The most memorable motorcycles

We all remember our favourite bikes, and they usually hold a special place in our heart. But it's not just mortals like us - even racing's elite have a soft spot for the bikes that mean the most to them

The brain holds many memorable events from our lives, including which bikes made an impact burnt in to the memory of their riders.

These bikes only hold a true relevance and meaning to the person that developed the relationship with them, with the attraction instantaneous or built up over time.

Mark Forsyth has over 35 years of riding experience on countless bikes and we'll hand over to him to sum up his three most memorable:

"First up is Doohan’s NSR500 just for its sheer unadulterated terror and violence when you try and ride it even remotely quickly. Yes, it was true, you could pop down to the shops on it, it's low speed running manners were so faultless but up the pace a bit and it'd just try and smash you to bits. I once new a bloke called John Fisher who used to head-butt people's faces, pebble dash walls (and probably his mother) and mainline anything he could get his hands on (sherry was his favourite intravenous tipple). He was pretty violent but looked like Mother Theresa alongside alongside HRC's finest ever 500cc two-stroke.

"I flew to the other side of the World to ride the V1000 and lived with its creator for a week. It wasn't a disappointment. For a dozen blokes working out of an old railway sidings building, the Britten V1000 was World class and made even a factory Ducati of the time look a bit pedestrian. It was so adjustable, in a just a few minutes you could make it steer like a BMX bike or Dennis Hopper's Harley chop. What a noise it made.

"250GP bikes are my all time favourite handling creations. Telepathic steering, minimal weight and ferocious corner speed. Just beautiful. The oh-so-pretty 550cc Ducati Supermono managed to combine this characteristic of near perfect weight distribution, immense corner speed and impeccable feedback and manners but with a super-smooth desmo motor that made a mockery of anything else around at the time in that class. My biggest regret is that I didn't buy one before the prices went through the roof..."

After you've read the choices of racing's famous, please tell us about your most memorable bikes in the comments below.

Kevin Schwantz

Kevin Schwantz

  1. 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750
  2. 1993 Suzuki RGV500 Gamma

Just the two bikes are in my mind. Number one has to be the very first Suzuki GSX-R750. I went to Japan to test it as a Suzuka Eight-Hour bike and it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen.

Remember, when I first saw it in 1985 we were riding the GS700 in the States, so to see this thing was like: 'Holy Shit! That thing looks like a race bike!' From a road bike perspective it's amazing to me to see how Suzuki has made the bike better and better every year.

At the launch of the 2000 model you just had to look at the specs to see you had a bike that was so much better than my 1988 Daytona 200 winning GSX-R! Second is my title-winning 1993 500 GP bike. That was a really great bike and was a fantastic overall package.

James Whitham

James Whitham

  1. 1975 Yamaha FS1-E
  2. 1993 'Fast Orange' Yamaha YZF750 
  3. 1999 Belgarda Yamaha YZF-R6

It's got to be the Fizzy. It sums up a special time in my life. I'll put you in the picture. It's my 16th birthday. I've got an £80 FS1-E, £50 third-party, fire and theft insurance and I'm away. It's freedom. I've been gearing up to this day for months and finally I'm mobile. It just sums up a time in my life when everything is fresh, new and exciting. I was getting into booze for the first time and there was even a chance of sex with girls. Real girls!

I didn't care that I were only doing 40mph, as for the first time I'm not relying on me mum or dad for lifts, I'm independent and the Fizzy would take me from adventure to adventure. It wasn't the fastest thing or the best looking bike, but it's what it delivered that makes it a mega bike.

Second has to be the Fast Orange Yam. It never really excelled in any particular area, it weren't the fastest out there, it weren't best mid-corner or on acceleration, but like a lot of Yamahas it was the best when you added all of this up. That were good, as I'd come off a shit year in 1992 with the water-cooled
GSX-R750WN, which was like racing an ironing board. To be fair, I had a good, lucky year in 1993 where everything that could go wrong didn't. It got to the point where I'd be winning on the thing and I would think to myself: 'I'm dead good at this racing lark, I'm going to go and kick that Fogarty's arse!'

Third is the Belgarda Yamaha R6. Such a good bike. The beauty of Supersport racing is that, unlike superbikes or GP, you can't go changing too much stuff on it. All that stuff is fine if you've got all the time in the world to test, but with that R6 and subsequent Belgarda bikes, you knew you had something as good as the opposition. And as the bikes were nearly identical, if you had a problem your opponent did too. At the 1999 Donington World Supersport race, which I won, I was summat like 15th on the grid. You don't sit in 15th on the grid on a GP bike or a Superbike and expect to win, but you could on that R6.

Chris Walker

Chris Walker

  1. 2000 Crescent Suzuki GSX-R750
  2. 1994 Padgett's Honda RS250
  3. 1965 BSA Lightning Clubman

The BSA just gives me a big smile and it's a bit of history for me and my family. I found this picture once of my dad. He was wearing big biker boots, with these huge fisherman's socks turned up over the top of 'em and he was riding helmetless with a massive quiff! It was quality! He said to me once, 'Why did you buy that bike? It was shit then and it's still shit now.' But I love the fact that you're always tinkering with old Brit bikes like the BSA. Modern stuff is so good you hardly touch it, but with the Lightning you're always fiddling with it . Either way, there's always something to do and some way or other to interact with the bike. Other good reasons are that I ride it a bit on the road and it helps me keep my licence as it's so slow! The only downside is that when I turn up at biker pubs I try to be the last away so no one can laugh at Chris Walker the World Superbike star struggling to kickstart the bloody thing!

