By the numbers: retro roadster showdown

Dailies -


retro_roadster.jpgBy its very definition, comparing the retro roadster class by performance figures is a bit silly. These bikes aren’t created to go fast, they’re created to recapture some sort of fundamental two-wheeled experience with handsome looks, easy-going power and a nebulous thing called “character.” That’s why we prefer the Triumph Scrambler to its slightly faster sibling, the Bonneville: character. Still, looking at these numbers should tell us a little about the 2010 Honda CB1100.
In fact, this whole class is a little hard to define compared to, say,
600cc sportsbikes. Retro bikes like these don’t share common capacities,
engine configurations or much at all beyond old technology
re-interpreted with modern manufacturing. So, we’ve chosen all
air-cooled bikes that aren’t overtly specialized in either riding
position or purpose and only bikes that are available in the USA. We’ve also thrown the Suzuki TU250 and a 1969 Honda
CB750 into the mix just to give things a bit of perspective. Is the BMW
R1200R really a direct rival for the Moto Guzzi V7? Probably not, so
we’re not picking winners, allowing you to draw your own
conclusions. Don’t see a bike you feel should be included? Look up the
numbers and drop them in comments.


Honda CB1100: 87bhp
Triumph Bonneville: 67bhp @ 7,250rpm
Triumph Scrambler: 58bhp @ 6,800rpm
Ducati GT1000: 92bhp @ 8,000rpm
Harley XR1200: 90bhp @ 7,000rpm
BMW R1200R: 109bhp @ 7,500rpm
Moto Guzzi V7: 48bhp @ 6,200rpm
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: 87bhp @ 7,600rpm
Suzuki TU250: 20bhp @ 8,000rpm
1969 Honda CB750: 69bhp @ 8,000rpm

Honda CB1100: 68lb/ft
Triumph Bonneville: 51lb/ft@ 5,800rpm
Triumph Scrambler: 50lb/ft @ 4,750rpm
Ducati GT1000: 67lb/ft @ 6,000rpm
Harley XR1200: 74lb/ft @ 3,700rpm
BMW R1200R: 85lb/ft @ 6,000rpm
Moto Guzzi V7: 44lb/ft @ 3,200rpm
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: 66lb/ft @ 6,400rpm
Suzuki TU250: 15lb/ft @ 5,500rpm
1969 Honda CB750: 44lb/ft @ 7,000rpm

Dry Weight
Honda CB1100: 223kg / 491lbs (est)
Triumph Bonneville: 205kg / 451lbs
Triumph Scrambler: 205kg / 451lbs
Ducati GT1000: 185kg / 407lb
Harley XR1200: 255kg / 562lbs
BMW R1200R: 198kg / 437lbs
Moto Guzzi V7: 182kg /  401lbs
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: 227kg / 500lbs
Suzuki TU250: 123kg / 271lbs
1969 Honda CB750: 218kg / 481lbs

Power to Weight (bhp:kg)
Honda CB1100: .39:1
Triumph Bonneville: .33:1
Triumph Scrambler: .28:1
Ducati GT1000: .50:1
Harley XR1200: .35:1
BMW R1200R: .55:1
Moto Guzzi V7: .26:1
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: .38:1
Suzuki TU250: .16:1
1969 Honda CB750: .32:1

Torque to Weight (lb/ft:kg)
Honda CB1100: .30:1
Triumph Bonneville: .25:1
Triumph Scrambler: .25:1
Ducati GT1000: .36:1
Harley XR1200: .29:1
BMW R1200R: .43:1
Moto Guzzi V7: .24:1
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: .29:1
Suzuki TU250: .12:1
1969 Honda CB750: .20:1

