Top 10 motorcycle marques that should be revived

Why should names like Norton get all the love?

THE trend for reviving defunct motorcycle marques seems unstoppable – only yesterday we revealed the British name Francis Barnett was back, this time on a customised Chinese 125.

Last year we saw new machines carrying the names Ariel, Matchless, Brough Superior and Hesketh. And then there are heavier-hitting efforts like the rebirth of Indian.

Have we had enough? No. There are still plenty of defunct brands ripe for revival, if only someone put the necessary capital and commitment behind them. Here are some of our favourites.

10: NSU

The name might be too long dead to resonate with many young riders, but the images of the firm’s streamlined racers and record breakers are still legendary. In fact, an NSU revival might not be too hard to imagine, since the firm was absorbed by the Volkswagen group many years ago. Now, with Ducati under its wing and a foot in the bike market, perhaps it could be tempted to bring back the Teutonic brand.

9: Scott

While some revived firms were mere flashes in the pan first time around, Scott lasted for decades and surely deserves a second chance. Sure, you might not be able to use two-stroke engines on a modern machine carrying the name, but reviving Scott would be worth it if only to be able to reuse the name ‘Flying Squirrel’ on one model.

8: MZ

MZ seems to have finally disappeared after limping along for years, dipping in and out of solvency. But it’s would be a shame if recent history tarnishes a name that was once legendary in racing and which can trace its roots back to the start of the last century.

7: Aermacchi

Like MV Agusta, Aermacchi’s roots are in aeronautics, and like MV it only turned to bikes after WW2 as a way to make ends meet. These days, you’d think a marque linked to fighter planes and race bikes would be hot property, but after Harley-Davidson’s brief ownership, the name was sold to Cagiva. With both the MV and Aermacchi names in its portfolio, Cagiva opted to re-launch the former. So Aermacchi remains dormant.

6: Maserati

While Maserati remains a famous and desirable name in cars, the firm’s foray into motorcycles during the 1950s is largely forgotten. However, it’s still a great name and lives on under the ownership of the huge Fiat Chrysler Group. Who knows, with the likes of VW and Mercedes showing interests in bikes (respectively investing in Ducati and MV Agusta), maybe Fiat Chrysler will also soon see the need to have a presence on two wheels?

5: Velocette

Since there’s enough interest to endlessly revive Norton, for Triumph to be a wildly successful firm and for other British names like Ariel, Matchless, Vincent and Brough to be brought out of retirement in recent years, maybe it’s time for Velocette to make a comeback. The name lives on in a firm making and selling parts.

4: Bridgestone

It’s largely forgotten that Bridgestone – yes, the tyre firm – once made a successful range of motorcycles of its own. The two-stroke GTR and GTO 350 models of the late 1960s were the pinnacle of the firm’s production, having worked its way up from 50cc and 175cc machines after WW2. The firm inexplicably dropped its bike range at the end of the 1960s. Some say it was under pressure from rivals who threatened to stop using Bridgestone tyres. With Bridgestone very much alive in the tyre business, a revival of the name on a motorcycle seems unlikely to ever happen.

3: Douglas

Douglas is another of those British firms that could so easily be the subject of a revival. And in some ways, it already has been. The name ‘Black Douglas’ is used on a very retro machine and French firm Midual originally wanted to use the Douglas name on its machines, which have a similar lengthways-mounted boxer twin engine configuration to some of the original Douglas models.

2: Laverda

Laverda has one of those convoluted histories that would fill a book, but in recent times its been dormant and simply waiting for someone to come along with a fat wallet and some bold intentions. Originally it went under in the mid 1980s, but was revived in 1993 by Francesco Tognon. Having made some sweet-handling but vibey parallel twin models, it was on the verge of creating a radical 900cc triple when Aprilia, riding the crest of a wave of popularity, bought both Laverda and Moto Guzzi. It was about to launch a new superbike, the Laverda SFC1000, with RSV Mille power, when Aprilia itself hit the rocks, eventually being bought up by Piaggio in 2004. While Piaggio has pumped money and effort into Aprilia and Guzzi, it’s left Laverda in limbo, with no plans to revive it. Surely some rich enthusiast could persuade Piaggio to let the name go?

1: BSA

We don’t need to go into the history of BSA here – that’s what Wikipedia is for if you need filling in – but the key to its viability for a revival is that the name still rings some bells, even in the heads of modern motorcyclists. Coming from the same golden era as Norton and Triumph, surely BSA – which still exists as a company, just not a motorcycle manufacturer – is ripe for revival?

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