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The Best Looking Retro Standard

V7

We thought it would be fun to have readers offer their opinions on the best looking, current production retro standard motorcycle.  We have photos of several examples here, including the Honda CB1100F, the Ducati GT 1000, Triumph Bonneville, Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, and the Kawasaki W800.  For good measure, we added a photo of the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic. We are looking for current production models, or near current production.

In addition to offering your opinion about good looks, give us your thoughts about performance of the bike.  Obviously, if you own one, tell us what it is like to own and ride the machine.  In the comments you leave, you can provide links to photos, but make sure the links are safe for other readers to use.

CB1100

GT 1000

Bonneville

Royal Enfield

W800

237 Comments

  1. Lampell says:

    I guess I must like retrospect as it would seem I have owned just about every bike mentioned. I owned the Kawi WS 650 before the Bonneville came out and then shifted to the Bonneville. In retrospect the Kawi was a better looking bike with more character. My least favorite of the bikes mentioned is the Ducati, GT. it doesn’t handle that well even for a retro, most people (non bikers) didn’t even know it was a retro so no conversation value. Bit bulbous looking from the rear end. I also owned a Triumph Scramblers, good looking bike, but it didnt have the soft suspension I thought a scramblers should have. I currently own a 2010 Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic which has a lot of character and also is good looking. Feels much heavier than it looks but is stable. Don’t buy this bike as your only bike since you won’t be able to keep up with ur friends:)

  2. SquidGeez says:

    They left out the best-looking of all which is the Triumph T100 not the plain-jane Bonneville. Too bad the only mid-control Sportsters left are too slammed (SuperLow) or modernized (XR1000) in their styling to be considered “retro standards” anymore. The Sportster started out as a standard back when a cruiser was a ship, and traditional-style models which were true standards have been either the best-looking bikes of that entire genre (during those years the Bonneville was out of production) or at least the runner up for some 50 years.

  3. SteveW says:

    Though it would be the bike I would be the least likely to buy and own, the Enfield appeals to my aesthetic sense the most.

  4. SteveW says:

    Though it would be the bike I’d be the least likely to buy and own, the Enfield appeals to my asthetice sense the most.

  5. Reed says:

    I’ll take the Honda CB1100. As an owner of a new ’69 CB750 K0 while in college (a LONG time ago), the CB110 is a perfect modern equivalent of it.

  6. Cowboy says:

    My god, that Moto Guzzi is gorgeous!!!!!!

    This, from a Triumph onwer – although a former Guzzi (850 T-3 and Le Mans)owner.

    I think I will have to buy one.

  7. Lucky says:

    Triumph is doing something right and their sales figures show it. Every year I look at the new models and say “Closer, but not yet.” This year, all their retro models are darned close to the mark.

    The biggest lacking item is still style. Every year at the Concours, I marvel at the old bikes with their perfect paint hues, perfect color coordination, and medalions that are works of art. I know it saves $25 per bike to cut these corners, but the loss is much greater.

  8. Ricardo says:

    Royal Enfield and Kawasaki hands down.

  9. Artem says:

    You have to do it without thinking about money..
    Newertheless. Just IMHO from my childhood.
    BMW have to be white coloured with huge fuel tank ( as i remembered them in my child youth). Test drivers brought their grandmothers to home on their back seats to the grandmother villages (that was the funniest thing at all).
    Honda CB 750 was cool at all. With dark gold metallic fuel tank.
    Just my youth memories.
    USSR
    1974-1975

  10. Ryder says:

    Travman: Both the R1200R & Guzzi you reference are great looking bikes. I see the Griso Tenni has the Guzzi version of wire spoked wheels which allow tubeless tires. Oddly, however, the BMW appears to have spoked wheels which require inner tubes – an oddly retrograde move for the manufacturer which pioneered wire spoked wheels which take tubeless tires. (Tubeless tires being, in my opinion, clearly superior for a couple of reasons, safety not being the least.)

