Another contest idea, courtesy of Frank Rainieri

Listener Frank Rainieri came up with a cool contest idea: Create ONE post in this thread. Pick ONE bike from each modern, currently-doing-business manufacturer, that you think best represents the brand, and give us a few sentences on each explaining why. We'll pick a winner at random from those who give us the most qualifying bikes. Prize will be a "help you out on the road" gift pack pulled together from my garage - some new items, some gently used - that will hopefully make your bike travels more enjoyable, perhaps safer, and maybe more complete... in some way. Ready.... set... GO!
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14 thoughts on “Another contest idea, courtesy of Frank Rainieri

  1. I’m a street guy, so that will reflect my choices.

    Suzuki: The Hayabusa. This is the cutting edge, high performance super-sport bike that has set the bar for every other manufacturer. The statement the toehrs make when competing is “Hayabusa Killer”.

    Yamaha: The FJR. I pick the FJR for the same reason. Yamaha took the ST platform, and set the bar. Everyone else had to keep up, and some bowed out- like Honda.

    Honda: The Goldwing. This is the epitome of touring bike, again, it sets the standard for it’s class. It does what no other bike does.

    Kawasaki: The Ninja. I know, it’s a series, but it really has become the iconic sport bike. I have had people ask how I like my Ninja- and it’s a Bandit. Some people just think all sport bikes are “Ninjas”. Among the people, that makes it an icon.

    Triumph: The Bonneville. It’s just a classic, and one that everyone knows- at least the look of the classic bike.

    Harley Davidson: The Electra Glide. Again it’s the classic image of what people think then they say “Harley”. Like them or not, they have defined a set of motorcycles. If ride a cruiser, everyone either assumes: a., it’s a Harley, or b, you want a Harley. Again, that’s an icon.

    Ducati: The Monster. My son has a couple Monster matchbox motorcycles- and they are the Monster. Again, to me that’s the model that says “Ducati”, although of all I have listed this is the one that stands out the least to me.

    Well, my kids are done with piano lessons now so I am done here.

  2. Suzuki:
    For me it has to he the V-Strom 650. It is affordable for it’s class, supremely reliable and incredibly versatile. The Suzuki V-Strom speaks to the Suzuki idea that you don’t have to break the bank to get a good motorcycle that you will be happy with in the long run. May not be winning any beauty contests but then again that isn’t why you buy a Suzuki.

    Is there a choice here that isn’t the R1? Yamaha has had a specific goal it would seem to me in recent years and that goal is to win titles. . all else is secondary. The R1 continues to be the embodiment of that philosophy.

    Let’s face it.. the Scrambler may be getting some attention these days but really Ducati is summed up in the 1299 Panigale. Style, Design, Beauty and Form. . all else is secondary. In that way Ducati is something like the Anna Kournikova of bikes.. it may not be winning any championships but let’s face it, when you look that good no one really care if you won or not.

    One word. Interceptor. Honda is what happens when nerds get paychecks to run wild. The result of someone with a slide rule and pocket protector saying “well sure.. I guess we could put vtech on a bike.” No one at Honda seems in stopping to ask if the SHOULD do something and for some reason are able to fall back on the tried and true model of “Don’t worry. We’re Honda. we can just charge more.” And hey, so far it seems to be working for them.

    Ninja. . any year, any model. I’m sorry but you don’t get to call one of your bike the “Ninja” with a straight face and expect it to be the first thing people think about.

    Harley Davidson:
    The Street Glide. .because who doesn’t like saying “Me Too” whenever you ask someone what bike they just bought. .

    The Bonneville. . If you can use Steve McQueen to bolster your brand and image. . by god you do it.

  3. BMW
    R1200GS Opposed twin, shaft drive BMW that keeps it’s heritage alive both on an off the road.

    Monster Because the name rolls of the tongue so smoothly conjuring up images of what the general public was conditioned to think an Italian bike should be.

    Harley Davidson
    FXSB Softail. Faux hardtail classic look bobbed tail combines the features and mystic into a favorite of bar hoppers everywhere.

    CB1100 Its four cylinder lineage, standard riding position, reliability and turbine like power is just pure Honda.

    Ninja 300 Best selling bike that looks like its big brothers and beloved by an entire generation of squids.

    Vespa GTS 300 Piaggio produces a number of brands but none is prolific or impacted modern culture as these have. Although refined from its ancestors, it still shows a line that can be traced back to its inception.

