What Makes Some Motorcycles So Valuable

Ask any auction house and they will tell you the 4 main factors determining a motorcycle value, up to $1 million (true also for cars). In no particular order, depending of the motorcycle. 1- How rare a notion referring to how many were produced but also how many are known to be available in their original manufacturing condition. 2- Was the motorcycle a technological breakthrough at the time it was produced, for example engine, driveline, speed, etc. 3- A successful racing history. 4- It’s association with a celebrity, famous photo, famous movie, etc.

Total Car Score compiled a list of the 10 most valuable motorcycle. This list evolves with time and auctions…

10crocker.600x40010. 1940 Crocker: 40 hand-built Crockers were produced in the early 1940s. They had 1,000 and 1,500 cc engines with 3-speed transmissions, and reached a speed of 120 mph. Rhe remaining models can bring in more than $200,000. One 1940 Crocker sold in an August 2012 at a Bonham’s auction for $302,000.

91938-vincent-hrd-series-a-rapide-bonhams.600x4009. 1939 Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide: This model features a fully suspended rear end, a foot operated shifter, a 4-speed transmission and a side stand. Its 45 horsepower, air-cooled twin V engine could also produce speeds 1of 00 mph. Prices can go higher than $300,000, and one sold at a Bonhams auction in April 2012 for approximately $354,548.

8Ducati-Desmosedici-GP11-2.600x4008. 2011 Ducati Desmosedici GP11
This graduate of Ducati’s MotoGP team was ridden by Valentino Rossi in the 2011 season and sold in May for $312,000.

7Ducati-Desmosedici-GP10_0.600x4007. 2010 Ducati Desmosedici GP10: This machine’s claim to fame was it was ridden by Ducati rider Casey Stoner for the 2010 MotoGP season, earning four victories. It sold at auction last May for a Ducati record-breaking price of $320,000. .

6Harley-Davidson-Strap-Tank-Single1.600x4006. 1907-1908 Harley-Davidson Strap-Tank Single: It was started up by using the pedals to crank the motor. That engine was a 570cc single cylinder connected to a single belt drive for a speed that topped out at 50 mph. Prices on these can vary depending on condition, but the value is increasing in sales venue. One sale reached $350,000.

5-1949-Vincent-Black-Lightning-Supercharged.600x4005. 1949 Vincent Black Lightning Supercharged: A British dealer of this Vincent Black Lightning rigged it with a supercharger. It never did break any speed records, but many years later in 2008 it did break a different kind of British record, when it sold iFor $383,400.

4-1929-Brough-Superior-SS100-bonhams2.600x4004. 1929 Brough Superior SS100: The Brough was guaranteed to hit 100 mph, and in the 1920s and ’30s, it was considered the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles. Advanced suspension and frame design made the bikes extremely capable by the standards of the era. Prices can go anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000. One sold for approximately $148,000 at a Bonham’s auction in October 2010.

3-1939-BMW-Type-255-Kompressor-bonhams.600x4003. 1939 BMW Type 255 Kompressor: BMW was one of the first manufacturers to use supercharger technology. BMW combined a supercharged, dual overhead camshaft engine with a four-speed transmission to create an advanced and powerful series of racing motorcycles, A BMW Type 255 Kompressor recently went for $480,000 in a January 2013.
2-1915-cyclone-mid-america-auctions.600x4002. 1915 Cyclone: This nearly century-old cycle was the most powerful of its time, Its 1,000 cc V-twin engine with 50 horsepower was capable of over 120 mph, About 300 were made but only 15 are left and they can fetch over $500,000. One Cyclone fetched $480,000 in a 2008 auction by Mid America Auctions.

1-vincent-Black_Lightning-wiki.600x4001. 1948 Vincent Black Lightning Prototype: The 1948 prototype for the Vincent Black Lightning is also known as Rollie Free’s “Bathing Suit Bike.” Clad only in a helmet, swim trunks and tennis shoes to improve aerodynamics while lying face down across the top of the motorcycle, Free set the land speed record of 150.313 mph. His feat was documented in a photo that became an iconic image in motorcycling. In 2011, this one-of-a-kind chopper set another record when it became the first motorcycle to sell for a million dollars.

17 Responses to “What Makes Some Motorcycles So Valuable”

  1. 1 Hamilton. Feb 21st, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I want at least one of them.

  2. 2 J.H. Feb 21st, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Just to be able to see one, to smell it, to get down on the ground and check the details, to even with permission to touch one, that has to be one of life’s great pleasures. Thanks Cyril, we all need a little inspiration.

  3. 3 Mike Feb 21st, 2013 at 10:38 am

    The last 2 Crocker’s that have sold since that Bonham auction in Carmel went for $375, 000 and $500, 000USD respectively.
    One of them belonged to John Parham from J&P Cycle.

