KIWI RIDER 10 2018 VOL.1 - Page 68

CLASSICS WORDS AND PHOTOS: Rhys Jones 120 YEARS OF NEW ZEALAND MOTORCYCLING s we are just a few months away from the 120th anniversary of the first motorcycle brought to New Zealand, I began thinking about whether or not the list of the greatest bikes ever will have changed from the list assembled 20 years ago. At the end of the last century motorcycle magazines all over the world scrambled to publish their Bikes of the Century. Not surprisingly, given the global nature of motorcycling, their results were similar. Although little is to be gained from publishing lists of great bikes, it is a reminder of how long motorcycles have been around, and how subjective choosing favourites can be. The first motorcycle that came to New Zealand in 1899 was a two and a half horsepower DeDion tricycle. Imported by a Christchurch resident it is, of course, debatable whether or not it was a motorcycle. The bicycle style seat, and handlebar steering, seemed, however, good enough to classify it as a motorcycle. It would be a formidable task to try to find how many bikes, from how many different countries, have been imported since the DeDion, but when considering the most significant imports in 120 years, not surprisingly, I believe that a similar selection as the 100 year choices would occur. In the year 2000 the majority of readers who voted for their favourites chose machines manufactured from before 1980. This may suggest that bikes must first become classics and prove their lasting qualities before they are given legendary status. Let’s look at the first six Bikes of the Century in the 2000 line- up. Overwhelmingly the favourite was the 1969 Honda CB750. Honda built a million of them until 1978. This machine changed motorcycling in many ways, and paved the way for the big four-stroke engine to become the benchmark for most Japanese factories.. 1889 DeDion First Motorcycle in New Zealand Honda CB750 the first Superbike