    V Strom 650 Is the hybrid evolution of the street and enduro combined but somehow keeping the essence of Suzuki intact.

    Bonneville This bike just screams British well maybe not screams but says so in calm and stately way.

    WR450f It might just be me but when I think of Yamaha it conjures up images of the YZ that was always in front of me. This bike takes those to a all new level.

  4. Moto Guzzi – V7 Racer – The MotoGuzzi LeMans was an iconic racing machine, and put the small Italian factory on the map. The V7 Racer is as close as you can get to a Le Mans today.
    Ducati – Scrambler – The Ducati’s of old were small light italian beauties that packed as much performance as they could into a small chassis. The Scrambler goes, and looks good while it is doing it.
    MV Augusta – F4 RC – MV Augusta was THE force in motorcycle road racing back when Geoff Duke and Giacomo Agostini were defining the sport. They may not be as competetive today as they were, but throw a classic silver and red paint scheme on the F4 and it takes any racing fan right back to those days of glory.
    Aprilia – RS4 125 Replica – You say Aprilia and I immediately think amazingly prepped 2-stroke racing gems. Unfortunately that era of bikes is all gone. But the RS4 125 (not available in the US) keeps to those roots by putting a little gem of a motor in a full race-replica chassis. Going slow has never looked so fast.
    KTM – 450 SX-F Factory – KTM started life as a motocross racing company (Penton). Offroad, and specifically offroad motorcross racing, is where KTM really lives and breathes. No bike says that better than a factory race prepped MX’er.
    BMW – R1200RT – You can’t think BMW without thinking of the opposed twin engine. BMW’s from the very beginning have been about class, performance, and quality. The R1200RT is a bike with loads of performance, class, and quality that tell the BMW story.
    Triumph – Thruxton – That incredible Bonneville motor in a stripped-down chassis designed to look fast sitting still. How many classic cafe racer photos are there without a stripped Bonnie? They are few and far between. The original cafe racer.
    Honda – CB1100 – The classic UJM. Honda basically started that category with the CB750 back in ’69. The typical Honda is a bike that serves all who ride it well. Easy to ride, good at everything, and reliable to a fault.
    Yamaha – Super Tenere – When I think on Yamaha History, I am taken back to the days of Stephane Peterhansel and Edi Orioli. Everyone that was into motorcycles wanted a big dirt Yamaha, like the Yamaha XTZ660 or XTZ750. The Tenere has its roots there, and pays homage while looking forward.
    Suzuki – GSXR-750 – The “Gixxer 750” has been an icon that only Suzuki could carry for more than 25 years. Suzuki started the “light as a 600, fast as a 1000” class, and has owned it ever since.
    Kawasaki – H2R – Kawasaki has always been known for their brutal and raw power. Z1 anyone? Their bikes may not handle the best, or be the best built, but they deliver the goods through the tire like nobody’s business. No bike better exemplifies that design philosophy than the H2R.
    Harley Davidson – Fat Boy – Harley has always been associated with the “bad boy,” the biker gang, the cruiser face. It’s impossible to look at the Fat Boy and not see yourself cruising anywhere and people wondering if they should fear you. It is a cruiser in the purest sense of the word.
    Victory – Vegas – The OHC alternative to Harley that re-defined what cruiser styling could be. Sportier than a Harley, more muscle than a Japanese cruiser, and better styling than any of the competition. They don’t get any more true to roots than the good old Vegas.
    Indian – Chief Classic – Indian motorcycles have always been the “Harley in a nicer suit.” The Chief Classic keeps those well-tailored lines and adds a ton of performance on top. Harley, eat your heart out.

  5. The bike that “you think best represents the brand” is a term open to interpretation. I will interpret as to mean best represents to me, not to everybody else, since everybody who rides will have an different opinion.

    As much as I like the Super-Duke, KTM has to be an enduro bike. The 450 XC-W is the one. Big for a dirt bike, but small enough for a trail. Small for a street bike, but bike enough to get you to the trail.

    R 1200 GS. Has to be an adventure bike, and the big bad boy seems like the one. Personally if I were to get one it would be the 600 or 800, but the 1200 is the iconic bike.

    Royal Enfield
    Royal Enfield is the weird throw back, way back, brand, and that makes it funky. The Classic 500 fits that look and feel.

