Today we revere MV Agusta for its high-horsepower, multi-cylindered motorcycles, but the company’s early days were centered on single-cylinder motorcycles. Its two-stroke versions from the late 1940s were successful items, winning road races into the early 1950s, but were outgunned by four-strokes at the world championship level. Count Agusta countered by hiring the best minds of the time to build a winning motorcycle. The Bialbero was it, and it won the 1952 125cc title in the hands of Cecil Sandford, though some would argue that title is hollow due to the dominant Mondial team withdrawing from competition that year. Nonetheless, the record books will forever show that MV Agusta won its first world championship (of 37) that year, and added five more by the end of 1960. MV’s success in the premier 500cc class would come in 1956 in the hands of John Surtees – to this day, the only man to win titles at the highest level of both motorcycle (500cc) and car (Formula 1) racing.

  • 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…

        • Jon Low

          It’s not “MV Augusta”. It’s “MV AGUSTA”.