  11. Travman says:

    I like the 2011 BMW R1200R Classic a lot. It is not a 100% retro bike like most of these mentioned so far. It is more of a partial retro. http://rainbowmotorcycles.com/page27/files/BIGr1200ros.jpg.jpg

    The gorgeous Moto Guzzi Griso Tenni version is available for 2011 in the U.S. It has some retro touches with the spoke wheels and big round headlight.

    http://www.motoplus.ca/nouveautes/2009/MotoGuzzi/GRISO-8V-Special-Edition.jpg

  12. Dave says:

    I own both a Triumph Scrambler and a Guzzi V7C. They stack up as follows:

    V7 Classic

    – Stainless steel spokes
    – Full floating front disc brake with Brembo gold series caliper and stainless brake lines
    – Integral fork brace
    – Analogue electronic instruments with dimmable LED illumination. Speedo & tach with LCD odometer, trip meter, air temp. & clock. Warning lights LED lit.
    – Levers not adjustable
    – Fork lock integral to ignition – one key
    – Loud dual horns
    – Stainless steel fasteners
    – Engine has enough vibration for “character” – smooth at speed, 49hp claimed. Pushrod 4 valve construction
    – 401 lb wet weight claimed
    – Shaft drive
    – Fantastic exhaust note with stock system
    – Pearl coat paint
    – Seat removes with ignition key in side cover lock. Storage underneath for documents with fuses readily accessible.
    – Full tool kit provided, stores under seat

    Triumph Scrambler

    – Plated steel spokes
    – Solid brake disc with proprietary caliper. Aftermarket kit needed to equal Guzzi brake
    – No fork brace
    – Analogue speedometer with odometer & trip meter. No tach. Warning lights too dim to read in sunlight, had to add LED bulbs.
    – Four way adjustable levers
    – Separate fork lock with different key
    – Weak single horn
    – Plated steel fasteners – rust easily
    – Engine exceptionally smooth for a vertical twin throughout operating range; 56 hp claimed. DOHC 8 Valve layout
    – 451 lb wet weight
    – Chain drive
    – Weak exhaust note; need aftermarket to equal Guzzi
    – Two tone paint
    – Seat awkward to remove with two rear bolts. Document storage but side cover must be removed to access fuses.
    – No tool kit provided.

    Bottom line is the Guzzi is more nicely finished with nicer components, but now the Triumph is sorted out, it is the one I’ll never part with.

  13. Jay Mack says:

    I would like to buy the Guzzi, but the local Guzzi dealer will have nothing to do with me.

  14. Ryder says:

    To my eye, that Enfield is hard to beat for pure gnarly classic looks. The Guzzi & the Triumph also look very nice, & are no doubt more functional machines for today’s roads. Question: Aren’t just about all Harley’s basically “retro-look” machines? HD seems incapable of making anything, with rare exception, that strays far from the basic look they laid down about 70 or so years ago.

  15. Ron says:

    IMHO the 2011 BMW R1200R Classic belongs in this group…

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The 2011 R is a great looking standard bike, but there is nothing retro about it to my eyes. The design has evolved as much as the technology. It looks 100% modern IMHO opposed to the others that at least play to days of old from a design apsect.

  16. Travman says:

    I’m changing my vote to the Kawasaki W800 based on this rear three-quarters picture.

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4107/5054414179_6f4c30df70_b.jpg

  17. Justin says:

    as for the whole-bike aesthetics, the Ducati. However, agreed with Rusty who prefers the look of the Thruxton.

    but I would have the Honda, which has the potential monster motor of the lot. to my eyes, that cylinder head with sixteen valves in it is the most beautiful thing on this page. the front brake rotors on the Duc are second-most.

  18. Rusty says:

    It’s nice that we have these choices, as personal preference and sense of style varies. Me? I’m partial to the Guzzi, Honda, and Trumpet. I settled on the Thruxton version of the Triumph myself. Here’s a link to some pics…

    http://s218.photobucket.com/albums/cc166/RustyCunning/TriumphThruxton/

    With respect to all of the “retro” options, there are different approaches. The w650 (US option) is more closely a reproduction, like the Royal Enfield. The others or more modern interpretation of the classic styling in my book. And as much a Ducati fan as I am, I have one, I just couldn’t live with the stance of the 1000 Classic.

