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Why Don’t We See More Japanese Heritage Models?

As we test Honda’s new CB1100, we wonder why more Japanese heritage models are not being produced. Triumph, alone, has proven there is a substantial market for such bikes, and the Japanese, at least arguably, have an equally strong history from the 70s and 80s to draw upon.

Pictured is a custom based on Kawasaki’s Zephyr 1100, a bike not available in the United States that draws on Kawasaki’s high-performance heritage. This one in particular is modified by the Japanese company AC Sanctuary.

Would it be hard, for example, to drop a modern, high-performance engine (such as the one from the Z900) into a heritage design, with modern suspension and brakes? Is there reason to believe Japanese heritage models wouldn’t sell nearly as well Triumphs. Weigh in with your thoughts below.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. Tank says:

    In June Sony announced that they would start producing vinyl records after a 28 yr. break. What’s old is new. Why should it be different for motorcycles?

  2. Don says:

    I’m not sure Honda could bring out the CB1100 today without liquid cooling. And don’t forget the giant exhaust canister and pre-canister underneath the motor and the ABS plumbing and wires! Actually nothing retro about all that stuff, is there?

    • DaveA says:

      Er…Honda is actually selling an air cooled CB1100 right now as we type.

      • mickey says:

        I’m still amazed that after 8 years on the market world wide, and 5 in the U.S., that there are still “motorcycle enthusiasts” that are unaware of the CB1100.

        I blame Honda’s lack of advertising of that model.

  3. paul s says:

    The Z1 was one awesome looking machine

  4. Steve says:

    The heritage bikes look like motorcycles, you can see what makes them work. Beautiful engines, gauges, brakes, etc. They also mostly had seats for rider and a passenger that you could use. No beaks, Tupperware, origami ergonomics, etc.
    lots of go fast bikes look like Transformer movie props.
    That’s why I’m restoring a 1973 CB 750. It’s a little expensive but it’s a motorcycle, not a movie prop.
    Retro bikes with modern details would be great but until we are over our love affair with 900+ pound V twins with no power and wet noodle frames, the American market won’t bite. Maybe a younger group will decide they want a usable motorcycle that looks cool, maybe.

  5. Ark says:

    I bought a leftover 2013 CB1100 two yaers ago at a great price. Great bike, typical Honda quality. After riding it and rereading the reviews, I can tell you how much the sheeple adhere to the media view and comments from forums. Having ridden for over thirty years and working on motorcycles for ten of those years, this is one of my all time favorites to ride. Its like my VFR, a great all around bike and better than my Hundred-Dollar. The only thing I would like changed is to make the FI feel like carbs with accelerator nozzles. The nostalgia of the seventies is cool and many good comments are directed my way with this bike. It makes me proud to own it and defend it. I let others ride this bike to form thier own opinion and most walk away impressed and questioning why they didn’t consider one. At least Honda is giving this one a second chance unlike my old 89-91 Hawk GT’s. wish I could still buy one of those.

  6. Zuki says:

    I really hope Kawasaki is working on a classic Z. I’m excited about it! I love ’70s & ’80s Japanese motorcycle style. Still have my ZR-7 I bought new with cash in 2000 as a 22nd birthday present to myself. I think the earlier twin-shock Zephyr 750 looks better than the ZR-7 though.

    Someone mentioned the new look of the CB1100 on here & I have to agree… I really like the CB1100. Seeing one in person is a treat. It’s a real jewel of a bike, and the quality & attention to detail really shine. To me though the original version looks better, tank seams & all! The seamless tank looks like a melted jelly bean or something and just doesn’t look right, but not enough to detract me from buying one. I don’t mind seeing the seam on a naked bike – how the tank is constructed. The ZR above wouldn’t look right without tank seams either.

    Personally, I can’t think of one classic tank that’s on my list of most beautiful that doesn’t have a visible seam. The “ugly” seam complainers got their way on the CB1100 but I bet many of them still won’t be a buyer… it was just another tick on their “deal breaker” checklist

  7. nunz says:

    I love Japanese heritage bikes because growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s they ruled the motorcycle world…….I rarely remember anybody having Euro bikes…….
    I lusted over all of them. When I got the chance I grabbed a 2003 ZRX1200r and can stare at it for hours when I’m not riding it………

  8. americo ney says:

    good idea MD , a KZ900 will be great, with breaks and up to date suspensions

  9. Spike says:

    Let’s see the T-7 from Yamaha come to the US. There is a bike that will sell in droves.

  10. mcmotohistory says:

    Hey Honda how about a new 1000cc flat four naked standard like the 1975 Goldwing, that makes 100HP and weighs 500lbs. Make it naked but give it fairing and saddlebag options. Not all the old bikes were inline fours. (And not everyone wants touring bikes that weigh 900lbs.)

  11. CycleDave67 says:

    A steady stream of “Bucket List” bikes make their way in and out of my garage, and when and if I grow tired of my current Honda RC51, a ZRX1200 is next on the list if I can find a nice one. Or Maybe 1st-Gen Ducati Hypermotard EVO-SP, but probably the ZRX that I’ll throw a catalog’s-worth of aftermarket parts at. But if Kawasaki were to start producing it again (maybe with the ZX14 engine replete with faux cooling fins and Triumph-like “carbs”), man it would sure be nice to just walk into a dealer, sign the papers and have a zero-mile bike to take home and love. And Suzuki…I feel like they’re missing a big opportunity to resurrect the legendary “GS-E” badge. The current GSX bikes are ok, but the styling doesn’t check the boxes of the people who have the money to spend and personally, I loathe all the electronics. I’ll handle my own wheelies, burnouts and braking, thanks. I didn’t hone my skills over 30 years of riding to have a computer step in and wag it’s finger at me.

