Most motorcycle producers did not begin as producers of motorcycles. It complicates the argument about who has been in operation for the lengthier period.
Still, from the outset, we will stop counting those years and instead pay attention to the dates when these firms built their first motorcycle.
We’ll talk about the oldest motorcycle brands still available in this article, as well as those that went out of business for a while, some for longer than others but have since been resurrected, acquired, or in some cases, both.
Some businesses have even altered their nationality over time, which is acceptable, given how long they have existed.
Although they are currently more recognized for their suspension parts, they were formerly a major engine supplier for a wide variety of various models.
They are one of the world’s oldest motorcycle brands, founded in 1905. Throughout its existence, they have produced motorcycles on and off.
Recently, they have seen a slight revival, partly because of their MadAss, although they are currently spending more on electric mobility.
Harley benefits from having a really strong business story, as is so frequently the case with great brands. Harley was founded in 1903 by two brothers and a friend.
It has seen periods of success and failure, pulling off a significant commercial turnaround in the 1980s. The Flathead, Knucklehead, and Panhead are some of the most well-known historical models, and the list of notable persons who now or previously rode Harleys is extensive.
Harley-Davidson is one of just two American motorcycle brands that survived the Great Depression.
Additionally, although they are coming close and experiencing their fair share of ups and downs, they are the only business to have lasted this long without going bankrupt.
They are one of the oldest motorcycle brands on this list since they have been producing bikes for nearly 120 years, which is an incredible accomplishment.
Triumph introduced what would later be referred to as the first genuine motorcycle in 1915, although the majority of early motorcycles were still just bicycled with motors.
The Triumph name was highly esteemed for decades until the wheels fell off in the 1980s, and the firm went under. It was groundbreaking and drove others to go forward with them.
They quickly recovered, though, and began making competitive bikes in the 1990s. Since then, they have become one of the largest motorcycle producers in Europe.
Norton won several races and championships in the first half of the 20th century, making it one of the top motorcycle brands of the time. The second half slowed until it closed its doors and auctioned off the name rights in the late 1970s.
As it complicated and confused their past, selling those name rights proved to be a crucial turning point for them. However, by the late 1980s, they were back with a Wankel engine.
That immediately descended into the predictable doldrums, and by 2008 they had another attempt, which also stopped. Now that TVs owns them, we shall soon know how that unfolds, although their prototype appears rather promising.
5. Moto Guzzi
The second-longest is continuously operating motorcycle brand, Moto Guzzi, one of the oldest motorcycle brands, got its start on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy, when co-founder Carlo Guzzi decided to build the ideal motorcycle because he couldn’t find the right one. Moto Guzzi celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2011.
As the legendary Italian “Eagle,” Moto Guzzi has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of competitive motorcycles. According to the business, its machines have won 3,300 championships so far.
The Le Mans, Falcone, and El Dorado are some of the company’s more well-known vintage models, and they stand out for their good looks and dependability.
6. Royal Enfield
one of the world’s oldest motorcycle brands. 120 years of nonstop motorcycle manufacture marked an important milestone for Royal Enfield recently.
Even though they switched from a British corporation to an Indian one in the late 1960s, output increased. It increased rather than decreased as the British period ended, and the Indian age was just starting.
The oldest motorcycle brands still produce scooters today, which may come as a surprise to some. This is partly because of the Indian industrial powerhouse Mahindra.
Their motorcycle branch was mostly neglected since they turned their emphasis to cars in the 1950s until Mahindra acquired it in 2014. Since then, they have obtained full control and manufactured scooters under the Peugeot brand in China and France.
Although it’s inaccurate, and their history is a little more complicated than that would seem, Benelli is the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturer.
Since being acquired by Qianjiang Motorcycle in roughly 2005, they technically have been a Chinese business. Their production has moved to China, although their corporate offices are still in Paraiso, Italy.
There is a case to be made that firms that focus on producing widgets, mobile phones, or motorcycles will have the focus necessary to create goods that are superior to those produced by organizations that do a little bit of everything.
Given that it had a history of producing ships, planes, and industrial equipment before joining the two-wheels industry, one of the oldest motorcycle brands, the Japanese company Kawasaki may refute that argument.
Particularly in the high-horsepower 1969 500 cc Mach III and the 1973 900 cc 4-cylinder Z1, it becomes evident that the business was anxious to convey what it learned.
What it learned about building huge, powerful machines to the craft of motorcycle production. These models are some of Kawasaki’s most well-known vintage motorcycles.
Some people believed that the Z1 was the first contemporary “superbike.” Like a Corvette or Ferrari, it could go at incredible speeds (between 120 and 130 mph), yet it would be far less expensive.
They began by jamming a small engine into a bicycle frame, hence the name “motorcycle,” just like most of the oldest motorcycle brands.
They would go through various ups and downs over the ensuing 60 years, but ultimately they failed in 1972 after a dud combination with Norton and Villiers. Just recently, seemingly out of nowhere, it was reactivated to tap into the expanding retro market.
Husqvarna is the next brand on our list of the oldest motorcycle brands. After spending several years on its own, Husqvarna returned to the BMW Group looking quite battered.
KTM aimed to revive the failing business, but not how you might anticipate a joyful ending. Only the name survives with all of their new motorcycles being reskinned KTMs.
They continued to set the early pace after surviving the Great Depression, frequently outselling their fierce competitor Harley-Davidson.
Although Harley-Davidson was now the undisputed favorite, the postwar era was not kind to them, and by 1953 they were doomed.
It was the third time fortunate after they tried and failed once more in the early 2000s. The third attempt had enough potential that Polaris decided to buy them out and introduce many new models that are now doing well worldwide. One of the oldest motorcycle brands is still in operation.
Several U.K. motorcycle brands were producing many sought-after bikes in America long before The Beatles arrived on American soil and launched an era of music defined by British musicians.
The Vincent company, established by Philip Conrad Vincent, was one of the most well-known ones that successfully sold its products in the United States.
While a mechanical engineering student at Cambridge, Vincent started creating a novel rear suspension, which he later used to create his first Vincent motorcycle.
The Vincent Black Shadow is a very sought-after motorcycle today. It sells for between $75,000 and more than $250,000.
This is because of its limited production (only 1,700 were manufactured) and its characteristics when it was initially introduced.
Today, motorcycles play a huge role in daily life. Motorcycles are not only another mode of transportation for many people; for others, they represent a way of life.
Riders like bragging about the electronics in their motorcycles and how quick and feature-rich they are.
They frequently ignore the motorcycle’s modest beginnings. I hope this list of the oldest motorcycle brands will assist in learning everything!
Interesting that you do not list the start year for Royal Enfield (1901) and plave them in the middle of the pack, velow brands that went out of business and and now completely different companies using old names, Im looking at you Triumph, Norton & BSA.
Yes, I’m a Royal Enfield fangirl, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are unquestionably the oldest motorcycle manufacturer continuously making bikes.