The 10 quirkiest motorcycles you can buy right now

You won't find many lists containing a Honda scooter AND the Triumph Rocket 3... but they both star here among the 10 quirkiest motorcycles you can buy today

Motorcycling has never really been about making sense. For most (but not all) of us they’re not logical transport or a sensible solution – they’re a passion, an escape, a dynamic thrill, a window into a whole new world. You may not NEED a motorcycle… but boy do we want them.

Which is partly why many motorcycles aren’t very sensible or logical either – in fact sometimes they’re downright bonkers, eschewing practical conventions and instead being bedecked in features, styling quirks and equipment that makes no sense at all but yet, sometimes, makes us WANT them all the more.

So, which are the quirkiest, oddest, strangest motorcycles you can buy today? What is it about them that makes them truly stand out? And what do you really get for your money? Here, in no particular order, is our pick of the current best…

2021 Honda X-ADV - Everything you need to know...

Honda X-ADV (from £10,249)

Honda is no stranger to quirky bikes – ‘Big H’ is the brand, after all, that gave us machines as varied as the CX500 Turbo, oval-pistoned NR750, fully-enclosed PC800 Pacific Coast not to mention bizarre, feet-forward commuters such as the DN-01 and NM4 Vultus. 

But with its bonkers X-ADV ‘adventure scooter’, first introduced in 2017, Honda not only gave us a solution to a transport problem no-one knew existed it also delivered one of the quirkiest bikes of all. 

The recipe is simple – take the Integra super-scoot as powered by the 745cc, 53bhp parallel twin from the popular NC750X along with Honda’s clever, semi-automatic ‘DCT’ transmission; add longer travel adventure bike suspension, knobblies, crash protection and Africa Twin-inspired styling and, voila! – a scooter you can ride across the Sahara (in theory).

Yes, of course that’s something no-one actually needs - though, fair play, it’s more capable than you would have expected. The X-ADV - which has just received a second-gen refresh works impressively well, is reasonably practical and far cooler than any other scoot… though at £10k, more than a base Yamaha Tenere 700, it’s a ballsy price too. 

Yamaha Niken (from £13,947)

There’s no more obvious way of making a two-wheeled motorcycle more ‘quirky’ than by turning it into a three-wheeled one prompting, as you’d expect, a debate of whether this - the Yamaha Niken - is actually a motorcycle. You can choose your side of the fence, but we’re plumping for yes it is (just...) on this occasion...

We have, of course, had the Piaggio MP3 which confused and amused when it was first revealed but has since gone on to become a big-seller in Europe, so much so Yamaha, Peugeot and now Kymco have their own versions. 

However, the Niken, first introduced in 2018, is by far the dramatic and effective example of the breed. It’s basically a Tracer 900 triple but with a clever front end that uses two pairs of suspension legs each holding a 15inch wheel.

Putting misgivings aside, it actually works impressively well if you give it a go: steering intuitively, delivering extra grip and reassurance as intended and, with 113bhp performance, proving an adept sports tourer – something enhanced with the addition of a GT version in 2019. 

On the downside, it’s inevitably rather expensive and heavy and has limited appeal to conventional bikers. But as a quirky talking point in a car park or at a bike meet, however, there are few better.

Arch KRGT-1 (from £89,000)

It’s difficult to know where to start with Arch motorcycles – or where to finish either. California-based Arch is the pet project of movie star bike nut Keanu Reeves, along with renowned custom builder Gard Hollinger. Its first product is the KRGT-1, unveiled in 2018 but other, even wackier projects have been unveiled since. 

What’s so ‘quirky’ about it? Everything, actually. First it’s VERY American, being a sort of cruiser/hot rod based around a massive, 2032cc S&S V-twin producing 120bhp. Though ‘laid back’ it also has a serious sports chassis including BST carbon wheels and Ohlins suspension and last but by no means least, it costs just shy of a whopping 90 big ones which, if not making it exactly quirky certainly makes it, er, exclusive.

Ariel Ace Iron Horse (£29,686)

Another ‘cruiser hot rod’ so quirky and rare you’ll certainly stand out in a crowd – but at least this one is made in Britain. The historic Ariel bike brand was revived in the early 2000s and applied first to a series of well-regarded, ultra-lightweight sports cars. 

Bikes followed in 2014 with the first Ace, a radically-styled roadster powered by a 172bhp Honda VFR1200 V4 engine and with an exposed ‘skeletal’ alloy chassis mimicking those of its cars. But the quirkiest of all is surely its cruiser variant which uses a striking ‘Hossack’-style front suspension arrangement in place of traditional forks along with a severely chopped down rear end. 

“The result not only looks stunning, it rides well, too – as perhaps it should for a price tag of over £20K. The latest version, meanwhile, the Ariel Ace Iron Horse, introduced in 2019, takes its quirkiness even further with carbon fibre bodywork, polished frame and more – all for £29,686!

Bimota Tesi H2 (£43,000 approx)

OK, strictly speaking the first fruits of Kawasaki’s takeover of Italian exotica experts (and novel hub-centre steered ‘Tesi’ pioneers) Bimota in 2019 has yet to officially arrive, although it is very close. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore its new, incredibly wild and wacky, supercharged H2-powered Tesi here. 