  12. kyle says:

    I gave Triumph my $10,000 because the 2014 blacked out CB1100 has no ABS and no other bikes compare. The 2017 CB1100 is fugly IMO. Silver spoked rims and seamless tank? BLEGHHH. Nothing beat the 2013 and 2014 designs. I was never a fan of the bikini thong dash though. That was my only gripe.

    I would have bought this Kawasaki and perform a rear fender delete.

  13. bad Chad says:

    I assume, they don’t think people will buy them in numbers that make sense for them. The few times they have tried over the years, wound up being sales dogs. I really like the idea, I really want to like the CB1100, but somehow it just doesn’t, for me, capture the look and feel I think it needs.

  14. Mick says:

    Japan seems to have lost the ability to make a retro bike that is the same size as the real old bikes that they are made to resemble. The retro rigs that pop up from time to time are all so huge in stature compared to the older bikes, except for the narrower engines.

    • mickey says:

      The CB 1100 is physically the size of a mid 70s 750. I wish it was larger. My brothers T 120 is bigger than the original though.

  15. John says:

    There just isnt’ enough demand. Also, Europe just plain has more pulling power than the Japanese when it comes to retros. After all, the Japanese bikes of the 70s weren’t all THAT great looking and a lot of people are more interested in V-twins, V-fours, boxers, etc, not I4s which is about all the Japanese ever did. I rode some I4 Japanese bikes and simply didn’t like them. I DID, however, love my Sabre V4 and my Ascot V2. The one exception I have is that I’d buy a ZRX even though the engine is WAY more than what I want. Why? The bike fits me like a glove and most modern bikes are too long or two tall. The ZRX is like a 1300cc jammed into a 600cc bike frame.

    Retro bikes I’d like to see? A new CX650 cafe racer. A new V4 Sabre instead of the hideous CrossRunner. A new Hawk GT. A new Interceptor based on the original styling. Even then, though, if you REALLY want retro, we have plenty of those used, cheap and easily brought back to life, rather than paying $12K for a new copy.

  16. ed peatross says:

    This is what I have been begging Kawasaki to build. Great all around performance with comfortable ergonomics. Add modern fuel injection six speed gear box to the bike pictured above and I am a buyer. Loved both of my zrx’s and those bikes were strong sellers for team green..

  17. relic says:

    The guys old enough to remember those days, if they’re still riding, want wind protection and luggage.

  18. Fred says:

    Marketing ID’s the coming trends. Styling comes next, Engineering last.
    Do you really think that any Stylist will clone some older design and not favour of their own ideas ?
    No Chance. So any idea that Engineering can build a new Z900 retro Z Bike in the back shed and then pop it out in front of the CEO for build approval just won’t happen.

    • kyle says:

      No chance? None? Come on. Honda didn’t just dust off the cb1100 assembly line and press a green button. Designers and Engineers would not be out of work if they churned out another retro vs an all new ground up model. I bet there are tens of thousands of R&D hours in the CB1100. And I am sure they are proud to have worked on the CB1100. The 2013 and 2014 is beautiful. I bet there are many designers that sketch up retro styles more than seamless tanked stink bug bikes.

    • Dave says:

      Re:”Do you really think that any Stylist will clone some older design and not favour of their own ideas ?”

      Well, yes, in almost every case. The practice of design dictates that the designer produces artifacts that target an identified audience. If the market research says that the audience is looking for retro nostalgia, the designer calls on the brand’s design heritage and creates the CB1100, or something like it.

      Like kyle said, this thing wasn’t just dusted off from the 70’s. That tooling is LONG gone. It probably took a lot of work to make an air cooled, fuel injected engine that met emissions standards and ran the way modern bikes are expected to.

  19. bmbktmracer says:

    Does anyone know why Kawasaki cancelled the ZRX1200? It seems to have sold pretty well. Maybe it was too far ahead of its time. I used to have one. It was fun, though the handling paled in comparison to a Bandit 1250 I recently sold. But, the ZRX was smoother, looked better, was just as comfortable, and had a more exciting engine. Note that both required expensive shopping trips at Holeshot Racing to get competitive power and handling.

    • Selecter says:

      1) Lack of sales. The ZRX was a sales dog from the first ZRX1100 to the ZRX1200R that they finally killed in 2004. In North America, at least. It lasted ’til 2007 in the UK, and in Japan until fairly recently. They were practically giving these away, still, when I started riding in 2004. You could buy several year old brand new bikes at a lot of Kawasaki dealers.

      2) Emissions. With its architecture dating to the ZX1100C days, even the revamped model with FI for the Japanese market wasn’t going to meet anybody’s emissions requirements in North America or Europe.

      They were a cool bike and all, but with the carbs and dual-outboard shocks, and the weight, they weren’t going to sell against the supersport-happy populace in the early/mid-2000s. Compared to so many other bikes that were birthed in that era, the ZRX was basically a cement truck on two wheels. Just a quick one. 🙂 When it comes down to it, it’s core engine architecture and, for some folks, styling were really all that were going for it. And the engine was going to meet its demise at the hands of the regulators no matter what.

      That leaves us with just the styling. Given the retrograde trend we’re seeing now with the factory scramblers / “retro” / brat / cafe bikes, I’m convinced that if Kawasaki had brought a ZRX-styled version of *nearly any* of their current models starting 2 or 3 years back, they’d have sucked the wind right out of the FZ-09/FZ-07’s sails. I don’t really care one way or another with styling. I liked the ZRX’s look. I liked the first-gen Z1000’s look, too. But the “modern streetfighter” look definitely finds fewer admirers than the “modern retro” look, it seems.

  20. Cyclemotorist says:

    If Kawasaki makes a bike that looks approximately like the one in the article they will sell huge numbers.

  21. cbx1260cc says:

    Wouldn’t this really well done custom satisfy the Power AND “old style” looks of the “classic” bike fans.??

    Not as exotic maybe as a Sanctuary bike but several $$$K cheaper.

    Realize only two were every built (by this builder) but proves it can be done.

  22. Ricardo says:

    So if everyone is wanting to go retro, why is a lot of people complaining about Harley keeping the same style of retro design? hard to understand…

    • bmbktmracer says:

      I think the Harley complaints and the retro comments are very consistent. I’ve not heard anyone bash Harley for their style, but rather the heavy weight, mediocre suspension, and limited performance. These are, in fact, the same complaints levied against the Japanase “retro” models. I don’t even think it’s the retro style people are after, but rather attractive motorcycles with good performance.

      • Mgood3 says:

        Really good point

      • Mgood3 says:

        Good point. I think the term retro is a little miss leading especially when applied to marketing of motorcycles. If the question is what do people want to buy then I think the answer is not retro but inexpensive well built motorcycles that look like the bikes we remember from the 70s. Nobody really wants a heavy slow old school bike, do they?

  23. paquo says:

    big fat retro bikes are gross, but omg is the honda cb 11oo TR concept gorgeous. Honda is so lame it would never actually release a bike like that, so there is ktm,duc and bmw that will.

  24. bmbktmracer says:

    Lots of good and realistic comments here. Fortunately, used CB1100’s and ZRX1200’s and the like are available for a song on craigslist. If one truly wanted the bike of their youth, you could buy one, spend $7000 on paint and cool parts, and have a unique bike for about the same price as a new machine. I love the look of the Zephyr in the pictures. Fabulous.

  25. richard says:

    most of the millenial youth are not interested in retro cruisers with the exception of a few…..its the old ones like me that appreciate the old school

  26. Gary says:

    In my opinion there is a war underway between young rider and aging boomers like me.

    Young riders want naked bikes with stupid origami headlight assemblies and goofy bodywork and fenders that looks stupid.

    Boomers want classic round headlights and more conservative styling, like the Z1.

    Boomers are dying off so the industry is catering to their future market. I really can’t fault them for that.

    What’s missing is any inclination in young riders to modify their own bikes … or to even maintain them properly. Classic bikes are blank canvasses that can easily tweaked to make everything from a cruiser to a cafe racer to a Manx Formula bike.

    Modern bikes? Not so much.

    One more thing: We want classic looks but modern performance. Would it kill Honda to put a CBR1000 in a naked bike, with switchable power modes? Put that motor in a CB1000 and I’ll bet it would sell.

    • Josh B. says:

      I’m a millennial (barely) and I and everyone my age HATE this new Japanese styling (cars AND bikes).

    • paquo says:

      Maybe but I’m 52 and i think retros are by and large nasty because they represent large bloated underperforming machines. If the big 3 or 4 were to come out with more performance retros i would be enthused, or at least the look.

  27. Kevin says:

    Just follow the lead of the Indian Scout.

  28. Jeremy in TX says:

    It wasn’t that long ago you could buy Japanese heritage models.

    Kawasaki’s ZRX had a 9-year run in the US, longer in Europe, and nearly 20 years in Japan. I suppose it sold well enough for Kawasaki to have kept it in production for so long.

    The W650 was a flop. It was a gorgeous bike. Was it just ahead of its time?.. Or was it because it was a replica of a heritage model that copied someone else’s heritage that made it unappealing to buyers?

    The big air-cooled Suzuki bandits were rowdy bikes that definitely called back to the heydays of Japanese “in yo face” power and performance.

    And we now have the Honda CB1100. Honda missed the mark slightly on the first year introduction in the US anyway, but they seemed to recover quickly the following year. They don’t sell in vast numbers, but I suspect they sell according to expectations.

    Yamaha SR400? Probably the wrong bike for the US market. Plus, save for fuel injection, this isn’t a retro model – it is the actual relic. “Authenticity” is a marketing buzz word that represents a general perception of what is cool. It doesn’t really mean that people want authentic.

    I’m just not sure how much market there is for Japanese heritage models made to teh CB1100 formula. I suspect that, whether one is a Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda or Yamaha guy/gal, most buyers clamoring for a Japanese heritage bike already bought a CB1100.

    I actually prefer the way BMW went retro: their heritage bikes aren’t copies of old bikes. They are new bikes with classic styling elements. I think that approach might actually make some hay for the Japanese as well. Leave the dual shocks, wimpy brakes, damper rod forks, heavy frames, and 18 inch wheels in the trash bin. Take a current Z900 and dress it in a classic tuxedo. That would be more to my liking.

  29. Bill Whimpter says:

    Been saying for years somebody should put a modern air cooled 600 engine in a knockoff CB550. Modernize the brakes and other functional stuff but make it look like a CB550. No cosmetic updates needed or desired. That bike looked perfect just the way it was and everybody knows it.

    It’d sell. Probably not legal to build it though.

  30. Tim says:

    I love my ’95 Honda CB1000. It is way heavy at over 500 lbs, and pretty tall, though. Considering they never sold well here in the States, I must be in a minority. Build quality and ride comfort is great. It has more of the 1980’s superbike look than the classic CB look of the current 1100.

  31. skytzo says:

    Just bring back a modernized version of the ZRX with a ZX14 motor, USD forks and Brembo brakes and I’ll be the first in line at my Kawi dealer.

