The End Of Ridley Motorcycles

On December 29, 2009 Ridley Motorcycles filed a voluntary petition under chapter 11.

The web site states “With Ridley’s production at idle waiting for the economic conditions to improve…” and goes on to tell you how to buy a certified pre-owned Ridley or get parts for one you already have.

Ridley Motorcycles were (are?) something different. With no clutch and no shifting, the constantly variable transmission design of the Ridley was unique among powerful “full size” motorcycles. There are plenty of devices of similar design in the scooter and automobile world, but nothing looked or sounded as much like a real motorcycle as the full size Ridley released in 2009.

But there are no new models.

The door of the future may still be slightly ajar, but after a law suit from Harley Davidson over the use of the term “Auto-Glide” was lost in what was rumored to be a half million worth of legal defense expenditures and the economic downturn, Ridley appears to be one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

We think it’s too bad.

Ridley looked like a very cool bike, perfect for new riders and especially for the ladies who could care less about shifting gears and blipping the hell out of the throttle at every red light. Unfortunately Harley Davidson saw the little startup father and son enterprise as some sort of threat and sent the corporate sharks after them with every row of teeth sharpened over the Auto-Glide term.

Not that we’re blaming Harley Davidson for the failure of Ridley to compete, but HD certainly didn’t appear to welcome a brand to the marketplace that was delivering something that likely would never have offered any real competition to the Harley Davidson legacy (read 50’s technology) motor bikes.

After all, the average Harley Davidson customer wants something that looks and sounds big, not an easy to ride, shiftless motorcycle that almost anyone can ride comfortably.

So maybe Harley Davidson is just a wee bit responsible for contributing to the demise of Ridley.

And it’s just another wee bit to add to the pile of reasons we don’t really care for the corporate leadership at The Motor Company.

They’re free to file suits and protect their “intellectual property” all they want. But it would be nice if they did more competing by building performance into their machines than bleeding new innovators to death in court.

Hopefully Ridley will get back on its feet by the time we’re ready to put the little lady on her first cruiser and we can go to Oklahoma for a test ride.

Meanwhile if you have some extra bucks and want to invest in a vintage bike, you might take a shot at a used Ridley. If it turns out that they never produce another new machine their short run of products from the past will certainly appreciate in value exponentially over the next couple of decades.

avatar Grant

The ridley was a great idea. However the engine was too small, and even looks small with that massive timing side engine case taking up so much space. At the very leat it could have been a 1000cc. They didn’t have a classic model, all of them looked as though they were customs. Same frames, etc makes them all similar except for the chopped model. A bit like looking at a line of different model victory’s and not being able to tell the difference. It is bizaar that HD were allowed to state that the auto glide was an infringement of their intellectual property rites, given many cars have been described with similar terms. Just goes to show that after all is said and done the US is the litigation capital of the globe……unfortunately.

avatar doug szabo

I remember years ago seeing the ridley display in Sturgis when the ridley was first introduced. I was very impressed by the appearance and the sound of them and thought they looked (and sounded) like a miniaturized version of the Harley softail. not surprised Harley went after them for copyright enfringement though the ridley was a totally different machine (mechanically) than any Harley. ridley’s claim to fame was that cvt transmission and though some ridley models were comparable in price to a Harley dyna model, they were totally unique and really pretty cool. now Harley is in a panic mode as their appeal is dwindling due to a changing motorcycle customer base. interesting to see how Harley will survive this latest “challenge” to their market dominance. Harley has weathered many a storm over the years and came out on top, but the upcoming challenges may be too much to overcome especially with the tariffs. maybe ridley will rise from the ashes along with big dog , American ironhorse, big bear choppers, etc. but I think that train has left the station and is not likely to return.

