What do the words “Retro Classic” mean to you? For us, it means a bike that is mechanically quite modern but with spot-on retro style. If you like this idea, you can consider it the best of both worlds. If you do not like this idea, you can consider it a cliche. Anyway, there are quite a few options to choose from in 2022. The best bikes in this category represent a solid understanding that some things are good just because they are good, not necessarily because they are older or newer.
Some bikes that might have made the cut in previous iterations are conspicuously absent from this list, such as Yamaha’s Xsrs. While we may have completely complied with the law in previous years, the 2022 versions have a more modern style than before—and thus put themselves within our reach for this piece. The same goes for the Honda CB1100R. we are sure they are going well; it is simply not suitable for the purposes of this list.
We also don’t have a few bikes that are, in every respect, bikes of yesteryear that are still made today. While other modern gear is pleasing, I think we can all agree that, at the very least, disc brakes should be standard. If Honda could manage with the CB750 Four, the OEMs should be able to do at least that much in 2022. Fuel injection is also a must. There are some bikes that we really like the style of, but that made this list not for those reasons.
Like most OEMs that have been around for decades, Kawasaki just needs to reach for its own back catalog for style inspiration. Not bad at all. The end result draws style cues from the W1, but it has nice modern touches such as front and rear disc brakes, ABS, 19-inch and 18-inch front rear wheels and a frame that the W1 could only have dreamed of-and yet, of course, there’s that beautiful seat.
Kawasaki Z650RS and Z900RS ABS
The world-changing legacy of the Z1 lives on in 2022, in the form of both the z650rs and the Z900RS. This is even truer with the Z50th Anniversary special editions of both bikes, which include the retro classic Beauty amp up to 11. Both bikes have double disc brakes at the front and single discs at the rear, as well as ABS. The Z900rs features a new fully adjustable fork, both bikes have LED headlights, and the Z900rs Z50th Anniversary Edition even adds traction control to sweeten the deal.
Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 and INT650
While some might dispute whether Enfield has changed these two model names (the INT650 has more relaxed ergos, while the Continental is much sportier), one thing is certain: classic Retro charms abound in both 650 twins. After all, there are several ways to make retro-classic. Do you want a more aggressive sitting position so that you can make the tone in style and comfort? The Continental 650 is your bike. Do you want a more vertical sitting? The INT650 might be for you. Both have disc brakes and ABS, which provide some assistance when you need to stop.
Triumph Street Twin, Bonneville T100 and T120, Thruxton RS, speed Twin, Bonneville Bobber, Street Scrambler, Scrambler 1200
Although Triumph has a few notable exceptions, you could say that “retro classic” is what the brand does—and it does well, for the most part. All the different Bonneville variations can be hard to keep if you’re not the most dedicated Triumph afficionado, but they collectively serve to remind us that “retro classic” isn’t a monolith and there’s more than enough aesthetics to go around. With modern touches such as Brembo disc brakes, ABS and traction control, along with great fit, finish and attention to detail.