The road to successful rebirth of once heralded motorcycle marques is strewn with the carcases of the fallen, and has relatively few spectacular winners. Indian, Benelli, Triumph, Bimota, come immediately to mind as does Norton. Many of those marques have been subject to multiple attempts at reincarnation. One can readily understand the logic. Why create a new brand and try to establish a track record, when there are dozens of great marques that are lying dormant. These old marques come complete with the warm glow of fond memories,

glory years of racing

, and

vintage celluloid footage

. The passionate among us will not let these marques rest in peace, and are able to convince businessmen, engineers, and venture capitalists to give it a go, again.

But this marque recycling is a tricky thing. Just like in the car world, you might be able to fund the mining of your past if you are a modern viable concern. Witness Ducati’s classic series, and the Triumph Thruxton and Bonneville. You might also be able to develop and refine your roots while deviating little from an age-old formula.

Witness all things Harley, and my beloved BMW R-bikes. However, this business of resuscitating dead and dormant brands is not so easy. Triumph is a noted success widely attributed to the business acumen of John Bloor. You obviously need more than a storied marque, or Norton would be another Ducati by now. Instead, it has a great-looking bike and yet another attempt to remain viable.

Having owned a couple of classic Nortons

, I hope they make it this time. Indian has a noted Marque rescuer at the helm in Stephen Julius, but capturing a piece of the american premium v-twin space takes lots of time and money. Just ask Victory.

So what’s a would-be marque recycler to do? It seems to me that having to live up to the romanticized memory of some of us is a pretty high bar. Nobody wants to see a once lauded marque degraded by some legal/accounting dominated reinterpretation. I say that there are plenty of dead and dormant marques out there that have a history that no one remembers. You only have to visit a site like

Sheldon’s European Motorcycle Universe

to realize that there are hundreds to choose from. Many of them can be yours for a bargain, have a cool retro logo, and you can still claim a lineage that goes back to say, a small village in Hungary circa 1921. Then just build a damn good motorcycle. After all, who among us wouldn’t rush to own a new Dongo, Fopi, Hagg, Pouncy, or a Zig?

2 Replies to “Retrospective Recycling”

  1. This was a well written-analysis of marque resuscitation. I thoroughly enjoyed the logical progression of thought and the engaging manner with which the author treated the reader. The internet is loaded with blogs that rant and rave, or wander all over the place in search of a point. This was a refreshing departure from editorial "Amateur Night."

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. Jack, This is high praise from someone who actually knows how to write !! I agree that there are lots of rambling rants out there where I lose the point halfway in, or where they are obviously trying to make some required number of words. It is why I enjoy your blog. No pretenses, great points thinly disguised in great entertainment.

    BTW, thanks for the promotion to editorial writer. I can now order my staff writer to prepare my afternoon tea 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *