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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

The Best Looking Retro Standard


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.


GT 1000


Royal Enfield



  1. GaryF says:

    Regarding the distinction between “true” retro and “wanna be” retro …

    I am old, see? Have been riding and racing more than 35 years. I guess that makes me a “retro rider.” I remember the original Nortons and BSAs and Ducatis. They were not “retro” back then … they were just “bikes.”

    And they pretty much sucked.

    I had a Bultaco Sherpa S that seized pretty regularly, with a transmission that shifted like it was filled with taffee.

    You may think a “true” retro bike is cool. If so, I invite you to own and ride one. It will leave a mark.

    I’ll take a modern bike with retro looks every day of the week … and twice on Sunday.

    • Scott says:

      “Best Looking” was the qualifier. If you want to talk about best performing… well then that’s a different thing altogether. The Ducati would likely get the nod, but, again, it isn’t really trying that hard to be an old bike.

      While we’re at it, the ultimate retro bikes are conspicuously absent from this article.

    • Charlie says:

      “You may think a “true” retro bike is cool. If so, I invite you to own and ride one. It will leave a mark”.

      I have only two bikes, both vintage. Both get ridden just as one would use a modern bike and both haven’t left their “mark” in any bad way. That is unless you mean oil drips on the pavement! 🙂 Both are usable in real world traffic, both are capable of doing 90% of what their modern counterparts can do. Both have been super reliable (I am a professional mechanic though) and require little more maintenance than modern machines. They both have “class” and the “cool” factor missing from just about everything nowadays. Simple, rugged, easy to maintain, cheap to fix – any wonder I don’t want a new bike?

      Oh – the bikes? ’69 Moto Guzzi V750 Ambassador (100k miles) and ’77 Yamaha XT500

      • GaryF says:

        Both excellent bikes. I had an SR500 Yammie back in the … ehhhh … early 80s, must’ve been. Rode that thing all over New Orleans and surrounding states. Was my only transpo while attending college. Great fun.

        But I still maintain that modern bikes are a whole lot mo betta … taking into consideration things reliability, performance and brakes. Especially brakes. I can remember bikes that stopped quicker if you just dragged your boots in the dirt, rather than try to get any real braking.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      I agree with you, GaryF. I’m not nearly as seasoned of a rider as you but I don’t see a market for bikes stamped out of 45-year old tooling. How many people are going to buy a new bike that leaks fluids and has fussy carburetors, points, plugs that foul quickly, wooden brakes, a rubber frame, pogo suspension, odd tire sizes and weird geometry? That’s for the restoration crowd.

      Any bike is a collection of compromises chosen to reach a target. Retro’s a theme – classic shapes wrapped around modern engineering. It can cover any past period. It could be argued that the Royal Enfield’s 50’s styling is as much out of place in this 60-70’s group as is the ZRX and it’s 80’s superbike theme.

  2. Wilson R says:

    W800 is truest to form. All the others show too much modern influence.

  3. Scott says:

    There are three different kinds of “retros” here.

    1. Truly retro

    2. Retro wannabe

    3. Retro-esque

    The Enfield has the looks because it’s basically the bike it’s always been.

    The bonnie, no matter how much people love it, is a boring bike that’s painfully not right in proportion. Where the original had that lithe athletic look and feel, the new bonnie says “tank” in looks and handling. Sure, it handles better than most Harleys, but that’s a pretty low bar.

    The Guzzi is better than the Triumph, but has some of the same awkward not-quite-what-it-pretends-to-be going on.

    The W800 is gorgeous. Period.

    #3. The Ducati is italian, the good kind.

  4. tastroman says:

    Should have included the TU250.

  5. coloradoslim says:

    I own a 2006 Bonnie T100, and with suspension tweaks, new cans and the airbox removal, it provides an extremely gratifying riding experience. I love mine. The T100 is the best looker in this group outside of the Thruxton. But neither will ever match the raw exhilaration of the old pre-Bloor Triumphs. Beyond that, the V7 and the GT1000 get my blood moving. The W800? Why buy a copy of a copy of a legend?

  6. Hoshiko says:

    Kawi’s W800 just perfect, even the paint makes me turn mi eyes to it, Honda’s CB1100F second place, Royal’s overpriced, unsafe, slow but cute bike only if I had some other bike to ride on the daly bassis. Ducati’s GT100 love the rear end and pipes. Triumph is cool and I actually don’t like Guzzi’s engine (looks)

    What about Honda’s Shadow RS750 and the Ural Bike.

  7. Artem says:

    My vote goes to W800.
    Have to mention Enfield, but because of other reason.
    It looks much like Jawa 250 of the late 60s. That
    model was so much common in our country that there are
    no reason to adore it.
    Found recently that Jawa those time produced pretty sophisticated
    recing motorcycles. It’s a pitty they were not durable.

  8. Bones says:

    The fact that each of these retro bikes is so appealing demonstrates their timeless designs. If someone is handing out keys, I won’t be choosy. If it’s my own coin, I’ll take the CB1100.

  9. GeoK says:

    I think the 2006 Triumph Scrambler (1st model year with polished engine cases) in the Caspian Blue and White two-tone. I have a 2007 with black cases, but the 2006 looks better. It may not be an exact replica of a previous model, but the polished high side exhaust, bluing manifold pipes, fork gaiters, and REAL carbs does it for me. I linger in the garage sometimes just looking at it, and still can’t help taking the odd occasional picture of it when I ride to work.

  10. LT says:


    How’s Bonnie compared to GT? TIA.

  11. Jeremy in TX says:

    If price were not an option, I’d run out and order a Norton Commando 961 SE right now. It is the best looking retro IMHO and makes just enough power.

    But price is a criteria for me unfortunately, so…

    Ducati GT1000 – Solid brakes, relatively light weight, a decent suspension and enough power to keep my blood running. It isn’t the best looking – I think the Triumph, W800 and V7 all look better – but it is the one I would spend my money on despite the price premium over the others.

  12. The Royal Enfield, CB 1100, W 800, Triumph,

  13. Bruce Fenimore says:

    I own a 2009 Bonneville T-100. Shoulda bought one back in 2001 whan they first came out. This bike is by far the best overall, do-it all bike I have ever owned. It tours, commutes, & bike nights with the best of em. I rode H-D for thirty years and I kick myself everyday for not making the jump sooner. The Guzzi is pretty hot too, and like the Bonnie, its a very true too its roots which is very cool.

  14. LarryC says:

    Well, I have three Guzzis in the garage, all LeMans V’s, so I am partial to sporting Guzzis in general. Their cruisers leave me cold however. Too bad the V7 isn’t available in a 1000 with great suspension and brakes. I had a 1000S in green and black and it was easily the most striking motorcycle I’ve ever owned. Guzzi could do better than refrigerator white or the bile green (yeah, I know it’s retro) that the V7 comes in.

    I owned an ’06 Bonneville in red and black and it was beautiful. Easily the best looking of the whole Bonneville T100 series. Unfortunately, the Triumphs need suspension improvements, at the very least better shocks. The single disc is pretty marginal too. And a six speed would be nice. However, the 5 speed was among the best shifting bikes I’ve ever owned.

