25 September 2015

Graph of the Week: Most Popular Motorcycles

The  world of classic motorcycles is almost as diverse as the world of classic cars, but a handful of makes and genres of bikes make up the majority of what enthusiasts find appealing. Larger cruisers and more nimble sport bikes make up most of the bikes on this graph, and volume motorcycle manufacturers from the U.S., Great Britain and Japan make up nine of the 10 most popular makes.

Harley-Davidson's spot on top makes sense given that it was the only large-scale American motorcycle manufacturer for decades after Indian stopped building bikes in 1953. More performance-oriented riders in the 1950s-70s, when most of the bikes that make up this graph were built, had a wider range of choices. British bikes from companies like Triumph had a huge share of the market until the Japanese started arriving in the 1960s with more modern and reliable bikes, and by the end of the 1970s had more or less taken over the market that the British once enjoyed.

People shopping for a classic bike are drawn to these bikes in large part thanks to affordability, relatively easy maintenance and parts availability, and an abundance of choice (Honda made over  half a million CB750s). Especially with Harley-Davidson and Honda, as the graph shows, it's the high-volume, easy to own classic bikes that attract enthusiasts.

8 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Don Hilston So. Florida September 30, 2015 at 16:19
    I'm very happy to have Hagerty insure my 79 Triumph as you have my other British cars for years. I must ask you to make a value chart for bikes like you do for cars. The chart was a great tool when I sold my MG TD a couple of years ago and I would love the same chart for my present and future bikes............cheers Don
  • 2
    scott San Diego CA September 30, 2015 at 17:36
    Makes sense although a big, big surprise that Ducati is not on that list. Also BSA above Indian and Norton? Have you seen auction activity on these 2 brands. Maybe no one insures them (??) What year is the "classic" range?
  • 3
    Motomomx3 San Francisco Bay Area September 30, 2015 at 18:19
    Ugh - so tired of Harleys. My husband restores vintage 2-stroke Yamahas. Great bikes. We have several, including his one owner 1979 RD400 Daytona. I also love Nortons & my Dad proposed to my Mom on the back of an original Triumph Bonneville in 1957.
  • 4
    Randy Taylor Petrolia September 30, 2015 at 19:58
    I own a Victory motorcycle, are the numbers too low too even make the graph?
  • 5
    Eddie O'Brien Colorado Rockies September 30, 2015 at 20:31
    The art of the motorcycle has become the jewelry in plenty of car/memorabilia/(now) motorcycle collections. Certainly the 50's, 60's British, Italian and German bikes are the most familiar and nudge the best memories explaining why seeing them displayed in the collectors setting has become very attractive. The BMW factory offers nearly all the motorcycle parts to get the bike running and to restore them. BSA, Triumph and Norton parts are now reproduced and easy to acquire, so again repairs and restorations are much easier.
  • 6
    J. Hamilton Texas September 30, 2015 at 22:24
    Not very helpful without some designation of models. There are more Harleys insured because there are more Harleys. How about the 1966 XLCH or the Café Racer?
  • 7
    John Neuenburg Northern California October 1, 2015 at 02:02
    Yes Harley is on top because they have been around so long, they have built their brand, traditions, and value, so owners keep them running and insure them. This is a study of Hagerty clients. Honda is only as high as they are because of massive numbers of 1960s and 1970s bikes still in the market, some of which are considered collectible and thus owners are concerned about insurance. But the big question in my mind is, what happened in 2011 to cause that big spike? More marketing to motorcycle owners by Hagerty?
  • 8
    Chris Bloomington, IN October 1, 2015 at 12:08
    Like 'em all, but I have had more Harley D's than anything else. Probably the fastest, most comfortable and dependable bike I have ever owned is the Honda GL1800 Gold Wing I currently ride. I also keep a Buell Ulysies as a sport option. Too bad Harley cut them from their line up. The Buell was one of their best selling Harley Davidson offerings, after the had merged with Eric Buell.

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