Are you a fan of both vintage motorcycles AND new-age technology? Motorcycles have been around since 1885. In that time, they have developed from simple machines with little suspension to complex hyper bikes that can exceed 180 miles per hour given enough smooth pavement.
Since the beginning of the early 1900s, motorcycles have continued to evolve to what they are today. Some motorcycles are considered the pioneers in style, new technology, and leading the charge in old-school cool. But, think about how they started; They were essentially bicycles with a combustion engine powering them. Low horsepower, limited gearing options, and not very easy to maintain. Over the next few decades, refinements made motorcycles better-fitting, faster for longer travel distances, and easier to maintain. Since then, bodywork has become popular and turned as much fashion as it is function.
What Makes a Motorcycle Vintage, Retro, or Old-School?
If you made a list of what makes a vintage motorcycle distinctive, it would be quite different depending on who you asked. Some would say it has to have personality, a low seat height, and a heritage behind the model. Others may offer that it needs sex appeal, styling that hasn’t been duplicated, or a design that motorcyclists still talk about today.
Whether you’re a new rider looking for your best option, or a seasoned veteran looking to switch up your ride, it’s hard to deny the rule of cool that old-school bikes seem to fulfill.
However, all will most likely agree that modern motorcycles are still as captivating as their retro counterparts while adding new technology that weaves the past into the future. Conveniences such as fuel injection, anti-lock brakes, and storage capacity for cargo are three easy items to identify a modern motorcycle compared to a retro motorcycle. Today’s motorcycle employs more technology than what many would deem the vintage breeds of yesteryear need.
Top 10 Brand New, Old School Motorcycles
There are motorcycles that mix modern conveniences with more vintage styling. Deemed as modern classics, they are a great blend of today’s technology with yesterday’s fashion. We’ve picked out 10 brand new, old school motorcycles that we think are worth considering when you’re ready to purchase a retro-style motorcycle.
1. 2021 Honda CB650R
Engine: Liquid Cooled, in-line, four cylinder
Combining modern hardware with a classic look, it’s hard to go wrong with the new Honda CB650R. It’s four cylinder engine delivers plenty of torque, with faster revving than other twins. Add in the updated, easier to read LCD screen, and you’ve got the perfect, minimalist neo-sport café motorcycle.
2. 2021 Yamaha XSR700
Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC inline twin-cylinder
Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed
Inspired by the classic Yamaha “XS” series, this motorcycle is second to none when it comes to pure style. It’s ergonomic fuel tank and tall, wide handlebars ensure a comfortable ride in any conditions. And if that wasn’t enough, ABS, a full LCD readout system, and 410 lb. wet-weight make this light, sporty bike an instant classic.
3. 2022 Indian Chief
Engine: Thunderstroke 111
100 years after it’s debut, the Indian Chief is still turning heads. The Thunderstroke 111 Engine boasts 108 ft-lbs of torque, and it’s low seat height and mid-mount foot pegs keep you in control of the bike. Indian hasn’t shied away from modern conveniences though, with full LED lighting, keyless ignition, and three available riding modes to ensure that you get the perfect, safe ride every time. If you don’t want to choose between modern amenities and old-school cool, you want the Indian Chief.
4. 2020 Yamaha Bolt
Engine: Air-cooled, SOHC, vertical-twin, 4 cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed, return shift
If you’re looking for an old-school cruiser, look no further than the 2020 Yamaha Bolt. With LED lighting and an digital LCD meter assembly, Yamaha brings modern conveniences to the classic look of the Sar Cruiser line. With a compact chassis packing a 942cc engine, this bike oozes style without sacrificing performance.
5. 2021 Kawasaki W800
Type: Café Racer
Engine: Air-cooled, SOHC, vertical twin, four stroke
Looking at the features available for the new 2021 Kawasaki W800, it’s clear this bike has been given a modern safety revamp without sacrificing its time-tested look. Its 773cc 4-stroke vertical twin engine ensures that you’ll get anywhere you need to go, built-in ABS and assist/slipper clutch ensures that you’ll get there safely, and the classic metallic ocean blue body ensures that you’ll get there in style.
6. 2021 Ducati Monster
Type: Sport Standard
Engine: Liquid cooled, V2 – 90°, four valve cylinders
When you think Ducati, you think speed, agility and style. The new 2021 Ducati Monster and Monster+ give you all the power and prestige of the Ducati brand in a sleek, retro package. It’s new 937cc engine increases power and decreases weight for better handling and rideability, and the traction-control and ABS ensure that you’ll be safe when on the road. Rest assured, this monster packs a powerful punch.
7. 2021 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber
Engine: 90° V-twin
A combination of full LED optics, a detachable passenger saddle, and double-channel ABS give you the same reputation and prestige of the Moto Guzzi name with modern conveniences. It’s new 850cc engine delivers increased horsepower and torque, and its brown saddle, green painted side panels, and matte grey fuel tank deliver that one-of-a-kind Moto Guzzi style. As far as the rest of the body, that’s simple: Any color you want as long as it’s black.
8. 2022 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC
Engine: Liquid cooled, SOHC, 8 valve
Displacement: 1200 cc
Transmission: 6-speed manual
The 2022 Triumph Scrambler XC is everything you want for your next adventure. With five riding modes to support road, off-road and everything in between, you’ll always have the perfect ride, no matter the conditions. ABS, all LED lighting, and even USB charging ports for accessories ensure that wherever the road takes you, you’ll get there safely and conveniently. Treat yourself to the best of both classic looks and modern safety standards.
9. 2020 Harley Davidson Street Rod
Engine: High Output Revolution X V-Twin
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Price: $8,699 (Black, no options)
Just when you thought the Harley-Davidson Street Rod couldn’t get any better, in comes the 2020 model to prove you wrong in the best way possible. The Revolution X V-Twin engine delivers 18% more horsepower and 8% more torque than the Street 750, and the inverted front forks work with the rear shocks to deliver increased suspension travel. Throw in the estimated 54 mpg for city and highway riding, and you’ve got the hot rod urban driving experience you’ve always wanted.
10. 2021 Triumph Bonneville T120
Engine: Parallel twin-cylinder
The Triumph Bonneville T120 brings modern safety features into the mix without compromising the classic Triumph style. Cruise control, ABS, and two available riding modes means you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety. Throw in twin color options and hand painted coach lining, and you’ve got the perfect modern day update to the classic 1959 model.
After looking back through history at the evolution of motorcycles in the last 100 years, some common traits have stayed true to the initial concept, whatever type they take after: Two wheels, a combustion engine, and a simple braking system. Some have offered a small fairing, a la the café racers, while others have stayed simple, with no aerodynamics to help diffuse the wind around the rider. Whether you want modern or vintage styling, simple brakes, or the most up-to-date anti-lock brakes, it’s all available with a mix of old and new. Once you pick the perfect old-school motorcycle for your next ride, all you need is the right kind of helmet, a good sturdy jacket, and any other gear that you’re currently missing, and you’re ready to ride. Stay safe out there!