    I’d love to own the Honda, I had two CB750 K1’s. But of course it isn’t available in the USA, probably never will be, and won’t sell well if it is. I don’t think it should be included on the list for that reason.

    I lust for the Ducati and have test ridden the GT1000. Neat bike with up-to-date components and a nice motor, but alas its seat is lacking for two-up work.

    The Kawi looks exactly like what it is, a Japanese knock-off of a Britsh bike. I guess you need to think of it as an updated W2, which legitimizes it somewhat. It’s my least favorite, I’d rather have a nice original W2SS. An early Yamaha TX650 wouldn’t be bad either. Think Kenny Roberts street tracker. Nice.

    Hey, where’s the Triumph Thruxton? Now there’s the best looking bike in Triumph’s whole line-up. Highly likely a Thruxton is destined for a slot in the garage soon. I’m already looking at atermarket parts!

    All these bikes have more personality than plastic wrapped faux generi-racers or cruiser clones, but that’s just me. YMMV.

  15. Ward Bond says:

    The Moto Guzzi V7 wins hands down. Who couldn’t resist the simplicity of the Italian design. It has character will be a timeless design for many years to come. I’m getting one!

  16. Bruce says:

    The CB1100 Honda is clearly the choice given mass market abilities, parts, dealer network, service personel, and resale.

  17. JD says:

    Like them all but the CB1100F does it for me. I hold out hope it will be available one day soon in the US.

  18. Jose says:

    Let me see..
    Moto guzzi: I like it alot but no parts…
    Honda: don’t like the rear end.
    Ducati: Allways like it.
    Triumph: Love it..I have one.
    Royal Enfield: Now this one do not make sence..Only 27 horses, 7K+ and very scary at 70 mph…I know.
    W 800: My next buy…Love it!

  19. MinnJim says:

    +1 they all look great, but to buy and ride, I’d take the Kawi…

  20. Jim H. says:

    Boy, if you like that sort of look, the Royal Enfield is the stuff. I have to vote W800 Kawasaki though, with the Guzzi in the runner up position. My blue 03 ZRX1200 with T-Force pipe and fender eliminator still looks better than any of them though!

  21. BulletBob says:

    For retro look the Guzzi and W800 are my favorites!

  22. Tim says:

    I wish that Triumph would take another look at a retro triple.

  23. gt928 says:

    It’s the V7 for me, though I really like them all. Gorgeous, retro and imminently practical. 2nd, maybe the W800.

  24. RichBinAZ says:

    I have an ’01 Bonnie, very nice and easy to ride, just a little underpowered for todays traffic. I am always in the market for a new standard and I would trade my ’07 Bandit for the 1100 honda. The Enfield is the most retro and pretty one of the lot, but at 1/2 the power of the bonnie, it would be a museum piece.

  25. tbook says:

    The HD Sportster 2011 Superlow fits nicely in the classic retro niche.

  26. Bonnie limey says:

    Has to be the Triumph Bonneville…The clever way they hid the fuel injectors in the ?carburetters….big powerful parallel twin motor with the very latest build technology in handling ,brakes and tires…what more could you ask for?..

    • RussellP says:

      I can only ask for one thing more. BELT drive. Then I would buy one.
      I don’t understand why manufactures don’t design bikes with the option
      of chain or belt drive. Look at all the Harleys sold, since they switched to belt drive back in the 80’s.

  27. BellaCorse says:

    I’m a hardcore fan & owner of the modern Bonneville & GT1000. I’ve never been a big fan of anything Japanese, but I got to say, that Honda & Kawasaki just look fantastic. I hope someday they hit the US shores.

  28. asphalt surfer says:

    My pick is the V7 Guzzi. I used to have a 70 Amby but also a 72 Duke GT. I think the Guzzi is closer to the original. Nice group overall. Good option to Harleys as retro.

  29. Larry Geiger says:

    I like all of them, especially the V7 and the Bonneville, but I would buy and ride the Honda.

  30. paul246 says:

    I’ll take the Kawasaki w800.

  31. Don says:

    I own and very much like my Ducati GT1000 but if my decision had to be based solely on the pix posted here it’d have to be the Honda CB1100. Would I buy one? Not likely. But the Kawasaki would truly tempt me. So would the Guzzi if it had their larger motor.

  32. Ray says:

    Sorry to say but “standard” is exactly what they all are
    Spoke wheels – check, air cooled twin – check, same suspension, same single light…
    Like the old UJM, just a “standard”

    • BoxerFanatic says:

      With the advent of aluminum frames, cast aluminum wheels, and other modern bits… the spoke wheels, and tube-frame look, and the old-school tank shapes and such… are “retro”.

      Not just standard, but new revivals of ‘old-school’.

      A Suzuki Gladius or a Honda 599 or something like that… would be a current-tech ‘standard.’

  33. mark217 says:

    The W800 by far, I’d go buy one right now if I could.. Sad to hear they are not coming to the US. Maybe Kawasaki will change their mind, looks like they have a winner here. Maybe a cafe model too? That would be awesome..

  34. Jurgen says:

    Where I live on the Southern tip of Africa, the only bike on the list that I can actually buy is the Triumph Bonneville. I once very nearly did, and I regret to this day that I did not. But that can be rectified. However, I must say, if Kawasaki ever brought the W800 to our shores, I would take that above the others. Very interesting thread!

  35. Chris C. says:

    I have owned a 2001 Triumph Bonneville since new. It gets ridden daily and now has over 116,000 miles. The bike is simply awesome. It may not have the power, brakes and handling of a modern sportbike, but the sit up and beg ergos are nearly perfect and it does many things very well including long interstate trips, commutes as well as weekend canyon carving. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked what year it was or what a nice restoration it is. So my vote with obvious bias is the Triumph Bonneville.

  36. Stinky says:

    I hate to be one of those “if it was only bigger, heavier, more complicated” people ,but, I’d have been looking hard for a Guzzi if they’d have used the bigger motor from their lineup.
    I like touring on standards (sometimes through the mountains) with my big butt and overpacking, the old aircooled 700 twin, I’m afraid, would be taxed. I always wanted an Italian bike and found an old Ducati 900SS. Sorry but it’s not a standard, shoulda woulda coulda.

  37. Ron says:

    Yeah me too. Trade in my BMW for a W800 in a heartbeat.

  38. chris says:

    Hasn’t been made for quite some time (maybe it’s a classic itself???) ut my vote is for Honda GB500. Perfect in looks and execution.

  39. Ed Chambers says:

    I think they’re all beautifull and wish they were more readily available .I’ve always been a fan of the Bonneville and I like the Guzzi too.Unfortunately I’d have to travel over 150mi to get to a dealership that might have either.So I’m currently in the process of turning my 06 Harley Street bob into something resembling a very big, very heavy retro standard.

  40. Mike says:

    Why a picture of the standard Bonnie? The Thruxton should have been included, or one of the special T100s. The Thruxton and the new Norton Commandos win hands down. I suppose that you could call these “retro standards” as well, even if they are more cafe’ racer than upright.

    The Kaw is too funky for my taste.

