Trends come, go and come straight back again. We’ve seen it first-hand with the comeback of the 90s wide-leg baggy jean and 00s blonde highlights but there is one trend amongst the two-wheel world that, despite however many years go by, hasn’t budged a single inch. That ladies and gentlemen is the Retro Motorcycle.
They age like a beautifully smooth, fine wine and have learned to adapt to the ever-changing pace of the modern world we live in, whilst still gracing our roads with a variety of golden good looks. It’s no wonder they’ve created one, if not the, most popular and exciting category of motorcycle.
Therefore to celebrate their success, I’ve put together this list of technically 12 of the best Retro Motorcycles for 2022. P.S our order today is based simply on price, I mean you try and rank these motorcycles based on their looks and let me know how you get on, it’s a very hard task!
Royal Enfield Classic 350
There are very few motorcycles that can successfully make a claim to the word ‘classic’. Yes, any manufacturer can try and christen the bike themselves but only a handful can actually gain it naturally. Though this iteration of the Royal Enfield Classic 350 is still relatively new to the scene (and admittedly includes it in its name), it takes everything we’ve come to love about British motorcycling and puts it on display in the most authentic, simple, unpretentious and, well, classic way.
Visually, it has everything we’d ask of a Retro Motorcycle. From the teardrop metal tank, curvy mudguards, single analogue clock and spoked wheels, the Classic 350 gives us a good dose of 50s nostalgia.
Powered only by 20 small ponies and an air-cooled 349cc single, it’s not going to be fast enough for some but, for that lack of power, it has a £4,279 price tag making it an incredibly affordable way to introduce yourself to the Retro Motorcycle scene.
Overall, it has a real charm to it, and I think this 350 is going to become a classic, timeless piece.
|Engine||349cc, 20 hp, air-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: 300mm disc with twin-piston floating caliper
Rear: 270mm disc with single-piston floating caliper
|Suspension||Front: Telescopic, 41mm forks
Rear: Twin tube Emulsion shock absorbers with 6-step adjustable preload
Royal Enfield Twins
Inseparable in almost every way, this set of siblings made a pretty big splash and caused quite the stir when they entered the market in 2019. They might be best known as the ‘Twins’ but each stands out in its own right, and this is why.
Starting with the Interceptor, this easy-riding Naked middleweight captures a moment in time where all that mattered was what time the Californian sun set and how good the surf was.
The Continental GT puts on the show what we love most about the 60s Cafe Racer. With a traditionally more extreme riding position, the CGT offers less comfort so is definitely more suited for those short and sweet but always fun Sunday blasts, whereas I’d say the Interceptor is more of a whole package.
Both take their place in history’s line-up of famous pairs of twins, and with both just over £6k is amazingly good value for money. They stand alongside their younger sibling the Classic 350 as another example of how a motorcycle becomes an instant classic.
|Engine||648cc, 47hp, air-cooled|
|Fuel tank||12.5L (Continental GT), 13.7 (Interceptor)|
|Brakes||Front: 320mm disc
Rear: 240mm disc
|Suspension||Front: 41mm Front Fork, 110mm Travel
Rear: Single Coil - Over shocks, 88mm Travel
|Seat height||820mm (Continental GT), 805mm (Interceptor)|
|Weight||212kg (Continental GT), 217kg (Interceptor)|
|Price||£6,239 (Continental GT), £6,039 (Interceptor)|
BSA Gold Star
When the news of the BSA’s return circled the scene, excitement spread like wildfire. Back in the day, they were a big name whose bikes touched the hearts of many and left riders devoted and infatuated. Flash forward fifty years and history is about to repeat itself as BSA has recreated their iconic Gold Star and we’re hoping this revival will produce just as legendary a status.
After falling into administration in the late 70s, you may be wondering how they’re back in the game. Long story short, this originally British-born manufacturer was taken over by the Asian company, The Mahindra Group. One thing that people loved most about this brand of bike was the fact that they were produced in Birmingham, so to keep it as authentic as possible, production will pick up where it left off.
