The motorcycles you really need to ride before you die

It might be the power, the speed or the fact that they change the motorcycle landscape forever – here are our bucket list motorcycles

Ducati 916

MOTORCYCLISTS are naturally a fairly greedy bunch. We like to have our cake and eat it, with a different bike for commuting, one for the sunny weekend blast and one for mud-plugging along some greenlanes on.

So, trying to sort out a bucket list of bikes to ride before you die should be fairly easy, and the answer would be ‘all of them!’. Sadly, time and tide are not on our side, as the eternal clock ticks down, you may want to narrow your search of bucket list bikes.

Here’s a fairly safe starter for ten that should get your interest piqued!

12. Honda Super Cub

No, it’s not fast, not it’s not powerful and no, you aren’t going to keep up with your mates on their thousands and nakeds.

But it is one of the most important motorcycles ever built, mobilising more humans on planet earth than pretty much any other form of road vehicle. It’s also unfathomably simple to ride, offers ultimate reliability and has barely changed in its 60 years of production.

11. Anything with a sidecar

If for no other reason than it’s fun to regress the thing back to its two-wheeled roots – with a little help from a roundabout of course!

In all seriousness, a motorcycle and sidecar outfit is a quirky thing to ride, with totally different dynamics to a two-wheeled machine. For starters you can steer the machine with the throttle, opening it to go right and closing it to go left.

It really is a whole new world!

10. Anything over the Alps

Okay so this isn’t a bike, but it makes any motorcycle a bucket list one if you can ride this...

If you’ve never down it, a trip over the Alps is the best way into Italy. Sure, the tunnel is quicker, but it’ll cost you £40, and for the entire time you won’t be able to see a thing except for the diesel fumes from the truck in front!

For a scenic view, take the St Bernard Pass, which links the stunning Lake Geneva with Northern Italy. It’s proper picture postcard stuff!

9. Honda Fireblade

And not any particular year either, pretty much any Fireblade will do. The thing is, if you’ve never ridden a sportsbike before and only seen them on the road and on the TV, you’ll think they’re some kind of fire breathing monster that wants to send you into the scenery at the first opportunity.

But riding a well set up and looked after ‘Blade can be as comfortable, soothing and easy as any other bike out there.

8. Kawasaki H2 (or H2 SX SE)

There’s a simple reason for this; until you’ve pinned a supercharged Kawasaki H2 up through the gears, you haven’t felt what earth-shattering acceleration is.

Sure, there are customs and drag bikes out there that can match the H2, but this a bike you can walk into a dealership and buy. It has an immobiliser, a warranty and road legal exhaust. There are other road bikes that make similar power figures to the H2, but they don’t get down the road in quite the same way as one of these does.

7. Ducati 916

For no other reason than it’s achingly beautiful. It’s also the bike that launched a million teenage fantasies of living out life on two wheels. And for that – we think it deserves legend status.

And yes, before you say it, we’re aware that the riding experience won’t be a patch on a modern bike. We know it’ll break down and we know it’ll be murder to ride the thing for more than an hour. But when got where you were going, sat down and stared at it while you drunk your coffee, we’re pretty sure you won’t care.

6. Yamaha RD350

For no other reason than to experience what a superbike from the 70s and 80s felt like. With tiddly brakes, fairly archaic suspension and a frame that could barely contain the power, riding an RD is like nothing else you will have ever ridden. And that’s before we’ve even got to the powerband.

5. Honda Gold Wing

As with the Fireblade above, pretty much any model Gold Wing will do, you just really need to experience controlling a 350kg motorcycle, while listening to the radio and enjoying a rub-down from the aftermarket massage chair.

And again, like the Fireblade, Gold Wings are scarily easy things to ride. Yes, they weigh a fair bit and you really do feel it when moving the bike around, but the weight is so low down and the reverse gear so well set up, you actually have very little to worry about.

4. Yamaha PW50

The PW50, or Peewee as it’s affectionately known, might be the starting point that most of us riders hopped on when we started our two-wheeled adventure, but that’s no reason to consign the bike to history!

If anything, introducing the next generation of riders to the world of powered two-wheelers is one of the best excuses going to give the Peewee another visit.

3. Suzuki Hayabusa

Like the H2 mentioned above, the Hayabusa is one of those bikes that changes your perception of what speed on two-wheels is all about.

Unlike the Kawasaki, the Suzuki’s powerhouse is a normally aspirated 1300cc lump that produces 173bhp of seamless, silky smooth grunt.

2. Aprilia Tuono 1000

It might seem odd to be snubbing the Aprilia RSV Mille in favour of its naked sibling but with this, it just comes down to the sheer bonkersness of the thing!

The V-twin Tuono was one of the original breed of mid-2000s supernakeds, taking the RSV Mille sportsbike as a base, stripping it of most of its fairings, slapping on wide, flat and wheelietastic handlebars.

At the time it was branded as one of the maddest bikes on the market, and while time may have taken some of the shine off the machine since then, it’ll still bring a grin to even the most adrenaline-addicted riders out there.

1. Honda CB750

For many, this is the bike that started us on the path that we are on today. At a time when British built machines had, until now, ruled the roads, the Honda brought reliability, handling and speed to the table. The assembled establishment just couldn’t keep up.

In an attempt to prevent the shift in power, the big three all tried there best to catch up, building bikes along the lines of the CB750’s. Sadly for the plucky Brits’, the aging manufacturing techniques and outdated supply chain just couldn’t match the super-modern approach from Honda.

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