Motorcycles come in all shapes and sizes, and the world is full of weird and wonderful two-wheelers a lot of us have never heard of before. While the tried and tested formula of the good old motorcycle is here to stay, several manufacturers have tried pushing the envelope in terms of design and engineering. Today, let’s take a look at five quirky two-wheelers you may have never heard of.
The Quasar, first introduced in 1970, is a semi-enclosed two-wheeler that sort of blurs the lines between a car and motorcycle, in a sense that it has an aerodynamic body, and the rider’s seating position is much more similar to that of a car than a motorcycle. That said, the Quasar was by no means a slouch, with the company claiming a top speed of in excess of 100 miles per hour. It made use of the engine of a Reliant Robin, of which 21 saw production. Subsequent models featured slight variations to the engine and steering system, but ultimately, the Quasar would cease production in 1982.
- Indian 841
Those of you who are fans of vehicles used in combat would certainly be familiar with the Indian 841. This bike was meant to serve in World War II, and featured a longitudinally mounted V-twin engine. What made the 841 special was the fact that its engine was designed to have a very low compression ratio, meaning it could run on low octane fuel. The U.S. army commissioned a total of 1,000 Indian 841s to be produced, however, at the same time, the Willys Jeep was starting to take off, and proved to be a lot more practical, as it could carry troops, weapons, and supplies. As such, the Indian 841 never really got to see action.
- Bimota Tesi
We’ve talked about the Bimota Tesi quite a bit here on RideApart. This unique sportbike has a rather strange front end that makes use of a swing arm rather than standard telescopic forks. The Tesi first hit the spotlight in 1990, and featured a Ducati 851 engine. A total of 127 Bimota Tesi 1Ds were built, and the model was succeeded by the Tesi 1D 906. In 2019, Kawasaki bought a 49.9 percent stake in Bimota, and co-developed the most recent iteration of the Tesi, the Tesi H2, which featured the same 998cc supercharged inline-four cylinder engine as that of the Kawasaki Ninja H2.
- Yamaha WR450F 2-Trac
Yamaha tried its hand in a two-wheel-drive motorcycle back in 2004 with the WR450F 2-Trac. Designed to compete in the grueling Dakar Rally, the bike featured a unique two-wheel-drive system wherein the front wheel was operated by a hub-mounted hydraulic motor which could sense when the rear wheel was slipping, and subsequently turn the front wheel. The design was such that the front wheel would never spin faster than the rear, keeping the bike stable. At the end of the day, demand for such tech was too slim for Yamaha to mass produce.
- CAKE Kalk
The CAKE Kalk is an electric motorcycle we’re very familiar with. We’ve talked about it, as well as its other CAKE stablemates several times before, and we certainly love its charismatic, go-anywhere capabilities. This all-electric enduro-style machine may look like a glorified electric mountain bike, however, it’s classified as an electric motorcycle—and a rather capable one at that. The Kalk’s electric motor has the capability of mimicking two or four-stroke engine braking, while the bike’s Öhlins suspension soaks up all the jumps and bumps with ease.