In the world of motorcycles, there are a lot of brand names that are collections of, well, letters. But these letters mean something and often represent the company’s founder or the place where it was first established.
Below, we have listed some of the motorcycle manufacturers with names that are just acronyms or a portmanteau of several names.
Easily, BMW Motorrad is one of the most popular motorcycle brands here in the country, especially in the premium market, but only a handful know what “BMW” means.
BMW actually stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke (translation: Bavarian Motor Works). The company was first established as Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (translation: Bavarian Aircraftwork AG) in 1916 and was then changed to BMW in 1922.
BMW used to build airplanes until Germany lost in World War I. By 1923, BMW built its first motorcycle, the R 32.
Closer to home, the Taiwanese brand, KYMCO, is popular in the scooter segment, not only here in the country, but also in Europe and other parts of Asia. But did you know what KYMCO means?
Kwang Yang Motor Co. – KYMCO, was established in 1963 after Honda’s Taiwan subsidiary split from the bigger Japanese manufacturer. By 1970, KYMCO is already making its own scooters and by the early 2000s became the world’s 5th largest scooter manufacturer.
By the late 2000s, KYMCO was chosen by BMW as the supplier of engines for some of their models, particularly their maxi-scooters.
TVS is easily one of the biggest motorcycle manufacturers not only in India but also in the world, with an annual capacity of over 4-million units.
TVS was derived from the name of the company’s founder, Thirukkurungudi Vengaram Sundram Iyengar. T.V. Sundram Iyengar, as he is known in India, is an Indian industrialist who founded the company in 1911 as a transportation provider in their province.
In the early 2010s, TVS and BMW Motorrad had inked a strategic partnership for the development of the latter’s sub-400cc motorcycles. In 2016, BMW Motorrad introduced the G 310 R naked bike, and in 2018, the G 310 GS - both made by TVS.
In April of last year, TVS acquired Norton Motorcycles – a British brand founded in 1898 – for a reported amount of GBP 16-million or roughly PHP 1-billion.
KTM is also one of the most popular motorcycle brands here in the country, largely thanks to their expressway-legal Duke 390 model.
Hans Trunkenpolz and Ernst Kronreif
In 1934, the company was founded in Mattighofen, Austria by engineer Hans Trunkenpolz. At the time, his shop, which was a small car repair shop, was named Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen (translation: Motor Vehicle Trunkenpolz Mattighofen), but the name was unregistered.
By 1951, KTM has introduced its first motorcycle prototype, the R100 and production began in 1953. This caught the eye of businessman, Ernst Kronreif, and became a major shareholder in the company. The company was then renamed and registered as Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen.
CFMOTO is easily one of China’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers. Since the 2010s, the company has been the strategic partner for both KTM and Kawasaki, supplying some of their model’s engines and key components.
The “CF” in CFMOTO actually came from Chunfeng of the Chunfeng Holding Group – the parent company of CFMOTO. Chunfeng means “gentle breeze”.
BSA is a motorcycle brand that traces its roots back as far as 1861 as the Birmingham Small Arms Company, which at the time, manufactures small arms and ammunition for the British Empire.
By 1880, BSA ventured into manufacturing bicycles and by 1910, produced its first motorcycle. In 1919, due to the high demand for motorcycles at the time, BSA has spun off its motorcycle division to create the BSA Motorcycles. Unfortunately, due to poor management and the arrival of better and more reliable Japanese motorcycles, BSA Motorcycles became defunct by 1978.
In October of 2016, India’s Mahindra Group purchased the rights for the BSA marque for a reported GBP 3-million. The brand is included under Mahindra’s Classic Legends motorcycle brands, which include other vintage motorcycle brands JAWA and Yezdi.
BIMOTA is one of Italy’s pride in the motorcycle industry. Thanks to its often complicated and unique motorcycle designs, BIMOTA has had a steady number of followers throughout its 48 years of existence.
BIMOTA is a portmanteau of the names of its founders - Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini. Kawasaki Heavy Industries currently owns a 49% stake in the company and is the engine supplier of modern BIMOTA motorcycles.
Though these are just a few motorcycle brands, we hope that after reading this, you can proudly be the bangka (conversation starter) in your next club tambay and without stuttering and with the correct Austrian accent, say KTM’s of TVS' true meaning to your clubmates, hopefully, to their amazement.