avatar Gary Marsh

looking for a Ridley trike at a good price. Sold my two wheel Kawaski 800 last year miss riding but have a little trouble with balance . went down a couple of times . looking for something a little easer to ride I’m getting older so I think a Ridley might be a good fit. Live in New Jersey . Haven’t been able to find a Ridley trike around here if somebody knows of one let me know

avatar Tracy Kidney

I have a 2008 ridley trike I am 52 and a lady rider I luv luv luv it it drives awesome anywhere I get compliments everywhere I go it has 3,500 miles on it no problems very rare to find the trike

avatar Phil

I always liked the Ridleys however I have never riden one. My brother is considering buying a scooter, to ride with me to Bike Week. I am going to try and find him a 750 Ridley, if I can find one reasonably priced . Not 5000 to 10000 for a 2004 to 2006.

avatar tracy

i am selling my 2008 ridley trike i am 53 and a lady driver i luv it its awesome but i just don’t have time to ride its all done up black in color

avatar Robertsea

A real David and Goliath story except, Goliath killed a Nice Family Company. I live in Oklahoma and as a Motorcycle enthusiast, watched this family work for years to build an idea into a full tilt American Motorcycle Company. I didn’t know them personally but those who were paying attention, observed the Ridleys passionately work to overcome all that it takes to grow from a home garage to a real motorcycle manufacturing businesses. Although I never personally wanted a Auto Glide I did see the market and, wanted to see them succeed. Over time I have learned a little more than this article detailed. It costs a lot of money to defend yourself against a corp like Golaith. I believe when it was all said and done Ridley won the battle however, if the legal costs bury you in debit, the overall effect could still mean closure of an American Dream. Bottom line for the term “Auto Glide”? Ridley owns the name but, Goliath can still bleed you to death. In my Humble opinion.

avatar Glen Schott

Ridley’s customer service (Valerie) has been exceptional. Their tech support has also been outstanding. Parts are readily available. My wife LOVES her 2009 “AUTO-GLIDE”. Suck it, Harley-Davidson!

avatar k bradshaw

My first bike was a Ridley. Spent several THOUSAND dollars fixing it at dealerships to NO avail!!!! Traded it in for a Harley and love it. Very few issues and I travel wherever I want without worry. 4K plus trips. Get a reliable bike that can be fixed…

avatar Jeanette

I’m waiting for the day when Ridley starts making bikes again. I am 52 year old woman and tired of shifting during rush hour traffic going to and from work. I feel confident that they will start producing again
because the needs is out there. Bikers are getting older and want something much easier to ride. I’ve been looking at the Can-Am Spyders ST Limited 2013 it’s a beautiful bike and expensive, but I having a feeling that Ridley will come back again!

avatar Tim Frazier

Hi Jeanette,

I’m afraid Ridley’s window is closing rapidly with the rise of electric motorcycles. Folks who don’t want to deal with clutches and shifting will find it a no brainier to go with an electric cruiser that makes almost no noise, zero exhaust, and has no clutch or gears. Once they have an electric that can go as far on a charge as two tanks of fuel in a traditional combustion engine bike people will abandon anything on two wheels that burns gasoline.

Especially when the price of the electric gets down to the same or less than an equivalently typed traditional bike.

Mark my words, the new Harley Davidson electric “LiveWire” prototype is going to be a game changer in the muscle cruiser world.

avatar Kathryn Monroe

I’m not so sure about the electric bikes taking off. Maybe with the sport bike (crotch rockets) crowd, but I believe the old long distance travel crowd will always want readily available gas as opposed to having to stop for hours to charge their bike. I have a 2006 Auto glide & I Love it!!!! It is my salvation for being able to ride my own bike again!!! I severely damaged my left arm in a work related accident & have no grip or strength in my left hand. The automatic Ridley has given me back the freedom to ride my own again. Needles to say the lower the frame sits is great for my 5 foot frame. Again, I say Ridley Rules!!!!
Kathryn Monroe

avatar tracy

i have the bike for you my 2008 ridley trike its awesome with4000 miles on it i just don’t have time to ride don’t miss out these bikes are very rare mine is great always complimented every time i used it my loss is your gain