  41. yamasarus says:

    Is there any chance kawasaki is reading this thread? I have already contacted them regarding the W800. If you want it in the US, tell them! I really want one……

  42. Jeff Roberts says:

    Is it OK to love them all? I do, but having owned 3 CB900F’s, I love the CB1100 most. A really surprising bike is the ’09 and later Bonneville which is possibly the most fun bike I have ridden in a decade.
    Any of our opinions will no doubt be influenced by past loves.

  43. Grof says:

    Horex VR6 (Germany) will beat all of them together.

  44. jimbo says:

    Looks alone I’d pick the Royal Enfield. I’d purchase the CB1100, presuming it has the greatest overall performance and smoothest motor. Looks fantastic too, but then again, every one of em’s way above average and make the race replicas look like crap.

  45. PN says:

    It’s the Guzzi V7 Classic by a mile. Everything’s perfectly proportioned, it’s Italian, and what could be better? Next is Kawi W800. It looks like a jewel. The Duc GT 1000 is too long and the Honda CB1100 looks efficient but a little cold and clunky, the way a CB750 did compared to a Z1, and the engine looks too high. I’d like to like the Bonnie. It works better than the original, of course, but can’t hold a candle to it in looks, and I don’t care for its engine in black. The Scrambler is pretty good though. The Royal Enfield? Please. Not a serious motorcycle. Maybe when they relocate the O2 sensor.

  46. Travman says:

    You should post up the funky green V7 Cafe’ Classic and the Triumph Thruxton. Both of these are gorgeous. But perhaps they aren’t considered standards since they have lowered handle bars.

    Several have mentioned the Kawisaki ZRX1100/1200r. Great bike, but it really belongs in a class by itself. It’s styling is not from the same time period as the others.

  47. mstack says:

    I own an 02 Bonnie and it’s a fantastic bike. With the 19″ hoop and Staintunes it looks “right”. It works better than I imagined too. Sportster? A heavy slug compared to the Bonnie. I love the Ducati Sports and Paul Smarts but, like the Thruxton, my old bones don’t like it. The Kawi is cool but why buy something that looks like a Bonnie when you could buy the Bonnie? The new Norton looks great but I like Dreer’s original wasp tail with the monoshock over the twin shock rig. Off the showroom GREAT retro look goes to the Guzzi sport. It nailed it.

  48. Ross Livingston says:

    I love the look of the Guzzi v7 and would buy one if there was a guzzi dealer.
    I have a Kawasaki w650 and love it but I think the 800 should have front and rear disc brakes and FI would be a good enhancement.
    I would absolutly buy the Honda CB1100 but doubt honda will bring it to the states cause all us americans like is v-twin cruisers and sportbikes.
    How bout some lightweight 350-400 twins like the old honda cb/cl but with modern amenities?

  49. trent says:

    I love the look of the Kawi, but it’s not available in the U.S. and I’m not sure what kind of performance it offers. Of the bikes here, the Duc is light and powerful and a little bit retro, so that’s the one I’d get. The Bonnie is porky, but I could probably grow to love it.

  50. Mark Pearson says:

    I’m more of a late 70’s/early 80’s superbike guy than a café racer. My heart says ZRX but my current budget said ‘78 CB750F. When there’s a little more room in the budget (once/if my track day career is over) I’m going to have a hard time deciding between a ZRX or restoring the CB.

    Of the bikes listed above I believe the V7 best captures the spirit of the retro theme. Triumph deserves the success they’ve enjoyed with the Bonneville. The XR1200 should have made the list and is the bike I would buy if money were no object. If it were my money then I’d probably get the Honda.

    I’d like to think that the recent interest in café racers will bring more bikes like these to the States.

  51. Kjazz says:

    how bout harleys, they’re retro without trying to be and some of em are sorta standard…..?

    I like the Thruxton (close looking to a Bonnie), but the most retro looking to me of this bunch are the Kawa and the Enfield.

  52. Tim says:

    The Kawai is very cool, but he Honda is drop dead gorgeous. Bring it here, Honda, pleeeeease!

  53. Josh says:

    Ridden a few Bonnevilles and a Thruxton. Not impressed with looks or performance.

    Owned a Ducati Sport 1000. Beautiful bike, but ill-handling due to cheapish suspension.

    For my money, the best looking retro right now is the Norton Commando 961.

  54. scorpio says:

    As the owner of a 2007 Bonneville I’m biased toward my own machine. It’s a perfect balance of performance (after the stage two kit anyway), versatility, and authenticity. Never had a bike that sparked so many conversations with strangers at gas stations either, and none have anything bad to say.

    Of the others, if cost were no object I would’ve picked the Norton 961 Commando – and promptly fitted the shortest custom shocks that would fit! The Ducati Classics (& to a lesser extent the ‘Guzzi V7 Sport) suffer from the same stance, but are almost as gorgeous anyway. Bernard Li totally missed the boat with his Vincents, although they would’ve been a blast to ride with that RC51 motor.

    Personally I think the Japanese UJM years are too recent to be retro; if I were younger I might see it differently as less time seems to pass with more years 😉 That leaves the CB1000 & ZRX11/1200, and even the W650/800 & new Bonneville looking too “new” for true retro appeal.

    While authentic and beautiful, Urals & Enfields aren’t retro, they’re vintage! All very cool if you want an antique bike with low miles to admire in the garage and maybe on a Sunday afternoon with perfect weather, but if beauty lies at all in function, you’ll understand if I leave them out of the running.

    Bringing me back to my Bonneville. It’s my 11th bike and the one I plan to keep the longest, even if I transfer my sport-touring parts over to a new one eventually and convert my ’07 to a bobber. The Triumph slogan sums up this topic perfectly: Go Your Own Way!

  55. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    The Kawi is retro class without pretention. Can’t say the same about the others. The Enfield is pretty but almost too precious to ride.

  56. denny says:

    They all look good, hands down…. eh maybe save of indian Enfield – they did too much mods and addons, that changed original spirit of it. Looks kind of away of original. What we should vote for is if ALL retros are the best looking bikes. My pick woud be W650/ W800. they are phenomenaly engineered, probably ahead of the rest. Shame there is nobody building by old Zundapps and NSUs!

  57. Dave says:

    The Guzzi is nice the Triumph T-100 is beautiful but the standard you have pictured is just so so

  58. JimW says:

    As an owner of a 2010 Triumph Bonneville SE (blue and white) I have to give it my vote. Looks cool, handles great, semi-underpowered but Triumph “off road” mufflers provide a bit more kick and a nice retro note.

    As others have mentioned the Kawasaki ZRX is an awesome bike and is retro too, but maybe not to the extent of the others. Gotta be lime green, or course (got one of them too!)

    Also like the new Honda but looks a little too “edgy” to be truly retro.

  59. John says:

    The soon-to-be available Cleveland Cyle Werks Misfit would fit on this list, though overall I think my vote for best-looking retro would go to the Bullet Classic first and the Guzzi V7 next. I probably won’t buy either one, but I might buy a Misfit…’cause I’m cheap.

  60. Frank says:

    I’d have to say the W800. To me it looks like it just came off a production line from the 1960’s. All the others have a retro look, but they don’t look like they were manufactured in the 60’s.