Moving on and even though we’re not in school anymore, I’m marking the new model a big ol’ Gold Star when it comes to visuals. The logo stands proud on either side of the fuel tank, accompanied by contrasting tank pinstriping, a round front headlight, analogue speedo and cooling fins reminiscent of the originals.
With it being such a massive part of their history and one of the most successful motorcycles of all time, BSA is under a shed load of pressure to get this right, especially regarding the price side of things. We’re hoping that’ll be around £6.5k, and if they manage it Royal Enfield may need to watch their back because the BSA Gold Star will rival their set of Twins not just in looks but in spec too.
|Engine||652cc, 45 hp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Single 320mm floating disc, Brembo twin-piston floating calliper
Rear: Single 255mm disc, Brembo single-piston floating calliper
|Suspension||Front: 41mm telescopic forks
Rear: Twin shock absorbers with 5-step adjustable preload
The Kawasaki Z650RS is a bike that’s good for the soul. It’s spirited, sporty and oh so nice to look at!
With the ‘RS’ standing for ‘Retro Sport’, we think its parallel-twin engine will struggle to keep up with some of the class-leading sports superstars but that perky enough 67-power output will make it fun and the perfect companion for those after a modern retro, everyday rider – which is really what it’s been built for!
The Z650RS is casual in appearance and sweet like ‘Candy Emerald Green’ in a brighter variation of the brand’s iconic colour. I like how they’ve used gold rims; it contrasts against the green beautifully and gives it some added 21st-century bling.
With that £7,849 price tag securing you a more than a decent set of equipment, the Z650RS is comparable to most of the middleweight retros on this list. It’s the styling that sets it apart and gives it an extra edge and some added flair.
|Engine||649cc, 67 hp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Dual semi-floating Ø 300mm discs. Caliper: Dual piston
Rear: Single Ø 220mm disc. Caliper: Single-piston
|Suspension||Front: 41mm telescopic forks
Rear: Horizontal Back-link with preload adjustment
The Yamaha XSR700 sets itself apart slightly by using more neo-retro styling and a more muted colour palette. However, the XSR family resemblance is still very strong as is the heritage styling found through the use of a round LED headlight and classic shape of the fuel tank.
Yamaha has got the balance right and used the right amount of modernity, though I would say it does look much more modern compared to some of the others, such as LED lighting, an LCD display and the fantastic MT-07’s 689cc parallel-twin engine and lightweight chassis to help keep it up to date and biting at the ankles of its competitors.
Price-wise, Yamaha’s XSR700 sits competitively amongst the group at £8,000.
|Engine||689cc, 74 hp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: 298mm disc
Rear: Single Ø 220mm disc. Caliper: Single-piston
|Suspension||Front: Telescopic forks
Moto Guzzi V7 Special 850
There’s one phrase that springs to mind when looking at Moto Guzzi’s V7 Special 850 and that’s ‘this is one handsome son of a gun’! Its classically styled, elegant and looks it would hold the door open for you (if it could!). It actually reminds me of the motorcycle version of the Doc Hudson character from the Pixar film Cars.
Continuing with my opinion (sorry if you disagree, let me know in the comments) it also looks more like a Maverick than the CCM up next – sorry but I can just picture Tom Cruise riding one. I think it’s the simplicity of the glossy navy paint job, brown seat and chrome detailing, or it could just be because of the famous Eagle logo – who knows but let’s move on before I spend all article talking about the V7 Special 850’s looks!