    That’s my two cents, the pics of my Thruxton state my position.

  19. Martin says:

    I well remember a lime green Moto Guzzi T3 850 being driven out of the bike shop, then leaned WAY over for the short trip to the lane behind the bike shop, back on a warm summer day in 1974 Paraparaumu in New Zealand. The presence, sound and design just thrilled me. It was way out of my Suzuki 250 two stroke price range, as a 17 year old schoolboy. That Guzzi would do well today, if brought up to modern specs. A 1971 gold flake 650 Bonneville (slim Yamk tank) was my other concurrent object of lust. Stangely a friend’s Ducati 750 SS did nothing for me, and I’ve never been overfond of Honda Fours. My favourite 70’s ride was a Honda XL350, lowered and stretched to handle all conditions. Wish I was 18, or 22, or even 30 again (sigh)…

  20. David Sumner says:

    The Royal Enfield is by far the best looking.

    • Had one says:

      Had a ’08 MG California. Loved it, but there’s no dealership network – none, zip, nada. Had to let it go.

  21. Charlie says:

    The W800 and Honda are “forbidden fruit” for those of us in the US right? Scratch those two then. Triumph with spoke wheels would be much better. The Ducati without 8″ of open space between the rear wheel and fender would look much better. The whole thing is angled downward towards the front like some old Chevelle with air shocks pumped up full pressure. That leaves the Enfield which IMO really is retro since the engine is a totally new design styled to look like the old one. It would be my choice if looks were the only criteria. However, I like a bike that looks good and has performance enough to handle real world traffic. That makes the Guzzi the best choice for me.

  22. Joel says:

    No contest here, The V7C is the winner. I bought one 13 months ago, have 6500 mi on it and love it.Excellent fit, finish, and build quality. The only thing I didn’t like was the seat, so swapped it for the bum stop seat from the cafe racer version (better looking and much more comfortable). The RE by the way is not a “retro”, but rather a “repro”, being nearly identical to the original–which wasn’t all that great.

  23. Al Cook says:

    The Enfield is not a Retro, it’s a 1950’s motorcycle with little improvement. The Kawasaki is Retro of an imitation of a Classic. The Bonneville T100 is a modern retro of a true classic. There are few engines more bullet-proof than a Hinckley twin. There are perhaps no bikes more fun to ride. No oil spots on the garage floor and no tool kit needed on a weekend run. Going on ten years owning one and cage drivers still start conversations at the stoplights and in the parking lots.
    1.Bonneville
    2.Royal Enfield
    3.Kawasaki
    The others look more standard than retro.

    • Al says:

      Al Cook, you should learn a bit more about Enfields before commenting. The bike pictured is not the Indian version of the U.K. produced bike of the ’50’s and ’60’s but rather an entirely new version that is replete with fuel injection, disc-brake, and electronic ignition. The chassis itself is also completely different as well. It is indeed a “retro” as the Indian manufacturers sought to incorporate the “eye appeal” of earlier Enfields.

  24. Al says:

    The V7 is as good as it can get!

  25. Greg G. says:

    No winner as far as looks are concerned.

  26. Fabio says:

    I’ll take the Ducati.
    Retro style, latest suspension technology, L-twin character, and italian !!

    • Sean says:

      WOAH there. Latest suspension technology? Hardly… Sure it has USD forks for less unsprung weight, but the “high tech” bits pretty much end there.

  27. I like the looks of the Ducati best.
    If I was to buy one it probably would be the honda because of the engine.

  28. Litho says:

    In terms of looks, the Kawasaki wins, followed by the Triumph. The Honda is alright too, if a touch generic looking. The Guzzi needs a better photo, cos I’ve never seen one in the flesh. The Ducati is too “Apple Fanboy” naff. The Enfield is just plain ugly.

    If I were allowed to choose only one, I’d probably take the Triumph.

