The Motorcycle: Iconic designs


Co-curators Charles Falco and Ulton Guilfoyle welcome you to the exhibition ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire‘ — their videos featured here explore the absolute highlights from the motorcycles on display. We look forward to seeing you back here soon to view more, such as the 1958 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL, 1969 Velocette Sportsman, 1969 BSA Rocket 3, 1972 Honda CB750, and the 1994 Britten V1000 as we release our series of Virtual Tour videos over the course of ‘The Motorcycle’ exhibition season. 

Get tickets to ‘The Motorcycle’ exhibition

Showcasing 100 spectacular motorcycles drawn from Australian and international collections, ‘The Motorcycle’ spans the history of this dynamic and versatile vehicle, from its humble origins as an engine bolted to a bicycle to the cutting-edge electric prototypes of the twenty-first century. The motorcycles on display trace this history of innovation, and have been carefully selected for the technical achievements and aesthetic merits they represent.

The world’s first steam-powered motorcycle was assembled in the late 1860s, more than a decade before the first automobile was designed, and by the early twentieth century all the elements of the modern, internal combustion engine–powered motorcycle had developed. Over the next 120 years, changes in design reflected developments in technology, engineering and manufacturing, as well as the motorcycle’s evolving functions as an inexpensive mode of transportation, racing and on- or off-road vehicle and as an expression of individual creativity. These innovations changed the face of transportation, and the motorcycle has not only become an enduring design icon, but also established its place in society through popular culture, literature and film.

This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see geographically and historically diverse motorcycles together in one place. From the hubs of motorcycle manufacturing in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan to less likely sources of unique designs in New Zealand and Australia, ‘The Motorcycle’ showcases a machine at the pinnacle of design excellence and evokes a world of innovation, excitement and desire.

The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire‘ is only in Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 26 April 2021.

1 Perreaux Steam Velocipede 1871

2 Spencer 1906 

DELVE DEEPER INTO THE SPENCER: Brisbane Born — The Spencer Motorcycle Story

3 Crocker 1938

4 Ariel Model F 1929

5 Indian Scout Special 1920 (engine)

DELVE DEEPER INTO THE INDIAN SCOUT SPECIAL: Bert Munro’s Indian Scout Special Still The Worlds Fastest

6 Socovel Electric 1942


7 Aermacchi Chimera 1957

8 Imme R100 1949

9 BSA Gold Star Catalina 1963



Watch as we install ‘The Motorcycle’ exhibition

Buy: ‘The Motorcycle’ publication

With over 320 pages and 400 colour illustrations, The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire showcases 100 superb examples of motorcycle design from the late 19th century to the present day and beyond to the technological innovations of the future. Beautifully illustrated with newly commissioned photography and archival ephemera, this visually arresting survey of the motorcycle’s influence in realms as diverse as film, fashion, sport, advertising, and technology will prove compulsive reading to design lovers and motorcycle fans alike. Available at the QAGOMA Store and online

Read more about Motorcycles / Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to go behind-the-scenes

Featured image: 1994 Britten V1000

Show off your ride with #MotorcycleGOMA #QAGOMA