  61. Beaufort says:

    C’mon Dirck, please add photos of Guzzi’s V7 Classic and Suzuki’s TU250 to this article.

  62. Travman says:

    It is a tie between the Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic and the W800 for best looking retro. The Royal Enfield looks great, but I’m putting it in 2nd place The Guzzi wins because it is actually available in the U.S.

    The Ducati GT1000 and SC1000 don’t have the right line because of their ass in the air stance resulting in a massive amount of air between the rear fender & tire. Also the Ducati Sport Classic tanks are way to big when you see them in person because they also contain the air box. Next to an orginal or even a Ducati Monster the GT1000’s tank looks bloated.

    The Honda looks good overall. The tank is a little wonky. The tank seam is too obvious and the headlight bracket looks cheap.

    The Bonneville looks good. The engine looks a little chubby. From most angles the latest 17 inch rims don’t look right on a retro bike, so I would pick the T100 with 19 inch front tire or the Scrambler.

  63. Mickey says:

    The Kaw W650 is gorgeous but try and find a Kawi dealer that even stocks the brochure much less the bike. I know I tried, which is how I ended up with ….

    a Triumph T100 Bonneville, an 03 model, which was a great solo motorcycle if you don’t mind weak acceleration and weak brakes. It was smooth, reliable and looked good (although it does not have the stunning proportions,looks and sound of the mid 60’s Bonnevilles). After two years of ownership, I sold mine to my brother.

    The Royal Enfield looks the part but is gutless and un-reliable

    As far as the TU 250 Suzuki, it may very well be a great bike, and although I am not a speed or horsepower freak, I don’t know how anyone rides around on a 250 these days (I’ve ridden my DIL’s 08 Ninja 250 and you have to wind the vinegar out of it to go anywhere…no thanks). I outgrew 250’s in 1967 when I got my CL77 Honda (305 Scrambler), then my CB350 twin, and then my CB 350/4 then my CB450 and finally my CB750 (finally, a truly awesome bike for it’s time). Still wish I had gone all the way and bought a GL1000.

    The Ducati COULD look great, if they got rid of the foot gap between the rear tire and fender (Hey Ducati…it’s not a motocrosser with 9″ of suspension travel), put a decent looking seat on it instead of that pillow looking thing, and bring the back of the fuel tank down to where it sits level.If they did those things, I’d consider it, maybe even lust after it.

    The Moto Guzzi V7 classic is another that looks the part, although it needs a real metal gas tank, but again, I’ve ridden one and it is gutless.

    The BMW R1200R Classic someone mentioned, is a wonderful bike, good looking, plenty of power, outstanding brakes and a great do it all machine, probably my favorite of them all. Rode one for 2 weeks in Europe this summer and would buy one in a heartbeat if they were more reasonably priced and there was a BMW dealer within 100 miles.

    BUT … the one most likely to end up in MY garage, would be the Honda CB1100F. Honda reliability, fit and finish, plenty of power and although the tank is rather angular, it bike overall looks great, add in dealer network and at less than German or Italian prices for comparable machines, and it’s a winner in my book.

  64. ryan says:

    Maybe the ? should be…”what retro looking production bike looks best that may be purchased in the States”

  65. Jay Mack says:

    Doesn’t Moto Guzzi still make the California Classic? That is a great looking motorcycle.

    As much as I like Triumph, I do not like the tank seams on the Bonneville. The photo isn’t too good and I cannot quite see what the W800 has for tank seams, but it looks pretty nice. The Royal Enfield is great looking.

    Still, all around, of all these I’d probably buy the Bonneville.

  66. Joel says:

    With its ugly fuel-tank seams and bulging crankcases, the Bonneville might deserve some sort of prize for worst bastardization of a beautiful original. Great motorcycle to own and ride, but not to look at.

    I’d go with the Kawasaki, from this list, but for a retro bike that combines appearance and function, I’d pick the XR1200 over the other motorcycles here.

  67. William says:

    OK, I’m obviously biased here as one of my current bikes is a w650. So I would pick the w800 as the best looking bike. I just wish they had kept the kickstarter ( I use mine all the time when starting up my bike, just because I can).

    I really like the CB1100F also. I used to own a CB700SC Nighthawk S. and it was the best bike I ever owned. Bring it back with modern components (fuel injection, better brakes and suspension) and I’ll buy another one. Honda, are you listening?

  68. Ken Davis says:

    I like the Ducati for a retro. My wife digs the MG V7 Cafe. I have to add though, why don’t you have the HD Sportster in this list? It is a retro bike and the only bike of the bunch that is still in production from the 50’s.

  69. William says:

    OK, I’m a little biased here since one of my bikes is a w650. I like the w800. I wish they would have kept the kickstarter (my preferred way of starting the bike).

    The Honda CB1100F is very cool also. I used to own a Honda 700 Nighthawk S. and it was definitely the best bike I ever owned. I would love to see it come back with modern components.

    I think the BMW R1200R could have made this list also. They released a “Classic” version for 2011 and it is a looker.

  70. Vrooom says:

    Best to ride I’d guess would be the Ducati. Best looking, hmmm, for me that’s a tie between the Honda, Triumph and Kawasaki….yeah pretty wishy washy. The Enfield has a true classic look, but also looks like an underpowered death trap. That Honda is surprisingly good looking, and likely the most powerful of the bunch. Unfortunatey, in Portland buying an unfaired bike means more time in the garage than I’m comfortable with, it’s just too cold and especially very rainy.

  71. jason says:

    The best retro-looking bike?
    1. Royal Enfield
    2. Kawasaki
    3. Triumph
    4. Honda
    5. Ducati

    The best riding experience?
    1. D@mn sure not the Enfield – the two I’ve ridden shared the distinction of being rickety death traps! It doesn’t have to feel like you’re about to die to be retro… I’ve got an original 74 CB350F here at the shop that doesn’t scare me anywhere near as much as the “new” Enfields!
    The Bonneville is capable, competent, and very predictable.
    I’ve not ridden any of the others, so I can’t speak from experience there.

    Like many have mentioned, the ZRX is still a strong contender for the retro standard crown. My personal ride is another twist similar to what harry mentioned: a 1998 Suzuki Bandit 1200 stripped of unneeded plastic. While I’d love the CB1100F, I’ll settle for building the real deal: 70s & 80s vintage Japanese steel can be modernized….

  72. GaryF says:

    Gi’me the Bonneville. It’s what a bike is supposed to look like. Clean, classic and spartan. Old school cool.

  73. Erndog says:

    Very nice bikes! Finally some practical machines with good looking exhaust; unlike many of the crotch rockets and far out customs. These bikes should sell.

  74. Don S. says:

    Isn’t the new Norton Commando a production bike now?

  75. The Best looking is the Enfield. Bit it’s likely the last one I would own strictly for performance reasons. There is a better more retro Triumph (without cast wheels fer crying out loud) and the Honda was a MUCH better looking bike as a concept than the actual production model. The Duck is lust material and quite a performer and would probably be my favorite actual bike to ride. But the “total package” to actually own would be the W800 or much more likely a bike not even included on this list..

