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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.

Royal Enfield Continental GT First Ride Review

2014 ROYAL ENFIELD

Rich Cox
October 9, 2013

True, it doesn’t go a million—or even a hundred—but the GT definitely offers all the right look and feel for those who would love to transport themselves back to the future. Last September Royal Enfield Motors hosted a lavish international press launch in England for its all-new Continental GT... Read more »

Retrospectve: Kawasaki KLX650: 1993-1996

1994 Kawasaki KLX650

Clement Salvadori
October 4, 2013

If you were in the market for a dual-purpose, big-single sort of ride back in 1993, Kawasaki certainly had the market covered. It offered three different models with the same basic engine. Two were street-legal, the third, called an enduro, had lights and no turn signals—but a cop would have to be... Read more »

Triumph Updates Bonneville, Thruxton and Scrambler for 2014

2014 Triumph Bonneville T100

Press Release
October 3, 2013

Triumph has updated its line of modern classics—Bonneville, Thruxton and Scrambler—for 2014 with new color schemes, improved exhaust notes and an even better riding experience. “These updated bikes retain that iconic link to our heritage in terms of their conspicuous classical styling, yet are... Read more »

Honda PC800 Pacific Coast: 1989-90, 1994-98

1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.

Clement Salvadori
September 3, 2013

What happens when motorcycle designers share a drawing board with automobile types? The answer may be the Honda Pacific Coast. Rumor had it that after Honda R&D Americas, Inc., was established in 1985 and began dealing with all Honda products, the word came down from above that the engineers and... Read more »

ART ATTACK: Ian Barry’s Cataclysmic Café Racers

Ian Barry named this bike “The White."

Paul Garson
August 29, 2013

Perhaps some would call it a “crime of passion” to “recycle” classic British bikes into “works of art,” but perhaps there’s significant leeway when the custom creations are for the most salvaged bits and pieces reconfigured into scratch built and streetable “one-offs.” Then again, do... Read more »

Retrospective: Suzuki GS750E/ES: 1983

1983 Suzuki GS750ES

Clement Salvadori
August 6, 2013

The alphanumeric system that defines many Japanese motorcycles has never been very instructive, and the bike we are writing about here was only a one-year model…but it was a good one. Suzuki was the last of the Big Four to get into the four-stroke game. Seeing the EPA’s handwriting on the engineering... Read more »

Retrospective: BSA A7 Shooting Star 500cc: 1954-1962

1954 BSA A7 Shooting Star 500cc

Clement Salvadori
July 8, 2013

That Daytona 200 was a thriller back in ’54, on a cold wind-swept beach. The 4.1-mile oval had one straightaway on the asphalt, then two 180-degree turns and the second straight on the sand. Off the starting line, two Harley K-models, 750cc side-valve motors, led the way. These were the old days when... Read more »

2013 Corsa MotoClassica

Neck-and-neck racing often came down to the finish line, with evenly-matched bikes fighting for every inch of track, no matter the engine size.

Paul Garson
July 3, 2013

Coming or going, three days of high-desert vintage racing brought out bikes of all flavors to the 18th annual Corsa MotoClassica. It was the 18th running of the three-day vintage bike event, a combination of non-stop racing, classic bike show, swap meet and grooving on the high-desert terrain some 55... Read more »

Back-to-Back Classics: Honda CBs New and Old

Although visually similar in many ways, riding the new CB1100 is a much more composed experience than piloting an original 1974 CB750K4.

Mark Tuttle
July 2, 2013

Among the classic Japanese motorcycles that deserve a modern tribute, few come to mind as quickly as Honda’s line of air-cooled, in-line fours, starting with the CB750K0 of 1969. Its 40-year anniversary was suitably commemorated with the unveiling of the CB1100 at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009, but... Read more »

Retrospective: Harley-Davidson Sportster with Boat-Tail Option: 1970-1971

1970 Harley-Davidson Sportster H with boat-tail option.

Clement Salvadori
June 6, 2013

In the rarified world of new motorcycle models, at least back in 1969, there were two aspects to be considered. One dealt with performance, the other with styling. And in 1969, young Willie G. Davidson, grandson of a founder of the Harley-Davidson company, was made head of the styling department. Motorcycle... 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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