    • ROXX says:

      ^^^ What he said ^^^

    • Craig says:

      What he said again.^^^^

      Also, what’s wrong with the bike in the picture? Shouldn’t be so hard for a manufacturer to do something like that even though it will look quite different with modern motor and Euro 4 crap. but I’ll take a cheap old model like above and customize it and it will look 10x better than most Factory stuff… Triumph does a GREAT job of making their bikes look like and old/new bike!

    • slipjoint says:

      I have a ZRX in blue with some gold and silver highlights blacked out motor round headlight and looks very similar to the bike in your picture but with a radiator. It is a great bike for me, with great street manners and around 130 rwhp with some minor additions. Very easy to work on and a pleasure to ride and own. I am 60 years old now and most of the people who are attracted to this bike are near my age and if they still are riding they already have something they like for a few thousand dollars. The ZRX 14 sounds like fun but will come in at $12k or better and a few will be sold but it is a lot of money for another 40 HP and more complexity. In the end I don’t think many ZRX riders will be buyers.

    • Dave says:

      Big huge bikes are on decline in the US. Weight is one of the bigger knocks against the CB1100. IF only Yamaha could see fit to import the XSR700 (we do get the 900). I think that bike would do well just as it is.

    • Brian says:

      Right on. I’m a ZRX owner, and would almost certainly pony up for that.

      Of course, Kawasaki probably looks at Suzuki’s experience with the B-King and says “no thanks”…but if the latter hadn’t been given such “controversial” styling (and maybe if their market timing had been better) I’ll bet they would have sold a ton.

  32. PN says:

    Yes, I like the old UJMs but the styling needs to be updated. The CB1100 is looking pretty good now but it’s not perfect. The Z1 was always better-looking than the CB750 but a modernized version still needs to be streamlined and given some flair. I was told by a Kawi dealer that a new Z1 IS coming to the US. Kawi’s W650 was a better and better-looking bike than the last Bonneville. Whatever they do, the weight needs to come down by about 100 lb. to 450 or so.

  33. Tank says:

    The Japanese should just send us bikes without headlights, tanks, seats or body parts. Build these parts in the US and let people order the parts they want. We love the bikes, we just don’t like the styling. 3-D printers could also be used.

    • Bob says:


      This is funniest thing i’ve read in months, thank you!

    • Random says:

      Selling bikes without parts may be unfeasible due to homologation legal requirements. However on-demand customization is the envisioned future of the aftermarket business in the 3D printer era.

    • Denny says:

      Excellent and refreshing idea!
      Final bike for sale could be dressed up by dealer from choice of customer-preferred style components sourced locally. Will it catch up though?

    • Norm G. says:

      bikes “ala-carte”, not the worst idea i’ve ever heard.

      MR. POTATO HEAD MOTO…!!! (not a Harley reference but a Hasbro reference)

  34. Jonny Blaze says:

    I ride the Triumph Street Twin.

  35. Lawrence says:

    It’s not that they dont make heritage models, their domestic marked is full of them along with a healthy ecosystem of accessories, they just dont bring them here. The lukewarm sales of Zephyr, CB1, ZRX, XJ, W650, etc bikes probably turned them off from experimenting with another one. Hopefully previous attempts were just market timing because retro is really big right now. Perhaps the other manufacturers are waiting to see how the CB1100 does.

    But it needs to be the right bike visually; Triumph’s Thunderbirds didn’t sell nearly as well as the Bonnies have. And I’m saying that as a Thunderbird Sport owner.

  36. Bill says:

    Yamaha had a gorgeous retro in Europe. Google “2016 XJR-1300”

    Unfortunately, Euro-4 has killed it.

    • Lawrence says:

      All three had big retro muscle bikes around that time period. I did like the XJ a lot.

    • Dave says:

      I just looked it up and it looks fantastic. Now for the bad news- It makes 97hp with a 9,500rpm redline, has a 14L fuel tank (plastic, no less..) and weighs close to 600lb. It commits most of the deadly sins on the MCD board: under-powered, overweight, short range and no beak! At least it shouldn’t have tank seams…

  37. RET says:

    There are many nice modern Japanese bikes that are just missing a large round headlight to be perfect. I am not a fan of the transformer look as I do not want my bike to look like an insect. Honda has done a very nice job with the CB1100EX and if they built a smaller displacement version to replicate the 1970s CB400F if would sell.


  38. KenLee says:

    Introducing cost for serious modern clasic bike is very high. Not possible to make it using UJM pattern, as available new engines and frames simply looks bad only equipped with some clasic accessories. Take a look on Yamaha XSR 700/900 to see, what I mean… Its necessary to work out new good looking engine mods with ribbed cylinders/heads, nice covers, carb-look injection, new tabular frames, spoked wheels, semi-classic instruments and all stuff must be eur 4 compliant and maybe eur 5 ready. Performance couldn’t be worse than original classic- otherwise noone buy, so there is another trap: how to keep small mufflers, low volume airbox, air cooling, and same time significantly exceed i.e. 111 HP of original Katana? Japanese profducers are simply not sure, if high engineering and kick off cost will bring enouhg sale/profit. In the meantime they trying to launch some ugly and cheap “classics” like XSR and SV 650 Scrambler, but it’s not serious. The only serious Jap approach is now CB 1100 EX, but 90 HP is at least 25 HP less than expected of such bike today…

  39. Thor says:

    Something has gone wrong with the Big Four Japanese designers. Most of their current motorcycles are ugly and when they try to introduce a retro bike it is usually a bit off somehow. Triumph is doing the retro thing very well and BMW nailed the modern retro fusion with the R nine T. (My favorite modern retro so far was the Ducati MH900e). The Yamaha XSR900? Not quite.

    Given the resurgence of interest in smaller motorcycles, maybe Honda could try again with an updated GB500. That was a cool little machine. I think if they could capture the styling of some of the small displacement bikes from the 60s but with modern components, they might be able to sell a few. There’s nothing cooler than a chrome “toaster” tank.