    The Triumph Scrambler.

  76. Michael H says:

    I wouldn’t kick any of them out of my garage. And I’d add the BMW R1200 R to the list, especially in black paint with white stripes.

    • BoxerFanatic says:

      That straddles the line… But that is fine with me. I like BMW R-bikes.

      the new DOHC R12R has the old-school looks with the spoke wheels, and chrome/satin aluminum trim… but it has modern touches like a single-sided shaft-drive suspension, and telelever… and the big fuel tank doesn’t look narrow like the old /5 and /6 tanks, neither the big tanks, nor the small toaster tanks.

      BMW could go even more retro than the R1200R. Just like the V7 Sport and Cafe Classic is more truly retro than the V12 Griso, even though the Griso has some classic styling elements.

    • LarryC says:

      Y’know, BWM is trying hard to enhance its performance image, but they have great oppotunity to build a true retro bike that would recall their long heritage. Imagine knock-off R90S in silver smoke with a modern boxer mill.

  77. anon says:

    You could split hairs and call it a ‘cafe racer’ rather than a ‘standard’… but since you included the Ducati, I’m going to have to answer: Triumph Thruxton.

  78. Tim says:

    It’s not on the list because it’s no longer available but the late 90’s to early 2000’s Triumph Thunderbirds would be my tops anyway. Nearly as retro looking as the Bonnies but with a lot more poke. Of the ones listed, like others I’d have a hard time deciding between the GT1000 and the CB1100F. Hmmm. A bike that isn’t sold in the US or a bike that has been discontinued and can’t get along with ethynol fuels without the tank pulling itself apart. Tough call.

  79. Mike says:

    It’s not made in the US anymore, but the Kawasaki ZRX1100 was a great retro styled bike with up-to-date components. I’m sorry I sold mine. Several blasts from the past I’d like to see remade are:

    – Honda VF750F Interceptor
    – Honda Hawk GT
    – Honda Nighthawk S

    • Chris says:

      Good list. I’d open up the Interceptor remake to include the 500 and 1000.

      Retro’s and standards/nakeds don’t really do anything for me. But I could see owning a modern Nighthawk S. Even at the old tarrif beating 700cc displacement.

    • BoxerFanatic says:

      I have a Hawk GT. Great bike, the only thing out of date are the power level out of the engine, and the damper-rod forks.

      But I wouldn’t call it Retro. It was modern for it’s introduction in 1989, and still looks clean and modern today. It is a naked sport standard, but not retro.

      The VF bikes in the ’80s are also modern for their time, and not retro. But very nice bikes.

      I wish Honda hadn’t abdicated the Hawk GT’s market placement to the Ducati Monster and Suzuki SV650, which ran rampant. Hawk GT was before it’s time, and overshadowed by the cheaper-price Hurricane/CBR-F2.

  80. Vinny Falcone says:

    Are you kidding? All of the above plus the Guzzi V7 and Suzuki TU250!!!! Minor preferences notwithstanding, a classic standard is the most versatile, useful and fun bike to have.
    Keep it naked, add a few performance parts and you have a back road thrasher. Clamp on a plexiglass fairing and some soft bags and you’re touring in relative comfort. Just a backpack and a half-helmet needed for frugal commuting.
    I would only add that Kawasaki bring the W800 to the states and Suzuki make a 600cc+ TU.
    If you like more modern fare, a Gladius will do exactly the same, but won’t look as cool.

  81. TJ says:

    They all good, in a Retro way, but the list should also include the base model Sportsters and Super Glide, as well as the Ural.

    • Zombo says:

      Did you Harley complainers actually read the article title of BEST LOOKING RETRO STANDARD ? Cruisers or touring bikes ARE NOT STANDARDS – the last standards with the Harley name on them were the Italian made Aermacchi line of bikes . I realize you Harley fanboys are proud of the way your bikes look (since they don’t handle or accelerate very well) , but they don’t fit the standard classification by any means .

      • TJ says:

        Been riding for over 4o yrs and the new Sporsters are still similar in appearence and power to the 54 KH I owned from 66 – 69. I’m not a Harley fanboy at all, but have been around bikes long enough to know that some haven’t evolved much over the decades.

  82. BoxerFanatic says:

    All of those bikes look great… but I would probably pick a Ducati Sport 1000, rather than the GT 1000.
    That is until BMW brings it’s Lo Rider concept to production, and makes a 1200 DOHC tech-updated retro of the /5 or /6 era bikes.
    The Moto-Guzzi V7 Sport and Cafe Classic are nice, too. The Clubman Racer is downright hot. Too bad it doesn’t have more power, and 4-valve-per-cyl heads like the V12 series engines.

  83. ziggy says:


    Kawasaki ZRX 1200!


  84. Erik S says:

    My choices for the podium;
    1) Sportster Nightster
    2) Guzzi V7
    3) CB1100F

    Never liked the Bonneville, reminds me more of the CB350 than a late 60’s Triumph, Hinckley should just rebadge the Kawasaki, they got it right.

  85. Beej says:

    Sorry, V7 classic not 750.

  86. Pou says:

    In their heyday, standards combined performance with comfort and practicality. The bike that fits these qualities best is the CBF1000. Simple, strong, fun, and does it all. If you upgrade the tires and suspension, it works well in the twisties too.

    Is it obvious that I put 80K miles on my ’94 CB1000?

    Second place goes to the Kawi. Reintroducing that bike at 800cc was a great idea.

  87. Eddie says:

    In order of looks:

    In order of which would personally buy and ride:

  88. Beej says:

    What, no Moto Guzzi 750 classic?

  89. Mr. Mike says:

    Ordering by looks/retro cool factor alone:

    1) W800 (nailed it)

    2) Bonneville (nice but a bit chubby)
    2) Royal Enfield (looks great but way retro – maybe too much?)

    3) GT 1000 (nice up front but doesn’t flow well into rear)
    4) CB1100F (something very wrong with proportions and lines. Beautiful engine but tank/seat/rear/side cover look like they are from different bikes)

  90. kirk66 says:

    My order: #1- Bonni has great looks and wonderful feel on the road. 2- The new CB looks like a hoot, but I suppose it’s not coming here so that’s why it’s 2. 3- The Bullet, but I like the military green version better than the one pictured. I’ve ridden a current FI model and had a blast on it and never broke 50mph. 4- I’d pic the W800 untested becasue the W650 was such a cool bike. 5- GT. I used to sell them. Nice enough bike but slightly off the mark. Must be an Italian thing. Nice enough but last for this crowd. Mark’s right, though, the Sport or the few years old PS are great looking.
    And what about the Moto Guzzi V7. That’s an awsome looking little bike. No respect for tractor motors?

  91. Angus says:

    Greetings, It would have to be the Kawasaki W800 as it looks like it came right out of the mid 60’s when I started riding. The spokes, fork shock covers, and seat seem to be correct for that time period.

