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The Fallen Motorcycle Brands We Wished Survived

The motorcycle industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the decades, with many once-prominent brands falling by the wayside. From pioneering American marques like Excelsior-Henderson to innovative European names like Laverda and Bultaco, these motorcycle manufacturers have left an indelible mark on the history of two-wheeled transportation, even if their time in the spotlight was all too brief.

In this retrospective, we’ll explore the stories behind 10 iconic motorcycle brands that are no longer in production, uncovering the reasons for their demise and celebrating their lasting legacies.

Rudge Whitworth

1936 rudge ulster 500cc sport bike
Rudge-Whitworth was a British motorcycle manufacturer that resulted from the merger of two bicycle companies in 1894. They began producing motorcycles in 1911 and were known for innovations like their “Multi” variable gear transmission and 4-valve cylinder heads.

Rudge motorcycles were successful in racing, winning multiple Isle of Man TT events in the 1920s and 1930s. Key models included the Rudge Ulster, Thoroughbred, and Dirt Track bikes. However, the company faced financial difficulties during the Great Depression and was bought by EMI in 1936. Motorcycle production ceased entirely in 1939 when the factory was repurposed for wartime radar production, and the Rudge name was later used on a range of bicycles produced by Raleigh. 


1951 red mustang pony motorycycle
Cullen328 / Wikipedia

The Mustang was a lightweight motorcycle built by the Gladden Products Corporation in California from 1946 to 1965. Founded by John Gladden, the company produced models like the Mustang Colt, Thoroughbred, and Trail Machine. Mustang was an early US manufacturer to use telescopic forks and swing arm suspension.

The company closed up shop in 1965 with some reasons stated as poor management and increased competition. 


line of hodaka motorcycles
Jamie Jamie / Wikipedia

Hodaka was a joint Japanese and American motorcycle company that produced an estimated 150,000 motorcycles. Their specialty was in dirt bikes. They were produced between 1964 and 1978. The company mets its demise to a few factors including the declining interest in dirt bikes and a falling US dollar exchange rate against the Japanese yen.

A book written by Ken Smith is said to have the most comprehensive history of Hodaka ever written.


1947 whizzer luxemborg
Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles / Wikipedia

Whizzer was a U.S. company that produced motorized bicycles from 1939 to 1965. They were an early pioneer of what we know today as e-bikes. The Whizzer was originally sold as a kit with just an engine that could be attached to an existing bicycle. In 1948 they sold the first pre-assembled motorized bicycle.

Due to a competitive market emerging, they stopped production in 1965. The brand came back to life in 1998 with a 26″ black bike that was similar to their classic bike from years before. As of 2009 it looks like all production on hold again.


blue ossa 150 motorcycle
Antramir / Wikipedia

Ossa was a Spanish motorcycle manufacturer that specialized in two-stroke bikes that were used in motocross and enduro. They began production in 1949 and by the 1960s they had their highest production levels. During this time they gained a reputation for their endurance and reliability both on and off the track. In 1967 their bikes took first and second place in the 24 Hours of Montjuich race in Barcelona.

The downfall of the company came in 1977. Competition, a lack of dealers in the U.S. market and an employee strike all contributed to the fall of the brand. In 2010 the brand was brought back to life only to close down again 2015.


crocker motorcycle in showroom

Crocker was a Los Angeles-based motorcycle brand that produced high-performance single-cylinder racing bikes and V-twin road bikes in the 1930s and 1940s. They ceased production in 1942 due to the war creating a shortage of materials. The owner, Albert Crocker, would pivot his business to make aircraft parts which was more lucrative.

Crocker motorcycles are considered some of the most expensive motorcycles with auctions for their bikes reach $750,000.


ariel motorcycle

Although they started as bicycler manufacturer, Ariel Motorcycles pivoted to become a manufacturer of motorcycles. The British motorcycle company was sold to BSA in 1951 and the last Ariel motorcycle was produced in 1965. Ariel was also involved in car manufacturing as well from 1902 – 1915 and 1922 to 1925.


laverda motorcycle

Laverda was an Italian motorcycle company that specialized in large displacement road bikes. They went out of business in the mid-1960s due to increased competition. It would later be purchased by Aprilia and then Piaggio. Piaggio officially ceased all activity of the Laverada brand.



Bultaco was a Spanish motorcycle brand that focused on off-road and trials bikes. They launched their first motorcycle in March 1959, a 125cc Bultaco Tralla 101. Bultaco production ceased in 1979 but later reopened in 1980 only so close again in 1983. As of 2014 there was a launch of electric Bultacos.


excelsior super x motorcycle

Excelsior and Henderson were both motorcycle brands that were ultimately bought by Ignaz Schwinn. Schwinn would be Henderson in 1917 and Excelsior in 1912. Excelsior was a popular brand in the U.S. only being outsold by Indian and Harley Davidson. It was the Great Depression that forced Schwinn to cease operations of Excelsior in 1931.


nsu superlux motorcycle

NSU was a German motorcycle and automobile manufacturer that was once the world’s largest motorcycle producer in the 1950s. They ceased motorcycle production in 1969 but not after they became a world leading manufacturer in 1955 with over 350,000 bikes


bridgestone motorcycle

While they are more well known for tires, Bridgestone also had a motorcycle division. From 1952 to 1970 they created a line of mopeds and two-stroke engine motorcycles. The motorcycles were so technically advanced it caused the bikes to be more costly than the competition which created a higher retail price. Bridgestone pulled out of the motorcycle weird to increase its tire division. 


rupp roadster minibike

Rupp Industries was an American manufacturer of mini-bikes and other small recreational vehicles. They produced bikes from 1959 to 1976. The owner, Herbert E. “Mick” Rupp, sold roughly 70,000 minibikes by 1970.


11 Vehicle Transformations That Make Amazing Limousines

Limousines are definitely not boring anymore. Move over Chrysler and Lincoln, there are more exciting limousines out there! From sleek sedans to extravagant stretch limousines, the world of car transformations has been taking some creative turns over the years. Buckle up as we take a thrilling ride through the most unique and jaw-dropping vehicle to limo conversions that are sure to leave you in awe.

11 Vehicle Transformations That Make Amazing Limousines

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