    I tend to associate sport / hyper sport bikes, in the liter range, with the Japanese companies. So the Ninja ZX-10R is the bike that really is Kawasaki to me, though really any of the Ninja line will work.

    Suzuki has always been the “accessible” Japanese brand to me. They seem less expensive. As such, and probably because I had one in college, the Katana really is what represents the company. Sporty, yet accessible to the common man. of current bikes the same could be said of the GSX-R750. Sporty, but less flashy than the 1000.

    Following the same logic as with Kawasaki, the R1. I currently ride an FZ6, and given the direction Yamaha has been going in a couple of years the FZ-09 (or it’s replacement) will really represent the brand with the sporty / spunky naked.

    MV Agusta
    F4. (and mentally painted cash green). Do they even make other bikes?

    Personally my favorite Italian brand. RSV4, any of them. I love that engine, the sound, the response, the blend of thumping and revving. I wish they would bring back the SL 1000 Falco – the sensible RSV.

    Monster. The complexity of the tubular frame perfectly mirrors the complexity of maintaining a Ducati. It is like a piece of art on the show room floor telling the future owner what they will be in for.

    Moto Guzzi
    V7 Stone II. Moto Guzzi is the company that has the looks that never left the 60’s. This bike is the epitomy of an old school standard.

    Honda is tricky. They are a “safe” company. Not risky, but still technologically innovative. The VFR-800 Interceptor embodies that sentiment. Safe rider position, nothing flashy with styling, but a technically unique engine setup.

    The ct, in black. This had to make the list because the ME machine shop manager at UW had one when I was there. There is something special, and old school, about side car bikes, and this covers it.

    Bonneville. Triumph has the stodgy Englishman aire about the brand, and the Bonneville is what I would think a stodgy Englishman would ride. Very conservative and proper, but because it has two wheels, still a kick in the pants.

    Sportster. Specifically the Iron 883. I realize that there is a huge touring collection of bikes from them, but they get washed out by all the other touring bikes by other manufactures. The Iron 883 stands out as the bike for the iconic grimy handed do it yourself Harley guy.

    I would really love to say the Scout with the sleek lines, however, at this point Indian is still a big chunky bike company to me, so the Chief Classic represents that.

    Not many choices, so the MST. After all the MSTR is just a modified MST.

    Zero Electric
    The Zero SR. Unteathered on demand torque of an electric motor in a package that started the company started with. Hard not to pick the SR.

  6. Hi guys my selected brand is boring old Honda. I like my reliable honda. I own a st1300 and had the gl1800 for a while. I’m liking the looks of the cb500x really like to explore the gravel roads near my home. As I get older I have a deeper appreciation of the small bikes.

    I like all the other manufacturers out there but willing to sacrifice dependability for chacter

    Allan Lessard

  7. Honda- CG125, Reliable, cheap, ubiquitous, and dull, Its like water, no one would pick it from a menu, yet without it the world would stop moving,

  8. Well, not only am I going to write for model that comes to mind per make of bike, but I’m going to rank the bikes from most well known (recognizing the fact I am relatively new to motorcycling) to least known.

    1) Honda- Shadow. My dad had 2 different Shadows (over the years and one while I was 10 years old, making it ‘very cool’. I grew up and bought one and so did my brother.

    2) Harley Davidson – Electra-Glide . I guess I feel Harleys are kind of the Cadillac of bikes. Very comfy and powerful. I always conjure the touring setup with bags and big fairings.

    3) Ducati – Monster (at least now that’s first in mind) These bikes were the Ferarri of motorcycles , exotic, fast, sexy. Apparently (so my youthful upbringing taught me) if you rode a Ducati you would have no problem finding beautiful women to ride with you, perhaps even swatting them away because they were so attracted to the bike.

    4) Kawasaki – Ninja. No other brand seems to have that street bike flagship.

    5) Yamaha – Dirtbike. I’m not into them as much so I don’t know model names, but friends always had Yamaha dirtbikes it seems like.

    6) Suzuki – Tie between Boulevard and GSX. I have always admired the Suzuki street bikes, but they always seemed too fast, too hard to ride. The Boulevard was the nice laid back, smooth cruiser that attracts the eye.