  92. Chango says:

    I’m awfully fond of my 2009 Suzuki TU250X. To me, it represents the essence of basic motorcycling. While many scoff at the 15 or so arm-stretching rear wheel horsepower, it manages to get my 250 pound self up to 75 mph on the interstate when I need it to; but that’s not what the bike is best at. For bimbling around town, the TU beats the ever living poo out of my last four bikes (3 600 supersports and a 2001 Bandit 600).

    The fuel injection is nice too. So far I’ve ridden it in temps into the 20s and all I have to do it hit the starter and it fires right up every time. No choke to forget about, no stumbling until the engine is warmed up, just start and go.

    The “high speed” handling is interesting as you can feel the frame flexing when you push it, and while it may all be in my head I swear at times I can feel the rear shocks going in opposite directions (one compressing the other rebounding) if I hit a bump mid-corner. Then again, that’s why I have a track-only bike…

    It’s obviously not a long distance tourer, but for getting around town it really is quite nice.

  93. Brent says:

    I like them all especially the Honda but in the end I love twins. The Bonnie is nice but I never thought the heads looked right, kind of odd looking to me. So it’s gotta be the W800.

  94. harry says:

    Give me an inline 4 retro (type 2) or nothing. I love that buzzing in my ear, I hate power pulses in my rear. Did anyone at MCD see the new almost retro 2011 Suzuki
    GSX1250FA? Put a round headlight on it and voila a retro.

  95. Michael White says:

    The best design is the Honda. It’s not only an exquisite retro homage, it’s clearly just a good bike. The original Bonnie or CB were not trying to look like something from the past, they just were. That’s what the Honda is . . . I like the Ducati, except for the ungainly rear end. The other bikes are lovely, but for me they are a little too backward-looking, rather than creating something new.

  96. jim says:

    can’t view thread

  97. LP says:

    You missed this one:

    Personally I like the Kawasaki W650/800 of the ones you have here. I’m too young to have ridden one of the original Bonnies, but they just got the proportions right on this one: Motor. Cycle.
    The new Honda CB looks good too, but UJMs from the 70s are still around in large enough numbers that it takes a bit of a squint to see the ‘retro’ there. Oh, and another ‘retro’ that I’ve always liked: Kawi ZRX1100/1200r. In Eddie Lawson green, of course. And what about the XR1200, or is every Harley by definition retro?

    Anyway, my list:

    1 – Guzzi V7/ Kawi W650/800 (tie)
    2 – CB1100F/GT1000 (tie)

  98. trent says:

    i’d saw the w800, but since kawasaki in their easily measurable “wisdom” isn’t bringing it to the states, i believe the royal enfield bullet c5 classic is the best looking retro standard. compared to the other bikes, it’s easily the most “retro” looking of all.

  99. narendra says:


  100. mark says:

    I’ve got a 2001 Bonneville. I absolutely love it. The Bonneville is a terrific platform for customization to create a bike that’s truly your own; mine has received the cafe racer treatment, upgraded suspension, and a few engine performance mods. Of course it doesn’t accelerate or handle like an R6, but it’s still an enormously fun bike to ride with lots of personality. Every time I ride it, even now after years of ownership, I find myself thinking, “Good God, I love this bike!”

    That said, another bike that should be on the list is the Ducati Sport 1000 — better-looking than the GT1000, and enormously fun to ride.

  101. Tom Shields says:

    Royal Enfield. Not only does it look retro, is IS retro.

    Second place: Kawa W800.

  102. Ron Gordon says:

    I want a W800 to join my wife’s Buell Blast and my Buell XB9SX. Kawasaki has long done a better 60s Bonneville than Triumph. I couldn’t affore the Bonnie and had to settle for a Honda 305 Scrambler.

  103. Eric says:

    I love the look of the CB1100F… though I suspect my wallet would point me more toward the Triumph Bonneville or Scrambler, which are also nice.

    I’ve often wondered, though, why BMW doesn’t get into this game. They’ve had some iconic models over the years. How cool would a R90S replica be, especially in Daytona Orange?

  104. Donkeymansteve says:

    Easy—#1 is the new Norton
    #2 Ducati
    #3 tie among all the others

  105. Ray says:

    What about the Triumph Thruxton, with its retro cafe racer style and its blast to ride fun factor. . When I think retro I think of the old cafe race days when these were the sport bikes and the locals were scared.

  106. Shaas says:

    Where is the Sportster? Where is the love?

    I don’t have to look at pictures. Ducati!

    • Tom Shields says:

      Re the Sportster: There’s a difference between “retro” and “still using the original manufacturing jigs.” 🙂

    • Nate says:

      Because this is about new motorcycles that look 50 years old. Not 50 year old motorcycle designs.

  107. bp says:


  108. ron corrette says:

    I believe all the bike mentioned strike a flash back into the past. They do a fairly good job looking close to the original bike, but add the much needed upgrades in the engine,handling, and braking departments.
    I’m not brand loyal so this decision is hard for me. My current stable has been whittled down to a ZX14, and a DRZ400S. So if money grew on the trees in my back yard, i’d honestly want to own every bike in this catagory and more.
    Alot of people, like me, are going to pick one of these bikes because they either had previously owned the original as a youngster getting started, or because it was the one they always wanted and never had. Based on that, i’d opt for the Honda. I first learned to ride a motorcycle on a 1968 Rokon trailbreaker but my first go at a street bike was a 74 Honda Scrambler, and then a 76 CB400.
    Now, one of the bike I always wanted, mainly for the history of and for collectable reasons, was a Royal Enfield. But I have to think that ownership of one would not be for a retro classic but for more of a ” Vintage Antique”
    Nortons have always intrigued me, part style, part history, but the one ive always wanted most(before the 750 Comando) is the 1962 Manx-30M. But cafe racers are a whole different toppic of bikes to want.
    Ducati never really got my attention in the retro class, probably because I always looked at them more in the cafe and sport segments. I’d own a 916 or 1198 in a heart beat though.
    Kawasaki did a great job with the W800, but to me it almost mimicks the Triumph Bonneville. I’d rather look back at Kawasaki for the awesome 2 strokes in the H1/H2 or for the KZ’s etc.
    MotoGuzzi has never really wowed me, except maybe the V11 I believe, and most definately the untouchable MGS01-Corsa.
    So this brings me to the Triumph. In 2002, I was proud owner of a new Triumph Bonneville. And although at the time, most miles were spent on road and track with a 2001 Kawasaki ZX12R, I always looked forward to throwing a leg over the Bonneville. That bike garnered as much attention everywhere I went, as my 1959 BMW R69 did. I met alot of people who had mistakenly thought my Bonne was an original of the late 60’s early 70’s version. These people had ridden and owned them as young adults only to get out of motorcycling soon after. Sure…a true enthusiast of the model could imediately pick out the obvious differences but to these past owners, it’s looks and style found a dear place in their hearts.
    One friend along the way, had the original 750 Bonne and I had the pleasure of taking it for a quick 5 mile ride. In comparison, the sounds of, and engine characteristics, were some what far apart. The old pee shooter pipes on the original just barked in a different way than my optional factory piped newer Bonne did. But because of that original sound, I remember thinking the old thing was faster than mine.(never raced them together though)Power….well…my ZX12R at the time had been dynoed at 174rhp, so anything else seemed sluggish at best. And to be fair, power was never a reason for owning the Bonne. Back in the 60’s/70’s…I would imagine that subject was important, but not so much for this day and age of retro re-do’s.
    Handling….I doubt anyone would ever say the older suspenders(forks/shocks) worked anywhere near as good as the newer model. I recall the original bike wallowing a bit in corners. The new bike just felt more asuring and planted. Some of that owed to better suspension but also todays tires(sizes and grip levels) give great feed back, traction etc. Brakes….the old bike definately felt wooden but I wouldnt say the new ones were top shelf. Hard to compare any of these atributes with the newer sport bikes ive owned, but the modern Bonne is most deffinately the better bike. And,unlike the old, I never had to leave a catch pan for oil underneath it after riding or sitting for long periods. LOL
    So, in conclusion, I guess my vote has to go to Triumph. And even though I learned to ride and owned a retro Honda, I believe Triumph over the years have done the better job at keeping this seggment alive, and staying true to the original with the added bonus of some new modern trickery. And if the Bonne doesnt do it for some, they offer a few other retro/moderns to choose from.

