio. The company started as a manufacturer of bicycles that then moved on to manufacture scooters and small-capacity motorcycles. In more recent times, Aprilia has produced large sportbikes such as the 1,000 cc V-twin RSV Mille and the V4 RSV4.

bmw motorcycles

BMW

BMW’s motorcycle history began in 1921 when the company commenced manufacturing engines for other companies. BMW’s own motorcycles—sold under the BMW Motorrad brand—began in 1923 with the BMW R 32, which was powered by a flat-twin engine (also called a “boxer-twin” engine). Production of motorcycles with flat-twin engines continues to this day, however, BMW has also produced many models with other types of engines.

ducati motorcycles

Ducati

Ducati is best known for high-performance motorcycles characterized by large-capacity four-stroke, 90° V-twin engines, with a desmodromic valve design. Ducati refers to this configuration as L-twin because one cylinder is vertical while the other is horizontal. Modern Ducatis remain among the dominant performance motorcycles available today partly because of the desmodromic valve design, which is nearing its 50th year of use.

 

harley davidson

Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.The company has survived numerous ownership arrangements, subsidiary arrangements, periods of poor economic health and product quality, and intense global competition to become one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers and an iconic brand widely known for its loyal following.

honda motorcycles

Honda

Honda is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Japan and has been since it started production in 1955. At its peak in 1982, Honda manufactured almost three million motorcycles annually. By 2006 this figure had reduced to around 550,000 but was still higher than its three domestic competitors. In 2017, India became the largest motorcycle market of Honda. In India, Honda is leading in the scooters segment, with 59 percent market share.

indian motorcycle

Indian Motorcycle

Indian Motorcycle is an American brand of motorcycles originally produced from 1901 to 1953 in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States. The Indian Motorcycle factory team took the first three places in the 1911 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. During the 1910s, Indian Motorcycle became the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. Indian Motorcycle’s most popular models were the Scout, made from 1920 to 1946, and the Chief, made from 1922 until 1953.

 

kawasaki motorcycles

Kawasaki

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Motorcycle & Engine is the motorcycle division of Kawasaki. Kawasaki motorcycles are manufactured at plants in Japan, Michigan, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand. Kawasaki first started developing a motorcycle engine in 1949. The development was completed in 1952 and mass production started in 1953. The engine was an air-cooled, 148 cc, OHV, four-stroke single cylinder with a maximum power of 4 PS (2.9 kW; 3.9 hp) at 4,000 rpm. In 1954, the first complete Kawasaki Motorcycle was produced under the name of Meihatsu, a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft.

ktm motorcycles

KTM

KTM AG is an Austrian motorcycle manufacturer that was formed in 1992 (but has roots dating to 1934). KTM is best known for its off-road motorcycles, particularly their dirtbikes and enduro bikes. In recent years, KTM has gained both clout and popularity in the sportbike and adventure motorcycle segments, with bikes like the KTM RC390 and 1290 Adventure often outrunning and outdoing their peers.

royal enfield motorcycles

Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield is an Indian motorcycle manufacturing brand with the tag of “the oldest global motorcycle brand in continuous production” manufactured in factories in Chennai in India. Licensed from Royal Enfield by the indigenous Indian Madras Motors, it is now a subsidiary of Eicher Motors Limited, an Indian automaker. The company makes the Royal Enfield Bullet, and other single-cylinder and twin-cylinder motorcycles. First produced in 1901, Royal Enfield is the oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production, with the Bullet model enjoying the longest motorcycle production run of all time.

 

Suzuki Logo

Suzuki

Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Minami-ku, Hamamatsu. Suzuki manufactures automobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines. Suzuki started manufacturing motorcycles in 1952, the first models being motorized bicycles. From 1955 to 1976 the company manufactured motorcycles with two-stroke engines only, the biggest two-stroke model being the water-cooled triple-cylinder G2F5. Suzuki’s domestic motorcycle sales volume is the third-largest in Japan.

Triumph motorcycles

Triumph

Triumph Engineering Co Ltd was a British motorcycle manufacturing company, based originally in Coventry and then in Meriden. A new company, Triumph Motorcycles Ltd based in Hinckley, gained the name rights after the end of the company in the 1980s and is now one of the world’s major motorcycle manufacturers.

yamaha motorcycles

Yamaha

Yamaha Motor Company Limited is a Japanese manufacturer of motorcycles, marine products such as boats and outboard motors, and other motorized products. The motorcycle division of Yamaha was founded in 1955, and was headed by Genichi Kawakami. Yamaha’s initial product was a 125 cc (7.6 cu in) two-cycle, single-cylinder motorcycle, the YA-1, which was a copy of the German DKW RT 125. The YA-1 was a competitive success at racing from the beginning, winning not only the 125cc class in the Mt. Fuji Ascent, but also sweeping the podium with first, second and third place in the All Japan Autobike Endurance Road Race that same year.

Motorcycle Brands by Country of Origin

American Motorcycle Brands

american motorcycle brands

When most people think of American-made motorcycles, they think of heavy iron and chrome machines from Harley and the like, but American motorcycle brands – including Harley Davidson – have been constant innovators in the Powersports industry and have produced incredible sportbikes, touring bikes, and you betcha, cruisers.

Australian Motorcycle Brands

australian motorcycle brands

The Aussie’s love to hoon anything with an engine, and motorcycles are no exception! There have been numerous great motorcycles build down under, and some innovative brands with interesting ideas as well!

British Motorcycle Brands

british & english motorcycle brands

Brits love their powered machines, whether they’ve got two or four wheels, and their legacy in Powersports is both long-lasting and far-reaching.

Chinese Motorcycle Brands

chinese motorcycle brands

The Chinese automotive industry is rapidly modernizing and scaling, and the motorcycle industry is included in this momentum. With hundreds of millions of people to move, motorcycles are wildly popular in China and there are several excellent Chinese motorcycle brands serving the local market.

European Motorcycle Brands

european motorcycle brands

There are parts of Europe that have the ideal climate for motorcycling, and there are parts that are covered in snow for much of the year. Regardless, great motorcycle brands have sparked from all parts of Europe – probably because they’ve got fantastic roads to ride them on!

Indian Motorcycle Brands

indian motorcycle brands

As one of the world’s most populous countries, India is well-known for its love of the scooter and motorcycle. India has also created numerous innovative motorcycle brands, as well as is the country of claim for Royal Enfield – one of the most popular motorcycle brands in history!

Italian Motorcycle Brands

Italian Motorcycle Brands

Anything motorized and Italian is synonymous with speed, but Italian brands like Aprilia and Ducati really take that sentiment to the next level. Italy has produced some incredible motorcycle brands that themselves have created some amazing machines!

Japanese Motorcycle Brands

Japanese Motorcycle Brands

Japanese companies have created some of the most iconic, revered, sought after, and respected motorcycles ever made. Learn more about the Japanese motorcycle brands that have helped shape the industry!

Russian Motorcycle Brands

russian motorcycle brands

The world’s largest country has created some incredibly interesting motorcycles. See the complete list of Russian motorcycle brands, which yes, goes much deeper than Ural!

Spanish Motorcycle Brands

spanish motorcycle brands

With one of the best coastlines in the world, and with a climate that few would dare complain about, Spain is a country rife with motorcyclists. Given their relationship with the sun, is it no surprise that they have created numerous motorcycle brands?


Updated August 2020

Motorcycle Brands – Alphabetized

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