  29. Paul W. says:

    As Robert E. said, this was not a fair contest because you pictured the least attractive Bonneville. You should have shown the T100. While this is all just opinion, I’ll go with the Guzzi and Kawi at 1st & 2nd. And of course we’re talking looks, not performance.

  30. Robert E. says:

    I looked at both the Guzzi and a Bonneville T100. I liked both but it came down to the dealer’s location and reputation so I went with the Triumph. When I looked closely at the various Bonneville models I felt that the T100 looked the most retro. I think if the picture here was of a T100 it would garner more 1st place votes.

    • Jamboa says:

      T100 which is not pictured and make that the models that were still Made In England and not a Thirumph pleaze. Guzzi has the look but I just lost a small boat load of money selling my Guzzi Griso because I could not stnad the dry clutch noise and drive shaft slop anymore.

  31. bikerrandy says:

    1. Moto Guzzi V7, 2. Kawasaki W800, 3. Ducati GT100. Now mind you, this is on looks alone. The others don’t stack up!

  32. Philip says:

    The Kawasaki qualifies and IS the best looking of the group!

  33. strogateta says:

    1.Bonnie
    2.Duc
    3.Honda (though unfair to compare with others, being something else)
    4.Guzzi
    5.Kawi (although the Kawi would be 1st if the criteria was epochal authenticity (actually it is not an authentique design).

    This is purely from an aesthetic point of view. If I chose one to buy, Bonnie would be the first again, but the rest would be positioned otherwise.

  34. Mackhé says:

    The Guzzi wins this contest easily…

    • MGNorge says:

      I submit that the Guzzi never strayed from its (retro) roots and has been available just like this for years. Most of Guzzi’s line has been living the retro part all along! Other than Royal Enfield, I think all the others modernized their bikes and had to reintroduce retro models!

  35. Stromrider says:

    W800 the most well done retro standard , Ducati second best , Guzzi third , and the mag wheel bikes just don’t say retro to me , but rather look at these cheap looking wheels we put on these pseudo retros . The Enfield is more of a scooter than a real motorcycle since it vibrates apart at highway speeds . Also don’t see Harley’s with their pullback handlebars , low seats and forward pegs as standards either . Retro they may look , but they are not standard bikes by look or design .

  36. Larry says:

    2004-2008 Harley Davidson XR1200R Sportster Roadster….beautiful bike
    Kawasaki ZRX 1100 and 1200
    Kawasaki ZR1100 Zephyr

    Three more to definitely consider…

  37. agent55 says:

    i’d have to say the Guzzi is the most beautiful, but i’d prefer to own the GT1000 simply because it’s modern and an absolute hoot to ride (and wheelie!)… ultimate sleeper?

  38. Roger says:

    I had been thinking Kawasaki, but I’d have to say that Moto Guzzi is better looking.

    Also just for history tips, that Kawasaki vertical shaft driving the bevel gear for cam drives, well that was a feature of the very first Kawasaki motorcycle engine they ever made. Nice historical touch.

    • MGNorge says:

      But who is going to think of that when it is Kawasaki’s two-strokes, outside of the W1, that most people remember of early Kawasakis? The bevel shaft reminds more of early Ducati singles I’d bet.

  39. Keith Keller says:

    Moto Guzzi. It’s not fair to put other bikes in a beauty contest with two Italians.

  40. jim hunter says:

    I have an old Ducati. I have an old Triumph. I have a Royal Enfield. I have a W650 Kawasaki. But, Boy, I’d love to have a Honda CB1100.

    • MGNorge says:

      Have a look on YouTube of the CB1100. It is very mildly tuned and they have given it a pretty meaty exhaust note, not loud, but deep.

  41. Simon Jester says:

    When “reto-bike” was merely “used bike”, I owned a ’65 Triumph and I remember those long walks back home pushing it’s dead corpse because of British electrics. My kidneys still ache from twin shock Elsinores were new instead of retro.

    “Best” retro, has to be the Royal Enfield. My idea of the best neo-retro would have to be a Bonneville scrambler because when my old Triumph was running (admittedly most of the time) it was pure magic for casual cruising both on the road and on easy trails.

