090116-top-10-single-cylinder-racebikes-f

Back in the day, long before I was but a glimmer in my parents’ eyes, single-cylinder motorcycles ruled the roost when it came to road racing. If you wanted to go fast or be top dog, then you hopped on a Single. Any number of manufacturers were building them because popping out one cylinder was much easier than pumping out multi-cylindered machines, but the early history of road racing belonged to British Singles.

In this Top 10, we celebrate one-lunged racing machines with an assortment of models. Britain, clearly, has the most representation on this list, but other locales that have contributed to racing make an appearance, too. Yes, we realize Singles are alive and well in off-road racing, but for the purposes of this list we’re going to stick with blacktop. With that, here we go.

  • Starmag

    It’s said that Soichiro Honda was quite the fan of NSU racers.

  • Old MOron

    I like thumpers.

  • DickRuble

    The Supermono ended up second at the Isle of of Man in 1994 with Robert Holden atop.

  • Mahatma

    I think the AJS wins the style competition here.

    • Ian Parkes

      I’d put it third behind the Manx Norton and, in top spot, the dustbin with the blue whale on the side.

  • craig collins

    Y’all forgot Isle of Man champion Bultaco Metralla. I had two of ’em.

    • MikeH

      I’ll put in a nod for the Bultaco Metralla as well. I had one and it was surprisingly good, especially handling. Very neutral and forgiving, you could really push them HARD.

      • craig collins

        True – performance was limited only by the tires of that era. I raced the kitted version ( oh, god – priceless today, ) at a couple of old converted airports in northern California. My everyday street / canyon ride was the victim of a nasty, dirt strewn, decreasing radius, left-hander in the hills above the eastbay. I bailed about two thirds of the way through – bike and rider straight off cliff into the poison oak. Fantastic times!

    • TroySiahaan

      That is, in fact, a very cool Single. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Ian Parkes

    Never heard it called a Norton Manx before. I’m pretty sure they were always Manx Nortons over the pond. Amazing too how the MV Augusta engine has such a strong family resemblance to its descendents. Powerful genes.

    • Kevin Duke

      Just sticking to conventional naming conventions. Same reason we don’t call it a Tuono Aprilia.

      • Ian Parkes

        Wow, it’s usually me that gets put in Pedants’ Corner. Your Tuono example is not be the same thing at all because but no-one (let alone everyone, as in the Norton’s case) says that. I’m just sticking up for the naming convention of using its actual name…