Honda CB1100: 1,140cc, DOHC, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected inline-four
Triumph Bonneville: 865cc, DOHC, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected
Triumph Scrambler: 865cc, DOHC, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected, 270°
parallel twin
Ducati GT1000: 992cc, Desmo, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected 90° twin
Harley XR1200: 1202cc, OHV, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected 45° twin
BMW R1200R: 1,170cc, SOHC, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected flat twin
Moto Guzzi V7: 744cc, SOHC, air-cooled, fuel injected, 90° twin
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: 1064cc, SOHC, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected 90°
Suzuki TU250: 249cc, SOHC, air/oil-cooled, fuel injected single-cylinder
1969 Honda CB750: 736cc, SOHC, Air-Cooled, carbureted inline-four

Honda CB1100: 18″ front and rear, tubeless
Triumph Bonneville: 17″ front and rear, tubeless
Triumph Scrambler: 19″ front, 17″ rear, tubed
Ducati GT1000: 17″ front and rear, tubed
Harley XR1200: 18″ front, 17″ rear,  tubeless
BMW R1200R: 17″ front and rear, tubeless
Moto Guzzi V7: 18″ front, 17″ rear, tubed
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: 17″ front and rear, tubeless
Suzuki TU250: 19″ front, 18″ rear, tubed
1969 Honda CB750: 19″ front, 18″ rear, tubed

Honda CB1100: $10,500 (est)
Triumph Bonneville: $7,699
Triumph Scrambler: $8,799
Ducati GT1000: $11,495
Harley XR1200: $10,799
BMW R1200R: $12,795
Moto Guzzi V7: $8,490
Moto Guzzi Griso 1100: $13,490
Suzuki TU250: $3,799
1969 Honda CB750: N/A

People purchasing retro roadsters tend to do so based on brand loyalty,
image and whichever ratio of chrome to paint fits their particular
taste. Our two favorite bikes here, the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic and the Triumph
Scrambler are also two of the slowest, running counter to our usual
preference for performance. One thing these numbers indicate about the
CB1100 is that it should be a great highway cruiser, with a superior
torque to weight figure over the above two bikes and a smooth
inline-four to boot. While the Honda is cheaper than the Moto Guzzi
Griso 1100
, it looks like it’ll retail for about the same as the Harley
, all three of which look very closely matched. Looking for style
and speed? The Ducati GT1000 or the R1200R are your best bets. And yes,
the TU250 does feel as slow as its numbers suggest.

  • Cameron Baum

    “People purchasing retro roadsters tend to do so based on brand loyalty, image and whichever ratio of chrome to paint fits their particular taste.”

    Not to mention a bike that goes best with their fashion-weight leather jackets…

  • Papasan in AZ

    How inappropriate of me, I wear a Triumph jacket while riding my Buell…

    Call the fashion police.

    Papasan in AZ

  • Sean Smith

    Is there some way that harley could drop maybe 150 pounds off the XR? The bike looks SO good and has so much potential. If it weren’t so heavy I’d consider buying one.

    • Michael

      Agreed, it’s a gorgeous bike and has an appeal unlike any other in the comparison. The frame is steel, not aluminum, unfortunately. So I’ll take one with an aluminum frame and sport clip-ons, please and thank you.

    • Butcher

      re: Harley drop 150 lbs.
      No. It’s a Harley.

  • Trav

    I think I’ll keep my 11 year old thunderbird sport

  • Russ

    “Our two favorite bikes here, the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic and the Triumph Scrambler are also two of the slowest, running counter to our usual preference for performance.”


    My thoughts exactly when I first saw the Honda. If nothing else, the sound of the bike alone (i.e. V7, Scrambler and Bonnie) should amount to something in this class. This class is about passion, and the Honda doesn’t do it for me. A lot of the positive comments I’ve read about the Honda are more due to the nostalgia of owning an old Honda, then the new bike in itself. Me being 28 years of age, I have no attachment to any of the retro bikes, except for my objective/subjective opinion. That said, there is something about a Triumph or Moto Guzzi that moves my soul, and I have no nostalgia to base this on.

    • Wes Siler

      Understandable. I’m 29 and I don’t have much of a history with any of these brands aside from maybe Honda. That said, the Bonneville is shit boring, it’s like riding a sewing machine and I have to disagree with the lack of passion in the CB1100, it’s clearly got some love in those lines. People criticize Honda for a lack of character, but you can feel something seriously special in the bikes they get right, especially the CBR1000RR.

