A Century of Motorcycling | The 2000s

The world's electronic infrastructure failed to fail on the eve of 2000, so the world had to adjust at the beginning of the new millennium. It was a tough decade—the attack on the World Trade Center, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and wide-spread economic recession. Hurricanes devastated the Gulf Coast, and scandals rocked Wall Street, sports, and politics. At the same time, technology brought us into the future with the exploration of Mars, space tourism, the rise of social media, iPhones, and streaming video. Cute cats soon ruled the digital world. Meanwhile, motorcycles continued to get bigger and faster, racing got more exciting, and we waited breathlessly for what would come next.


Honda’s brief foray into building V-twin superbikes begins with the RC-51.

Triumph builds the TT600 to take on the Japanese 600s.

Kawasaki’s new ZX-12R aims to compete with Suzuki’s Hayabusa, but comes up about 100cc short.


The Desmoquattro-powered S4, Ducati's first liquid-cooled Monster, debuts.

Valentino Rossi leaves all-powerful HRC to win immediately on Yamaha's M1.

Yamaha creates the first FZ1. We swoon.

Aprilia makes sport-touring sexy again with the RST1000 Futura.

Apple launches the iPod.


Harley-Davidson throws a curveball in the shape of the liquid-cooled V-Rod.

Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss lock horns in an epic WSBK championship duel.

Ducati’s iconic 916/996/998 makes way for the new 999.

KTM announces its original 75-degree LC8 V-twin.

Buell produces the XB9R Firebolt.

American Idol debuts.


Indian Motorcycles dies, again.

Aprilia’s Tuono R raises the bar for naked bikes.

Ducati debuts its misunderstood Multistrada.

Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates upon re-entry, killing all 7 astronauts aboard.

An international coalition invades Iraq.


Honda trades function for form with the radical, GL1800-powered Rune.

Valentino Rossi wins his first premier class Grand Prix championship.

KTM introduces the Duke 990.

Facebook is launched.

A tsunami in the Indian Ocean results in nearly 230,000 dead or missing.


Suzuki produces yet another new GSX-R1000. Many consider the K5 the best Gixxer ever.

MC’s first ride on a MotoCzysz (now an e-bike pioneer) C1 990, which was powered by gasoline.

“Norton” builds a “new” Commando.


Nicky Hayden becomes the first American to win the MotoGP World Championship since KR-JR in 2000.

Yamaha’s new YZF-R6 is svelte, flashy and fast. We like.

Kawasaki goes big with the ZX-14 and sets a new hyperbike standard.

Triumph again takes on Japan’s middleweights, this time with the all-new, MOTY-winning Daytona 675 triple.

Honda offers an airbag on the Gold Wing.


Ducati debuts the Hypermotard and says goodbye to the 999 with the new 1098.

Yamaha’s new R1 abandons the 20-valve Genesis head design that had been a trademark since 1984.

The world gets a first look at Aprilia’s new 999cc V-four. Success would follow.

Can-Am introduces the three-wheeled Spyder.

The iPhone arrives.


The sport-touring ranks get a shock with the new Kawasaki Concours 14, as far from the old Connie as you can get.

Victory’s Vision Tour takes touring bikes to new lengths. Literally.


BMW “just-for-mens” itself by introducing the S1000RR, changing the company’s image and the literbike landscape.

His first year in World Superbike, Ben Spies takes the crown.

Pop icon Michael Jackson dies.