avatar Lawver643

I have ridden for many, many years. Frankly I was getting sick of shifting gears so I bought a Ridley and with my RA in the wrists, the Ridley was a Godsend. It had plenty of power for highway and handled great in city traffic. I found it to be highly reliable and well built. I do believe that despite the outcome for Ridley, they were on the right track and I really believe that all motorcycle companies need to open up and listen to those needing or wanting a motorcycle with automatic tranny for whatever reason. With gas prices constantly going up does it not make sense that much more in the way of automatic motorcycles become available? While I’m on my tangent, I also want to say to all those who really think that a motorcycle with an automatic transmission is not a motorcycle, get off your high horse. I wonder how many of these same jerks drive a truck or a car with automatic transmissions?

avatar Kathy Starke

i love ridley wish they sold them im having a problem with mine it keeps stalling so im hoping someone can direct me to correct the issue

avatar Bandit

I used to have a 1974 Harley when I was 18 years old. I spent a lot of good money on that thing… Now I’m 51 and found the Ridley! WOW! What a bike! Everybody I talk to tells me, “yeah I got a Harley and its eating me out of my house! Its breaking me up!everytime I pull into a Harley shop its $300. here $500. there…..on and on….Harley is like an old boat…drain your bank account…I have old Harley rider told me the other day…when I go on somewhat long trips, I take my Honda goldwing..I ask him why…he Harley shakes and kills me before I get to where I’m going…..sir, I don’t blame you….”Ridley?” hey..GREAT bike! I support RIDLEY MOTORCYCLES!!!!!!!!

avatar Dan Ceglio

Being a former biker ,now in rest home with severe RA in my hands , Ridley was the hope I was looking for to ride again. I think there are many handycapped bikers that saw Ridley motorcycles as a godsend to ride again.Hope you guys can beat this ,seems like Ridley was the only motorcycle company that thought aboat handicapped bikers,Senserly Hawk the biker

avatar Mark S

My sister has a Ridley Auto-glide. Quite possibly one of the worst bikes ever made. Their claim to fame was the CVT. Unfortunately, the CVT they uses is a snowmobile transmission, which means it is not suitable for highway mileage. That means it needs to be rebuilt every 5000 miles. I just finished rebuilding hers. They also recommend replacing certain parts every 2000 miles! On top of that, her jackshaft split in two while riding it, and that was a huge repair.

The engine is slow, you can’t keep up with faster highway traffic. No wonder. It’s the same engine Briggs and Stratton sell to riding lawn mower manufacturers. I kid you not. Google it.

And for this pile of rubbish, Ridley wanted some outrageous price just because you don’t have to shift gears. Naturally, anyone who knew about bikes, avoided these like the plague. So it’s no surprise they went out of business. The fact is, they couldn’t sell enough to stay in business.

What’s more, their customer service is almost non-existent. I contacted them by email to ask them a question about installation of a part I was ordering from them. They ignored it. We called them up, and they told us to buy the workshop manual. Which they sell for $200!

There is a reason they went out of business. They sold a sub-standard product at a hugely inflated price, then failed to support it when it failed. Even their youtube videos have the comments disabled. If they didn’t, they’d never hear the end of it. I don’t know if Harley helped put them out of business. But if they did, they did us a favor.

avatar Don

Really sorry u had such a problem. My wife’s is four years old and she still loves it. The only problem it has had was caused by the stereo guy doing a quick charge after he ran the battery dead. Wife rode it 400 miles non-stop on a Friday and the return 400 miles non-stop on Sunday. Had no trouble maintaining 70mph with plenty of motor to spare. And it sure as hell isn’t a Briggs. They charge 99 for the manual and I have had NO problem dealing with Jay getting anything I might need, including getting a fender repainted after I let it slide forward(on my trailer) into the Gator.

