The 10 Most Embarrassing Production Motorcycle Flops
Every year motorcycle manufacturers spend millions on research and development. Sometimes the result is improved performance and technology. Sometimes that means we have a whole new drool bike that’s revolutionizing the industry. And then sometimes the result is a bike that completely disappoints. The design may not be attractive, the performance may not be exciting, or it may be uncomfortable. Then finally, sometimes there is nothing wrong with the bike. Instead, the manufacturer fails the bike. Maybe the marketing wasn’t what it should have been. Perhaps the timing of the release was not suited to market conditions. These ten production motorcycles from brands like Ducati, KTMand even Honda are the biggest flops in recent history.
10/10 2005-2010 Ducati Sport Classic Sport 1000S
When you look at Ducati’s lineup, it’s hard to imagine the company ever producing a motorcycle flop. Interestingly, the the bike fell apart when it was released but gained strong popularity. In recent years, the result is a booming second-hand market. With that in mind, you could say the bike was ahead of its time. The 992cc air-cooled V-twin engine ran very well and the bike handled well on the road. While the double seat was comfortable, the single seat was not. Many claim that the styling and performance of the bike surpasses any modern scrambler on the market. So it’s a shame that Ducati abandoned the bike so quickly.
9/10 2008-2010KTM RC8
Image of a 2008 KTM 1190 RC8 orange on background.
This bike was doomed from the start, with multiple production delays and dismal sales performance. Then, during the development and production process, the regulations changed and this bike became unsuitable for its racing purpose. The RC8 is like the first pancake. It was KTM’s first attempt at a superbike, and it wasn’t quite up to standard. KTM did it fast but then produced highly successful superbikes that won MotoGP. KTM fans argue that a revival is long overdue. A newer version of the bike with KTM’s knowledge would produce a high-quality bike that would definitely be a winner.
8/10 1979 Honda NR500
Image of a 1979 Honda NR500 sitting on a stand in front of a white background.
This disappointing bike might be Honda’s biggest mistake. As one of Japan’s great manufacturers, the company has achieved many successes. Unfortunately, this pioneering four-stroke engine was not a hot sell for riders. The bike had no chance of going through the research and development phase. Honda tried to make a four-stroke engine more powerful than the dominant two-strokes at the time. However, a plethora of regulations hampered Honda’s efforts. Many initial ideas and integrations were rejected. The result was a mechanically unreliable bike that was difficult to work on. Finally, the bike came out of Honda’s race development team. Track bikes are push-started. This feature does not work on city streets and quickly became unpopular.
7/10 2001 Moto Guzzi V11
Image of a 2004 Moto Guzzi V11 in gray facing right against a white background.
The Moto Guzzi V11 might be an unexpected addition to the list. Today, it is one of Moto Guzzi’s best-selling bikes. However, it didn’t start that way. When it first hit the market, it was terribly undernourished. It also had a retro cafe racer style that the world just wasn’t ready for yet. The vintage and retro trend hadn’t arrived yet, so this bike didn’t garner the following the company was hoping for. It took several years for the specs of the bike to improve and the market to want its unique style. Today, the bike is doing much better in a market that lends itself to it.
6/10 2011-2012 MV Agusta Brutale 920
Image of a black 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 facing right against a black background.
It’s a hard road for MV Agusta. Manufacturers love Aprilia and Ducati dominate the market as Italian motorcycle experts. MV Agusta tries so hard but always seems to miss the mark. The Brutale 920 is an example. Interestingly, the bike came out during Harley’s tenure as trademark owner. Interesting way, the Brutale has impressive stats and a smooth yet powerful engine. Unfortunately, the bike was introduced to the market as an entry-level bike. However, its performance capabilities and price were anything but entry-level. Harley also sabotaged the release by backing up and shifting just before its US launch.
5/10 2001-2003 Aprilia Futura RST1000
Image of silver 2002 Aprilia Futura RST1000 facing right against a white background.
The problem with the Futura RST1000 is Aprilia’s aggressive growth rate. The company thought it had a winner with the bike and its big V-twin engine. It was a chance to compete against Ducati and Honda, which it saw as its main competitors. However, the bike never gained traction in the global market. Aprilia then doubled its bet by continuing to produce more expensive and faulty models year after year. The bikes had good ergonomics and design, but riders preferred the Honda VFR800 with its own V4 engine. It had everything the Futura had and was more affordable.
4/10 Harley-Davidson XR1200
Image of an orange 2008 Harley-Davidson XR1200 facing right against a white background.
Harley dominates the American motorcycle market. However, he always struggled to replicate that success in Europe. The XR1200 was Harley’s attempt to appeal to the European rider market while staying true to Harley’s roots. The bike itself looked good and ran well. However, the American pilots were not interested and the European pilots did not want it either. She could have done better, but Harley didn’t give her enough marketing support in the United States. As for the European market, the bike was still too heavy to compete with the tastes that preferred the lighter bikes that dominated the market. Fortunately, Harley learned its lesson and produced more globally appealing motorcycles.
3/10 Yamaha MT-01
Image of a black 2001 Yamaha MT-01 facing left against a white background.
Starting with the obvious, the Yamaha MT-01 is like the Mr. Potato Head of motorcycles. Yamaha took parts from all his other bikes to put this one together piecemeal. The result is a bike that is not very comfortable to sit on. The tank is too wide and the pegs are in the wrong place. However, the most disappointing feature of the bike is the engine performance. It’s a massive 1670cc V-twin engine, but the tuning is all torque and no speed. The sound is also a huge disappointment. He looks more like a purring kitten than a roaring lion.
2/10 Husqvarna Nuda 900
Image of a stripped down 2011 Husqvarna Huda 900 naked motorcycle facing left against a white background.
Sometimes bike flops just don’t make sense, and the Husqvarna Nuda 900 is one of them. The The Husqvarna brand has had a turbulent journey of ownership changes and struggles. For a certain time, BMW owned the company, and during that time produced the Nuda 900. Unfortunately, the bike had dismal sales and just flopped in the market. However, the bike itself was not that great. It had a well-equipped engine, Brembo brakes and many impressive features you would expect from a BMW-produced motorcycle. Eventually Husqvarna was sold, and today the Super Duke is just a modern iteration of this super bike.
1/10 Buell 1125CR
Image of 2009 Buell 1125 CR red motorcycle facing right against a white background.
Harley got involved with Buell during a time of extreme struggle and escalated the situation. It’s when the 1125CR was born and eventually became one of the worst bikes with the Buell name. Cycling is incredibly uncomfortable, with a super low handlebar that forces you to sit too far forward. Then there’s the clumsy design of the fairings. Finally, the bikes never stood a chance as they were pushed between a set of chrome cruisers at Harley dealerships. The Buell company keeps coming back, so hopefully a decent looking and capable bike comes out of it.