For years, I’ve been arguing with people about what looks good and what doesn’t. There are certain things I think we can all agree on; like the sight of a cold beer on a sunny day, next to a plate of cheeseburger and chips, which looks fairly orgasmic. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the latest women’s’ fashion trend that involves injecting chemicals into their faces; I’m sure we all agree that looks absolutely horrendous. That said, there are plenty of things we just can’t seem to agree on; one such example is the looks of modern MotoGP bikes. Some love them, some hate them so it wasn’t easy to put this list together. But we have. Because over the years, there have been some truly sexy race bike liveries. The kind that every single person in the entire world approves of. And here they are…
Yamaha Speed Block
The Yamaha Speed Block design dates back to 1972 when the Japanese manufacturer decided to go Grand Prix racing. When Molly Sanders designed it, I doubt he’d have expected it to grace the fairings of race bikes in 50 years’ time, but still Yamaha love dragging it out from time to time. And not just in road racing; the Speed Block design is pretty popular in Yamaha’s flat track exploits too. Originally yellow, white and black, the speed block design is now quite often seen in blue, white and black or red, white and black. Yamaha recently wheeled a red, white and black speed blocked MotoGP test bike out for Cal Crutchlow to have a rip round on. And it looked banging.
Rossi’s Austin Powers Repsol Honda
In 2003 when Valentino Rossi was just about to win another world championship, a Spanish magazine ran a competition to see who could design the coolest livery for the Repsol Honda team to run for the final round of the season. This Austin Powers themed design was chosen by Repsol and Honda from a shortlist of 15. And I’m sure G.O.A.T did Austin Powers proud. He did the colour scheme justice by winning the race at Valencia as well as the MotoGP championship. Nice one, my son.
The Castrol Honda colour scheme is far from a one off. The relationship between Castrol and Honda has transcended generations, as has the iconic livery. From Colin Edwards on his RC45 20-odd years ago, to Johnny Rea on his Fireblade, and more recently, Cal Crutchlow on his RCV. It’s instantly recognisable. Or it was. The latest Castrol Honda (or LCR Castrol Honda to give it it’s full name) that Alex Marquez is due to race in 2021, doesn’t quite fit the bill, if you ask me. Oh well, it’s not a fashion show, is it!
Red Bull Fireblade WSBK
We might not have seen an official Red Bull Honda WSBK Team Fireblade since 2018, but thanks to their huge popularity, there are still plenty kicking about on the road. Well, not WSBK spec ‘Blades, but you know what I mean. It might not be the most iconic of race bike liveries to have ever graced the racetrack, but you’d have to say they are up there with the most eye catching bikes we’ve seen on a WSBK grid in recent years.
Norton’s IOM TT V4 SS
We might all hate Stuart Garner for stealing all of his employees pensions and trying to run Norton Motorcycles into the ground, but he new how to make a smart looking race bike. Or at least somebody that worked for him did anyway. The full chrome Norton that Davo Johnson, John McGuiness and Josh Brookes raced at the TT in the late 2010’s really did look as good as it sounded. It was nothing short of mesmerizing. Unfortunately, the Norton never set the world on fire. And as if Norton’s financial problems weren’t enough, John McGuiness’s engine almost falling out during the 2019 Senior TT was the final nail in the Norton TT project’s coffin.