Many companies hire expensive marketing firms to come up with catchy names for their products. Others just wing it.
The following is a list of motorcycles burdened with monikers seemingly conjured up during an out-of-control brainstorming session.
Adorn your product with the name of a handsome Greek god and you better design something striking. A good place to start would be somewhere other than this 48-cc, early 1950s motorbike, essentially the 98-pound weakling of the motorcycle universe.
Here's an idea: Name your sporty motorcycle after an object used to render vehicles stationary. At least this 1950s German company didn't make boats.
Perhaps this was not the best choice of name for an American bike built during the motorcycle's formative -- and typically unreliable -- years, in the early 1910s.
Perhaps the name given to these big single-cylinder bikes from the late 1920s was acceptable in its native Czechoslovakia, but it didn't go over well on this side of the pond. Since the make only lasted one year, they apparently had a devil of a time selling them.
Name a bike after the Norse god of thunder, and it better live up to its name -- and the Thor did. First produced in 1907, Thors were big 76-cubic-inch (about 1250-cc) V-twin brutes that rivaled contemporary Harley-Davidsons for speed. But due to the competitive environment, Thor ceased motorcycle production by 1920.
Japanese manufacturers have always leaned toward whimsical names for their machines, so it was hardly a surprise when the Dream became reality in the early 1960s. When this 305-cc bike arrived on American shores with its skirted fenders, stamped-steel frame and forks, and somewhat bulbous bodywork, typical '60s names like Venom, Tiger, or Commando hardly seemed appropriate, so the Dream was born. The Dream was a surprising success and sold under the Honda emblem for nearly ten years.
This 1920s German bike sported a lowly 155-cc single-cylinder engine that really gave it no reason to brag.
A midsize bike built in France during the 1920s, one can't help but imagine an Abbott and Costello-type routine:
"A New Motorcycle."
"Duh . . . I know it's a new motorcycle. But what is it?"
"I just told you."
"All I know is it's a new motorcycle."
"Then why did you ask?"
From 1946 to 1964, these scooters were quite popular in Japan, but it's hard to imagine the name would fly in the States.
Like jumbo shrimp, the two words just don't seem to go together. Nevertheless, this French builder of small to midsize motorcycles managed to tough it out for 28 years (1928-1956), which is more than can be said for most upstarts of the period.
Blame it on the language barrier, but there's no way this small French bike of the 1930s would have sold very well in the States.
An Austrian company chose this name to grace a mini-scooter that lasted only one year (1957). What were they thinking?
Seemingly doomed from the start, this English motorcycle company was born in 1905 and gone by 1909. May it rest in peace.
Ridiculous as its moniker sounds, this big American bike of the early 1900s lived up to its billing, as Flying Merkels set several speed records thanks to their advanced V-twin engines.
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
One of Harley-Davidson's best sellers, the Fat Boy is a beefy motorcycle, originally offered in 1990 on the company's big softail frame with a large 1340-cc V-twin engine and unique solid wheels. This bulky bike is still sold today in an even "fatter" 1584-cc form.
In the years after World War II, Whizzer offered a three-horsepower engine that could be bolted to a conventional bicycle to turn it into a rudimentary form of motorized transport. "Put a Whizzer on it!" trumpeted the ads, and thousands did. The company soon came out with a complete motorbike, the Whizzer Pacemaker, which some credit with starting the scooter revolution that led to the company's demise in the mid-1950s.
Perhaps in its native Germany the name isn't so amusing, but this early 1920s maker of small "clip on" engines (much like those sold by Whizzer) lasted only two years. And one can imagine why: "Put a Wackwitz on it!" just doesn't have the same ring.
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