    • Denny says:

      I have similar perception.
      To the point of “ugliness” which I largely agree with; Japanese makers as much as they excel technically, they generally do not have sense of shaping their product – be it motorcycles or cars. Why is Honda exception? It has styling studios in both U.S. and Europe.

      • austin zzr 1200 says:

        1) Toyota and Nissan also have design centers outside of Japan
        2) Honda automotive design (Acura, in particular) has been horrible for the last decade. The only new Honda autos I wouldn’t be embarrassed to drive are the Accord and Odyssey…

    • Denny says:

      Just to add… to the fairness of my assessment, they have been attempting to do something new, progressive – and as a result often strange looking (Kawasaki for most part). If it does not come out in some cases, it should be taken with degree of leniency and hope something better will follow.

      In all the other aspects, the late Japanese motorcycles are rated highly as brought to our attention courtesy of pages such as this.

  40. Paul says:

    Love it, would but one tomorrow if available in NA. A classic!

  41. Jim says:

    The Zephyr(ZR) 1100 was offered in the US. No-one bought it. Next?

    • mickey says:

      I think the Zephyrs problem was it was released when the manufacturers were changing from old style to new style and people were burnt out on old style and looking for something a little fresher. Now we’ve had 15 years or so of the fresher look which has generally morphed into the Transformer look, and people are tired of looking at that, and want to go back to something they feel more resembles a motorcycle that they recognize and are familiar and comfortable with.They still want upgraded specs though like horsepower, electronics, abs, efi, suspension etc

      Kind of hard to blend the old with the new.

      • Dave says:

        It’s true, the Japanese makes have offered retro models and we’ve largely refused to reward them for it. Kawasaki Zephyrs, ZRX 1100/1200, Z7r, Honda Hornet/919 (a good example of new tech, classic styling), GB500, Yamaha Fazer 6 (in Europe) and now the Yamaha XSR900. Some of them haven’t been true retro designs, but most have had that simpler spirit.

        I think part of it has been the timing and another part, the value proposition. Often these bikes have been built on old platforms and displayed right across the aisle from shining examples of the technology that the same brands can offer, at prices that are not enough less to forgive the lack of perceived value.

        Triumph has been very successful in blending the old and new. The bikes are authentic but mechanically modern. Hopefully the current Yamaha does well and inspires them to chase it a little bit harder.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Now we’ve had 15 years or so of the fresher look which has generally morphed into the Transformer look, and people are tired of looking at that, and want to go back to something they feel more resembles a motorcycle that they recognize and are familiar and comfortable with…”

        …and won’t become “self-aware” and suddenly start seeing all humans as a threat to it’s existence. (Schwarzenegger accent)

  42. Dino says:

    That is a great looking bike, and other than the exhaust, it could be road legal. Rear fender goes just past the rear tire, it just looks deceiving because it is not 2 feet above the tire! Turn signals might not be big enough, but that is a minor change. Hang a big castastrophic converter muffler under the motor, who cares, just have the right down pipes and rear pipes coming out each end.

    It probably just won’t sell enough volume, especially as we read about the millions of bikes selling in India and Asia each year.

    might as well just take on a project bike, and get one with some tip-over damage but still good for what you want. Then start picking the round headlights, analog gauges, whatever floats your boat! Me, I might look for a mid-80’s rectangular headlight and horn assembly from my old Nighthawk 650. I miss that bike still!

  43. Norm G. says:

    Q: Why Don’t We See More Japanese Heritage Models?

    A: not enough OG’s and if the YG’s can’t download an app for it, they’re not doing it.

    • guu says:

      Every bike in 2018 should come with an app. Seriously. See Yamaha YZ450F f.ex. It would be so much easier to keep service records and cooler to show your friends what you did on your bike. Dealer could remind you of servicing and the manufacturer could tell you about all the cool new parts (if the Japanese bikes had cool parts catalogues by the manufacturer).

  44. MotoMaster39 says:

    This Kawi looks amazing in all aspects, minus the muffler. Huuge header pipes mated to a silly looking MotoGP muffler on a vintage style bike don’t do it for me. This may be the first bike I’ve ever seen that NEEDS a larger muffler, lol.

  45. MotoMaster39 says:

    ….That would suck if every motorcycle company was like H.D. So many enjoyable types of motorcycles wouldn’t exist.

  46. azi says:

    “Why Don’t We See More Japanese Heritage Models?”

    Short version: no one buys them, no matter how good they are.

    Euro and US retros are selling on Western mythology first, and engineering second. Brat packs, outlaws, and ton-up boys. They’re selling a social discourse. Japanese retro appeal is about engineering milestones, and only the enthusiasts understand that (and who end up buying according to specs anyway, rather than nostalgia).

    • Hot Dog says:

      Man, you nailed it!

      • azi says:

        Thanks. (Post)modern motorcycling in Western cultures has always been sensitive to social discourse. A great example is how the BMW G/S bike sales skyrocketed after the “Long Way Round” television series – nothing had changed about that bike’s design and engineering, but a new accompanying narrative had been injected into popular consciousness.

        Japanese motorcycles just haven’t done that in the West – they might have a motorsport narrative cultivated with a model (e.g. GSX-R), but that literally stays ‘cult’ as it never breaks through into mainstream society. That being said, it’s different in the East where Z900s, V-Max, Katanas etc are part of mainstream Manga/Anime narrative, which explains why tuning houses such as AC Sanctuary can flourish there.

    • paul246 says:

      You are correct, azi. I’m one of the “spec buyers” but it is a bonus when looks are also part of the package, too.

