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This article is for those people that want to know the history and meaning of the most famous and successful motorcycle brands’ logos.
Looking through their emblems will be helpful for you if you want to get an idea on how you would like your motorcycle brandmark to look like.
What do motorcycle logos mean?
We all know that motorcycle logos are one of the best and most stunning brandmarks that we see today.
Some of the most popular brands of motorcycles, like Harley Davidson, Ducati, BMW, Aprilia, Honda, and others, have their own distinct and impactful logos.
And if you’re curious about the reason behind the creation of their emblem, then I’ve got you all covered.
In this article, I will be explaining to you the meaning of different famous motorcycle logos.
I will not only discuss the appearance of the logos, but instead, I will go deeply into their history and symbolism.
I will also include an explanation of why these well-known brands of motorcycle use different elements like shields, wings, tuning forks, and others as their emblems.
By the way, if you’re needing a professional designer that can help you establish your own brandmark, shoot me an email here.
So without keeping you waiting, here are the top 13 best motorcycle logos and their explanations.
You can also check out my other article where I explained the best luxury car logos.
Just like in luxury cars and airline logos, the brandmarks of motorcycle brands also have something in similar.
As you can notice on the different famous companies' motorcycles, their emblems are either black, white, or red.
The best explanation for that is that those colors are the most suitable ones to use for expressing passion, power, and professionalism.
Another thing that you will notice is that some of these brands, like Harley-Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, and Moto Guzzi, use different kinds of elements that have their own symbolism.
To be specific, Harley-Davidson includes a shield in their emblem to represent protection.
Honda uses a wing which is said to be inspired by the goddess of victory.
Yamaha chose to design their emblem with three tuning forks, which represents the company’s core principles.
However, the eagle on Moto Guzzi’s logo is a tribute to the death of one of its founders, Giovanni Ravelli.
Aside from the elements used in these motorcycle brand logos, one of the most striking similarities is the manner in which they are displayed.
As you read through this article, you will learn that even though these companies have their official brandmarks, they still chose to modify them.
Some of them change the fonts, colors, and arrangement of the emblem depending on their motorcycle units.
So if you want to learn more about the history and meaning of the logos of the most famous motorcycle brands today, just keep on reading.
One of the most famous brands is Harley Davidson, which is also one of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers.
The shield on the Harley Davidson’s logo portrays protection.
The whole concept of the brand’s logo symbolizes a sense of authority and power that it gives to the customers.
It is intended to imitate the authority and power that come with riding, as well as the capacity to take responsibility for your own life.
The emblem is designed in a shield shape with a broad horizontal bar at the center, which is meant to portray protection.
The choice of the colors black and white shows the company’s professionalism, and the wordmark is written in a blocky sans serif font.
See the logo in use:
Moreover, as you can see in the sample image above, the letter "T" in the word "motor" is written to look like an arrow shape.
The arrow-shaped "T" can be accompanied with directions, which is also related, since riders use directions every time.
By the way, take note that you won’t see the same emblem on all the Harley Davidson motorcycles since they usually modify it.
Sometimes they change the font, the style, and the emblem itself depending on the motorcycle unit.
If you’re curious about the origin of the brand name "Ducati," it is actually named after its founders, Bruno, Adriano, and Marcello Ducati.
The white band on Ducati’s logo shows speed.
The modern Ducati logo features a red inverted triangular symbol with a white band inside.
The inverted triangular symbol also looks like a shield, which portrays boldness.
On the other hand, the curved line or white band in the emblem represents speed and acceleration.
The bright red color of the Ducati’s logo resembles victory and success, which they actually achieved throughout the years.
However, when you buy a motorcycle from Ducati, you will notice that there is no emblem displayed on the vehicle.
That’s because the company only displayed the wordmark "DUCATI" and left the actual logo.
In addition, the color of the wordmark changes based on the color of the motorcycle.
You may see it in white, black, and red, but you might mostly see it in red since it is the brand’s color.
The abbreviation of the BMW company is Bayerische Motoren Werke, or Bavarian Motor Works.
The overall look of BMW’s logo was believed to be a propeller.
BMW is known as a famous manufacturer of motorcycles and automobiles, but the company actually started by creating aircraft engines.
Although the company didn’t confirm that their logo was inspired by the appearance of a propeller, many people believe it that way because of their history.
On the other hand, the combination of blue and white in the emblem represents the colors of the state of Bavaria, the company’s home state.
