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The Art and Design of Motorcycle Emblems

BSA1

Sure, there are a few modern motorcycle badges with nods to the early days, but it’s hard to beat the number of emblems and logos of yesteryear that hold our attention. At the recent Cycle World Rolling Concours show during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, we captured a mere sampling of creative branding and labeling found on the tins of old bikes.

BMW1
The classic BMW roundel. Whirling propeller? Bavarian flag? Whichever story you believe, it’s a cool logo.
BMWR69
Simple, clean font. Chrome on black. This works…well.
BSA_2
I can imagine an artisan toiling over the details to achieve this beauty.
GT750
Suzuki’s graphic designer handled the legibility well and employed the power combo of black, white and red.
HarleyDavidson
I love an emblem with some weight to it. A hunk of metal and a splash of paint.
legs
Whichever way you throw, it will stand.
machthree
Bold composition for a bold machine.
MotoGuzzi_1
Embossed branding.
MotoGuzzi_2
Sometimes the mark is simply screened on like this white-on-black illustrative graphic.
MotoGuzzi_3
Sometimes it’s the graphic backdrop that makes a dimensional emblem look even better.
Norton1
It’s not sculptural or 3-D, but it’s a darn good type treatment.
NortonVilliers1
This bold branding is preserved in a clear dome.
spitfire
You got yer flags, lettering, name and a mass of checkers. It does a lot, but still looks cool.
T500
Don’t forget how nice some of the side covers are out there. This Titan’s “500” has its own little boat to ride in.
Yamaha
They didn’t have to make this gold…but they did. Mirrored goooold.
YamahaRD400
Sometimes less is more. No tribal patterns here. No swooshy paint swashes.
BMW Toaster Tank
BMW’s roundel surrounded by the embossed chrome “toaster” panel and double-pinstripes.
Triumph_1
When I hear the term “tank badge,” I think of this.
Triumph_2
Classic, dimensional branding. Triumph saw value in creative textures, colors and composition.

 

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