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Retro + Vintage Motorcycles

Retro + Vintage Motorcycle reviews and road tests include old (vintage) motorcycles, such as those featured in Clement Salvadori’s Retrospective column each month, as well as motorcycles styled to look like those that rolled off the assembly line decades ago (retro). Cruisers can be considered retro due to their styling, but they’re a more natural fit in the Cruiser + Touring Motorcycles category. Whereas the irrational exuberance of the 2000s brought us overpriced, blinged–out choppers and painful–to–watch TV shows about customizers with short tempers, motorcycle guides suggest that back–to–basics vintage motorcycles have enjoyed a revival since the Great Recession. Harley–Davidson has its Dark Custom line, Victory offers blacked–out 8–Ball versions of several models and DIY builders are snapping up low–cost bikes on Craigslist and eBay for café racer and bobber projects.

Motorcycle Cannonball Run 2012

An ancient line-up at the Motorcycle Cannonball Run 2012.

Andy Saunders
October 10, 2012

How about a 4,000-mile ride on the saddle of a 100-year-old motorcycle? In 16 days? With one rest day, when you can rebuild the bike? Sound like fun? Then you’d love the Motorcycle Cannonball Coast-to-Coast Endurance Run, which began at Motorcyclepedia in Newburgh, New York, and finished at Dudley... Read more »

Ridden & Rated: Triumph T100 Steve McQueen Edition

Based on the T100 Bonneville, the Triumph Steve McQueen SE is enjoyable to ride and looks great.

Bill Stermer
October 4, 2012

We all recall Steve McQueen’s character Virgil Hilts jumping a motorcycle over a fence in the iconic 1963 WWII movie The Great Escape. And it doesn’t matter that, for insurance reasons, the jump was actually performed by McQueen’s friend and fellow racer Bud Ekins. McQueen was the real deal. He... Read more »

Retrospective: Moto Guzzi Eldorado 850: 1972-1974

1973 Moto Guzzi Eldorado 850.

Clement Salvadori
October 4, 2012

Change can be good, even when it’s incremental. When Moto Guzzi upped the ante with the 850 Eldorado, replacing the 750 Ambassador, it was all good. The new model had a slightly larger engine, another gear in the transmission, neither anything to complain about. This was a big, comfortable motorcycle... Read more »

Retrospective: Suzuki GS1000SZ Katana: 1982

1982 Suzuki GS1000SZ Katana.

Clement Salvadori
September 4, 2012

In the 1950s and ’60s motorcycle styling was of little concern to either the OEMs or consumers. Two wheels with an engine in between was the standard of the day, with minor differences in the shape of the gas tank. Then in 1973, Triumph USA and designer Craig Vetter came up with the Hurricane, and... Read more »

Retrospective: Norton 850 Commando Mark III: 1975 – 1977

1975 Norton 850 Commando Mark III.

Clement Salvadori
August 8, 2012

This Mark III was the last of the genuine Nortons. In October of 1977 the final Norton rolled off the line, with the side panels reading “850 Commando Electric Start.” The engine was an air-cooled parallel twin, inclined forward a few degrees, with two overhead valves per cylinder. A pair of Amal... Read more »

2012 Triumph Speedmaster vs. Triumph Thruxton

Triumph’s Speedmaster cruiser and Thruxton café racer are two distinctly different retro motorcycles based upon the same engine.

Mark Tuttle
August 8, 2012

Retro is in; retro is cool. If a motorcycle looks old and works like a modern one, you can have the best of both worlds. A nostalgic appearance is pleasing to young and old, and the rider enjoys classic style, sound and feel, with brakes that stop and no oil puddles on the ground. Among the U.S. manufacturers,... Read more »

Retrospective: Kawasaki KZ750-E: 1980 – 1982

1981 Kawasaki KZ750-E.

Clement Salvadori
July 6, 2012

(This Retrospective article was featured in the July 2012 issue of Rider Magazine) Story and photography by Clement Salvadori Year/Model: 1981 Kawasaki KZ750-E Owner: Franco Teti, Los Osos, California Class distinctions by engine size are important, and are often delineated by the numbers on a motorcycle’s... Read more »

Retrospective: Honda XL350 Dual-Sport: 1974 – 1978

1976 Honda SL350 K2.

Clement Salvadori
June 5, 2012

(This Retrospective article was printed in the June 2012 issue of Rider Magazine.) This four-stroke woodser was an immediate hit with the casual rider, and could even seduce two-stroke lovers away from their mounts. As an added bonus the XL350 K1 was quite adequate on the pavement. For less than one-thousand... Read more »

Motorcycle Rallies and Clubs: Del Mar Concours 2011

Paddock area at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Joe Michaud
May 2, 2012

The affluent city of Del Mar in San Diego County has had a motorcycle history for decades. In the past, the one-mile dirt oval at the Del Mar Fairgrounds was a favorite for AMA Grand National events and, in recent years, has enjoyed a brief period of reinstatement for those events. Encroaching development,... Read more »

Indian Sport Scout 750cc: 1934-1942

Year/Model: 1942 Indian Sport Scout. Owner: David Anderson, Chicago, Illinois.

Clement Salvadori
May 2, 2012

Undoubtedly the most famous Indian Scout is the motorcycle belonging to New Zealander Burt Munro, of the movie, The World’s Fastest Indian. He bought it in 1920, one of the original Scouts – which were said to have a top speed of around 55 mph – and fiddled with it for the next 40-plus years, making... Read more »

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Retro + Vintage Motorcycles, Who Uses Them?

According to reviews Retro + Vintage Motorcycles appeal to older riders who feel nostalgic for the motorbikes they longed for when they were young, as well as to younger riders who appreciate styling and technology from years past. Rare and exceptional vintage motorcycles have become quite popular among collectors, with auctions fetching record prices year after year. With recent economic times requiring folks to do more with less, many motorcyclists have pulled dusty old bikes out of their garage and restored them to working order. Others who want the look of a vintage motorcycle but not the spongy brakes, dodgy tires and clapped–out suspension buy modern–built, retro–styled motorcycles.


Retro + Vintage Motorcycle Standouts

The July 2010 issue of Rider is one of the most popular issues ever published. Its cover carried the headline “Retro Rides” (July 2010) and featured guides, reviews and road tests of the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic, Harley–Davidson Sportster Forty–Eight, Royal Enfield Bullet C5 and Triumph Scrambler–all modern motorcycles that can trace their roots back decades. Popular retro models available today also include the Honda CB1100, Moto Guzzi V7 (Racer, Special and Stone), Suzuki TU250X, Triumph Bonneville and Triumph Thruxton, as well as scooters made by Vespa and Kymco.

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