We all love our motorcycles but cars can be fun too. Sure, they’re more expensive and rarely as quick but they certainly have their advantages. We thought it would be a fun exercise to work out which car brand best matches each motorcycle brand as of today. While our list isn’t exhaustive (comparing Zero Motorcycles to Tesla is hardly surprising) we think we’ve done a pretty good job in taking a not so serious look at what bike brand best matches what car brand.
This was probably one of the easier ones. Ducati represent some of the best performance in the motorcycle world – they’re desirable, they’re Italian and they’re red. Who else but Ferrari best represents the modern day Ducati.
One difference though is that unlike Ferrari, Ducati hasn’t always been a high performance and desirable brand. While Ferrari has always captured the imagination of young kids the world over who plastered their walls with posters of the latest Ferrari supercar, the Ducati of old was less prancing horse and more a quirky company that didn’t even compete in the premier class of motorcycle racing for 30 years. And while Ducati still hasn’t had the success on the racetrack as Ferrari, on the road they are without doubt one of – if not the most desirable brand today.
One might think that Honda motorcycles are best represented by their sibling Honda cars, but the two are fairly far apart in what they represent today. What they do share is reliability and dependability but that’s about where the similarities end. The current range of Honda cars is bland to say the least – in fact Honda has perhaps surpassed Toyota as being best known as white goods on wheels.
And it’s for that reason we thing that Honda is best represented by Toyota. Current Toyota’s are generally reliable, they’re not groundbreaking but they are solid. Their lineup – like Honda’s – isn’t terribly exciting but they do have at least some machines to get the heart racing. The FT86 is a brilliant budget rear wheel drive sportscar that has garnered near universal praise and there’s also a potential high end sportscar being jointly developed with BMW. Those examples sit alongside Honda’s longstanding Fireblade and CBR600RR which fill the need for speed in their lineup while the rest of their respective offerings are definitely more on the utilitarian side of things.
Like Honda, Toyota has a pretty good history in (both current and historic) in racing. Despite having failed in Formula 1, Toyota is highly competitive in the World Endurance Championship and were previously extremely successful in rally.
Honda’s upcoming Africa Twin is a perfect example of how Honda targets things like Toyota. It looks to be a solid machine that doesn’t stand out from the crowd in terms of specification or technology but will probably do what it’s designed to do extremely well.
We struggled with who to pick for Yamaha and our choice will probably be questioned by many but we think Mazda best encapsulates Yamaha as of today. Yamaha has been absolutely kicking it out of the park in recent years. Things really started to move forward with the release of the brilliant (if slightly flawed) FZ-09/MT-09 naked, followed since by the FZ-07/MT-07, all new Yamaha R1 and a whole load of other absolutely brilliant bikes.
It’s the same with Mazda. While perhaps under appreciated in many markets, Mazda has rarely put a foot wrong with their new car releases in recent years. The Mazda 3 and 6 are both brilliant cars and their all new CX-3 is selling extremely well. The legendary MX-5 (known in the US as the Miata) has also just been updated and has received rave reviews.
In short, both Yamaha and Mazda both punch well above their weight. While Yamaha might not have the same brand credibility as the European manufacturers do, it still produces some of the best value motorcycles money can buy today – just like Mazda does in the car industry.
Alongside Yamaha, KTM have been the most impressive motorcycle brand over the past few years. And it’s not just our opinion either – KTM has been rapidly growing in all markets and especially the USA. In recent years, KTM has been just as strongly focused on their road going machines as their off road ones and to great success.
Like Mercedes Benz, KTM employs some of the most cutting edge of technologies in their products and that along with their utter dominance in many segments they compete in is why we chose to pair the Austrian motorcycle company with the German car manufacturer over the border.
KTM currently dominates in representation and results in off-road competition while Mercedes Benz is starting to rewrite the record books when it comes to domination in Formula 1. And both are just getting started. Next year KTM enters MotoGP and given how everything they’ve touched has turned to gold of late we wouldn’t be surprised to see them give Honda and Yamaha are run for their money in the premier class of motorcycle racing too.
Yeah, not a hard one to pick. BMW Motorrad currently make some of the best motorcycles money can buy thanks to their brilliant engines, chassis and use of electronics. Just like BMW do with their cars.
BMW is often criticised for making amazing machines with little soul but we couldn’t disagree more. People often mistake the clinical German way BMW puts together their motorcycles for lacking some sort of X factor but anyone who has put a leg over the BMW S 1000 RR will have little doubt that it it sits at the pinnacle of modern motorcycles and the naked S1000 R falls into that category as well. While we wouldn’t call the R 1200 GS the best adventure tourer you can buy it’s fair to say that it has redefined the category and dominates that sector of the market inspiring many adventure tourers worldwide.
