The average price for a new motorcycle is around $5,000 to $10,000. If you're buying a moped or scooter, it's even cheaper. However, some vintage limited edition motorcycles are sold for millions and even tens of millions of dollars. At that price, it's hard to imagine anyone taking it out for a joy ride.
Let's take a look at the most expensive motorcycles ever sold.
8. Cyclone Board Track Racer – Sold for $852,500
It can be described as a fancy banana yellow big bike, but a century back, the Cyclone Board Track Racer was the most badass of it's kind around the globe. It is said that only 12 units of this bike have come out alive from the last hundred years, including one that sold for a dumbfounding $852,000 at a Las Vegas Mecum auction.
What’s even more unbelievable about this bike is that despite its awesome look and historic value, it actually reached a top speed of 111 mph, piquing the attention of the boss himself and now-previous owner, Steve McQueen. Remaining in the exact perfect shape as it was from day one, the ride can only get pricier.
The Cyclone was designed by none other than Swedish engineer Andrew Strand and constructed by Minnesota’s Joerns Motor Manufacturing Company. Essentially a track racer, it is a very basic and lightweight machine that comes with low-set handlebars and zero brakes, along with shaft-and-bevel-driven overhead cams and semicircular combustion chambers, both considered revolutionary at the time of its creation.
Also built with roller bearings and well-caged balls throughout the driveline, the V-Twin engine packed quite some power – then an unprecedented maximum of 45 horses. This design also decreased friction while boosting manufacturing cost, making the Cyclone a monster that easily smashed its counterparts from more established manufacturers. However, as building such an exquisite machine required tons of money, only a few were manufactured within a two-year production period.
7. Vincent Black Lightning – Sold for $929,000
Among the most famous big bikes ever made is the Vincent Black Lightning, which also became 2018’s most expensive motorcycle when it fetched $929,000 at a Las Vegas auction. It no longer has the same commanding look as before, but it was one of the fastest during its heyday, carrying motorcycle bike shop owner and racer Jack Ehret to the Australian record top speed of 141,5 mph in 1953. That’s aside from winning countless races all over the country.
Australian racer Tony McAlpine first brought home the Vincent Black Lightning brand new. While it was being built, another of the Vincent series, the Gunga Din, was being constructed at the plant. When they were both done, they were launched into a race where McAlpine’s Black Lightning ended up a good 30 yards in front of its sibling, running at speeds above 130 mph in third gear.
As soon as the Black Lightning was purchased by Jack Ehret and won several races all over Australia, it gained worldwide attention and became known both as the most important Vincent, as well as one of the most coveted machines ever invented. Eventually, the bike was bought in its original and running form by well-known Vincent tuner and restorer, Patrick Godet.
Though there were 30 other Vincent bikes produced in history, the Black Lighting is believed to be one of the handful that are still around. For this, it is now considered a treasure in the automotive world, even inspiring musician Richard Thompson to dedicate and name a song after it in 1991.
6. Harley-Davidson Cosmic Starship – Sold for $3,000,000
With a name that couldn’t be more fitting, the Harley-Davidson Cosmic Starship is indeed an out-of-the-universe experience by itself. But don’t be fooled. Behind the fantastic front is a lowly $18,000 Harley-Davidson V-Rod that packs a 1.25L, 120-horsepower engine. Clearly, it’s far from the fastest or most powerful bike in the world, but when a motorcycle is a masterpiece of globally celebrated painter Jack Armstrong, it is always and instantly significant.
The Cosmic Starship was first revealed to the public in a 2010 red carpet event at Bartels in Marina Del Rey, California. Launching night had the Harley descending from the sky and glistening with over a hundred thousand lights around it. Celebrities swarmed the event and helped give the event worldwide attention, eventually giving it iconic status as the then only million-dollar Harley in history.
As soon as the Cosmic Starship was finished, it was put in the market with a $1 million price tag, even if it ended up selling for $3 million in 2012. Interestingly but not surprisingly, it appears to have returned to the market, selling for a staggering price tag of $10 million.
Surely, any artist can paint on a bike but the magic behind this Harley is beyond itself. It is the art that Armstrong had transformed it into, the way only Armstrong could. Moreover, it’s the one and only bike that the world-renowned artist worked on, driving up its price all the more.
5. Hildebrand & Wolfmüller – Sold for $131,200 – $3,500,000
Celebrate the world’s first-ever production motorbike, the Hildebrand &Wolfmüller, created in 1984 by the collaboration of Munich-based steam engineers Heinrich and Wilhelm Hildebrand, and engineer and inventor Alois Wolfmüller. When it first came out, the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller amazed the engineering world so much it began a sustained and productive tradition of vehicles now beloved by so many all over the world.
The first bike was huge and came with a 1.5L four-stroke two-cylinder – big by today’s standards, but the fact it the bike could only run at a maximum speed of 28 mph tells us how far automotive industry has come. While more visible models these days are some of those that have survived the last century, adding to their price, any of them could sell for no less than $3.5 million, given the right buyer. In short, the bike has been sold time and again for a much lower price.
Around two thousand versions of this bike were manufactured but considering its soaring initial purchase price and the tough rivalry it had with more enhanced designs (this model had zero pedals and clutch), it is believed to have been commercially mediocre, if not a failure.