  42. MikeD says:

    Honda CB1100, Bonneville SE (with DUAL DISC up front and smaller rear one), and also the W800 IF it had CAST 17″ wheels front and back with modern tubeless radial sport tires and also double Binders up front and Single on the Back.
    Sorry, I like the Good Classic Looks but im not willing to part without any of those “must have” that i mentioned. Classic doesn’t have to represent outdated and lacking. Honda got it right with CB1100.

    The DUC and Guzzi are probably overpriced(to me) for what ur getting…as usual.

  43. Joey Wilson says:

    Triumph really started this with the Bonnie reissues years back, and the Bonneville SE is just an eyeful for me. I really like all of these, and really hope the CB1100 and the W800 make it here. I realize the ‘new’ nakeds are along the lines of the Z1000 and the FZ8, but to me these all say ‘motorcycle’, except for the Enfield, which says ‘lawnmower’ . . . .

  44. Jiji Moselhy says:

    The Moto Guzzi by a country mile, none of the others are even close. Even as a huge Kawasaki fan, I can’t go for the W800…as several have pointed out on here, it looks far too much the part of a massaged british knock-off.

  45. brian says:

    Last year when I purchased my GT1000 it wasn’t a case of love at first sight so much as I spotted a great deal and felt strongly I could mold the bike to fit my needs. I had no idea the bike would become the best motorcycle for me I have ever driven. The stock demos I had ridden prior to getting the one I eventually purchased were both great bikes but many things were to be desired. The stock injection was herky jerky, bike had a twitchy front end, and the passenger part for my fiance had her bumping into me like she was sitting on a slip n slide. Meanwhile, I had ridden a Bonnie, a V7 Classic, and probably about 10-12 other bikes on my way to making the decision on the Duc. I had pretty much narrowed my choices down to the Duc, an R1200R, and a Guzzi Griso. When the Duc deal came to light, the collector I purchased it from already had Termis with the associated new ECU, and he also had an Ohlins steering damper installed as well; it was like another motorcycle compared to the stock versions. The injection problem and front end issue on the stockers were completely solved. The Termis also added character and performance, making the bike an exciting and soulful machine to drive and maybe the quickest of all the different bikes I test drove. Even despite the performance, it still turns in the best fuel economy of any bike I’ve owned always getting 48-50 mpg on the highway and 200 miles out of the 4 gallon tank. I added a comfort touring seat to better suit my soon to be wife, touring handlebars, touring Ducati shield, and a full set of Hepco Becker luggage. Yep, I had to spend a little money. In the end, however, I now own the most thoroughly and all around satisfying motorcycle I’ve ever driven. Most bikes I have purchased prior, I would start to find things wrong with them or little things I didn’t like after even the first couple weeks. My mind would start to drift and soon my wandering eyes would be looking at the next bike to replace the one I owned. With this Duc it’s the complete opposite; riding the bike only makes me appreciate it more each day. It really does do anything and everything I ask of it. I dunno if it’s the bike for everyone, but it’s definitely the bike they made for me.

  46. Charles says:

    Based on looks alone, the Royal Enfield definitely gets my vote. But, given its performance, I’d never buy one. The GT1000 is the only one in this group I’d consider buying. But, I’d choose the Ducati Sport over the GT1000. The Thruxton is my favorite Triumph retro bike. If it had the Ducati’s performance, it’d be the one I’d buy.

  47. Scooter says:

    I’ll take the Guzzi.

  48. Joe says:

    The best looking retro is?????????????????????????????????????????
    1. The Moto Guzzi V7
    2. The Triumph Bonneville
    3. Ducati 1000
    4. Royal Enfield
    5. Honda CB1100F
    The Kawasaki doeas’nt count since the original 1960’s W650 was a copy of a BSA and A Matchless. The 2000 era Kawasaki was a copy of the 60’s model and the current Bonneville with a bevel driven cam copied from a 60’s era Ducati.
    The Honda is a bit of a stretch from the 1969 750 KO, it looks more like a mid 80’s cutom mixed with early 90’s 750 Nighthawk.