Top 10s

Top 10 unlikely future classic motorcycles

What oddball motorcycles could be collectable in the years to come?

LOOK at the pantheon of classic bikes and it’s clear that while some are obvious classics from day one, a lot are slow burners that were either unloved when new or went through a long period of simply being clapped-out hacks before they were recognised as collectable.

And when it comes to picking future classics, the same applies. Some are obvious. Stick a Ducati Desmosedici RR into a climate-controlled garage for long enough and you’ll be able to drone on about it at tiresome length at classic bikes shows in decades to come. The same applies to first-generation Fireblades, R1s or ZX-10Rs. They were desirable when new, and when a generation who had them on bedroom wall posters becomes affluent enough to fight over the best survivors, those examples will rocket in price.

But what about the second category? These days, even Bimota Mantras are being classed as classic in some circles, and things like mid-80s turbo bikes – considered pretty rubbish when they were new and slow-selling enough to ensure a short lifespan – are expensive collectables.

Here’s our finger-in-the-wind guess at 10 bikes that might just become unlikely classics in the future.

10: Honda Grom/MSX125 (main image)

Honda’s MSX125 – or Grom, to use the American-market title that’s widely used here as well – has proved a surprise hit for the firm. Few expected this Monkey bike redux to grab the imagination of the hipster class, but it’s done just that and there’s no doubt that in future, ageing millennials wanting to relive their youth will be scrabbling to buy and restore the ever-dwindling supply of surviving examples.

Can something as ubiquitous as the Suzuki SV650 become a classic? Absolutely. Remember that RD350s were, for years, a cheap-and-cheerful bike for riders wanting something a bit sporty on a minimal budget. That’s just what the SV is today, and has been in its now-gone aluminium framed incarnation (pictured above) for most of its 20-year life. The key to the SV’s collectability will be time and the erosion of existing stocks. Some time in decades to come you’ll suddenly discover that there are only a handful of good ones left, and suddenly they’ll become desirable.

Read our review of the 2016 Suzuki SV650.

At the moment, Hayabusas are in a dip. The out-and-out speed and power that made them desirable at the turn of the millennium has been outshone by newer, lighter, better-handling bikes. But the Busa, Honda Super Blackbird and Kawasaki ZX-12R were once in a tooth-and-nail battle for top speed supremacy that was briefly the be-all and end-all when it came to manufacturers’ objectives. The self-imposed (and meaningless, not to mention widely-ignored) 186mph top speed restriction ended that battle, but the bikes that fought it will surely be classics when the rose-tinted visor of time comes down.

Yes, we all recognise that the water-cooled 1200 Multistrada is a beast of a bike, capable of doing everything that 99% of riders could ever want. But the air-cooled machine that first carried the name was a Pierre Terblanche designed oddball that never quite took off. As such it’s got the makings of a future classic. Weird details like the upper fairing that turns with the bars while the rest stays stationary are the sort of intriguing quirk that could be just enough to ensure it’s collectable in future.

Joni Mitchell (among others) told us that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. And in the case of the XTZ 660 Ténéré she might just be right. There’s no doubt that Yamaha’s upcoming Ténéré 700 parallel twin is much-anticipated, but let’s not forget that the old single-cylinder 660 was pretty good at what it did, too. While the new twin will surely be good, the old bike’s time-proven engine and rugged design meant it was truly usable for the sort of world-trekking adventures that most such bikes never get to go on. Throw in some Paris-Dakar history and there’s a recipe for collectability.

Bit new to be classed as a classic, isn’t it? The 1299 Panigale is about to fall into the shadow of the all-singing, all-dancing Panigale V4, and while there’s no doubt it’s desirable, it’s looking likely that history will record the V-twin Panigale as the only Ducati superbike in the last 30 years not to win a WSB title. However, it’s also likely that this will be the absolute apex of twin-cylinder superbike design. Ducati’s shift to four cylinders and the fact that nobody else is making a decent twin at the moment means that two-cylinder superbikes could join two-strokes in the pages of history. At that stage they’ll become increasingly collectable, and the Panigale will represent their ultimate evolution. Also look out for other two-cylinder superbikes as classics-to-be – the Aprilia RSV Mille is looking like a bargain at the moment.

Nobody buys the Yamaha VMAX 1700. It’s big, heavy, expensive and for all its nearly 200hp not as fast as stuff like the Ducati XDiavel. But its rarity and the fact that for years it’s been Yamaha’s range-topper are just the ingredients needed to ensure it’s a future classic.

Whether you ride it ironically or simply see it as a two-wheeled form of cosplay, the NM4 Vultus is a weird machine that doesn’t have a wide appeal. It’s also slow and expensive. So why is it a future classic? Because it turns heads like virtually nothing else. Remember, when bikes become old, they’re all slow (at least in comparison to their new equivalents), so performance is far less of a yardstick. Getting looked at, though, is always going to be appealing to some people.

Another Pierre Terblanche-designed bike on the list! The Ducati 999 is currently the ginger stepson of Ducati’s superbike history. Replacing the 916/996/998 was never going to be easy, and Terblanche’s tactic of using technology and avant-garde design instead of beauty wasn’t popular. But time has started to take the edge off the 999’s challenging looks, and while Ducati currently rarely mentions the machine when it reflects on its glorious history, it must be remembered that the 999 was the single most successful production race bike that the firm has ever made. It ticks every box to be a classic of the future, even if it’s not as pretty as its sisters.

Take everything that puts the Honda Vultus into third place on this list and wind it up to 11, and you get the DN-01. Ugly? Yep. Slow? Definitely. Expensive when new? Eye-wateringly. Like the NM4 Vultus, it’s got styling that will make everyone turn and stare, and for a big section of the classic market that’s important. But beyond that it also had the strangest transmission that Honda’s ever put on a bike, a completely hydraulic drive system that required the DN-01 to be assembled in a special, surgically-clean section of the factory. The result of all this is a bike that’s exceedingly rare, has exotic tech and eye-catching (if stomach-turning) looks. A future oddball classic if ever there was one.

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