You want quirks? The Tesi H2 has got ‘em – and then some. First there’s the unique hub-centre chassis, now there’s the blown 200bhp powertrain and, on top of all that, there’s like to be the (still unconfirmed) £43,000 price tag. Being different - and eye-wateringly fast - doesn’t come cheap…

Brough Superior SS100 (£45,000)

Another revived great British motorcycle brand that has almost as many quirks as pounds in its price. The original Broughs of the 1920s and ‘30s were, of course, the ‘Rolls-Royce of motorcycles’, famously beloved of Lawrence of Arabia. H

owever bike production ended with the onset of WW2 with the surviving bikes becoming the most collectable (and valuable) classic machines of all. That changed in 2016 when the first all-new Brough Superior SS100 was produced from collaboration between British brand owner Mark Upham and Boxer bikes of Toulouse. 

The newcomer is, in most respects, a worthy successor, too, featuring a bespoke, liquid-cooled, 100bhp 90-degree V-twin and tubular steel frame. So far, so conventional. 

Then it gets quirky. Dial in: pukka retro 1920s styling including a gorgeous polished aluminium tank; Fior-type front end; wacky Beringer FOUR mini-disc front brake set-up; exotic Ohlins rear monoshock, the list goes on. 

Yes, at £45K+ it’s certainly not cheap and its performance, though decent, is hardly world-beating, but as a quirky, nay, wonderful recreation of a brilliant bike of the past, there’s none better.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire (£29,000)

On face value there’s not much unusual about the Harley LiveWire… in fact, if anything it’s actually a rather bland naked for a brand whose image is the very synonym of motorcycle.

Electric bikes are becoming increasingly commonplace but HD is probably the most famous biking brand of all. And this is our point… it’s a HARLEY electric bike – the first electric bike from a major manufacturer and that manufacturer happens to be the most traditional, analogue, fossil fuel-based of them all. 

In other words: it’s not just quirky – it’s brain scrambling. Once you’ve got over all that, the LiveWire actually a pretty decent stab at the genre. It’s fast, handles well, is well built, comfortable and easy to ride – all things, in fact, we’d not normally apply to a Harley either. 

One more thing however is – it’s price. At £29K the LiveWire’s certainly not cheap. Maybe that doesn’t matter. There’s always a premium to pay for early-adopter technology and this one happens to come with the best biking badge of all…

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 (£19,999)

The ‘Old Lady’ of Italian motorcycling, Moto Guzzi, may not be famed for quirky designs, its machines through most of history instead being notable more for their characteristic transversely-mounted V-twin engines and shaft drive plus conservative styling and engineering – but the MGX 21 is the exception. 

Based on the latest 1400cc California V-twin cruiser it’s as if the whole bike has been transformed in Batman’s Batcave and been given a mean and moody, black and red makeover that wouldn’t look out of place in a fetish club. 

All the surfaces are black carbon fibre, there’s a winged headlamp fairing that makes Harley’s ‘Batwing’ look like a budgie and even the 21in front wheel (hence the name) is carbon fibre. 

Quirky, it is, but being a grunty, comfortable ‘bagger’ it’s also reasonably practical, stylish – especially for Americans – and a decent performer, too. Moto Guzzis haven’t been this contemporary since the mid-1970s.

MV Agusta Superveloce 800 (from £17,780)

It had to happen. After legendary, historic Italian brand MV Agusta was revived in 1999 with the all-new, ultra modern F4 750 designed by Massimo Tamburini, followed by an equally aggressive, naked Brutale and more, it was only a matter of time before it produced a retro-styled variant. 

Instead, the biggest surprise is that it took over 20 years – until 2020’s arrival of the Superveloce 800. Brilliant – and quirky – it is, too. Basically a restyled F3 800 sportster it’s essentially the mongrel offspring of classic 1970s MV styling, curvy fairing, round headlight and all, with 21st century sporting performance. 

That recipe could have resulted in a right dog’s dinner but in truth it’s got the best of both worlds – distinctive if not quirky styling with class leading performance. 

It’s beautifully done, as well, we’re just not sure it makes it worth the near £3K premium over the standard F3 800…

Triumph Rocket 3 (from £19,500)

There was a time when we thought the days of bonkers, massive-engined motorcycles were, due to ever-tightening EU regulations, well and truly over. 

Yamaha’s astonishing VMax, after all, is no more while the British firm’s old 2294cc, three-cylinder Rocket 3, as introduced in 2004, finally died in 2015. Fortunately for us, however, and for all lovers or quirky motorcycles, the Rocket 3 is now back – and it’s bigger, badder and madder than ever. 

Reintroduced in 2020 it’s an all-new design with an even larger 2458cc triple, even more power (165bhp) and even more toys by way of electronic riding modes, fancy cycle parts and a slick TFT interface. 

But what’s most impressive is not just how big, bonkers and quirky the new Rocket 3 is – the only big-engined cruiser that comes close is Ducati’s Diavel and that’s an anaemic 1260ccs by comparison – but how well it all works: it’s not just fast, it handles, is comfortable, stops and is reasonably practical. A quirky bike that has the most of everything and is actually practical, too? That’s the Rocket 3…
 

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