It’s a situation that’s all too familiar. A concept bike is revealed in the glitz and glamour of a bike show, or a prototype is spied in covert testing, whetting our appetites for something new and desirable. And then…
Sometimes bikes just seem to disappear. Whether down to market forces, management u-turns or external pressures, the fluid nature of new bike development means that just as many embryonic projects get canned as ever reach fruition.
It’s often a good call; the guys deciding to cancel projects don’t do it on a whim, but for sensible, well-judged reasons. But that doesn’t mean their decisions aren’t tinged with disappointment, as there are bikes that never made it which we’d love to experience for ourselves.
Here are 10 of them…
10: Norton Nemesis
OK, it’s become something of a laughing stock over the 20 years (!) since the V8-powered, 1500cc Nemesis was making front pages. Perhaps it was foolish to ever believe such an ambitious project could ever get off the ground. But suggestions that it was some sort of scam are wide of the mark; there were good intentions here, even if they were over-ambitious to the extreme.
These days, the ideas it included – active damping, ride-by-wire throttles, a cast frame and swingarm – are all production realities, so perhaps Norton (a totally different company to that holding the name today) was actually onto something. Remind yourself of it with this wonderfully dated Men & Motors snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfyrrIaLXYA
Let’s hope Norton’s V4 superbike, now running rather behind its originally-planned production timescale, doesn’t see history repeating itself.
9: Laverda Lynx
Compared to the Nemesis, the Laverda Lynx was a very simple machine, and it’s one that should have given the company a new lease of life. Swallowing its pride, back at the turn of the millennium the ailing Laverda planned to buy in Suzuki’s excellent SV650 motor and create a range of bikes to replace its own ancient 650 parallel twin models. The Lynx included ideas like a two-part frame – mating a trellis front to an alloy rear – that have become popular now but were innovative at its launch. Multiple models were planned to come later, using different trellis sections to alter their geometry while sharing the same rear chassis. Unfortunately, Laverda succumbed to the inevitably – and was bought by Aprilia – before the Lynx could reach production.