    7) BMW – R-1200 Adventure style bike. We all know BMW makes a superb auto, so it stands to reason they should make the best long-range-hardcore-adventure bike. Also, I just watched the movie “Long Way Around”

    8) Triumph – T110 ’50’s era (had to look online for model name) its the old fashioned styled bike , usually with gear shifter knob. Usually sitting in a museum.

    9) Indian – Chief. Hands down very American. Big Fenders. Big Light. Bobber style single seat. Red.

    10) KTM – Dirtbike 450. Again , I think of dirtbikes for this company. Although they make splendid Dukes…I only learned about them more recently.

    11) Moto-Guzzi – don’t really know model names , but I always picture them tricked out as cafe racers.

    Those are the bikes I first think of!

  9. Honda=GoldWing It seems to be their best effort, aside from airplanes and cars

    Yamaha=R1 Same as above, aside form pianos and boats. Sorry….but these folks make so much more than motorcycles, I cannot resist.

    Suzuki=GSXR 1000 Because “everybody owns one”

    Kawasaki=KLR650 Because it is a legendary mule that screams “Kawasaki”

    BMW=GSBoxer Any variation of this upright swiss army knife is what you see on the road from this company. It totally is their icon bike

    Ducati=Superbike. Known for race heritage and exotic bikes, how can you deny this?

    URAL=Sidecar Rig. I think they only make one model, so this one’s easy!

    Vespa-Small step through bottom level tiny scooter, never the big touring rig!

    KTM=Duke. The more diatribe style the better. This is an off road company.

  10. I completely forgot (ignored) Harley Davidson……….HOG=APE Hangers and no mufflers. Even though you see Electra Glides everywhere, what they REALLY want is to ride some version of a noise maker with their arms extended to the sky, winning the hearts of others who share the same herd mentality, while reaping all the benefits of the glory of negative attention. The higher the reach, the more the desired effect.

  11. Hopefully I’m not too lare for this. I will attempt to answer this question from the perspective of a newer rider (I started riding two years ago and had no knowledge of motorcycles prior to that). So that being said…..

    Harley Davidson – Sportster
    I gotta go with what I find to be the most iconic Harley still. I think the tourers and baggers may get more attention but To me the Sportster line is more representative of the brand because of its history, classic unmistakable look and the fact that its still commonly recommended for beginners and those new to the cruiser style of bike.

    KTM – the Duke. I know historically KTM’s bread and butter was with dirt bikes but at the same time I really think that the new Dukes really help KTM stand out from the rest competition. Nothing on the market compares with the performance and power to weight to that of the Duke 390 and 690 right now. They look downright absurd from a spec sheet perspective. I’ve heard they are a blast to ride too.

    BMW – R1200GS – in my opinion this is the quintessential adventure bike and as far as I’m concerned it’s the brand’s flagship bike. Everyone seems to have great respect for the boxer engine, myself included. I hope to own one of these some day.

    Honda – Goldwing. Even many non-riders are familiar with this bike. It’s the benchmark in the touring segment and how could it not be? The more recent models are more comfortable and are equipped with more options than my Chevy Malibu.

    Suzuki – SV650 – I’m sure an argument could be made for the Gixer or Hayabusa. However, my choice is based on the bike that sets the maker apart from the rest. I’d be hard pressed to try to find a message board on the internet where somebody is asking for a beginner-ish commuter bike that is affordable yet performs and looks good and not find at least one person recommending the SV (and usually multiple). It was such a popular bike that it looks like Suzuki brought it back for this year after they tried to phase it out. Speaking personally, if it weren’t for the SV than Suzuki motorcycles would essentially be a forgotten brand.

    Kawasaki – Ninja – this is another bike that can be identified and recognized by non-enthusiasts. The 636 stands out as a unique option in the 600cc class. But more important than that are the “baby” ninjas that have dominated the beginner sport bike segment for decades. My first motorcycle was a Ninja 500 and it can only be fair to assume that a healthy piece of the motorcyclist pie would say they started on a Ninja, whether it was a 250, 300, or 500.

    Yamaha – R1 – If I had to include a supersport on the list I decided it needed to be this bike, although I can’t really provide a good explanation as to why. I have difficulty differentiating the liter bikes but this one seems to always be mentioned. Specs aside – I would say it’s the best looking and has the best name amongst its peers (completely subjective, but isn’t that the point for these lists?)