After World War I, the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller factory shut down but the motorcycle was built by Duncan and Superbie in Paris. A Hildebrand & Wolfmüller is not the smoothest ride, but riding it can give any rider the opportunity to own a bit of history that can be fondly remembered for a lifetime.
4. Ecosse Spirit – Sold for $3,600,000
The making of the Ecosse Spirit was driven by a Formula One inspiration. The slick bike was clearly built for one and only one thing: speed. Its smooth and aerodynamic body allows it to reveal the beast that it is, and the fact that an actual course is required for a driver to restrain the monster shows just how powerful it is.
At the core of the Ecosse is a 200-horsepower four-stroke V4 that can thrust the bike to otherworldly speeds of 230 mph. There are only ten Spirits that roam the earth, each one costing an astounding $3,6 million. Indeed, the machine is a dreamy one, custom-made and boasting a body made of cutting edge carbon fiber. Furthermore, the bike comes with an electronic control system that makes it easier to handle by any rider.
As promised by their manufacturers, these big bikes are completely developed, F1-tier speed machines available at least a year behind the production model. True to its F1 character, the bike has an ergonomic fitment akin to the F1 driver’s seat, sophisticated composite construction, preferred engine output specs, and electronic control systems, hence creating a bi-wheel F1 innovation.
Ecross Spirits existing today enjoy comprehensive factory support for a particular period. This includes everything needed for proper and safe use of the bike, personal protective gear, spare parts and the rest.
3. E90 AJS Porcupine – Sold for $675,000 – $7,000,000
The Porcupine is a big bike famous worldwide for its motorsports accomplishments and, of course, its legendary, ageless design. The fact that there are only 4 of these beauties around the globe and that catching one on the road brings a sense of amazement, helps explain its humongous price tag.
The manufacturer behind the Porcupine, despite its colored history and killer racetrack legacy, experienced financial turmoil during its early years, producing no more than 4 units in 1949. Surprisingly, one of these won the 1949 World Championship riding famous British biker Les Graham.
Among the most crucial features of the Porcupine is its low center of gravity, which is made possible by a combination of aluminum alloy, open frame, and 500cc DOHC twin engine with horizontal cylinders and heads. Indeed, any beginning bike enthusiast can learn so much and be inspired to create new ideas by studying AJS designs and manufacturing decisions.
Originally designed for supercharging as other pre-war racing bikes, the Porcupine’s motor was recreated to work without a supercharger, which the FICM (the international regulating body of motorcycle racing) prohibited in 1946. British Grand Prix racer Jock West was first to ride the machine at the 1947 Isle of Man TT, but while teething issues he experienced at that time pushed him down to 15th place, he created a record for the third fastest lap time of the race.
Indeed, for authentic aficionados and collectors, not many bikes can match the value and relevance of the Porcupine when it comes to automotive tradition. The 1949 version carried a price tag of $7,000,000, but in 2011, the 1954 model was sold at an auction for $675,000. The National Motorcycle Museum was the Porcupine’s home for the last twenty years in Coventry before getting sold.
2. Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter – Sold for $11,000,000
Prestigious department-store chain Neiman Marcus had nothing to do with motorcycles until the day it decided to build the world’s second most expensive luxury bike today. Known as Limited Edition Fighter, the model entered the market with a not-so-low starting rice of $110,000. Turned out things would only get wilder from there. Because of the bike’s remarkable uniqueness, its price skyrocketed uncontrollably. Today, its value is approximately $11,000,000.
The Fighter has a carbon-fiber and steel structure mixed with aluminum and titanium, and a large 2.0L V-Twin engine inside. This makes the Fighter a rather scary animal that can handily surpass speeds of 190 mph. Neiman Marcus only made 45 of these limited editions, which were were branded with the concept, “evolution of the machine” towards optimal performance.
There is no question about the Fighter as a neat looking bike that offers a neater ride. But though people might assume it’s not meant for the road, it’s totally street legal. It’s also such a stunner in its own way, its simplicity so humbling yet filling the rider with pride.
1. Harley-Davidson Bucherer Blue Edition – Sold for $13 million
As of January 2020, the Harley-Davidson Blue Edition is categorically the world’s most expensive motorcycle. The single-shot passion project was built by Swiss watch and jewelry giant, Bucherer, in partnership with bike expert, Bündnerbike.
While the Blue Edition is inspired by a Harley-Davidson Softail Slim S., it barely looks the same as the original, what with its tailored rims and frame, gold-plated components, and a rotating camshaft that is visible through a window. The entirety lights up with heat-resistant LEDs and is the only bike ever made whose engine is lit from the interior. Also enclosed on the right of the fuel tank are a watch and rings by the Bucherers, plus diamonds and safes built into the tank.
The bike virtuosos of Bündnerbike used a special coating technique to achieve the Harley-Davidson Bucherer BLUE’s deep, opalescent blue. Not to mention each metal element used for this once-in-a-lifetime machine has been designed, created and brought to shine by hand.
The masterwork, a special member of the Bucherer BLUE family, took over 2000 hours to perfect by an eight-man team. With a whopping price tag of $13 million, the wonderfully out-of-this-world Harley was presented for the first time at a Zurich, Switzerland event in 2018.