It doesn’t have many gadgets but, buying a Moto Guzzi isn’t about that. You’re paying (£8,600, in this case) for the back-to-basics Italian styling and old-school charm, and that’s what’s allowed the brand to spread their wings and fly so high for so long.
|Engine||853cc, 65 hp, air-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Stainless steel floating disc Ø 320mm, Brembo caliper with 4 differentiated and opposed pistons
Rear: Stainless steel disc Ø 260mm, floating 2 pistons caliper
|Suspension||Front: Front suspension Hydraulic telescopic fork Ø 40mm
Rear: Swingarm Twin-sided with two spring preload adjustable shock absorbers
I could make many a Top Gun reference when talking about the CCM Maverick (just read my Top 10 Scramblers blog), but we’ll try and refrain from that today.
The beauty that is the ‘Satin Green Emerald’ bodywork (also available in Satin Absolute Black, but in my opinion isn’t as pretty) is made complete by the carbon front cowl, Chestnut ribbed seat and black frame – it definitely has an attitude and a little something, something to it!
Compared to some of the heavier hitters later further down the list, you might not “feel the need for speed”, but what this Maverick and its 600cc liquid-cooled engine,145kg weight and Scrambler abilities will give you is a spritely-enough performance on or off-road.
The price is higher at £9,995 but you’re paying for the high-quality and hand-made motorcycles produced by CCM. So, the choice is yours…take the CCM Maverick to the road or lose it forever (sorry, I couldn’t help myself and I did say I would try!).
|Engine||600cc, 55 hp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Front: 240mm disc|
|Suspension||Front and rear 120mm wheel travel, adjustable|
Triumph Speed Twin
As we continue through the list it’s clear that it’s not just our appetite for retro machinery that’s growing, all manufacturers are wanting to get in on the action, but the next brand is actually one of the founding fathers of the category and a bit of a legend in the game. That’s right, we’ve finally made it to the Triumph.
The Speed Twin is jumping straight into the deep end when it comes to pricing because to own it’ll cost you just over £11k. That may sound like rather a lot for a bike that probably won’t be your only motorcycle, however, all those pennies secure you one that will stand out from all the others lined up in your garage. The tough yet elegant exterior allows you to spot Triumph’s keen eye and attention to detail that helps them create retro-inspired motorcycle after retro-inspired motorcycle.
This is a classy, grown-up motorcycle that really opens your eyes and lets you fully appreciate the beauty and simplicity of British engineering.
|Engine||1,200cc, 98.6 bhp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Twin Ø 320mm discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc calipers
Rear: Single Ø 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
|Suspension||Front: Ø 43mm USD Marzocchi forks, 120mm travel
Rear: Twin RSUs with adjustable preload, 120mm rear wheel travel
BMW R nineT Urban G/S
BMW’s R nineT Urban G/S is going at the job of Retro Motorcycle in a totally different way. They’ve taken inspiration from the original G/S that was popular in the 80s and built upon it to form the foundations of a new retro-inspired contemporary Scrambler.
I’ve got to start with the styling. BMW have included all the classic bits and pieces that mean the R nineT Urban G/S falls into this category, but alongside that they’ve upped the heat from a humble lemon and herb to an extra hot with the use of the signature muscular R nineT fuel tank, BMW boxer engine and a nice selection of colours – the ‘Light white with tape’ being my favourite, it’s quite striking.
The end result is an ultra-modern machine that I’d best describe as a futuristic Retro Motorcycle – if you can get your head round it! They’ve also used slogans such as “a look back and yet forward”, so I’m pretty sure that was their intention!
This bike has an addictive personality that makes you only want more and more. The only thing I wish was a little less was the £11,670 cost. However, that seems to be the price you have to pay to look cool these days.
|Engine||1,170cc, 109 hp, air/oil-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Twin-disc brakes, diameter 320 mm, 4-piston calipers
Rear: Single disc brake, diameter 265 mm, double-piston floating calliper
|Suspension||Front: Telescopic forks
Rear: Cast aluminium single-sided swingarm
Triumph Bonneville T120 Gold Line Edition
Over the years, and it has been around for a few, the Triumph Bonneville has become an icon in the world of British motorcycling. It’s a style of bike that will always look good and always be relevant no matter what form it takes.