    • LarryC says:

      Great comments, Ron.

      I actually told a Yamaha FZ rider at our local burger hang out that my ’06 Bonny was a ’69 and he didn’t bat an eye.

  109. Motowarrior says:

    Since the question asked about looks only, the Royal Enfield wins easily. I’d love to have a W800 to replace my departed W650 (big mistake letting it go). All the others also deserve kudos for keeping the retro rides alive.

  110. Drew Kazee says:

    I owned a W650, so I would take the W800 or Honda 1100.

  111. MarkF says:

    I love them all and would buy anyone except the Enfield. But, given my choice it would be the Honda. It’s just more what I remember from when I first started riding. The Ducati would be a close second with mags and a lower ass end. Too bad Honda will never sell it here or at some stupid price.

  112. MGNorge says:

    The Honda and the Duc, plus a Guzzi V7 would be on my list. Of my riding career the Honda speaks loudest. I inderstand it’s tuned for mid-range power and is very smooth. Love the tank, reminds of the ’68 or so CL450 tank of the same color and simplicity.

  113. steve says:

    #1 is a tie between the Ducati & the Honda

    #2 is a tie between the Kawasaki & the “real” Triumph

    #3 would be the Moto Guzzi V-7 not shown

    not interested in the Royal Enfield… too underpowered, more so than the Guzzi!

  114. craigj says:

    Bike I’d be most interested in as a 2nd bike? Royal Enfield.
    Bike that would be the most fun to ride up the Blue Ridge? Ducati
    Bike that reminds me the most of a ’70’s UJM? Honda
    Bike that will die a most painful death on dealer showroom floors? Kawasaki
    Bike that should be more than it is? Triumph

  115. Manuel says:

    Kawi W800

  116. Nate says:

    1) Kawi
    2) Royal Enfield
    3) Ducati
    4) Honda
    5) Triumph

  117. Hank says:

    Ducati and Guzzi. Suzuki needs a GS-1000.

  118. bksavs says:

    Has to be the Norton Commando…honorable mention to the Moto Guzzi V7 racer

  119. Joshua Davis says:

    My vote goes for the Triumph Thruxton. That is a lovely piece of cafe racer kit right there.

  120. Harvey Mushman says:

    Another vote for the snubbed Ural.

  121. Mark says:

    I owned a nice first year gray GT1000 and with the exception of the huge space under the rear fender, was beautifull! The gray paint would take on different hues with differing ambient light. It is a shame DUCATI failed to evolve the bike with the updated EVO 1100 engine. Many of the factory accesories were poorly engineered and even more poorly made. I sold the GT1000 after one year…got bored with it.

    I am sure HONDA would do a better job with the CB1100F (and CB1100R?) I would buy one if available in the USA. I would prefer an “R” model with premium suspension components to the “F” model.

    Best looking Retro bikes in my order:
    1) Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic – Just needs the red frame and 250cc
    2) Honda CB1100F/R – Not available in the USA…why?
    3) Kawasaki ZRX1100/1200 – Near Perfect, and I own one!
    4) Honda GB500 – No longer available…selling for top $$$
    5) Kawasaki W800 – Not available in the USA
    6) Harley Davidson Sportster Iron
    7) Ducati GT1000 – PLEASE Ducati, update this bike and improve quality
    8) Triumph Thruxton – Slow, pudgy and cheap in some areas
    9) Norton – Not available in the USA…but soon? Please dont cheapen the bike ala Triumph
    10) Royal Enfield – The Indian Harley?

  122. Eric says:

    I usually buy used then ride’em till dead but I would find the money for a CB1100F. My CB400F was nearly perfect but 20% too small for my body.

  123. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Myself, I’d much rather have an XJR-1300 with those nice Ohlins shocks on the back. 🙂
    Out of these, the Honda looks OK, but I’m not really crazy for any of them.

  124. BATMAN says:

    I’d go with the Royal Enfield being the best retro. But it is just too small and underpowered/vibby for me. I’d go with the W800 or the Bonneville if I were to buy a new bike today. Maybe the Guzzi if they’d bring it in a 1000 size.

  125. clasqm says:

    You call that Retro? Those hotbeds of techno-wizardry? Try this:

  126. Ken says:

    I really like the Honda, sure was hoping it hits the states. Anyone ever road one?

    • Jody says:

      I haven’t riden one, but I did see the Type I (high handlebars) version at local dealer in Okinawa. I prefer the lower bars of the CB1100 Type II.
      After seeing this bike in the “flesh” and watching Honda’s CB1100 video on their website, I added it to my short list of bikes I want to own (along with Honda CB1000R, Triumph Speed Triple, Honda CB1300) to replace my beloved 2002 Honda 919 I had to give up in 2004. I’m just having a tough time justifying the pricetag for arguably old-tech vs the high-tech of the other bikes.

  127. Stinky says:

    Boy what choices. I’ll never be able to afford a Norton, the Enfield is a little too slow. That really leaves the Guzzi, Duc, & Honda and I’d regret whichever I didn’t choose buy. It’s really a shame they didn’t bring the Guzzi in as a 1000.
    The Triumph and Kaw are more styling exercises that could be used, just a little too close to a cruiser for my taste. The scrambler is a shame they detuned it even farther than the Thruxton, wait, god how many more will come to mind?

  128. Mike from Oz says:

    The Royal Enfield is not a retro. It never evolved so how cannit return to its roots. Having owned both the Enfield and a Bonnie I can say that the Enfield has its place and that place is India. Its just to slow but thats OK in India {which is where I was living at the time). As for the Bonnie. Its a lot of fun but needs work to make it handle, replace the shocks and fork springs and do something on performance and its ok, still no match for anything modern but bearable. Bonnies look great and the aftermarket is extensive to make your Bonnie your own.

  129. kpaul says:

    All of these bikes are classic beauties. Their beauty is so special because they will look great forever i.e. they will age gracefully. the Triumph is my favorite but the Honda and RE aren’t far behind. Thanks Dirck for posting these great pictures. 🙂

  130. Populuxe Cowboy says:

    Honda Shadow VT750RS. Despite the Shadow chassis and V-twin, this is a standard, and it’s a sexy little beast. Especially in white with blue and red stripes.