Second is my 1995 Padgett's RS250. This was a '94 bike with all the trick bits on. More importantly, it put me on the map, as it took me to the British National Cup 250 crown in 1995 and second in the 250 Supercup, just 12 months after taking up road racing. It was superb. There's nothing better than a pukka 250cc two-stroke race bike. And it's still doing the business! A mate of mine, Lee Dickinson, bought it and won the 2004 MRO GP250 series on it. Not bad for a decade-old bike!

Number one has to be the 2000 Crescent GSX-R750. We were the only 750cc inline-four battling the Ducati twins and, despite losing the title at the final round at Donington due to a mechanical problem, nothing can take that away from us. It was a great bike and a superb team that put it together. It was a dream year, just without the fairy-tale ending, but that's life, isn't it?

John Reynolds

John Reynolds

  1. 2004 Crescent Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000
  2. 2001 Ducati 998 race bike
  3. 1934 Velocette 250 MOV

Third is the Velocette. If I hadn't ridden that bike, I wouldn't be where I am today. I first sat on the thing when I was two-and-a-half and my dad used to race it, so it had been in the family quite a while. By 1986 I'd been doing motocross for years, but couldn't afford to go road-racing and my mum was dead against it, but vintage racing was okay. We found it in the shed in a sorry state with no tyres and in a real mess.

Being a sign-writer by trade, I painted the bike, lovingly put the gold stripes and 'Velocette' stickers on the tank and dad took care of the engineering side. Thing was, it was originally a 'hard-tail' but dad had stuck on suspension, so we weren't eligible to race until it had been put back to standard, we also had to switch the shifter from the right to the left as I was used to racing modern motocrossers! Ron Haslam helped out a lot early on. He said: 'Well, if you can't afford to race 'owt else, that will have to do!'

First race at Cadwell Park, and I went off to bump start it and came smacking down on the plywood seat that my dad had made for it, breaking it in two! We ended up fighting like cat and dog over who was to blame! Not the best of starts! But things ended up well, because although I didn't race it too many times, dad saw I had some potential and he bought me an RD350 Powervalve the next year and the rest is history. That bike and vintage racing taught me a lot! Those guys on those old bikes weren't holding back!

Second is the 2001 Ducati I won my second BSB title on. I first rode a Ducati in 1996 in December at a test in Misano and it was so impressive and felt so nice straight away. I rode Ducatis from 1997 up until 2001 and the thing that was great about them were the small incremental improvements year-on-year. These improvements could also make their own problems. We back-to-back tested the '99 and 2000 factory Dukes at Mallory and found that the newer bike with the extra 10bhp didn't handle! The bike was so finely balanced that the extra power ruined it until you'd set it up properly.

No surprises in first place. The Rizla Suzuki did everything I wanted of it in 2004, but it wasn't always like that. I first rode the race GSX-R1000 at the end of 2001, just after my championship-winning Ducati, and we realised we had so much work to do. I did five laps of Rockingham on the Ducati and then five on the GSX-R and there was a massive gulf between the two bikes. It's a testament to the team that we made the bike the best package. They're the top team so it shouldn't have been a surprise!

Carl Fogarty

Carl Fogarty

  1. 1995 Ducati 916 race bike
  2. 1992 Yamaha OW-01 Isle of Man Senior/Formula One TT bike
  3. 2002 Foggy Petronas FP-1

People would expect me to include the RC30 as I was pretty successful on it, but it was a difficult bike to ride and it had its share of problems.

The FP-1 has to be there in my top three. It's a bike that I actually had a say in how it looked. We sat round in the first design briefings and looked at bikes like the FireBlade and R1 and thought they looked a bit shit, and then looked at the 916 and the MV Agusta and said that the bike needs to look a bit like the Italian machines, and just be that little bit different. I knew we had to have nice design touches like underseat pipes, even if they make it a headache for the engineers to get enough power.

Another reason it's in there is that we got the race bike up and running in such a short time. We went from nothing at the end of 2001 to a working bike which we showed to the world at the Brands Hatch WSB round the following summer. I remember thinking as I rode it round, 'this thing wasn't even thought of this time last year'. It was a strange feeling and showed the determination of all involved.

My second choice may not be what people expect. The 1992 Isle of Man TT bike that Yamaha gave me was a just a pile of bits. It were a mess. Things were falling off it everywhere and at the end of the races even more bits fell off. The exhaust came off, the rev-counter stopped working, it was terrible mechanically, but it was a fantastic bike and handled really well, even if it wasn't the fastest thing out there.