But because state coats of arms or other sovereign emblems are prohibited from being used on business trademarks, BMW used inverted blue and white pattern.
See logo in use:
In 2020, BMW introduced their new logo, which is said to be used for the brand’s communication only.
The company changed the black color of the emblem to a transparent color.
This new logo will usually be seen on BMW’s automobiles because they retain the original logo on motorcycles.
Aprilia is the second-largest manufacturer and seller of motorcycles and scooters in the world, selling more than 300,000 units annually.
The choice of color on Aprilia’s logo is associated with postwar times.
The current logo of Aprilia looks like a Latin inscription on a red background, which was not chosen by chance.
Since the company was established in the postwar years, the color red has been associated with people's distress and sorrow.
However, the brave spirit was not broken; in fact, the obstacles only strengthened it.
As a result, the owner of the company gets through all the problems and leads his business to success.
See logo in use:
On the other hand, the white color or the wordmark represents the company’s simplicity and positivity.
Just like Ducati, Aprilia also doesn’t place the brand's overall logo on its motorcycle units.
Instead, they are just displaying the wordmark alone, which is also modified depending on the color of the motorcycle.
Honda is a Japanese company, created by the Tokyo motor mechanic Soichiro Honda, and is considered the leading manufacturer of automobiles and motorbikes.
The wing symbol on Honda’s logo was inspired by the goddess of victory.
The history of the Honda company's "wings" may be traced back to its founder, Soichiro Honda.
Their first image appeared in 1947, inspired by a sculpture of the goddess Nike (an Ancient Greek goddess of victory).
Soichiro Honda used the goddess Nike's (Victory) wings as the inspiration for his design.
However, Honda uses different emblems for motorcycles and automobiles.
Its cars are distinguished by a stylized letter "H" as their logo, while for motorcycles, this is an image of a stylized wing of the goddess Nike with the brand name underneath it.
Everything is in the color red, which is meant to portray the power of the company in the business industry.
Yamaha is a Japanese company that makes motorbikes, engines, musical instruments, acoustic and audio devices, sports equipment, and so on.
The tuning forks in Yamaha’s logo represent the company’s principles.
As you can see in their emblem, they included three tuning forks symbols, which are meant to show the company’s principles, which are technology, production, and sales.
Additionally, the red circle that surrounds the emblem shows the concept of the company’s territory.
The only difference between the Yamaha Motor and Yamaha emblems now is the position of the tuning forks.
The first logo, which appeared on motorcycle models in 1966, featured three tuning forks contained in a circle on a white backdrop.
Until 1998, the Yamaha Motor logo was available in two variations: normal and special.
Except for the tuning forks in the background, the normal version resembles the special version.
Designers chose to develop a single emblem in 2016, and it is now displayed with the simple lines of a tuning fork encircled by a circle and the Yamaha lettering.
Suzuki is named after its founder, Michio Suzuki, and the key concepts of its visual identity are simplicity and brightness.
The concept of Suzuki’s logo imitates the Japanese’ samurai tradition.
To make it easy for people to recognize, the Suzuki emblem is made up of perfectly straight lines and a color scheme that is easy to spot.
Suzuki's logo is a stylised letter "S" in scarlet red, which contains sharp angles and sliced forms that are inspired by Japan's rich culture and history.
And the curved pointy lines of the "S" are symbolic of glyphs and samurai traditions.
The scarlet red of the Suzuki emblem is a sign of energy and passion, as well as the brand's forward-thinking approach and the fact that the customer is at the heart of its values.
Additionally, the wordmark under the logo is purposely designed to be a deep blue color, which actually shows the company’s stability.
However, the Suzuki company uses different logos for automobiles and motorcycles.
For their automobiles, they chose to use the emblem itself, but instead of the color red, they changed it to the color silver.
But for the motorcycles, the company only displays the wordmark without the "S" emblem.
The wordmark "SUZUKI" is placed in a larger size for it to be recognized easily, and the color they use depends on the motorcycle’s color.
The new Kawasaki Motors Limited is updating its emblem to celebrate the occasion of its creation.
The concept of Kawasaki’s logo is based on Japanese character.
"River Mark" is currently the company's new logo, replacing the previous logos, which consisted of the letter K emblem and the wordmark below it.
Japanese character for "kawa," which means river, is dramatically stylised in the new logo.
Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard, which later became Kawasaki Heavy Industries, first used the distinctive emblem on the flags of ships owned by the company.
