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For the last 40-some years motorcycle manufacturers have enjoyed an era of relative stability. The Big Four Japanese (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha), Harley-Davidson and BMW remain unremitting and seemingly indestructible.
Using history as an indicator, however, even these steadfast OEMs could one day topple and fade into obscurity (H-D was close to expiring in the early ’80s). Motorcycle companies such as Ariel, BSA and NSU – once world renowned, championship winners and sellers of hundreds of thousands if not millions of models – eventually succumbed to demise more or less due to increased competition, financial missteps or consolidation.
Recently, companies such as Indian, Norton, Triumph, et. al., have been revived, broadening the motorcycle spectrum but also discluding them from this list. The 10 we selected represent a range of OEMs chosen for various reasons including longevity, units sold, historical significance, country of origin and sentimentality. Beware, your list may differ from ours.