It was only eighth or ninth quickest through the speed traps, but you could really throw it around. At one point I was using the kerbs to hold the slides I was having, it were that good and confidence-inspiring. Despite being about 15mph down on the opposition it still clocked a 123.61mph average around the course, a lap record that stood for seven years. It's just a shame the gearbox broke on the last lap of the Formula One when I was leading, 40 seconds ahead of Steve Hislop...

Everyone's expecting me to mention a Ducati, and the 1995 title-winning bike is the best, for me. The previous year's bike was very short and dead twitchy, but the 1995 bike just did everything right. You could chuck any tyres on it, any compound and they would work. It was the perfect race bike. I wish I'd asked if I could keep it.

Michael Rutter

Michael Rutter

  1. 2004 HRC Honda Fireblade
  2. 1988/89 Suzuki RGV250 Gamma
  3. 1970s Yamaha TY80

Number one has to be the HRC Blade. As soon as I sat on it, it felt right. And those three letters, H-R-C, made it feel so special and so trick. To ride an HRC bike is the pinnacle, really.

The RGV was superb! Like a proper GP bike! I had it on the road first and then raced it in the Superteens championship where I came third. It was simply awesome!

In third is my old TY80 trials bike. I was about six or seven and dad got it for me, so I would ride it around in all the different race paddocks we ended up in as we followed dad's racing career. That bike was really special. I grew up with that bike.

Troy Corser

Troy Corser

  1. 2000 Aprilia RSV Mille
  2. 1998 Ducati 998
  3. Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
  4. MV Agusta Senna

Sorry, I need four best bikes, not three!

The RSV, with its 60° engine, felt strong right from the start and as soon as I got on the bike I felt comfortable and ready to race. It did exactly what I wanted it to do. But part of the specialness was because of the team itself. I had a great crew chief (Giacomo Guidotti) and a great telemetry guy (Massimo). We went forward practically every time I went out on the bike. I was very disappointed not to be with them in 2001, because I knew we could win the title. Halfway through the season we thought we had a problem with tyres, but it turned out to be a wheel rim problem instead. I asked them if we could use Michelins in the third year and I was told that it was not possible. They signed Noriyuki Haga on Dunlops and that was that.

The second best bike I have ridden is probably the 1998 Ducati. From 1997 Carl and I evolved the bike the way we wanted to ride it, which was great.

The Fat Boy? Mine's got a factory stroker kit, which gives a capacity of 103 cubic inches (1688cc), and special pipes. I love riding it back in Oz with a club called the 'Fourth Reich'. They're a good bunch of guys and I'm just a mate of theirs, not a fancy racer. I got the MV because it's a Senna Anniversary modeI. I chose number 123 out of a run of 300. I rarely use it, but keep it ticking over. It's a sentimental thing, an MV.

And can I have a couple of not-so favourite bikes?

The Foggy Petronas FP-1 was a hard bike to adjust to. I just didn't have enough happy times on that machine. There were many difficulties with the bike and it's a shame I could not have done more with it.

But maybe the 1992 Peter Jackson OW-01 was the worst. It scared me every time I rode it, with such a head-shake I thought it was going to snap the steering locks! I was glad to see the back of it!

Colin Edwards

Colin Edwards

  1. Yamaha Zinger
  2. 2002 Honda SP-2
  3. Aprilia Cube

We had some trouble with the SP-1 in 2000 and 2001, but the SP-2 sticks in my mind as I was the guy who was both racing and developing it. We got that bike so that the chassis was so damn good. Obviously Troy Bayliss was running away with the title in 2002, but the bike helped me stay in touch. Then later in the year we got more motor and the fightback started.

The Aprilia was my first baptism of fire with a MotoGP bike. And it turned out to be a baptism of fire literally, as it exploded during practice at the Sachsenring in Germany and I had to jump off the thing at 130mph.

The Yamaha Zinger is in there because it was built by my dad. He'd get a Zinger, graft a YZ60 front-end on and a QT50 shaftdrive. He even built a monoshock for it. He sold them all over the States, they were that good.

My mad dad built it and I rode and won on it. That was the perfect advertisement for the Zinger. You don't ever get a closer connection to a bike than that.

Niall Mackenzie

Niall Mackenzie

  1. 1980 Yamaha RD350LC
  2. 1987/88 Honda RVF750
  3. 1999 Yamaha YZF-R7 OW-02

The RVF was just awesome, the best race bike ever. It still sticks in my mind today as the one bike that did everything. It had lots of power, was dead smooth, it braked and handled. I was on pole for the Suzuka Eight-Hour on it in the first sessions, but then Oguma-san from HRC told me to sit out the last qualifying session so that Wayne Gardner, who was 'Mr 100%' in Japan, could get pole.

In the race I shared the bike with Malcolm Campbell, another Aussie, but it broke down while we were lying second behind Gardner.

The following year I was actually sharing the bike with Wayne. I qualified the bike in second but he broke it in the race! It was a bike you could never get fed up of riding.

The R7 was similar in a way. It handled like the RVF, but didn't have the motor. But the looks! You could get off it after a bad result and it would still make you feel good to look at it.

The RD350 was a bike I had to have. When I went racing on it, it transformed my life. It's good to look at, nice to ride and anyone can take an RD350 apart!

You've read the choices of the famous, now tell us about your favourites in the comments below