  47. EGS says:

    Honda Scrambler, CB400F or GB500 clones. Yamaha SRX600 or DT. Kawasaki KZ. Any of the turbo bikes. Any one of these could be done with current production engines and frames (though I guess there really isn’t a Honda F series suitable engine).

  48. Rocky V says:

    I would of liked to see my Zrx get the Zx14 motor

    I love my Zrx 1200

  49. Carl says:

    I would buy it in heartbeat!! This is what the new Z900 should have looked like or similiar.

  50. dt 175 says:

    Ugh– look at it’s clumpy, bitsa swingarm, boring, parallel graphics, ugly, blue/grey exhaust, (what is that lame-o material) black gauges/forks, bolted-together frame. The shocks are too long and the side stand is too short, tank seam, CARBS!!! uninspired turn signals, the chain already looks dirty…

  51. Bob Loblaw says:

    Restored or rebuilt is better than New Retro, IMHO. You’ll never see N/R because an air-cooled UJM won’t pass emissions, and there’s no where to hide the 40 pounds of mandated junk (evap canisters, plumbing, EGRs, Cat sensors) and maintain the look and feel. And honestly, the flexible-flyer older bikes just weren’t that good, by modern standards. The issue with new models is the compromises Japan takes using budget hardware, I’d guess.

    • VLJ says:

      The CB1100 is absolutely a New Retro, and it’s air-cooled, it passes emissions, and does a perfect job of hiding the mandated junk. It maintains the look and feel of the original CB family of air-cooled UJMs. No budget hardware, either, other than the relatively cheap/low-tech suspension, but no vintage bike ever had high-quality suspension.

      The Triumph T120 hits all those same marks, as well, except that it’s liquid-cooled, yet the radiator is hardly any larger than the oil cooler on the air-cooled models.

  52. Jim says:

    Out with the old & in with the new is what I say & I’m 59. Guess I missed out when they were handing out the retro-swoon gene.

  53. gt08 says:

    ZRX1200 Pleassssssssssse Kawasaki !!!

  54. Timothy Thaxton says:

    I would have bought an sr400 when they first came out and I would have paid list, but for one thing. No electric starter. There are 4 things I want in a motorcycle. They are: air cooled, a tachometer, a center stand, and a kick starter. 1 Motorcycle out there like that at this time. A Sym wolf classic 150. Top speed 65mph.

  55. paul246 says:

    I would like to see Honda bring back a version of the CB450 K1 Super Sport. The Canadian version had the added name of “Hellcat” emblazoned on the side covers. A perfectly proportioned and super cool bike.

  56. Pacer says:

    80s Japanese bikes I would like to see “retroed”: CB1100F, V65 both Magna and Saber, and Virago. Thay are already making the new version of my last pick,the Fazer (FZ07/09). I love the 80s motorcycle era. It was the time of the Morph from UJM to sportbike. Suzuki went from the Katana to the GSXR. Oh yeah. I would like to see a VFR1100 that was true to the 80s concept.

    • Pacer says:

      Honda made a concept bike of the VFR, it was cool.

    • MrD says:

      Well said, I couldn’t agree more. I really miss my Saber and Virago. Both of those bikes would be great with EFI, better tires, a few other modern upgrades, goodies, and tidbits. Gotta be the ’81 Virago, the rear suspension was a Monocross type setup with adjustable air shock. It’s like a whisp of YZ attached to your vee-twin.

      • Provologna says:

        Sold my ’83 Honda VF700S Sabre with 97k miles on it. It ran like a top and finish quality was still high. Of course, the original forks and shock were shot by then. Only non-scheduled service was the voltage regulator, easily diagnosed and swapped.

        Straight line speed on that sucker was great compared to just about anything except liter sized fours. That bike sucked K75s off the road, and even K100s could not beat it.

        Smoothest motor of any bike I owned, though the Yamaha Vision was a close second.

  57. kawatwo says:

    I would like to see a few 80s classics brought back. A Ninja 300 (400?) motor put in to a bike resembling the 86-87 250 ninja would be a dream. 1984 and forward GPZs, Ninja 900. 1st gen Suzuki Katana remake of course. Maybe something resembling a GS550ES. Those were pretty. Something like the Yamaha Fazer 700, RZ 350 as a 4 stroke? YSR50 as a 4 stroke (maybe a 125cc mini superbike), FJ600/1200 remakes. Something like the Honda 500 Interceptor, 86 VFR700/750, CX500 Turbo look alike. Just a few ideas.

    • MrD says:

      Now that’s an idea, YSR125. A 7/8 scale Grom eater. ”The world has never needed them more”

  58. Pat says:

    I love the new CB 1100 Honda. But I have a past with Triumph Bonnevilles, so would go that route before the Honda. BUT, the Honda is a great bike, beating the BMW Pure and the Bonneville T120 in a recent comparison test I just read…

  59. Chris says:

    Kawasaki actually is producing a retro version of the Z900. That is if you believe the rumors and spy pic.×470.jpg

  60. Don says:

    EPA/EURO4 alone would insure that the bike you actually buy would look quite a bit different from the one above. Think goiter growth exhaust under the motor and huge muffler at the end of that 4 into 1 exhaust. Don’t forget the large turn signals sticking out quite a bit and the giant rear fender extension with prominent license plate light. Mmmm, sign me up!

  61. ApriliaRST says:

    Updated UJMs bikes might have a market, but only if the shortcomings of that era’s frames can be addressed. I’m still riding and old enough to remember… so if I can find room for another bike, then maybe.

