If you have read the excellent 1995 “High Fidelity” novel that launched the career ( after the equally good 1992 “Fever Pitch”) of brilliant Uk writer Nick Hornby, you sure remember all the pop-rock music based “ranking lists”: 10 best songs ever, 10 best b-sides etc. It’s a game we all like to play, after a few beers with mates. And it could go on and on, about every subject: cars, bikes, movies, places…etc etc. So the Marquis, too, will indulge in it. This ranking (and others that will come in the future) is obviously very personal, with no impartiality at all. It reflects the author’s eccentric taste and nothing else. It’s not based on technical reasons like performances or engineering excellence, but mostly on look, style, taste and feeling. Temptation was to have a 10 bikes ranking, or even more. Sticking to 5 forced me to do choices for the best, focusing on the basics, and it’s like this that you can improve your life. One english bike, one italian, one japanese and two germans ( you know I have a weakness for bimmers…): all the most important countries in motorbike history are there. Except USA, sorry.
BROUGH SUPERIOR SS100 – I like vintage bikes – even if I’m not particulary familiar with them. The riding position, the ol’ world charm, the exclusivity. And the look. The Moto Guzzi Alce is a bike I always liked. And so some vintage Indians and Harley Davidsons. And BMWs, too. But the honour went to the Brough. It was called “the Rolls Royce of bikes”. It was the choice of Thomas Edward Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, and that is enough for me. After all his ( fake or true) arabian war adventures Lawrence famously died in a crash in the peaceful uk countryside when riding one, of a long list he owned. Both bike and man are a myth since.
HONDA CB750 FOUR – Eveybody knows the story: this was the bike that in 1969 started a revolution, killing uk till then dominant bike industry etc etc. Perfomance, brakes, reliability: everything was “better” than before, in this bike. But I don’t mind that. I like this bike because of the look, the colours, the chromes. I like even if it has 4 cylinders ( two too much, for me.). I like it even if everyone likes it. But it must be gold.
BMW R80 G/S PARIS DAKAR – The big tank, the orange saddle, the boxer twin. Purest form of road/trail bike from a glorious era ( Africa Twin, Super Tenerè, etc). There are quite a few around now ( if you include the plain G/Ss that have been “Dakarized” later) but everytime I see one I appreciate the simple , honest and rough beauty of this bike.
MOTO GUZZI V7 – Guzzi are my “second best” brand of choice. Two cylinders protruding in the air, quiet, air-cooled, strong, no-fuss. Here too I prefer the “normal” one instead of the most coveted Sport: I don’t like the clip-on riding position, so I normally fancy gt bikes, not sportier ones. The second serie is visually better, and also a nice 850 GT in black would be good. But no California big american saddle, please.
BMW R75/5 – First “modern” BMW is one of my favourite ones. You could wonder why not the R90S, considered by many the best /5/6/7 one. Of course the S is a better bike, faster etc… But I like the quiet sobriety of the /5. Its chrome details. Its german solidity.