In 1998, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York showcased the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit, a celebration of mechanized masterpieces that remains one of the most popular presentations in the institution’s history. And it is no surprise, since innovative designers continue to create two-wheeled wonders that challenge convention and the imagination.
As author Robert M. Pirsig writes in his counter-culture classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “The motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon—steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough.” Pirsig’s litmus for a bike’s legitimacy? “The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you.”
With that in mind, here are 12 amazing motorcycles of jaw-dropping design—phenomenal 21st-century expressions that show off the talent of their creators and more than satisfy the eye.