AS THE summer gets well under way, for many there’s no better way to spend a few hours than getting on their prized motorbike and letting the wind (and the midges) get in their faces!
Motorbikes can also be ‘Marmite’. Some hate them and would never even get aboard one – for others they provide a sense of freedom riding along on stylish, speedy, high-performance vehicles. A motorcycle can become an extension of the rider themselves.
But what makes these bikes so memorable and how did they get their names in the first place? A name can be powerful reminder of what a bike stands for and even the non-bike fan recognises some of these iconic marks. Here’s five of the most well-known among serious petrol-heads!
BLACKBIRD HONDA CBR1100XX
When a bike is named after a legendary military aircraft, you know there’s something special about it. The Blackbird Honda references the Lockheed SR-71, one of the fastest aircrafts of all time. This is the perfect name for a vehicle that briefly became the fastest production bike in the world. The 1996 models were painted dark grey to match the colour scheme of the Lockheed.
Never to be outdone, Suzuki brought out the Hayabusa to compete with Honda. Hayabusa is the Japanese word for peregrine falcon, an eater of blackbirds. The bike is able to reach a top speed of 194 mph, surpassing the previous record set by the Blackbird. The Hayabusa’s speed coupled with its performance makes it one of the best motorcycles on the market.
Introduced in 1980, the Suzuki Katana conjures the image of a samurai. Katanas needed a great amount of skill to use and that can be applied to the design of the bike. When it was brought out, the bike had a futuristic style that was years ahead of the time. Later, the Katana name was given to a number of American models.
The Ducati Monster lives up to its name by having an imposing, muscular build. The bike was designed in 1992 by Miguel Angel Galluzzi and Ducati’s technical director Massimo Bordi said he wanted “something which displayed a strong Ducati heritage but which was easy to ride and not a sports bike.”
The Triumph Bonneville features a parallel-twin four-stroke engine and the original was launched in 1959. The bike takes its name from Boneville Salt Flats in the USA, where many people have tried to break motorcycle speed records. The Bonneville’s fame increased when it was used by Steve McQueen’s stunt double to jump a barbed wire fence in The Great Escape.