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!

Vespa

Vespa

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.

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Yamaha

Yamaha

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. 

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Vincent

Vincent

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.

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Velocette

Velocette

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.

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Triumph

Triumph

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.

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Suzuki

Suzuki

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.

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Sunbeam

Sunbeam

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.

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Scott

Scott

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.

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Rudge

Rudge

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. 

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Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield

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.

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NSU

NSU

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.

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Nimbus

Nimbus

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.

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Norton

Norton

The Norton brand was founded in 1898 to manufacture ’fittings and parts for the two-wheel trade’. By 1902 the company was manufacturing motorcycles with bought-in engines and, from 1908, with Norton-built engines. Thus began a long series of single and twin-cylinder motorcycles, and a long history of racing involvement. 

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MZ

MZ

MZ (Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH) was a German motorcycle manufacturer located in Zschopau, Saxony. It was born out of the remains of DKW after World War II and traded firstly as IFA, before adopting the ‘MZ’ moniker in 1956.

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Megola

Megola

The Megola was a German motorcycle produced between 1921 and 1925 in Munich. Like Bimota, the name is a portmanteau, derived loosely from the names of its designers Meixner, Cockerell and Landgraf.

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Mondial

Mondial

FB Mondial was a motorcycle manufacturer, founded in 1929, in Milan, Italy. The brand is best known for its domination of Motorcycle World Championships between 1949 and 1957. 

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Matchless

Matchless

Matchless is one of the oldest marques of British motorcycles, manufactured in Plumstead, London, between 1899 and 1966. A wide range of models was produced under the Matchless name, ranging from small two-strokes to 750cc, four-stroke twins. 

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MV Agusta

MV Agusta

Meccanica Verghera Agusta (MV Agusta) is a motorcycle manufacturer founded by Count Domenico Agusta on 19 January 1945 as one of the branches of the Italian Agusta aircraft company. The abbreviation MV stands for Meccanica Verghera, the hamlet where the first MVs were made.

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Moto Guzzi

Moto Guzzi

Moto Guzzi was established in 1921 and is noted for its air-cooled 90-degree, V-twin engines; its prominence worldwide in motorcycle racing, and for industry innovations, including the first motorcycle centre stand and eight-cylinder engine.

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Laverda

Laverda

Moto Laverda was established in 1949 by Francesco Laverda, in the Italian province of Vicenza, as a motorcycle manufacturing company and the first model, the Laverda 75, was officially introduced in 1950.

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