    Ducati – Scrambler – if it was two years ago I would have said the Monster, but when I attended the Progressive Motorcycle Show this year it was obvious to me that Ducati is “all-in” on this bike. It also seems to be the best choice for the ever important hipster motorcyclist segment.

    Triumph Bonneville – I chose this bike because it’s the only bike I can think of that seems to earn respect from everybody. Whether I’m talking to somebody who rides scooters, sport bikes or Harleys, all seem to give positive feedback about the Bonneville.

  12. Ducati: 916 Nope….it hasn’t been sold for nearly 20 years, but if you ask Joe Blow on the street to identify a thing that is Ducati the 916 and it’s progeny will be #1 on the list. Iconic in the extreme.

    Triumph: Bonneville…..still alive after all this time, Triumph’s Bonneville is as much an icon as the 916, but much longer lived and at least as relevant in terms of brand identity and success.

    Suzuki: GSX-R…..since 1986 nothing screams “LET’S RACE” like the Suzuki GSX-R series. It’s the bike that invented the faired street bike, so give credit where credit is due!

    Honda: Goldwing……Honda’s contribution to the motorcycling community can be measured in units sold, and nothing sells like Goldwing. Around since the stone age and still moving in incredible numbers, the Goldwing is the epitome of fit and finish, engineering refinement, and customer satisfaction.

    Yamaha: V-Max…..nothing screams YAMAHA to me like the V-Max. Nothing else looks like it. Nothing else sounds like it. Nothing else rides like it. Enough said.

    Kawasaki: Ninja…..300 to infinity and beyond, the Ninja marque is instantly Kawasaki to anyone who’s ever been around motorcycles. Why argue with success?

    KTM: 500 EXC…..If it’s a KTM it’s gotta be a dirt bike. If it’s the States it’s gotta be big. Nothing is better at being a big dirt bike like the 500 EXC!

    Husqvarna: 501 FE…..see above for a simple explanation.

    Harley Davidson: Sportster….I hate to keep saying “icon” but in the motorcycling world nothing is as immediately identifiable as the venerable Sportster.

    Victory: Vision…….It’s so ugly it’s image is permanently ingrained in my psyche. I’m not buying, but it screams Victory.

    BMW: R1200 GS……Cash Flow is King.

    Moto Guzzi: 850 Le Mans…..Another “icon” that’s no longer made, but the Le Mans (the first and third generations, mostly) are the quintessential Guzzis!

    MV Agusta: F4…..Prettiest motorcycle ever made. Need I say more?

    Indian: Who Cares……big fenders on yet another under powered over weight cruiser. Big deal.

    Ural: Anything with a sidecar……It’s a BMW retread, so it’s gotta have a sidecar. Besides….Chuck likes ’em so why would anyone sane ever buy one?

  13. I chose bikes currently on sale from each manufacturer. Otherwise Honda would be the CB750, and they’ve changed a bit sense then.

    Honda: Goldwing, It perfectly describes Honda, trying to be a bit different, make it well with no compromises, and be just that little bit boring. It’s the best touring bike you can get.

    Yamaha: FZ-09, an affordable, exciting, back to basics bike, with a great engine built for fun.

    Suzuki: GSX-R 1000, A Gixxer the default sport bike.

    Kawaski: Ninja (any of them) a non bike person can’t tell a 300 from a ZX10R, so it’s just a “Ninja”

    Harley Davidson: Electra Glide, it’s their big touring bike that every HD rider one day aspires to own. Every brand that makes cruisers have a clone of this bike.

    Victory: The entire cruiser range, they all run the same engine and frame, they try to set themselves so far apart from HD, but end up being very similar.

    Indian: Chief, only Indian could pull that bike off.

    BMW: R1200GS, “Have you seen long way round?” It created the adventure bike segment with this bike, It’s what all adventure bikes try to match up to.

    Ducati: 1299 Panagalli, Ducati, the Ferrari of motorcycles, the 1299 is the most outrageous crazy sport bike currently in production, and it defines Ducati to a T.

    Triumph: Bonneville, they survive off their heritage almost as much as HD do.

    MV Agusta: Dragster RR: The perfect Italian bike, It’s sex on wheels, doesn’t ride as well as it’s competition, but it doesn’t matter because look at it.

    Aprillia: RSV4: MotoGP bike for the road.

    KTM: 500 EXC: It’s a big bad dirtbike, it’s what KTM does.

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