Earlier this month, commenter czmx suggested I ask Bike-urious readers what they thought the ugliest bikes of all time (UBOAT) were. I asked away, and you responded! 131 votes were cast across 76 motorcycles, so let’s see how it all ended up…
Here’s my personal list, from ugly to unconscionably ugly:
5.) BMW R1200ST – when I was shopping for my K1200R, I knew that the R1200ST was probably the right bike for my riding style. But I am vain, and there’s no way I could spend money to be saddled with that front end. My K12R isn’t even an attractive motorcycle, but this is just a whole ‘nother level of sadness.
3.) Honda Dream CA77 – I know this one’s probably going to annoy a few folks, and the MZ Trophy ES250 is a worse offender with similar style, but the MZ already gets plenty of crap and Honda sold way more of these. Square headlights rarely work when almost every other line in the bodywork is curved and the sidecovers look like tumors, but the worst thing is the front fender, which looks like it was made for a different bike that has a larger front wheel. It almost gets away with it in black with whitewalls, but to me this isn’t a Dream, it’s a nightmare.
2.) Bimota Mantra – the “wood” dash really drives me nuts. Jason Cormier has an interesting article about the Mantra that includes the designer’s perspective. It’s interesting to hear his thoughts, especially regarding some changes that had to be made from the prototype to production. It’s a good read, but it’s still about an ugly bike.
1.) Ducati Multistrada (1st generation) – This is so high up on the list because Ducati should have known better. I think it’s goofy when exhaust pipes exit above the brake light/turn signals, but goofy is OK. What’s not OK is the styling of the front fairing and how it looks like it’s broken whenever you turn. More shocking to me than the front end of this bike is the fact that NONE OF YOU VOTED FOR IT. I’ll get over that betrayal soon enough.
As I’m sure you felt, it’s tough to pick just 5 and frankly I’m not really married to any one of these answers. Ask me tomorrow and the Vincent Black Prince/Black Knight, Kawasaki Z1000, Triumph Rocket III, pretty much any 80s cruiser, or a few other bikes that get mentioned below would be on my list.
Before we get into YOUR list, here are some honorable mentions that were suggested in the comments:
Harley-Davidson Pan America. This actually ended up coming in 6th place even though it won’t be released until 2020! I have to admit, I love that Harley is trying new things, but it doesn’t help that the promotional photos that Harley used were so badly photoshopped…
Commenter Jeff Moore mentioned two motorcycles I had never heard of before:
Barigo Onixa 600 – Barigo was a French motorcycle manufacturer that built custom frames around motors from other companies. Their initial success was in off-roading, and by the mid 80s they had expanded into Supermotos, a newly burgeoning facet of motorcycling. In the early 90s, they took their Rotax-powered 600cc supermoto and converted it into the Onixa, a thumper sportbike. Because supermoto fuel tanks are small, Barigo enlarged the tank for the Onixa but they did it in a very interesting way – going higher instead of wider.
For a comprehensive look at this weirdo, check out this article on OddBike.
Voxan VX-10 Nefertiti – Yikes. This actually doesn’t look too egregious between the forks and the shock, but the gap between the seat and the tailpipes are odd and I’m struggling to comprehend how someone could have thought the double headlights were a good idea. This was a hail mary play by Voxan, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from getting bought out in 2010. The French publication Moto Mag said that “overall, the VX10 Nefertiti is a well finished machine that’s being offered at a competitive price. However, since Voxan’s future remains uncertain, people aren’t likely to whip out their checkbooks in a hurry for this bike.”
All those are fun and weird, but they’re just appetizers. Here are the top 5 ugliest bikes of all time, according to Bike-urious readers:
5. BMW R1200CThis one feels like it might have been influenced by the original question, as this whole premise started because the R1200C was on commenter czmx’s list when he asked the question. That’s not to say that it’s a beautiful bike, I’m just not sure it belongs at #5 on this list. You may feel differently. With that said, BMW did make a full-dresser version called the R1200CLC, and that front fairing is an abomination:
4. Buell 1125R/1125CRThe 1125R was announced in July 2007 and it usually prompted two reactions. First, riders were excited to see what a Buell sportbike could be like without a HD-derived motor. Second, riders squinted to make sure they were looking at the photos correctly. The front of the 1125R is just sad – the fairing sticks out too far, it’s too short, and it’s too wide. The air intakes don’t help, either.
Still, I wonder if this might be a question of mistaken identity. One commenter typed out “1125R” but included a photo of the “1125CR”, which I think is much uglier. Erik Buell described the CR as, “part superbike and part streetfighter, the 1125CR is my vision of a 21st century cafe racer. It’s got Clubman-style bars and a flyscreen instead of a fairing. Then we geared it down to optimize acceleration.” The new headlight/flyscreen combo gets dwarfed by the giant intakes, making the CR look like a Hollywood mom who went for the largest breast implants available without remembering what “proportions” were.
3. Victory VisionGood news: Victory took on Harley-Davidson’s big baggers by being different, not just making a Harley clone.
Bad news: Different does not mean good. Or pretty.
The Vision was actually a decent cruiser, and most reviewers thought it was a better buy than any “Glide” from Harley…assuming you could get over the looks. Turns out, a lot of people could not.
2. Amazonas 1600In the 70s, Brazil had an insane tax on imported products, which pretty much extinguished the importation of foreign bikes and parts. But Brazilian cop bikes were Harleys, so they were running out of the spare parts required for maintenance. A local decided this meant the time was right to try and create a Brazilian motorcycle with domestic parts. His idea was to use the venerable 1600cc Volkswagen engine as VW had a plant in Brazil, and it resulted in one of the most absurd bikes ever built – 50 horsepower, 900 pounds, 91 mph top speed, and a production run of about 450.
I’ve featured two examples of the Amazonas that somehow made it into the US before:
This example is an interesting custom that had over 100k miles, more than 10k of which came on a trip from Brazil to Miami. It was relisted several times but bidding never cracked $2,500.
This example did not meet reserve despite 22 bids up to $7,877 on eBay.
If you’ve never heard of this bike before, then you need to head over to OddBike for all the information you could want.
1. Honda RuneIt wasn’t even close. The Rune got twice as many votes as the Amazonas – you guys and gals really do not like the way this bike looks! I’d argue Honda deserves some credit for putting this into production, as just about everyone assumed it would never make it past the concept stage. Honda had (has?) a reputation for conservative design, but this was a custom cruiser from the factory. Per this article from Motorcycle-USA, “Each Rune left the American Honda Plant at Marysville, Ohio, costing the company a reported $100,000 – and sold for just a quarter of that price.”
For what it’s worth, Honda produced the most models (9) that earned a vote for this list, but that seems reasonable considering how many bikes they’ve cranked out over the decades. Bike-urious readers voted for the Rune, NM4, Pacific Coast, Fury, DN-01, CX500, F6B, CM400, and surprisingly to me, the 919 Hornet. Of the big 4, Yamaha fared best with just three models gaining votes – the Niken, V-Max (2nd generation), and the XV920R.
Well, that was fun. Do you agree with the list? Also, here’s a little heads up: start thinking about pretty bikes, because you can probably figure out what I’m going to ask you tomorrow…