  62. Dennis says:

    Simple: Japan isn’t seen as a manufacturer of premium brands. All 4 Japanese brands produce motorcycles in every motorcycle segment you can think of. It is a wonderful place to start out one’s biking ‘career’, but almost no one stays there. Long-distance touring your bag? BMW seems to have that market wrapped up. High-performace is your thing? Ducati is rather well-entrenched in that. Love off-roading? KTM takes you to the next level. Cruising your thing? Harley will sell you on that segment niche.

    No one looks for a retro, vintage or classic anything from a generic producer. Not cars, clothing, radios or … bikes.

    • Neal says:

      “almost no one stays there”

      That’s just not true. Goldwings, Hayabusas, FJR’s, Councours 14, Japanese liter bikes, V Stroms, these are are “terminal bikes” for a lot of riders

      “No one looks for a retro, vintage or classic anything from a generic producer.”

      Um… Wranglers, Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers are core products for the mainstream US manufacturers.

      • motocephalic says:

        I’ve got to agree. I have been buying UJM’s for over 40 years, and buy them for the very reason they are made superior in many ways. When is the last time you saw Harley make a lightweight standard capable of punishment for over 100K miles? I hope Indian can make a standard bike worth buying.

        • beasty says:

          I’d be curious to know which UJM’s you have that have exceeded 100K. I’ve owned a bunch of them and I don’t think any of them were ever going to reach 100K with out serious engine rebuilds.

          • Kristopher Wuenstel says:

            My ’82 Seca 650 had 102k on it when I sold it…entirely stock engine & still ran great, good compression, didn’t smoke or consume oil. Brother’s ’83 Seca 900 had over 130k on a stock engine. I would’ve crossed the U.S. again on my 650 without worry. It never broke down, not once. Rock solid reliability.

          • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

            You are kidding me right? I own a 1988 Kawasaki Voyager 1200 with I think around 115,000 miles on it, and it runs as though it is barely broke in. To not get that kind of mileage on a UJM per se, it is either too small and ridden hard, or someone is not keeping up with maintenance on it. And by the way, maintenance on my 1200 has just been oil changes. Doesn’t burn oil either.

          • motocephalic says:

            Honda ST 1300, Vstrom 650 (2), VTX 1300, all of them made over 100K that I rode with NO engine rebuilds, it’s done all the time. Many bikes I had to 60-80K and just wanted a change.

          • Zeerx says:

            I had a ’75 Z1 that I sold with 140k miles. It’s probably still out there breaking the speed limit.

        • mickey says:

          Yet you’ve had 19 reliable Sportsters… Amazing

          I think a lot of Goldwings, CB’s, GS Suzukis, KZ Kawasakis and XS Yamahas were built well enough to go 100,000 miles without going inside the motors if ridden with a modicrum of civility.

          Just read a story about a guy on a 76 WIng that went 1 million miles (on 4 motors.. He got about 300,000 miles per motor and it was his daily rider for 41 years.) Also know a girl that has over 200,000 on her FZ Yamaha, never taken apart. Many riders on the ST board have put between 100 and 300,000 on their bikes. My personal ST will turn over 100,000 this fall, never taken apart.

          • beasty says:

            Yeah mickey I’ve had 19 reliable Sportsters, but I’ve also had over 70 motorcycles since 1968, many of them Japanese. So I’m genuinely interested in the UJM bikes motocephalic has that will do 100K. I don’t consider any of the bikes you mentioned to be UJM’s because, well, they’re not.

          • beasty says:

            Hmmm. We may be talking about two different things here. While I consider the Seca’s that Kristopher mentioned to be UJM’s, I don’t consider The Voyager( I owned one, great bike), Honda ST, VTX, GoldWing or Suzuki V-Strom to be UJM’s.

          • Dave says:

            70 motorcycles owned since 1968?!?!? I’m not getting why you’re interested in a bike’s longevity. Nobody with a day job could amass meaningful mileage on that many bikes across that long a time frame. Am I missing something?

        • gary t says:

          Dennis was not questioning the reliability of the Japanese motorcycles. I agree that once you have years of experience, you have an appreciation for some Brembo brakes. higher end suspension, and hydraulic clutch. Standard on some of the models he listed.
          As far as the article I feel that many Americans claim that if a Japanese manufacturer builds a certain bike they will run to the dealer with a big wad of cash. However when the bike arrives its …..crickets…..
          What bike has sold in crazy numbers in the last couple of decades like the old original Honda cb series?

        • motocephalic says:

          while you may not consider v stroms UJM, I do, and it’s a bike that is much closer to a UJM than anything Harley could come up with. Point being, I would love buying “HERITAGE” models if we Americans would be interested in making them.

    • Scotty says:

      Its hard to argue the Japanese do not produce premium motorcycles when the rest of the world has spent 50 years catching up to them in terms of reliability and sophistication.

      Long distance touring – Gold Wing is an icon in that class.

      High performance – the Big Four led in ultimate sportsbikes until a the S1000R was launched, and some say they still do.

      Off road – again the Japanese have created genres, been leaders, and are available to many. CR500 is still spoken of with awe. At present KTM are strong – but MX/Enduro/Rally competitions are not the whole scene.

      Cruising? Yeah HD got that – at least in the US. Over in Europe plenty of people cruise on ….non-cruisers.

    • Half Baked says:

      The MX segment is a good example of how utterly and completely incorrect you are. The Japanese manufacturers have dominated the sport for decades. Only recently has KTM built competitive machines but they cost more to purchase and maintain so Japan continues to provide equipment for a riders entire career.

      • guu says:

        In motocross KTMs up until recently cost more because you got more (and this was reflected in the price of the used bikes). Now that Honda and Yamaha have electric starts the price is the same as the KTM. KTM just had the starter over a decade ago.

        I don’t know where you base your claim that KTMs cost more to maintain. OE prices are more than competitive and aftermarket vendors are the same for all brands. Same use will result in same wear and tear.

