10 of the Oddest Custom Motorcycles in History
Posted Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013 by
Motorcycles are the ultimate outlaw vehicle. Since their invention in the late 19th century, motorcycles have been associated with freedom, rebelliousness and a disregard for polite convention. It’s no surprise then that bike builders have, over the years, come up with some pretty wild and, dare we say, awesome custom bikes. Some are boldly dramatic. Some are playfully humorous. And some are just downright weird. All are deeply personal expressions of their owners.
Here are 10 of the strangest custom motorcycles we’ve found:
1907 Curtiss V-8
This monster V8-powered bike was built by American aircraft pioneer Glenn H. Curtiss. On January 24, 1907, he personally piloted this formidable machine along Ormond Beach on Florida’s east coast, hitting a top speed of 136.4 mph. This land speed record would stand for 11 years until it was finally eclipsed by a car, the Blitzen Benz.
Who says a motorcycle has to have two wheels? Not Italian inventor M. Goventosa who, in the 1930s, developed this wrap-around monowheel. Didn’t General Grievous drive one of these in the last Star Wars movie?
Killinger & Freund 1938
Built to speed German Wehrmacht messengers along their appointed rounds, this aerodynamic road machine packed a three-cycle, 600 cc radio two-stroke engine, transmission and clutch built into its front wheel. The bike was never put into production. One remaining prototype was discovered by U.S. Army troops at the end of WWII.
Another WWII-era prototype design, this microbike was intended to be dropped with British paratroopers when they landed behind enemy lines.
Bell Vehicle Bi-Car
The 1970s remain infamous as the Decade of Bad Ideas. (Did we really need leisure suits?) You can add to this decade’s list of failures the Bi-Car from Bell Vehicle. This semi-enclosed sit-down motorcycle, which looks like it just jumped off the track of Disney’s Matterhorn ride, was powered by a 500 cc, 60 hp engine that reportedly delivered a blistering top speed of 40 mph. Steering was via conventional motorcycle controls.
Dodge built this chromed wonder for the 2003 North American International Auto Show. The non-street-legal bike was designed by Chrysler staff designer Mark Walters, who built it around the V10 SRT10 engine from the company’s own Dodge Viper sports car. The bike has two independent front wheels and two real wheels, which allow it to counter steer and lean into turns like a traditional motorcycle.
Billed as the “World’s Largest Running Motorcycle,” the Gunbus 410 was built by Germany’s Leonhardt Manufacturing in 2008. Eleven-and-a-half feet long, this monster bike is powered by a massive 410 cubic-inch, two-stroke V-type engine and weighs a sizeable 1,433 pounds. Its tires were originally to come from a Boeing 746 jetliner, but were ultimately custom-made by a German tire manufacturer.
You think the Gunbus 410 is big? Check out the Monster Motorbike, built by Australian stunt driver Ray Baumann. This crowd-pleaser is powered by a truck engine and uses a two-speed Eaton differential from a road train to drive a massive chain on each side of the three-foot-wide rear wheel. Taken from a Caterpillar 80-ton front-end loader, the wheels and tires stand almost 10 feet high. Needless to say, this bike is not road-worthy.
Paul Camo Bike
Hollywood stuntman/inventor Eddie Paul created this heavily armed street fighter as a recruiting tool for the U.S. Air Force. Equipped with prop rotary machine guns and rocket launchers, the bike was so impressive that the USAF considered building a fleet of real operational road warriors for use in Iraq.
Star Trek Cycle
Someone’s a Trekkie.
Learn to Be a Motorcycle Mechanic at WyoTech
If motorcycles are your passion, you can get motorcycle mechanic training at the Daytona Beach, Fla., and Fremont, Calif., campuses of WyoTech, one of America’s leading automotive training schools. WyoTech’s Motorcycle Technology program combines traditional classroom instruction with hands-on training in a modern motorcycle workshop setting.
WyoTech’s classes are taught by industry pros. Classes are small to ensure you get the attention and hands-on experience you need. And upon graduation, you can take advantage of WyoTech’s Career Services department, which offers support with everything from resume preparation to identifying and contacting employers in your area.
Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Programs and schedules vary by campus.