TWO-WHEELED WORKS OF ART
The new bike season doesn’t just mean new metal, but also new paint schemes. What better time to discuss the best and worst from the last 30 years?
Yamahaõs minimalist RD350 is a definite hit when it comes to some of the greatest motorcycle paintjobs of all time. But what makes a great design and how come some manufacturers got it so eye-stingingly wrong? MCN picks historyõs great winners and losers.
In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, painting a bike was simple. You generally only had a tank and a few small side panels to worry about. There was the obligatory corporate colour, possibly spiced up with a few inches of gold pinstriping, and if you were feeling a bit wild you could crack out a two-tone look or metal flake, but more often then not the pallet was fairly staid.
Arguably, the 1985 GSX-R750 kick-started the dawn of the wild paintscheme as its slab-sided fairings gave designers the chance to show their creativity. Plus, it didn’t take long for the designers to start copying the race teams’ colours, which really got the ball rolling. Then the 1990s happened.
With motorcycle designers following the trends of the late 1980s, it all got a bit out of hand. Technology had advanced enough to allow the use of ever more lurid, complicated designs and taste was temporarily abandoned. Thankfully it was a passing phase and by the 2000s manufacturers returned to safer ground that was less offensive to the eyes. Mostly.
And here we are, knee-deep in exciting 2017 models. With the new metal comes a whole new palette of colourschemes to love and to loathe – so it feels like a good time time to argue over the standout designs of the last three decades.