  131. mpolans says:

    I like the looks of the Bonneville and W800. I know it’s not period-correct, but I wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of spoked wheels.

  132. Mark says:

    For me, the W800 would be the one I would buy if it were available in the U.S. The CB1100F would be a very close 2nd if it had wire wheels followed by a Bonneville T100. The Ducati has too much daylight between the rear tire and the fender.

  133. LDC says:

    I’d choose the BMW R1200R. Choose the 2011 Classic R1200R if you must have spoked wheels. To my eye’s they are as beautiful as any of the air cooled twins or I4’s. It’s looks evolved continuously from a design that’s approaching a century old and has been kept in the manufacturers lineup by customer demand. I bought my R1200R in 2008 after I got tired of waiting for Honda to keep their word and manufacture the CB1100F for the US market. It’s a great do anything modern standard with classic looks, real power, great handling and brakes. It’s an air/oil cooled UGM and it’s more fun to ride than anything I’ve been on before (after 40+ years of riding). Let me point out that I rode a Norton Commando in the sixties and had a pile of CB’s including a CB750 and 919 in the years since.

  134. Grof says:

    From a angle Honda looks best, I am wondering where they sell this bikes.
    I couldn’t find honda on USA market.
    Second pick would be Ducati.

  135. ohio says:

    The Royal Enfield is my favorite, but it’s really a different era of aesthetic. Of the 60s/70s style retros, I pick the Honda for looks, and the Duc to actually ride.

  136. Morgan from New Zealand says:

    Bonneville A1 in black (love black and gold with black engine!) and with the optional tacho. Honourable mention to the ZRX1200 DAEG (Google it….injected version for Japanese domestic market) in green (of course).

  137. Randy says:

    When we talk retro, I think cast wheels is a no-no. The big CB does harken back to the seventies, but I think the Kawasaki is truest to its 60’s roots. The best retro anything is something built with current technology but looks the part of the original. The Bullett is true to the 50’s. I wouldn’t care about power. I’d throw my best leather
    helmet and linemans boots on and enjoy the stares. I can tell you one thing, though. If the manufacturers don’t come up with cheaper and smaller marketing options such as UJM’s and simple retro’s to entice new and old alike, the motorcycle industry is headed for more trouble. The crotch rockets and cruiser generation will eventually run it’s course and the makers and shakers are not thinking forwardly backward (or is that backwardly forward?)enough.

  138. Dave on the ZRX says:

    Since they don’t make the ZRX anymore, the W800. I should’ve bought one the first go-round, and have regretted it ever since.

  139. I vote for both the Guzzi V7 Racer and the Norton Comando Cafe Racer. The new Honda gets honorable mention.

  140. Yamasarus says:

    The Honda CB1100F is probably the nicest riding of the bunch. The GT1000 is a really sweet bike and the styling is right. The new Bonnie is the nicest verticle twin I have ever ridden. The Enfield looks retro only because it is a very close relative to an antique. I don’t consider it in the same class as these other modern bikes with retro styling. Now the W800. This is my answer. I would love to be able to buy this bike. Are you listening Kawasaki?

  141. Tom K. says:

    This comparo wouldn’t be valid without including Yamaha’s XJR1300 (link attached). My favorite retro, however, was always the GSX 1400, but I believe the last year for it was 2007. But when is someone going to make a modern RD400 Daytona? Ring Ding forever!

  142. rokop says:

    Of the pictured bikes, the Honda looks best overall. It is a balanced composition of modern components recalling a historical aesthetic. The Ducati is somewhat awkward, with too much “air” between the rear wheel and fender. Furthermore, it appears to be leaning uncomfortably forward. The Triumph looks good but much appears much heavier and larger than the historical reference that it is based on. The Kawasaki actually captures the vintage 60’s vertical twin aesthetic much better. The Royal Enfield appears unrefined, simple and dated….but therein lies its appeal. Actually, as far as great looking retro standards, I would place the Suzuki tu250x right there behind the Honda.

  143. larlok says:

    It has to be the CB1100.I’d buy one if they sold it here. W800 needs a kicker. Can’t buy that either.

  144. jim says:

    The Ducati… but the scrambler deserves mention.

  145. Louis says:

    I LOVE the CB1100! That is the first bike Honda has made since the Nighthawk ‘S’ that I loved at first sight. It sure lights up all my synapses… Hopefully, Honda will bring it to the US some day. It would really stand out on the showroom floor.

    Speaking of the Bonneville, I had one for awhile. It has a beautiful sound with aftermarket exhaust, has decent handling and ok power. It really needs new shocks on delivery. I got a lot of looks and comments on it. Don’t think I would want another bike with spoked wheels as it would make a simple flat tire (when out of town) a nightmare. It also has strange handling at parking lot speeds.

  146. TunaPete says:

    My wife owns a 2003 Bonneville T100, with the 790cc engine with carburetors. Later models’ engines were increased to 865cc, and were eventually fitted with fuel injection. The current models produce about 5 more hp and 6 more ft-lb of torque than the 2003 models.

    The T100 looks terrific, and my wife gets compliments on hers all of the time. To the unknowing masses it appears to be a perfectly restored classic. My wife claims to love the bike, but to be honest she doesn’t ride it very often or far.

    Personally, I don’t particularly enjoy riding the Bonneville. It is almost unrideable when the engine is first started, continues to be hesitant to run well until it is completely warmed up, and it takes a LONG time to warm up (which explains why Triumph found it necessary to install carb heaters on the bike). I have a short commute to work (4-5 miles) and the bike takes most of the ride to get fully warm, and we live in a sub-tropical climate.

    My other complaint is about the handlebars. Since Triumph also used these basic engines in a cruiser platform, they decided to fit all of the Bonnevilles with 1-inch handlebars, rather than 22mm or 7/8ths of an inch. The only reason that I can imagine for that choice is the “if Harley does it, then we have to do it” mentality. Sheer folly, as far as I am concerned. The bike would just feel so much more correct with 7/8ths bars, and it would just be more comfortable to ride. There are other things that I’m not too fond of about the bike, but they are mainly minor niggles.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention that my daily ride (and cross-continental touring mount) is a 2002 BMW R1150R, which I’ve ridden more than 50,000 miles.

  147. Bob L. says:

    Ya can’t go back and that’s probably a good thing. All of these are better than the originals. Looks-wise? The Bonnie or W-800 capture the character but the new Honda would be fun to own. I bought the very first Bonnie in 2001 and sold it 2 months later. I thought it was lifeless. I will give the CB1100F a serious look.

  148. NattyMo says:

    What about the Moto Guzzi V7? Oh wait, the new Norton Commando… yep that has to be the one.

  149. b says:

    I loved the Honda CB1100F the instant I saw it. They perfectly captured all the great aesthetics of the late 60s/early 70s CB bikes and then added a touch of modern times. Can’t wait to get a chance to ride or own one!

  150. mechelaar says:

    As far as looks go, Royal Enfield by a mile. However, it needs more power.

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