HISTORIC MOTORCYCLE BRANDS
In this website section we will list the motorcycle brands that are of most relevance to the Australian road transport history. This section will build in mid-2021. We’ll research thoroughly, but we’re more than happy to add factual information that our website visitors may have. Just drop us an email!
Janus Motorcycles is an American manufacturer of retro-design, small-displacement motorcycles, located in Goshen, Indiana. The company was founded in 2011 by Richard Worsham and Devin Biek, and has been delivering motorcycles since 2013.
Aprilia was founded in 1956, by Cavaliere Alberto Beggio, to produce bicycles in a factory near Venice. Motorcycle production began in the 1960s.
Waratah motorcycles were manufactured in Sydney, from around 1911 until the late 1940s, although Waratah-badged motorcycles were sold into the 1950s.
Magni is an Italian company that began building specialist motorcycles in 1977. In addition to building the bikes that bear its name, is also a supplier of special parts for the restoration of MV Agusta classic motorcycles.
The Husqvarna brand was founded more than 300 year ago, near the town of Huskvarna in Sweden, in 1689. As a subsidiary of the Husqvarna armament firm, it began manufacturing motorcycles in 1903, making it the longest-lasting, continuously-produced motorcycle brand in history.
The Dot Cycle and Motor Manufacturing Company was established by Harry Reed near Manchester, in 1903. By 1906 Dot had built its first motorcycle, using a Peugeot engine and scale production was interrupted by the Great Depression and finally ended in 1966.
Bultaco was a Spanish manufacturer of two-stroke motorcycles from 1958 until 1983. In May 2014, the Bultaco brand was reintroduced on a range of electric bikes.
In the 1960s, Swiss engineer and bike racer, Fritz Egli, put a tuned Vincent Rapide engine into a tubular-backbone frame of his own design and won the 1968 Swiss hillclimb championship. Thus began the ongoing history of Egli bikes, with a range of different engines.
Before Vespa there was Piaggio, founded in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio, a 20-year-old entrepreneur, to supply components for ships, locomotives and railway carriages. The Vespa scooter brand was born in 1946 and had its 75th birthday in 2021.
Yamaha is a Japanese manufacturer of motorcycles, outboard motors and other motorized products. The company was established in 1955 by Genichi Kawakami and began production of its first motorcycle, the YA-1, two-stroke,125cc model, in 1955.
Vincent Motorcycles was a British manufacturer of motorcycles from 1928 to 1955. Philip Vincent bought out HRD and formed the brand Vincent HRD, powered by proprietary engines. From 1934, Vincent 500cc single cylinder and 1000cc V-twin engines propelled the world-famous Vincent models.
Velocette motorcycles were made by a small, family-owned firm that sold almost as many hand-built motorcycles during its lifetime as the mass-produced machines of the giant BSA and Norton concerns. Renowned for innovation and the quality of its products, the company was prominent in international motorcycle racing from the mid-1920s until the 1950s.
Triumph Engineering Co Ltd was originally a British manufacturing company, based originally in Coventry and then in Meriden. It was founded as a bicycle importer in 1886 by German immigrant, Siegfried Bettmann, who was joined in 1888 by another Nuremburg expat, Moritz Schulte. Motorcycle production began in 1902.
In 1909, Michio Suzuki (1887–1982) founded what became the successful Suzuki Loom Works in Hamamatsu, Japan. He diversified into building small cars in 1937, but World War II ended that endeavour. After the War, Suzuki re-entered the automotive business and began producing motorcycles in 1952.
The ‘Sunbeam’ name was registered by John Marston in 1888 for his bicycle manufacturing business. Sunbeam motor car manufacture began in 1901 and Sunbeam motorcycles were not made until 1912. There were three distinct generations of Sunbeam bikes.
The Scott Motorcycle Company was a manufacturer of innovative motorcycles and light engines, founded by Alfred Angas Scott in 1908. Scott motorcycles were produced until 1978.
Dating from 1894, Rudge Whitworth Cycles was a British bicycle, bicycle saddle, motorcycle and wheel manufacturer. Rudge motorcycles were produced from 1911 to 1946. The firm was known for its innovations in engine and transmission design, and its racing successes.
The first Royal Enfield motorcycle was built in 1901, by the Enfield Cycle Company that was responsible for the design and original production of the Royal Enfield Bullet, the longest-lived motorcycle design in history. It’s also the only motorcycle brand to span three centuries of continuous production.
NSU originated as a knitting machine manufacturer established in 1873 by Christian Schmidt. In 1886, the company began to produce bicycles and then motorcycles, becoming the highest volume maker in the world. Heavy investment in the Wankel engine in the 1960s sent the company broke and in 1969 it was taken over by VW.
Nimbus was a Danish motorcycle produced from 1919 to 1960 by Fisker and Nielsen of Copenhagen, Denmark, who were also manufacturers of globally-sold Nilfisk-brand vacuum cleaners, from 1910. Two basic Nimbus models were produced powered by an in-house, 750cc, four-cylinder engine.