      • Russ

        “the Bonneville is shit boring, it’s like riding a sewing machine.”


        However, I remember watching that series called “Twist The Throttle” on Discovery that said Honda in the ’70s had to actually put a little vibration and “character” into their bikes because they were TOO smooth! People were actually complaining! Maybe someone who has ridden one from that era can tell me what that was all about, but I would have to argue that if anyone has some catching up to do in the passion department, it has always been Honda.

        Prepare for all of the Bonnie riders coming after you:)

  • Retrograde

    Correction- the V7 is a pushrod OHV.
    And it is a very good looking non pimpy standard.

    I nominate the Ural Solo for consideration in this class as well. Did they ever come out with that bike? It’s not on their website.

  • Retrograde

    By the way Norton is back in production you know. And it looks like whoever’s building them is using the original tooling from the 70′s.

  • Retrograde

    There’s also Royal Enfield- the factory was crated up and moved to India, they have updated the bikes with fuel injection and sell them in the USA for $6k.

    • Wes Siler

      well like I said in the article, if there’s a bike you want included, then add it in here in the comments…

  • Ken

    Honda aside, all those large capacity retros are European or American. Given the history available for pilfering, I’m really surprised the Japanese aren’t in on the act. Surely there’s a market for a beautiful update of the Z1 or the GS1000. (Not the XS1100 though thanks.) Especially as it would give those brilliant air-cooled fours a modern, non-bendy chassis.

  • Roman

    Sorry to hear about the Bonny…. if I had to spend my own cash on a new bike right now, it’d probably be it. I really dig the new cast wheels and the fact that you can get tubeless tires. Saw a model at the dealership that had the Thruxton seat and drag bars, very sharp! Guess I need to take it out and decide for myself.

    Btw, I’m 28 and this category of bikes is really growing on me, for all the reasons already mentioned.

  • Epyx

    I second the inclusion of the Royal Enfield and suggest the consideration of another Sporty…either the “new” ’48 or the Nightster.

    Possibly in place of the XR. I feel like those two are consciously retro while the XR is suffering the delusion that it is not (even though it draws heavily on the classic dirt track appearance). JMO

    XL1200N and XL1200X Specs.

    Torque @ RPM: 79.10 lbs/ft@ 4000 RPM
    Horsepower: ~74 bhp
    MSRP $9,999 (add $500 for the ’48)

    Great post! Nice to see everything in one place. If I had to vote for a favorite I would go Ducati. However, as a whole, this is my favorite genre of motorcycle.

  • Epyx

    …oh and I am 33.

  • uber twin

    If the Honda CB1100 qualifies, don’t see why the Kawasaki ZRX 1200 R won’t.

  • Diddle

    Is the Kawasaki ZRX 1200 available in the US?

  • CafeRacer1200

    As said, the performance numbers really have little bearing on who purchases what in this class. For me, it’s the V7 and the Bonneville. I still love the retro feel of this new Honda though. It’s interesting that some have said the the inline four doesn’t sound like a “real” motorcycle. It’s been around for 40 years! How long does it take?

  • Epyx

    Cafe – I went back and read the V7 review, must say that it is very impressive despite the power deficit to the others. I would love to read a real world on comparison test of this excellent group. Sounds like one very fun weekend!

    I guess if I had to rank it would be as follows (based entirely on emotion):
    1. Duc GT1000
    2. HD XL1200N (not in the list above)
    3. Guzzi V7
    4. Triumph Bonne
    5. Honda CB1100
    …and then the rest of the field.

  • Scheffy

    Well if you’re taking requests I wouldn’t mind seeing the new Norton Commando in there, even if the price is a bit steep…

  • christian

    I don’t quite get how the Griso and the BMW get to be classified as “retro roadsters” — if that’s the case, you might as well put the Monster in there also.

