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?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

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.

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