Friday 31 December 2010

Is yellow the new black?

There’s an old adage that says you can never go wrong with a black motorcycle. I suppose it may be because it’s a “tough” colour, intended to strike fear in the hearts of “citizens” everywhere. But it’s more likely because colour is such a personal choice and black motorcycles were the two-wheeled equivalent of beige walls in new homes and apartments – in other words, easier to sell.
I expect that was once true, but is it still?
As I look back over the various rides I’ve had over the years I have to say that black was the dominant colour. I did, and do, own bikes of other colours but when the tank got damaged on my originally gold-coloured CB350, I painted the bike black. My RD350LC was black, as was every one of the several Nortons I owned. The Z-1 was due for a paint job (which would have been black) when I sold it, and my current ride, the Dyna, is also black.  So you could say I’m pretty comfortable with the colour. (I know, purists will insist black isn’t really a colour, but if it’s good enough for H-D to decorate their bikes with I’m happy to call it a colour. But I digress.)
So why is it then that I’ve now become so attracted to yellow motorcycles?
The first yellow bike that really caught my eye was this one, at a dealership in Kitchener. Not pure yellow, it had a green metalflake undercoat and an amazing depth to the paint. The reflected sunlight dazzled as it literally jumped off this yellow Dyna.  In fact it was this bike that first got me thinking about owning a yellow machine.
Then the 2011 H-D models came out, and right there on their web site Harley-Davidson had this gorgeous Fat Boy on display. No wallflower, the Chrome Yellow colour brings the bike to life, demanding passers-by to “look at me!”.
2011 Fat Boy
And then this Norton Commando shows up in my in-box, combining what is arguably my most desirable motorcycle with a colour that is quickly becoming a favourite of mine.
Norton Commando
Is it all a sign? Is someone trying to tell me something? Could I really live with yellow?


  1. I sure can. My motto: If it is yellow, it must be good, eh!?!
    Just one thing... the bright colour still doesn't guarantee to increase your visibility towards cagers.
    SonjaM with a yellow Beemer

  2. Sonja - I thought you might have a comment. And you're right, colour matters not when they don't see you at all.

  3. The yellow looks great, but it is a seasonal color, like many design articles it may not survive the test of time. Look at your ties, your shirts, your shoes, they all look old after some seasons, modern hype of yesterday.
    A solid traditional black will survive as the Ferrari red (although the true original color of Ferrari was yellow).
    But lets consider a ecomical alternative: why not repaint a bike every 3 years, in the flavour of the month...

  4. Axel - I guess that's what's holding me back, the idea that 6 months or a year from now I'll be sick of it. But then again, it's only paint, right?

  5. Happy New Year Canajun...all the best in 2011 to you and your family...
    I have always thought a Bike should be black in color although I owned a blue Kawasaki 900 and several British bikes that had a two color gas tank a Honda CBM400 that was blacb/dark blue...(My favorite colors)until one day, at Laguna Beach, I saw a whole bunch of Harley Davidsons that were anything but black, the colors varied from yellow, aqua blue, different variants of red and so on and then I said to these look real beautiful and just left it at that...but you are right, there are a lot of different color combinations that can be explored out there...Color was never the first criteria by which I chose or bought a Bike.

  6. Personally, I've never been a fan of yellow bikes or cars, but to each his own. I do kind of like orange, however. In the end, though, my first choice will always be black, whether it's a car or bike (I own a black Nissan and black Harley).

  7. Dear Canajun:

    Happy New Year!

    I used to think there was something odd about yellow motorcycles. My friennd Chris Wolfe has a yellow Honda Interceptor, which I named "Hepititis," because that sounded better than "Piss." Yet following the wreck of my beloved "Blueballs," I came across a really hot looking K75 (if you can believe such a thing existed) even though it was yellow. I complained about the color to my friend Ricky Matz, who responded, "Are you nuts? Yellow bikes are hot. Get it."

    When I called the guy sellig the bike, it had been sold after being on the market three days. Since then, I have come across a number of black and yellow Beemers (known as "Taxis" or "bumble bees") which I have really coveted. Both the Harley and the Norton are great looking bikes.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  8. Baron - The nice thing about colour is it's easy to change if/when you get tired of it. But I have to say I am getting tired of black.

  9. Ken - The right orange can be really nice, but it's a tough one to get right. And I've done the black car thing too - always seemed to be washing it. Now have a red one and a silver one that don't look filthy 15 minutes after putting the sponges away.

  10. Jack - Yellow bikes do seem to be hot these days. Can't swing a cat without hitting one, or having it show up in your inbox. Just not sure if I could live with one for very long.

  11. Personal opinion is that yellow bikes are more visible and therefor safer. They are also great looking.

  12. Buddha - I agree they're great looking, but I wonder about the visibility thing. I guess it can't hurt but I'm not so sure that many drivers would see much of the yellow when a bike is coming towards them. I mean they still pull out in front of trains for pete's sake.

  13. Canajun,

    You are right. From the front and rear color doesn't matter much, especially on a cruiser. I am seriously considering some of the reflective tape that appears black (same as my bike) in regular light but reflects headlights and such like crazy. A buddy has one on his helmet and I thought it required batteries it was so bright. Not sure how long they last though.

    From side angles yellow tends to pop out so to speak; at least to me. A buddy had a yellow Honda Interceptor that I could spot in just about any crowded parking lot almost instantaneously.

    Hang in there


  14. Canajun:

    I just love Yellow anything. My bike is black by Accident. To me, yellow is a magnet. Show me yellow anytime and I will always gravitate towards it.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  15. Buddha - You're right, it would be easy to find in a parking lot. Unlike my silver Escape - one of millions.

  16. Bob - What? Not pink? But you're right, it is an eye-catching colour.

  17. An interesting article and one that got me to thinking; in all the years and of all of the motorcycles I have owned not one was black! I have never owned a black motorbike, maybe I must get one and see what it's like? I haven't had a yellow one yet though, that Harley does look good even from the standpoint of a non-fan.

  18. I could live with yellow, why not? It's bold, it's says 'piss off' to anyone who's going to give you a hard time for it. Actually, I had a yellow bike, it was school bus yellow, so nothing terribly interesting, it went green eventually, though.

    I met a Goldwinger on a big yellow bike, and he loved it, said he wouldn't trade it for anything. 'They always see you coming' he said. Can't say anything about that, but it spruces up the motorcycle scene - it's kind of inviting to conversation, too.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  19. Andrew - If I keep posting pictures of great looking Harleys, I might make a fan out of you yet. :)

    Brady - Not sure about the visibility issue on a Dyna, but with a full dresser Gold Wing it would be much the same as painting the side of a Winnebago, so I guess you would see it coming.


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