Motorcycles and Choppers
The Motorcycles and Choppers Channel explores how these machines are built and customized. Learn all about motorcycles and choppers at HowStuffWorks.
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Our list of odd motorcycle names spans more than a century of motorbike history. Some are hard core, some are goofy, and some of them are just plain weird.
The 1949 Harley-Davidson FL Hydra-Glide motorcycle was popular with riders for its modern design, comfortable ride and larger front brake. It also featured modern telescopic forks. See pictures and a profile of the 1949 Harley FL Hydra-Glide.
The Harley-Davidson company celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special edition Anniversary Yellow 1954 Harley-Davidson FL Hydra-Glide motorcycle that featured a special medallion on its front fender. Learn more about the FL Hydra-Glide.
The 1959 Ariel Leader offered several new technologies and unique styling. An interesting aspect of the Leader was the long list of options available. As a result, few of the 22,000 produced were exactly the same. Learn more about the 1959 Ariel Leader.
The 1956 Harley-Davidson KHK model was the final flathead motorcycle that Harley would ever produce. The KHK featured lower handlebars, less chrome trim, and more-performance oriented camshafts. Learn more about the 1956 Harley-Davidson KHK.
Bimota got its start in the early 1970s by wedding Honda or Kawasaki four-cylinder power with its own exotic chassis and bodywork. The 1992 Bimota Tesi motorcycle was exciting and exotic but it wasn't the star Bimota hoped for. Find out why and see pictures.
The 1965 BMW R-27 motorcycle was a popular single-cylinder design. BMW did not offer another single until the early 1990s when an Italian-built on/off-road model powered by a Rotax engine was introduced. Learn about the 1965 BMW R-27.
The 1990 BMW K-1 motorcycle was a departure from BMW's standard fare. Intended to compete in the sport-touring segment of the market the BMW K-1 was intended to appeal to a more youthful crowd. Learn about the 1990 K-1.
The 1970 Ducati 350 Scrambler motorcycle was quick even without Ducati's hot desmodromic valve train. The 350 Scrambler was considered one of the "tamer" models though it was still fast for a bike of its size. See pictures and learn about the 350 Scrambler.
The 1977 Ducati 900SS had a top speed of over 140 mph making it a force on the racing circuit. The new 900SS added desmodromics to the larger engine pushing the performance envelope even further. See pictures and learn about the 1977 Ducati 900SS.
The 1981 Ducati Hailwood Replica motorcycle honored Mike Hailwood the Ducati racer. The race-proven 860-cc V-twin complete with desmodromic valvetrain seems right at home in the traditional Ducati birdcage chassis. Learn about the 1981 Ducati Hailwood Replica.
The 1993 Ducati Superlight employed carbon fiber on almost every nonstructural cover to reduce the bike's weight. They are a rare sight on American roads as only a total of 300 were imported to the United States. Learn about the Ducati Superlight.
The 1994 Ducati 916 boasted Ducati's desmodromic valvetrain and was one of the lightest superbikes. Since just 400 were planned to be exported to the United States the 916 became an instant collectible. See pictures and learn about the Ducati 916.
The 1998 Ducati ST2 aimed for the sport-touring crowd but offered expected Ducati speed and performance. The bike also included a digital display for fuel level engine temperature and time of day. See pictures and learn about the Ducati ST2.
The 1910 Emblem was a popular and affordable motorcycle, but the Emblem brand wasn't destined to last. Claiming "Class Power Speed & Satisfaction," Emblem had high hopes of achieving success in a crowded market. See pictures and learn about the 1910 Emblem.
The 1915 Emblem Twin motorcycle's 76.6-cubic-inch engine was unusually large for its day. It was a bold offering from a company struggling to remain afloat amongst fierce competition and the ravages of an economic recession. Learn more about the 1915 Emblem Twin.
The 1911 Excelsior motorcycle was a product of Schwinn better known for bicycles. As was common for the era, the single was driven by a wide leather belt with progress slowed by a rear coaster brake. Learn about the 1911 Excelsior motorcycle.
The 1911 Flying Merkel was considered one of the premier motorcycles of its day. But despite innovative models such as this one, the Merkel company would be out of business by 1916. Learn about the 1911 Flying Merkel.
The 1912 Harley-Davidson X8A featured a 30-cubic-inch single-cylinder, a powerful engine for its time. By 1912, public demand for more power was answered with the X8A, which produced 4.3 horsepower. See pictures and learn about the Harley X8A.
The 1915 Harley-Davidson 11F motorcycle had an advanced-for-its day 11-horse F-head V-twin engine. A proper three-speed transmission was offered along with a magneto and electric lighting system incorporating a taillight. Read about this historic Harley.
The 1916 Harley-Davidson J motorcycle was a leap forward in style with a longer lower appearance. Other than the kickstarter, however, there were few mechanical changes of note for this year. See pictures and learn about the 1916 Harley J.
The 1925 Harley-Davidson JD motorcycle introduced Harley's familiar tear-drop-shaped fuel tank. Sidecars were popular accessories of the day as these vehicles often served as a family's primary form of motorized transportation. Read about the Harley JD.
The 1927 Harley-Davidson BA was a single-cylinder motorcycle that was economical but sold poorly. Two versions of the single were offered: a flat-head with eight horsepower and an overhead-valve variant producing twelve horsepower. Read about the Harley BA.
The 1934 Harley-Davidson VLD motorcycle helped Harley survive the Great Depression. The Great Depression killed off all the major U.S. motorcycle manufacturers except for Harley-Davidson and Indian. Learn about the classic 1934 Harley-Davidson VLD.
The 1936 Harley-Davidson EL motorcycle introduced the famous Knucklehead engine to the Harley line. It became one of the most popular Harley-Davidson models of all time. See pictures and learn more about the Harley EL.