Imagine reliving the glory days of your motorcycling past by riding modern versions of the bikes you loved, or wanted, growing up: The Kawasaki Z1 superbike, Yamaha 400 single-cylinder street thumper, Norton Commando or a café racer.
You can, if you buy a retro machine. Here’s a list of bikes that should be on your radar.
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS
Officially unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2017, the Kawasaki Z900RS takes you back to the early 1970s when the Kawasaki Z1 first started blasting down U.S. roads. Kawasaki says of the new machine: “The much rumored and eagerly anticipated bike christened the Z900RS has been conceived as an homage to the legendary Z1 Super Four 900 of 1972 and is an up-to-date modern classic blessed with a multitude of references to the Z1, the machine that not only acted as a crucial stepping stone for Kawasaki as a brand but also changed the face of performance motorcycling forever. The 2018 Kawasaki Z900RS features a 948cc, liquid-cooled, inline-four, 16-valve engine that pumps out a claimed 111 horsepower at 8,500 rpm; a six-speed transmission; trellis steel frame; 41mm inverted front fork; adjustable gas shocks in the back; 300mm floating disc brakes in front and a 250mm disc in the rear; plus a 120/70ZR17 front tire and a 180/55ZR17 in the back. MSRP: $10,999 to $11,199.
2018 Yamaha SR400
Yamaha has what it calls its “Sport Heritage” line and among those machines is the $5,999 SR400, which is a modern version of the 1978 SR400 single that had its followers. The modern SR400 is powered by a 399cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, single-overhead-cam, two-valve engine. Unlike the old SR400, however, the new one has fuel injection, which Yamaha says gives it “fantastic response and modern practicality. The SR400 weighs in at 384 pounds and has low, 30.9-inch seat height, which is perfect for the vertically challenged. Old-school motorcyclists like kick start, and the SR400 doesn’t disappoint. You can’t push a button to start this machine.
2018 Norton Commando 961 California
Do you want a Norton Commando? Do you have $19,995? Actually, that’s the MSRP and since there are only four Norton dealers in the United States maybe you can cut yourself a deal, like maybe $2,000 off. In late 2017 Norton launched the new Norton Commando 961 California. Norton calls the machine the “easy riding roadster. A classic hand-built English roadster has heart, passion and a soul,” Norton says. “The California oozes all of these qualities and more: timeless style, classic looks with the best of current performance components in ABS Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension and that fabulous hand-made Norton chassis.” The bike features a 961cc fuel-injected, air-cooled parallel twin engine and a five-speed transmission. The engine pumps out 80 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. The bike also features Brembo ABS brakes and Ohlins suspension. The claimed dry weight is a svelt 415 pounds.
2018 Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer MKII
The more classic 2018 Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer MKII, Norton says, “was built to replicate the old style cafe racers with all modern components and engineering whilst maintaining a classic appearance and style. Specs include huge Brembo 320mm full-floating high-carbon stainless steel discs up front and four-piston “gold line” Brembo radially mounted calipers. The rear stopping power is provided by a 220mm disc and two-piston “gold line” caliper. The front tire is a 120/70-17 while the rear is a 180/55-17. MSRP: $19,995.
2018 Royal Enfield 2018 Continental GT
The Royal Enfield 2018 Continental GT is truly styled more like cafe racers back in the day. The bike is powered by an air-cooled, 648cc parallel twin that puts out 47 horsepower at 7,000 rpm. Claimed dry weight is just 437 pounds. This bike features clip-on handlebars, rearset footpegs and a 31.1-inch humped seat. Add to that a 41mm non-adjustable fork with 4.3 inches of travel, dual preload-adjustable coil-over rear shocks with 3.5 inches of travel, 320mm front and 240mm rear brakes with ABS and you have a modern café racer that looks good and won’t break the bank. Pricing is expected to be around $5,000 to $7,000.
2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
The 2018 Interceptor looks like a British bike from days gone by. It has upright handlebars, a flat seat and upswept mufflers. Claimed dry weight is 445 pounds. Like the Continental GT, the Interceptor is powered by an air-cooled, parallel 648cc twin-cylinder engine. It sports a 7-inch headlight and quilted twin seat. Royal Enfield says the bike’s narrow teardrop 3.6-gallon gas tank has a classic badge and is topped with a Monza-style fuel cap. The dual cradle frame is another reminder of the past.
2018 Triumph Bonneville T120
Many motorcyclists lusted after the Triumph Bonneville. It’s available now with lights that actually work, with a 1,200cc engine. Prices start at $11,800. Triumph says this bike was inspired by the legendary 1959 Bonneville and styled to incorporate the original’s iconic features. It includes deep chrome multi-piece Triumph tank badges, a grab rail, twin-skinned chrome exhaust headers and peashooter-style silencers. The engine produced 80 horsepower at 6,550 rpm. Dry Weight: 494 pounds.
2018 Suzuki 2018 TU250X
Priced at just $4,599, the Suzuki 2018 TU250X is a retro bike that just screams “fun!” It has spoked wheels, a round headlight and a sweptback muffler with plenty of chrome. The engine is a classic single, there’s a lot of chrome plating, and black paint with contrasting stripes makes it look oh-so retro. Despite the look, it is all modern with a 249cc, air-cooled four-stroke, single-cylinder, fuel-injected engine, 32mm throttle body that provides excellent throttle response, and an easy-pull clutch makes gear shifting precise and take offs smooth. This bike isn’t available in California.
2017 Honda CB1100 EX
The Honda CB1100 EX is pure Honda classic: red steel tank, air-cooled transverse-four engine, brushed aluminum sidecovers, round headlight, chromed fenders, upright seating and tubular-steel handlebar. But twist the throttle, and you’ll see there’s nothing retro about the CB1100 EX’s performance. Displacing a full 1140cc, the six-speed overdrive gearbox and electronic fuel injection deliver performance no 1970s classic ever could. Pricing starts at $12,199.