It’s not everyday that you see an old Norton riding up Mt. Evans or catch a glance at the industrial design of an Aprilia bike, or even have the fortune to see a Vincent up close and in real life. However, their bikes and their logos continue to evoke nostalgia, evolve into another version or be purchased by their next owners attempting to revive their brands. Here is a list of some of those wonderful motorcycle logos and a few thoughts on their designs.
I like the red. I like the white. I like the cleanliness of the sans serif font selection and the attention to leading. The lowercase “p” does a nice job to balance the height in the two “i”s and the “l”. To me, this logo defines what the essence of motorcycles are about, everything that is necessary without anything that is extraneous and worthless.
The emblem style design of the Benelli immediately ushers us back a few decades and urges us to remember craftsmanship, passion and even a bit of country. The stars offer different angles depending on perhaps where you call home, but the lion brings us all back to the roar of the motorcycle kingdom. The green color is not seen in many motorcycle logos and while refreshing, is also a much gentler tone than the more typical red and black and blue.
I find this logo striking. The red encircling the black lines above the bimota font is clean, clear and connects the “b” to a wheel and fork design. The font is bold and sure. The leading might be just a bit tight for most, but I love the connection of the “b” to the “a”. Finally, as any rider will tell you, it’s the thrill of leaning the bike over that draws us back time and time again, and this logo grants us that request with its two large circular sweeeps that remind me of a highway entrance ramp or an expertly designed racetrack.
BSA, or Birmingham Small Arms Company, was a British motorcycle company that also produced guns. Who can argue with that combination? The BSA logo was tasked with more than just motorcyles, so its evident that the treatment is a bit more usable than most. It also appears much more dated with the italic uppercase typeface and straight lined wing attached to the “B”. This logo isn’t gonna win any design awards, but it accomplished the goal, taking a long company name and making it more distinguishable.
The American company recently shut it’s doors this year. Know for building powerful machines and pushing the limits, their new logo, perhaps partly due to a push from marketing to increase sales, aligns itself with its parent company, Harley Davidson in the badge approach. The horse and wings conjure images of strength, freedom, power and speed, all things Buell embodied. The chiseled steel color and the forward leaning type help push some momentum into the logo. A great redesign that sadly we won’t see much of out on the road.
The Australian company choose a unique image and it’s connotations for their logo. The elephant means a great many things to different nations and to different people. Still, there is the strength, wisdom and sheer power that connect it with motorcycles. The elephant is point backwards in traditional Western Gutenberg design, but perhaps works better down under where things are always a bit opposite (or upside down).
This Italian company specializes in off-road and enduro style bikes. The inflated “H” looks like a head with a crown or a pumped up tire with spiky knubs sticking out on top. I can’t say I’m fond of this logo or company name even. The name, when pronouced phonetically in English (Husck-var-naah) sounds like its missing something, much like the logo.
The Indian Motorcycle Company stays loyal to their name with their logo. Chiefly, they are inspired by a rich American history of freedom, resourcefulness and the unique spirit embodied in the Native American’s culturally and individually. The circle treatment behind the chief’s head cements the logo a bit more, and the lovely type for “Indian” makes for a distinguished and refined feeling.
Moto Guzzi is a collector’s dream company. Fans from around the world have visited the factory and touted the company’s success in the face of constant adversities. The logo has a history all the same. The golden eagle is a tribute to Giovanni Ravelli who died in a plane crash shortly after the war ended. The sans serif font is crisp and compliments the detailed work of the eagle. The wings of the eagle are outstretched offering both protection and the feeling of soaring. The 3-d emblem has certainly become more popular in the past decade and gives the logo a wholesome feel as well as offering the patriarchal Italian red to the design.
Why I like the logo, I’m not completely sure. It’s a bit complicated and jagged for my usual taste. But it does something for me. The cog design is the most mechanical of all the motorcycle logos I’ve seen. I don’t really like the “MV” type face, but I do think it is nice how the lower portion of the “M” and the final piece of the “V” offset offering some balance. I don’t know what the blue heart beat blip that lays behind the “MV” is doing. The “Agusta” text is nicely curved, fitting tight to the cog but not overpowering the central piece. Again, not sure why I like this, maybe because it breaks too many rules.
MZ is a German acronym for “motorcycle factory” and a much shorter way to say “MZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH“. The MZ is a bit bland. The steel conical spike is a bit flat. And the green gradient badge is a bit awkwardly shaped. This logo is doing too little with way too much. Next.
Excellent logo. Everyone knows a Norton when they see one. They are “man magnets” as my friend calls them, pulling every rider off his bike to go talk up the Norton owner. The logo is clearly a Norton and no other. It has no competition in the scripted, free-spirited design. The final swoosh is clever and the perfect touch, pulling the font choice together. I also love the natural placement of the wheel-like “o”s that give this logo a bike feel. Can’t beat this one.
V is for victory and that’s good enough for me. But this bike isn’t about winning the MotoGP. The black emblem is nice, as is the shaped and perfectly sized “victory” and “motorcycles” type. The V and the wings and the awkward Robinson projection map in the background confuse this logo. And the Polaris “All Rights Reserved” stamp at the bottom make this logo a design collapse. Too many mechanics in the workshop. Ugh.
Perhaps it is because I just want to own a Vincent, the Black Lighting to be exact, but I like this logo. The waving banner works much like the badge and emblem style logos, giving the type a nice background. The “HRD” stands for British pilot that first built these machines, one Howard Raymond Davies. I always like the appeal to the founders of the company and think this is a nice touch, but could be a bit smaller as I think it overshadows the company’s name. For the next version, I also think you drop the “the” to clean up the logo and add more weight again to the Vincent name.