The history of motorcycle colours can be traced back to the early 20th century when motorcycles first became popular. At that time, motorcycles were primarily available in colours such as black, grey, and dark green. These colours were practical and easy to produce, but they also reflected the practical nature of early motorcycles as transport vehicles.
In the 1950s and 1960s, as motorcycles became more of a symbol of rebellion and freedom, riders began to customise their bikes with vibrant and eye-catching colours. The emergence of motorcycle culture, particularly the rise of biker clubs and subcultures such as the ‘rockers’, played a significant role in popularising bold colour choices such as cherry red, bright blue, and fiery orange. These colours represented individuality and the desire to stand out from the crowd.
In the 1970s, motorcycle manufacturers began experimenting with new paint technologies and unique colour schemes. Metallic colours became popular, giving bikes a sleek and modern look. Two-tone colour combinations also became a trend, adding a touch of sophistication to the aesthetic of motorcycles.
With the advent of the 1980s, neon colours became increasingly popular, reflecting the vibrant and flashy culture of the era. Enthusiasts embraced neon pink, green, and yellow motorcycle colour designs, making their bikes an extension of the vibrant pop culture of the time.
The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a shift towards more conservative colours, with black, silver, and white becoming the more popular choices. These colours symbolised elegance and sophistication, in line with the growing demand for high-performance and luxury motorcycles.
Today, the popularity of motorcycle colours continues to evolve, reflecting current design trends, technological advances, and consumer preferences. Bright and bold colours remain popular with younger riders and sportbike enthusiasts, while classic tones such as black and white continue to appeal to a wider audience. Motorcycle manufacturers continue to innovate with new colour options and paint technologies, ensuring that riders can find a colour that matches their personality and style.
The best motorcycle colours for visibility on the road
For visibility and safety on the road, bright and high-contrast colours are generally considered the best choice for motorcycles. These colours make it easier for other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to see the motorcycle, especially in varying lighting conditions or adverse weather. The best motorcycle colours for visibility include:
- Hi-Vis yellow or neon yellow: This colour is highly visible during the day and stands out in low light conditions. It is often used in safety equipment and is easy to see on the road.
- Orange: Similar to high-visibility yellow, orange is a bright and eye-catching colour that increases visibility, especially during the day.
- White: Although not as bright as some other colours, white motorcycles stand out well against dark backgrounds and are more visible in the evening or at night.
- Red: Red motorcycles can also be quite visible, especially in daylight, and tend to stand out against most road environments.
It’s important to remember that visibility doesn’t only depend on the colour of the motorcycle but also on the rider’s clothing and the use of reflective materials. If you wear high-visibility clothing, such as reflective vests or jackets, it can significantly improve your visibility, regardless of the colour of the motorcycle. In addition, properly functioning and well-placed motorcycle headlights, brake lights and turn signals are crucial to be seen on the road by other motorists and pedestrians.