BMW’s motorcycle history, while lengthy doesn’t have quite the pedigree of its four wheeled siblings with cars like the M3 and M5 still today being regarded as benchmarks for their respective categories. But in a few decades we have little doubt that bikes the like S 1000 RR will be thought of in the same way as as the likes of the R1 and Fireblade are now.
They say that a true car enthusiast should own at least one Alfa Romeo in their lifetime. They may not be the best car in the world but they have a certain X factor about them. We feel that MV Agusta is the same.
Not that the current MV Agusta range isn’t good – in fact it’s brilliant but there is the occasional story of quirkiness and electrical unreliability that seems to mimic the Alfa Romeo ownership experience of yesteryear. But those willing to take the step are rewarded with some of the most beautifully put together, aurally alluring and character filled motorcycles on the market today.
It’s interesting that the rebirth of MV Agusta comes at a time when Alfa Romeo might be finally turning the corner. The upcoming Alfa Romeo Giulia not only looks beautiful, it allegedly set a new lap record for its class at the Nurburgring thanks to its Ferrari developed V6. MV Agusta is expected to turn its focus back to its four cylinder range next year and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.
Given how brilliant the current Aprilia RSV4 1000 and Tuono are, one would be forgiven for thinking that like Ducati, Aprilia has been in the high performance motorcycle game for a long time. In truth however, Aprilia only started seriously making large displacement sportsbikes since 1998 making it a fairly young entrant in the market.
So because Aprilia is a small company that makes brilliant bikes but has only done so for a few decades, we think Pagani best represents the brand. For those unaware, Pagani is an Italian manufacturer that was established in 1992 and is best known for the Zonda supercar.
Like Pagani, Aprilia only builds a handful of models but what they do make are among the best in the business. In fact we rate the RSV4 RF, Tuono and Caponord Rally at the top or very close to the top of their field, featuring brilliant engines, fantastic chassis’ and sublime suspension – all extremely impressive for such a small company that punches well above its weight.
Of all the motorcycle brands we’ve listed here, Kawasaki was the one we struggled most with in finding a compatriot in the car world. We initially thought that fellow Japanese brand Nissan might be the best fit, given how over the years the company has created some legendary vehicles including the Nissan GTR – a car that share some characteristics with Kawasaki’s H2 given that they both used forced induction.
But in the end we decided that as of now, Lexus best represents Kawasaki. Like Kawasaki, Lexus has a broad gamut of vehicles – some just fancy passenger cars but a lot of extremely potent vehicles that offer incredible performance. Their styling is also reminiscent of Kawasaki who probably produce the most aesthetically ‘out there’ bikes today, such as the aforementioned H2, but also the Z1000 and Z800 naked bikes that look extremely aggressive.
Lexus hasn’t been around nearly as long as Kawasaki but like their two-wheeled compatriot certainly feature on many leader boards when it comes to performance in the categories they compete in.
This choice is probably a little harsh but as of now, the car division of Suzuki does represent Suzuki motorcycles. Both have loads of potential but currently are floundering for various reasons – but thankfully it looks like Suzuki motorcycles is about to round a corner.
It’s been a very rough few years for Suzuki in whatever business they’re in. The global financial crisis hit it harder than any other Japanese car/motorcycle manufacturer, so much so that they were forced to exit the US car market. And while Suzuki sells some legendary bikes like the GSX-R750 and GSX-R1000, these machines are now incredibly old and are really showing their age against the competition.
We’re still holding out hope that an all new GSX-R1000 is unveiled later this year although there are strong whispers that its release will be pushed back until 2017. Alongside the possibility of the turbocharged Recursion being put to market, Suzuki may soon become the leading Japanese brand once again.
Triumph is the quintessential British brand that sits in a variety of segments. Their Speed and Street Triples are among the best in the game, while their cruisers offer a fantastic (and better) alternative to the likes of Harley-Davidson. They make dependable bikes, fast bikes and versatile ones.
Ford really epitomizes Triumph, but specifically Ford Europe. The European arm of Ford is almost a company of its own and has over the last decade brought out some of the best cars money can buy. The Fiesta ST and Focus RS sit near the top of the small and mid-sized car performance charts while the likes of the Mondeo and and Ranger take care of the practical side of things.
Harley Davidson is one of the most successful motorcycle brands ever. Their bikes represent the aspirations of millions of Americans and in fact millions of people the world over. They are an iconic American brand – yet one that is often criticised for producing overpriced and unreliable machines.
Just like Chevrolet. Don’t get us wrong – both Chevrolet and Harley-Davidson produce some great machines, it’s just that they’re often more miss than hit. Just looking at Chevrolet’s current lineup shows mostly awful cars with a handful of absolute crackers. The same goes for Harley-Davidson.
And yet both manufacturers enjoy continual success. There’s a brand recognition in the US especially for both companies that others just can’t match and no matter how poor their products may be they continue to be among the best known in their respective industries.