  4. 4 JohnJ. TEXAS Feb 21st, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Number 10 and 2… what a dream. But secretly I wanna smell a Vincent. I don’t have to explain. thanks Cyril…

  5. 5 Lyle Landstrom Feb 21st, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    And to think 10 years ago any of these bikes could be bought for a fraction of what they’re going for now. Less if you go further back. I passed on a Crocker for 6K back in the 80’s….

  6. 6 GuitarSlinger Feb 21st, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Cyril . Not to be difficult or anything but thats the wrong photo for the Rollie Free Vincent ( fenders and seat are a dead give away )

    Other than that . Sign me up for any Vincent V-Twin and I’ll be a happy camper . Numbers matching not being an issue with me . Make it a side hack rig and the wife’ll be happy as well 😉

  7. 7 Iron Horse Feb 21st, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    The Crocker, anyone of the Vincents or a Brough…decisions, decisions. I’d love to have anyone or all of them parked in my garage. Hey, one can dream, right?

  8. 8 Rodent Feb 21st, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Now those are real motorcycles !

  9. 9 nicker Feb 21st, 2013 at 11:46 pm


    “…Now those are real motorcycles !…”

    Moreover, those who actually appreciate them for what they are, are “real” bikers.
    Not those who give a perfunctory/ pretend look at such exhibits and then are the first to lobby for “miller time” at the nearest watering hole.

    Time to coin a new term……. “Honey BooBoo Bikers”……………… 🙂


  10. 10 big doug Feb 22nd, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Hmm I think the Britten should be on that list,at least #2 or 3.

  11. 11 Sportster Mike Feb 22nd, 2013 at 3:30 am

    Best bike I saw last year was ‘George III’ – Lawrence of Arabias 4th Brough Superior – being RIDDEN ON THE ROAD – yes I know (here in Dorset in Southern England)

    If a ‘normal’ Brough is worth £250,000 these days what’s this one worth? £1million? and he still had some of his old trousers – those Arab white ones -being used as rags!!

    I know a guy whose father in law was taking Vincents and Broughs etc as part exchange for a car for £50 in the early 60s – time machine anyone?

  12. 12 Horst Roesler Feb 22nd, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    A motorcycle is only worth as much as somebody is willing to pay for the imagination of that value. You can’t drink or eat it and it won’t heal you. And if you think it will be worth more in the future, welcome to the next “bubble”.
    Sad fact is: The more value is given to one of these bikes, the lesser the chance to see and hear it running again. It’ll grace somebody’s living room, garage or vault. I personally salute all those that keep the antique rides – no matter if bikes, cars, planes, steam engines – “in Action” to preserve them for future Generations. Privateers, shops and museums – there are plenty of examples all over the world. All those machines are great rides, but they are only worth as much as you can get when your in need to sell them.

  13. 13 Bigalyts Feb 22nd, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    The most amazing Bike there is the “Cyclone”! In 1915 to hae the ability to Build a 1000cc Bike and mount it in a Bicycle frame and be able to do 100 mph. Wow, that is by far the most amazing Stat!

  14. 14 Rodent Feb 22nd, 2013 at 7:02 pm


    Go to above link to see Vincent’s I shot at Vincent Rally in Mancus Colorado LaborDay

  15. 15 nicker Feb 23rd, 2013 at 9:11 pm


    Way cool pics…!!!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Time to dream about NorVins again………. the ultimate Rocker-Rocket…….. 🙂
    (what ever happened to the Australian produced Vincent motors……..???)


  16. 16 The Vintagent Feb 25th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    There’s only one way to accurately track motorcycle sale prices, and that’s auction results. We’ve all heard about $1.1M Vincents and $1.5M racing Honda 4s (which you’ve left off the list), but these can’t be independently verified. A lot of exotic racing machines have traded hands for well over $1M in the past 10 years, but for obvious reasons, few people are publicly showing off the check they wrote/received. I’ve kept a ‘Top 20’ list of auction results on The Vintagent for many years, which I update as big sales occur.

    That BMW Kompressor didn’t sell at auction (sold afterwards for a reported $480k – it’s at the Solvang Museum now), so its not on my list…and neither is the ‘Rollie Free’ Vincent, which was also a private sale.

    Certain people have vested interests in claiming high sale prices; they may have similar machines to sell, or a whole collection, and it doesn’t hurt their future sales to spread rumors…

    Also note when major businesses (see:Ducati) are ‘rumored’ to sell for megabucks…but never confirmed. I’ve often heard, off the record, what the actual price was for a bike or a business; rumors are as accurate about sales as they are about movie stars’ sex lives…

  17. 17 BC Feb 25th, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Sold my restored C Series Black Shadow late 70s for a whopping $6500! Was the going price then, , just have a photo and the memory now. Oops, that was then, this is now.

Comments are currently closed.
Cyril Huze