The River Mark has been added to Kawasaki's brand pages, including the Kawasaki Motors website, Twitter, and YouTube.
However, take note that this new logo is only placed on their top-of-the-line motorcycle models like the Kawasaki H2 and H2R.
Although they released their new logo, the company still chose to only display the wordmark on most of their motorcycle units.
Moto Guzzi was started by Giorgio Parodi with his brother Angelo and a mechanic named Carlo Guzzi in 1921.
The eagle on Moto Guzzi’s logo is a tribute to pilot Giovanni Ravelli.
During World War I, the two pilots and their mechanic worked together to start a motorcycle business.
After Ravelli died in the plane crash on the last day of the formation of the business, Giorgio Parodi and Carlo Guzzi decided to have an eagle emblem in memory of Ravelli.
They decided to include an eagle symbol as a tribute to Ravelli’s importance and contribution to Moto Guzzi’s creation.
Aside from that, the flying eagle in Moto Guzzi’s logo represents freedom and is associated with the company’s motorcycles.
See the logo in use:
However, the company is not consistent in using their emblem on their motorcycle models.
Sometimes, they only display the emblem without the wordmark, or only the wordmark without the emblem, and sometimes they include both.
Siegfried Bettman, the brand's founder, chose the name because he spoke three languages and the term "Triumph" had the same meaning in all three.
The Triumph’s logo is inspired by the Union flag.
Triumph came up with a new logo in 2013 that had rounded corners to make them stand out from the rest of the field.
And since Triumph was founded in the United Kingdom, they chose to include the British flag pattern on the emblem.
It is said to be a celebration of the brand’s heritage and energy.
Rick Banks, a type designer at Wolff Olins London, assisted in the creation of this logo.
For some motorcycle models, the logo may include the wording "Triumph" in the middle.
Indian Motorcycles, generally referred to as "Indians," were the first brand in their category in the United States of America.
The Indian’s logo featured a Native American man.
It has a rich and colorful visual identity history, but it has always kept to the same fundamental ideas.
The company includes a Native Americanman wearing a warbonnet, which is a traditional head gear.
For the wordmark "Indian", they chose to use a cursive fancy font, and for the color, they chose red.
It is said that the deep red color on Indian Motorcycle’s logo represents the company’s passion for providing quality vehicles.
However, just like other motorcycle brands have done, the company is displaying modified logos on their motorcycle units.
Meaning, you will not always see the same emblem on all their products since they usually change the colors, fonts, and style.
Founded in the 1930s, KTM is a brand of motorcycles that are used for both sport and off-road riding.
The initials on KTM’s logo stand for Kronreif Trunkenpolz Mattighofen.
The company is thought to be one of the biggest European manufacturers in its field, and its name is well-known all over the world because of this.
The KTM logo has been redesigned several times during its history, but it has always featured the brand’s nameplate as the main element.
When you buy a motorcycle from KTM, you'll see a three-dimensional wordmark made out of dark gray metal.
It looks masculine and strong, which shows that the company values speed and quality.
The KTM logo is very simple, but it adds a sense of luxury and expertise to the brand, making it seem more powerful and forward-thinking.
The official logo for Zero has two main parts: a "slashed zero" sign and the name itself.
The emblem of Zero consists of a combined Z and 0.
They seem to be used in places where it would be smart to put them—as an example, a bike sign is often used, while written text is used whenever possible.
In this picture, it looks like the inside of the sign is split into two parts by a diagonal line from top-right to bottom-left.
It comes in black, white, and metal, and people usually use the one made of metal when they make official things like ads.
As you read, the word "motorcycles" is written in uppercase, with the name itself above and below it.
Both are dark, and while the text at the bottom is a little more strict and thin, the name is absolutely huge.
The letters are clearly curved to fit the aesthetic of a symbol, no doubt.
Admit it or not, but we all know that motorcycle logos are one of the best and most stunning brandmarks that we see today.
That’s why it is very understandable why most people become very curious about the history and meaning of the most famous motorcycle brands.
And if you’re one of those people, then you’re in the right place because I included the simplest explanation behind their different emblems.
Don’t worry because I explained each element that can be seen in the logos in the most understandable way.
I also include how these different motorcycle brands use their brandmarks on their motorcycle models.
Some of them put the actual logo on their motorcycles, some made changes to it, and some only put the wordmark on there.
But logos are not enough—aside from focusing on designing logos, it is much more important to work on the brand strategy to connect with people and gain their trust.
Did I miss something?—Leave a comment below.