Motorcycle Tanks featured

OK, I’ll admit it: I may be just a tiny bit obsessed with motorcycle tanks.

Of course, there are already plenty of cool things to look at on a bike.
You want to check out the motor, the exhaust system, the shocks, the bars…

There’s a lot going on.

And because I’ve been riding on the back of bikes for 25 years, I always take a second look at a motorcycle’s passenger seat, too.

There’s wonderful distraction everywhere.
But I have to say for me, motorcycle tanks are the Main Event.

They’re always the focal point of a bike.
They really reflect a bike’s identity, and unique style.

Maybe I should go see a therapist about my obsession with motorcycle tanks.
Come to think about it, talking about them for hours in group therapy would be a lot of fun.

But in the meantime, here’s a peek at some of my favorite motorcycle tanks.

Hope you like them as much as I do.
And if you do, I might see you in my next motorcycle therapy session…

20 of My Favorite Motorcycle Tanks

Why don’t we kick off with the show stopper?
Why pussyfoot around?


It just doesn’t get any cooler than a Vincent motorbike tank, does it?
The distinctive curling gold ribbon on the tank is a clear statement about it’s prestige.

Vincent motorbike tank

And note the lettering on the logo.
It says: THE Vincent.

Yep, it’s not just another bike.

It’s The Vincent.

Who could even argue?


This Matchless tank is one of my all time favorites, I have to say.

It takes the perfection of a shiny chrome tank one step further, by stamping it with a distinctive personality.

Matchless motorbike tank

The red and gold background for the “M” is backed up by a red streak down the center of the tank behind the petrol cap.

And the “M” is silver to match the tank – but it has wings!
It’s a seductive promise that you truly can fly on this bike.

Those heavy industrial bolts that hold the “M” to the tank are also part of the charm.

What’s not to love?


Men always laugh at me when I use girly words to describe bikes.

But just look at this BSA motorcycle tank – it’s simply so pretty!
What else could you call it?

BSA motorbike tank

There are little golden wings right by the “B”, and that luscious red is delicious.
This is a candy apple on wheels.


How about this lovely old Norton?

What IS it about those chrome tanks?

Yes, I like shiny things more than your average magpie, but chrome tanks are in another league.

Norton motorbike tank

And speaking of classic and shiny…


Just look at the combination of gold, silver and black here on this AJS.

Those smooth circular lines in the tank badge, and the sweet branded knee pads are simple and beautiful.

AJS motorbike tank


This Velocette has a different take on black and gold styling.
Swooping gold flourishes remind you of a bird’s wing in flight.

And that “V” looks like it was hand drawn with a calligraphy pen and gold ink, doesn’t it?

Velocette motorbike tank

Royal Enfield

Here’s the first of a couple of gorgeous little Royal Enfield tanks I’ve seen lately.
I love the way they use the same lovely lettering, but in completely different ways.
Both approaches use tank graphics in an old school style to suggest movement.

First Royal Enfield motorbike tank

Second Royal Enfield motorbike tank


As you may know, we’re a dyed-in-the-wool Triumph family.
(Aside from a certain head-turning red Indian Scout who’s sitting in the garage, looking very impatient.)

So I always notice Triumphs from various years.
I love checking out the evolving styling approaches of different eras.
From the classic Garden Gate badge, to the slicker modern version of the Triumph logo, they’re all recognisable as members of the extended family.

First Triumph motorbike tank

Second of the Triumph motorcycle tanks

Second of the Triumph motorcycle tanks


Ah, the Thor.

We “Thor” (hehe) this amazing contraption at the motorcycle museum down at the bottom of New Zealand.
(I talk about the crazy machines they have on display here, including the FIVE Brough Superiors they have lined up in a mouth-watering row.)

But the Thor is such an unusual blue, isn’t it?
And just look at that lightning bolt on the logo!

Honestly, the whole package is even hotter than the hunk who plays Thor in the movies!

Thor motorcycle tanks


No-one does red quite like MotoGuzzi, do they?

(Well, except for Ducatis, I guess…, but that’s a different vibe again…)

It’s that wonderful Italian styling that’s just so confident, so sure of itself.
And we’ve all had moments where we feel like we might lift off into the sky just like the golden bird on this motorcycle tank!

Guzzi motorbike tanks


This is a beautiful old bike with its own sidecar.
It’s down in that motorcycle museum I’ve already mentioned.

Is that actually TARTAN around the edge of the logo design on the tank?
If so, does it have a Scottish accent when you start it up?

I’d love to hear it.

Douglas motorcycle tanks


It’s hard to capture the quirky orange-red of the tank detail here in a photo.
And have you ever seen so much going on in a tiny little section of the tank?

It could be a moment from a silent movie.

And while we’re talking about Excelsior, here’s another one of their motorcycle tanks.
These guys really didn’t believe that “less is more” when it came to tank artwork, did they?

Again, we have the wing theme going on, but this pair is sturdy, rather than dreamy.


Excelsior made different motorcycle tanks


This tank captures the pioneering, early Harley era.
Everything about this tank shouts “We’re here!” – from the strong red lettering that’s just starting to include some movement in the letters, to the unusual bright yellow of the tank.

This is a history lesson, right here.

Harley motorbike tanks


This tiny, long tank with all its cords and wires looks it’s part of the bike frame, rather than a separate motorcycle tank.

I love the way it points upwards towards the sky, like it just might fly you to the moon…

(Well maybe not all the way to the moon on 1/2 liter of petrol, but still…)

Nimbus motorbike tank is unusual


We saw these beautiful vintage Indians recently when we were on the Burt Munro motorcycle rally.

The first one is in that motorcycle museum which makes grown men (and women) cry.

Vintage Indian motorcycle tanks

And this even older one is parked up in a local hardware store, where you can get close to it and marvel at the original detail.

Surely that logo and graphic have to be hand painted?

Just incredible.

Hand painted motorcycle tanks are beautiful

Well, this tour of my favorite motorcycle tanks hasn’t done much to cure my obsession.

In fact, it just makes me want to go out and find more beautiful machines to marvel at!


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Written by Liz Hardy