    • Cyclemotorist says:

      The Japanese are manufacturing the best bikes on the planet. There is simply no getting around it. The only thing I would question is their sometimes quirky styling.

  63. arrowrod says:

    Nobody really knows. I like the idea of a 120HP engine, v4 or I4, being available in a choice of motorcycle styles. The engine will have already passed the various emissions and EPA tests. (How dumb of me, government knows no bounds). I could order up a Triumph Bonneville or Harley Sportster style bike, with a smooth, powerful engine. (Kinda like NASCARs “car of tomorrow”).

  64. Ken House says:

    I doubt that Honda will sell many of its latest CB1100s this year. There are a ton of modern nakeds on the market now. Why buy a dated looking bike that is heavier, less powerful, has poorer brakes, and poorer suspension? Because it has spoked wheels? I hope not. I owned a ’94 CB1000 Big One for many years. It was a fun and reliable bike, but it was tall, heavy, and even a full suspension upgrade couldn’t overcome the limits of the chassis. I think that if people want a retro bike, they’ll buy one and restore it. Otherwise, things like water cooling, FI, and higher compression ratios are hard to argue with.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Because it is aircooled. Hence behave a bit more like a living thing, being happier in some weather than other etc….. The “living” thing extends to the frame as well. It’s not, like the originals, flexy enough to be annoying (or scary/dangerous), but still has enough give to have a personality, even at more normal speeds. You can detects a bit of windup when you whack it, feel it takes a bit of a set in corners etc. IOW, it has the kind of endearing sensations that many are attracted to cruisers for, yet packages them up in a sportier and more practical, for many uses, package.

      And then, there is a level of detailing and finish that makes MV Agustas seem downmarket.

  65. paul246 says:

    Honda has been producing the V-4 powered VFR in several iterations for over 30 years, so basically an updated heritage piece that you can still buy today. I might add that it is an excellent bike as well.

  66. mickey says:

    All I can think of is there isn’t enough of us old codgers around still riding that fondly remember the 70’s and 80’s and the venerable UJM. I love my CB1100. It looks great, it runs great, it handles great for me, it’s smooth and reliable, plenty of torque, has great brakes,FI and ABS but I’m 67, It doesn’t appeal to my 38 year old son who rides a Ducati Monster and a Yamaha FJ-09., and it doesn’t resonate with the risk takers 18-25 that buy the sport bikes, and it doesn’t appeal to the cruiser crowd.

    Too small of a market would be my guess.

    Retro have done well for Triumph (my younger brother 64, bought a T-120), but really how many do they actually sell? It’s not like you see them everywhere.

    • Bill N says:

      I’m in total agreement. I’m an old codger. I bought a Harley Roadster. Looks like the bikes I grew up with but it”s got fuel injection, disc brakes, belt drive, and most importantly; hydraulic valves. So I’m not in the market for a Japanese retro.

  67. Kevin P says:

    The USA market seems to beg for such heritage models as if it will fulfill a fantasy, Then the models brought in don’t seem to sell. I think there are a couple f reasons. First, people may not put their money where there mouth is and models like the SR400, XSR900, W650, TU250, and CB100 never sold well. But theres more to this. Many of these bikes when re-introduced as a heritage model arrive in a half neutered state. The CB1100 had about 85 hp and was overweight and overpriced. The SR400 is slow and expensive for a kick start only bike and people would rather buy a leftover Bonneville or a used bike. But bikes like the XSR900 are light, inexpensive and still barely sell. I’d like to see Kawasaki bring out a modern ZRX1200R with EFI in retro colors. But the market for naked standard bikes is pretty soft in many colder climates such as the Northeast.I think the new CB100 EX is gorgeous and I hope it sells well.

  68. Dave Denman says:

    Each time a cool retro or naked is introduced in Europe, American riders shout “bring it here, we want it too” and when the manufactures give in and ship them to the US, those same riders who made the most noise about bringing them here, stroll into dealerships, talk about how nice the bikes look and then leave without buying and the bikes sit on the dealer floors long enough that the manufactures have to rebate them heavily just to sell them. Why would a manufacture want to build something that doesn’t sell until it is sold at a loss?

    • Bud says:

      I think there might be something to that. The beautifully styled Kawasaki twin (W800?) didn’t sell well enough to stay in the lineup.

      • Pacer says:

        It is the lack of performance that holds those bikes back. Not the style.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “It is the lack of performance that holds those bikes back. Not the style.”

          How does one qualify “performance”? Despite being heavier and slower, Triumph, HD and to a lesser degree, Moto Guzzi (V7) continue to grow sales of retro styled bikes that have dismal “performance” when compared to modern japanese and european models by displacement class. But the buyers don’t care. They’re happy that the bike delivers the experience they want.

          How can the japanese makes attract that customer? On one side, I hear that the CB1100 sold poorly, on another, I hear that there’s a large and active community of riders who fit cleanly into that demographic that would’ve just as likely bought one of the bikes mentioned above.

          How do we get people to stop letting arbitrary text on a spec sheet tell them what a product’s value is?

  69. Neil says:

    It would sell, but how well? Sales are spotty in the U.S. and most brands are down, though Triumph and Ducati are up overall, even though their market share is small. I see almost no motorcycles here in the Northeast. Paris had TONS when I was there, literally everywhere you looked. I saw a mint older GSX750 on the highway outside Marseilles. That thing looked epic. I think the 900 motor in an classic chassis is a great idea.

    • Scotty says:

      Europe I would say has a completely different take on motorcycles to the US. More variety. More everyday use. In some parts of Europe literally EVERY 14yo kid will have a scooter, and that love of two wheels stays there as they grow up.

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