With name comes status and power and with both of those normally comes a few extra digits added to the price tag, so you won’t be too surprised to hear that you may need to dig a little deeper into your pockets for precisely £11,895 to own the special edition Bonneville T120 Gold Line.
That sounds like a lot I know, but for those whose budgets can stretch it’ll be worth it because, with equipment such as a 1200cc Bonnie engine, ride-by-wire throttle, 6-speed gearbox, 120mm-travel 41mm cartridge front forks, Brembo brakes, ABS, Pirelli tyres, cruise control and road and rain riding modes, riding is pure pleasure and comparable to pressing play on a Lionel Richie song – silky smooth, rich and one play (or ride, in this case) is never enough.
|Engine||1,200cc, 78.9 bhp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Twin 310mm discs, Brembo 2 piston floating caliper
Rear: Single 255mm disc, Nissin 2 piston floating caliper
|Suspension||Front: Ø 41mm cartridge forks
Rear: Twin RSU’s, with pre-load adjustment
Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro
Like most motorcycles from Ducati, they’ve nailed the 1100 Tribute Pro. It’s the same, same but different take on the heritage styling we’re seeing a lot of so the design is streamlined to feature a simplistic black and mustard colourway (technically named ‘Giallo Ocra’, fancy hey!), 70s-inspired logo, brown stitched seat, black spoked wheels and round headlight – it wouldn’t be a Retro Motorcycle without one now, would it!
There’s some history here too as the 1100 Tribute Pro was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first air-cooled twin-cylinder engine in a Ducati and takes inspiration from the 1972 450 Desmo Mono and 750 Sport.
It puts a big emphasis on what makes the retro so cool and, to be honest, cool is the best word to describe it – it oozes it! The Ducati Scrambler 1100 Tribute Pro brings the sunshine and a smile to my face when looking at it. £12,295 seems quite the price to pay for some sun, but unlike the British weather, this forecast is guaranteed!
|Engine||1,079cc, 86 hp, air-cooled|
|Suspension||Front: Marzocchi fully adjustable Ø45mm USD fork
Rear: Progressive linkage with adjustable Kayaba monoshock, Aluminium double-sided swingarm
Kawasaki Z900RS SE
It would have been wrong of me to finish this list without mentioning the Kawasaki Z900RS SE. It was THE bike of the show for us at Motorcycle Live, so it was only right we finish with it.
I’ve got to say, it’s absolutely beautiful to look at! Nicknamed the ‘Yellow Ball’, the SE is dressed in a black and yellow version of the original Z1’s orange and brown, and it’s always nice when a bike in this category has some history behind it. This is then complimented by gold wheel rims which bring a certain level of elegance and add to the retro look – it’s a definite vibe that I’m definitely enjoying!
We’ve got a couple of improvements to the spec here too including Brembo brakes, inverted front forks and rear Öhlins suspension.
At £12,779, the Kawasaki Z900RS SE is the most expensive today and it’s clear to see why. This is a premium Retro Motorcycle that captures the spirit of the 70s perfectly. From head to toe she sparkles, glows, shimmers, gleams, twinkles, shines or whatever you want to call it, all I know is that it makes it hard to draw your eyes away!
|Engine||948cc, 110 hp, liquid-cooled|
|Brakes||Front: Dual semi-floating 300mm Brembo discs. Caliper: Dual Brembo M4.32 radial-mount, monobloc, opposed 4-piston
Rear: Single 250mm disc. Caliper: Single-piston
|Suspension||Front: Ø 41mm inverted fork with compression and rebound damping and spring preload adjustability
Rear: Horizontal Back-link, Öhlins S46 gas-charged shock with rebound damping and spring preload adjustability
The last stop
This classic category of motorcycle is one that we don’t need to worry about fading into the background. They may be based upon the past, but they’re kept perfectly up to date for the present, and we just can’t get enough of them! What do you think to the Retro Motorcycle? Do you love them? Let us know your favourite in the comments below or on social media.