10 Motorcycles Named After Racetracks
While current supersport motorcycles tear around the world’s circuits, they are do not carry the names of the tracks on which they win. Instead, they are invariably called something with the letter “R” in all of them. There are, however, a number of street bikes that are named after historic circuits, usually to commemorate a historic event.
Triumph Thruxton R – Image credit: www.cycleworld.com
1. AJS Cadwell
Image credit: www.ajsmotorcycles.co.uk
AJS is a historic British motorcycle brand, remembered by many, including a famous Malaysian cartoonist. However, the latest AJS bikes are engineered in the UK and built in China. One of the models is called Cadwell, after the Cadwell Park racetrack in the UK. Powered by a 125cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine, it’s styled like an old school café racer.
2. Ducati 750 Imola
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Better known as the “Paul Smart Replica,” the bike was based on the 750 GT touring motorcycle and has the distinction of the first Ducati powered by a Desmo V-Twin. Paul Smart beat everyone at Imola in 1972 on the bike, including his teammate and team leader, Bruno Spaggiari and Giacomo Agostini, on the all-conquering MV Agusta. Besides that, Ducati immediately released the replica, calling it the “Imola”. The win also cemented Ducati’s decision to power every bike with the signature Desmo V-Twin.
3. Honda FT500 Ascot
Image credit: cx500forum.com
Honda may be the winning manufacturer in motorsports, but it has never named any of its motorcycles after racetracks, except one in 1982 called the FT500 Ascot after the infamous dirt oval in California. Unfortunately, the 500cc, single-cylinder-powered bike did not do well in both the US and UK.
4. Laverda Jarama
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The Laverda Jarama was named after the infamous Spanish racetrack, although it was the same bike as the 3CL sold in Europe. However, Laverda was also selling the Jota at the same time and the latter was more successful, prompting dealers to upgrade the Jarama to the Jota’s higher specs.
5. Laverda Montjuic
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In the fashion of Jarama, the Montjuic was also named after a racetrack in Spain. Unlike the Jarama, the Montjuic started as a Formula 500 racing motorcycle. The British import persuaded Laverda to produce the road-legal version, which was then named Montjuic. It was the most exotic middleweight of its time, hence expensive.
6. Moto Guzzi Le Mans
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This is Moto Guzzi’s most famous model, hands down. It was built on the iconic 1971 750cc V7 Sport, the first production motorcycle to feature a five-speed gearbox and hit 200 km/h. For the Le Mans in 1976, its capacity was increased to 850cc, new disc brakes were added and it became the best motorcycle. In fact, the 1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans (known as the Mk I) is the most collectible Italian motorcycle today.
7. Moto Guzzi V50 Monza
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When De Tomaso (yes, that De Tomaso who created the ever beautiful Pantera) took over the reins at Moto Guzzi in 1973, the latter manufacturer was in a dire financial state. It was thought that smaller, less expensive bikes is the solution, resulting in the V50 and V35 in 1976. They were less than popular, so Moto Guzzi went on to create a more powerful version of the V50 called the Monza in 1980. V35 also went through a similar makeover and was named the Imola.
8. Triumph Daytona
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The Triumph Daytona sportbike had been universally praised for its great handling and performance but the dearth of the supersport market saw it reduced to just the 675cc version by 2017. American racer Buddy Elmor was victorious at the 1966 Daytona 200 aboard a Tiger 100, which was the first for Triumph, and to commemorate that historic win, Triumph launched a 500cc, twin-cylinder roadster called the Daytona in 1974. That name became the lineage of Triumph’s sportbikes until today.
9. Triumph Thruxton/Thruxton R
Image credit: Triumph Motorcycles
The new Thruxton and higher-spec’ed Thruxton R are the flagships of the current retro classic Bonneville lineup. The Thruxton name first saw daylight on the 52 limited edition race bikes produced for the 1965 Thruxton 500 production endurance race. It was these bikes that created the café racer era. The current Thruxton R is the best retro classic in the market.
10. Yamaha RD400F Daytona Special
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Although it was named after the infamous Daytona track, the 1979 RD400F Daytona Special commemorates not only Yamaha’s successes at the track but also the last of street-legal two-strokes in America. When the RD350LC came along, it was only sold in Europe but imported in the States as a competition-only motorcycle.