avatar Bandit

You don’t know what you’re talking about. Harley is way over priced!! Do your homework on Harley, see what you find…you might be surprised..dig deep & you’ll find the ripoffs and high cost and crooked mess of Mr. Davidson………ask a British man what he thinks of HD……you might find a little Hitler info thats connected with HD…HD is one big money sucking Bike……

avatar Michelle Zglinicki

I’ve had my Ridley for a few years. I was kind of surprised by your comments. We bought mine and it was not running, it was sitting for years (the wifes bike but the husband got it in the divorce kind of thing). Anyway, customer service was incredible. They spent hours with my husband helping him.
Sorry, you have had such trouble with them. I have a problem with getting a standard bike in first gear and love my Ridley! I still hold hope that new models will someday come.

avatar Northwest Pacific Val

In 2011, went searching for an automatic motorcycle on the internet because my husband got his Harley and was constantly telling me about how great going for a ride was. I’m managed to find their dealership in Missouri and had my motorcycle delivered out here to the Pacific Northwest. It was a great experience and the best purchase I’ve made out of any vehicles I’ve owned. I’ve had no issues with my bike and parts are still readily available if ever need be on the Ridley website. As for my Ridley motorcycle it is a show stopper and it can keep up quite well with my hubby’s Dyna on the freeway. And whereever we go you’d be surprised at how many men and women are really interested in these bikes. I hope Ridley makes a come back!! Good American product!!!

avatar Michelle

I bought a Ridley late in the season last year after riding a small 250 automatic motorcycle. I am 1st gear challenged, but having a husband ride a Harley (and all of our friends) I wasn’t happy with my small Jap 250. When we heard about the Ridley Motorcycle, we spent all summer finding one in our budget. I now have a 2004 that was sitting and not running. We spent a few weeks and with the help of some amazing technicians that helped us over the phone (nearest garage was a few hours away) we got it up and running. I LOVE MY RIDLEY! I even have a pipe dream of someday owning a dealership in the Lancaster, NY area should (and hopefully when) the company starts producing again. I only had it out a few times, since it was October when we got it running, but let me say – my HD buddies were pretty impressed with the sound and performance and their wives and girlfriends were jealous. There is a market for these bikes! I have nothing against Harley, but this isnt the first time that I have heard of their BS lawsuits. Back int he late 90’s they sued a local business because of their use of the name “Hog Farm”. I find it interesting that they can go to war over trivial nomenclature but yet let the foreign bike company’s copy what was once their signature V-twin engine.
I personally will not buy a Harley because of the company even if I wasn’t first gear challenged. Harley’s are beautiful bikes don’t get me wrong, but with more and more US bikes being produced, I’ll take my chances. If Ridley does not produce again and I can get out of my first gear challenged status, my next bike will most likely be an Indian. I know I won’t put HD out of business, but its my personal decision not to support corporations like this.

avatar GSLIII

All patents expire. Depending on the patent, protection can last anywhere from 7 to 20 years. The first V-Twin was available in 1909. The era of the big V-Twin (F-type) began in 1914. The more traditional big V, beginning with the pan & shovel were available in 1944 & 1966 respectively. At any rate, the point I’m making is that it’s possible to litigate over currently used IP, but with a patented motor design that dates back 100 years at its core, well, there’s really no protection there & that’s a good thing. That means that companies find ways to improve & lower the cost of production.

avatar Bloviating Zeppelin

Tim, I have honestly never heard of Ridley. It’s an interesting concept: a big clunker that has a CVT. But, c’mon, some actual adult at Ridley should have suspected that, with a look like that, the phrase AUTO-GLIDE would light up the radar screens at the Motor Company.


avatar Greybeard

I started watching Ridley years ago when they were still using Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engines, considering one as a possible substitute for the Cushman and Vespa motor scooters I was looking at on eBay.
It looked like a neat bike, but would only have been worth the $$$$ they were asking for them if the “Wow, what is that” value was important to you. (It wasn’t that important to me, so I never pulled the trigger.)
Like you, I was disappointed to see their bankruptcy filing. But reading many forums about Ridley, it looks like they also had a customer service/satisfaction problem. They apparently failed due to “a thousand cuts”.
Too bad. Some of their early bikes were really neat.

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