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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.

Retrospective: Indian Chief Police Special: 1940-1945

1945 Indian Chief Police Special; Owner: Steve Smith, Atascadero, California.

Clement Salvadori
January 29, 2015

1945 Indian Chief Police Special; Owner: Steve Smith, Atascadero, California. Wouldn’t the new Indian Motorcycle people just love it if the San Francisco Police Department ordered up some Indian police bikes? Just like it did a mere 70 years ago. Back in 1945, this would have been the pride of the... Read more »

World Records Achieved at Bonhams’ Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction

1950 Vincent Series C “White” Shadow, sold for a record $224,250 at the Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction.

Rider Magazine Staff
January 15, 2015

This 1950 Vincent Series C “White” Shadow sold for a record $224,250 at Bonhams’ Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction. Classic motorcycles from Britain filled the ranks of the top grossing machines at Bonhams’ world-famous motorcycle auction in Las Vegas on January 8, 2015. The Vincent brand in particular... Read more »

Retrospective: Honda NX650: 1988-1989

Year/Model: 1988 Honda NX650; Owner: Kevan Aurand, Paso Robles, California.

Clement Salvadori
December 30, 2014

Year/Model: 1988 Honda NX650; Owner: Kevan Aurand, Paso Robles, California. Here was a slightly new approach to the widening dual-purpose market, an electric-start 650 single with a bikini fairing, a couple of plastic body panels on the tank, a couple more to cover up most of the two mufflers, and a... Read more »

2015 Ducati Scrambler – First Ride Review

2015 Ducati Scrambler Icon

Greg Drevenstedt
December 12, 2014

Ducati calls its new Scrambler a “post heritage” design – what its original Scramblers from ’60s and ’70s might have become had production continued to today. Photography by Milagro Do you remember your earliest days of riding? The sense of unbridled freedom and all-consuming... Read more »

Retrospective: MZ Saxon 500 Country: 1992-1996

1995 MZ Saxon 500 Country; Owner: Steven Rossi, East Haddam, Connecticut.

Clement Salvadori
December 8, 2014

1995 MZ Saxon 500 Country; Owner: Steven Rossi, East Haddam, Connecticut. (Photography by Steve Cote) Nice half-liter thumper, this MZ Saxon 500 Country, looking like a somewhat dated dual-purpose machine, powered by a dependable Rotax single-cylinder engine. But it was being built in the old East Germany.... Read more »

Retrospective: Yamaha XT600: 1984-1989

1986 Yamaha XT600

Clement Salvadori
November 11, 2014

Year/Model: 1986 Yamaha XT600; Owner: Kevin Delaney, Arroyo Grande, California. As an inveterate reader of motorcycle travel articles and books, in the 1980s and ’90s I noticed that many of our European friends, when headed off to Africa—the equivalent of our southwest—opted to take Yamaha’s... Read more »

Triumph Thruxton Ace Cafe Special Edition – First Look Review

Triumph Thruxton Ace Cafe Special Edition

Rider Magazine Staff
October 13, 2014

The Triumph Thruxton Ace Cafe Special Edition made its U.S. debut at the Ace Corner at the Barber Vintage Festival. At the 10th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, held October 12-14, 2014, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, Triumph Motorcycles unveiled the Triumph Thruxton Ace Cafe Special... Read more »

Retrospectove: BSA A65S Spitfire Mark II/III/IV Special: 1966-1968

1966 BSA A65S Spitfire Mark II Special

Clement Salvadori
October 2, 2014

1966 BSA A65S Spitfire Mark II Special Back in the early 1960s, many British bike companies were cheerfully warring with each other, paying no attention to the threat coming from the Orient. The major market for their 650 twins was the U.S., and Americans wanted horses—lots of horses. The more the... Read more »

2015 Yamaha SR400 – First Ride Review

2015 Yamaha SR400

Greg Drevenstedt
September 12, 2014

The old-is-new-again 2015 Yamaha SR400 is powered by an air-cooled, fuel-injected, kickstart-only single-cylinder engine. Photography by Tom Riles Turn the key and killswitch on, toe the shifter into neutral and pry out the kickstarter with your right boot heel. Kick the lever until you feel resistance... Read more »

Retrospective: Kawasaki KZ1000 Z1-R TC (Turbocharged): 1978-1979

Year/Model: 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000 Z1-R TC; Owner: Daniel Schoenewald, Camarillo, California.

Clement Salvadori
September 4, 2014

Year/Model: 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000 Z1-R TC; Owner: Daniel Schoenewald, Camarillo, California. As the old adage goes, when enough is good, more is better. In late 1977, Kawasaki’s new Z1-R, a somewhat sexier version of the KZ1000, was good for a quarter-mile in a hair under 12 seconds at 110 mph. For... 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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