    As for the bikes discussed, I really wanted to like the new Scrambler, but it felt too refined — the “sewing machine” comment was actually quite apt. I think in the end, a long weekend riding these bikes back to back is the best way to decide which one is the best for a particular rider. It’s also a kickass way to spend a weekend!

  • PeteP

    For the Z1 Retro, Kaawasaki sold it here in the US abut a decade ago. Look for The ZR1100.

    It didn’t sell very well. Probably ahead of its time, and foreshadowed the ZRX’s.

  • Mark D

    The CB1100 is undeniably sexy, but at 535 wet, a bit heavy for my taste. Of course, I doubt Honda would develope a smaller-capacity air-cooled four, especially for the US market. It seems to be competing with the Ducati gt1000 (which is much faster and more modern), and the Harley XR1200 (which has a much different fan base than Honda). I’m not sure who would buy this bike (other than me), but if I had ~$10k to buy a bike with, it might be a toss up between the Honda and the Ducati. I’m 23 now and ride an old ’78 CB400, so maybe the Honda would win out ;)

  • Kidchampion

    The Ducati GT1000 could be such a great looking bike but the gap between the back tire and the seat/fender looks so wrong. I’m not the first to note this and Ducati has had years to revise the design. I wish they would.

  • coho

    I gotta agree with christian, there’s plenty of standard in the BMW R1200R, but very little retro.

    I really wish BMW would release a ‘modern classic’ like the Ducatis. An air-cooled R80 or 90 with tele-forks and a monolever…maybe some chrome panels on the tank…

    Real vintage BMWs are plentiful and mostly still running, however, and I know I’d feel more sanguine about riding past the city limits on a ’77 BMW than I would a ’77 Duc, though the Duc would sound much sexier.

  • Retrograde

    I emailed BMW’s American management team suggesting they give us a standard version R1200 boxer with conventional forks like their 70’s bikes. Their marketing manager responded that they would take it under consideration.

    Remember that they had a concept R1200 bobber on their website and were polling people whether they would buy it. It had normal forks but was a bit pimpy. So at least they’re thinking about doing something like this.

    Have you noticed that they haven’t refreshed the R1200R with the new dohc motor? Maybe they’re going to surprise us with a real standard ala the old R90.

    • Grant Ray

      Retrograde, please don’t be too heart broken when I tell you this, but I firmly believe the BMW Motorrad USA management team hasn’t the least bit of interest in a retro-based entry-level model right now. I’ve had long conversations with them, the first just over a year ago now, begging them to build just such a bike to entice a fresh incoming demographic. I’ve even tried to get them to personally meet the very demo I mentioned by inviting BMW to events by HFL or our friends here in Brooklyn- full of young, professional adults, roughly 50/50 male to female, savvy but not always into modern super performance, who are continually asking Wes and I or our buddies for such a bike and have the money to buy. All I can say is that BMW politely declined to attend.

      Take heart, though! There’s the Ural ST that’s about to make it to the “for sale” section. It’s handmade, fits pretty much all the specs you listed and I personally think it’s brilliant. Not fast, mind you. Just somehow magical in that Je ne c’est quoi kind of way.

      And as for the CB1100 only running 7K-8K? Have you seen the value of the Yen recently? Sorry to burst your bubble again. I know, I can be such a Debby Downer. I guess we all need to dream a little sometime, huh?

      • pkor

        BMW should not build a retro bike. All the old airheads are still running out there. You could re-build/upgrade an 70-80 boxer for less than a new bike, have a true vintage ride, and get 100k worry free miles.
        My 73 r75/5 is more pleasant @ 75 mph that my wife’s 2001 Bonneville. You can certainly flog the Bonnie around much faster, but that’s not the point.

  • Retrograde

    I emailed BMW’s American management team suggesting they give us a standard version R1200 boxer with conventional forks like their 70’s bikes. Their marketing manager responded that they would take it under consideration.

    Remember that they had a concept R1200 bobber on their website and were polling people whether they would buy it. It had normal forks but was a bit pimpy. So at least they’re thinking about doing something like this.

    Have you noticed that they haven’t refreshed the R1200R with the new dohc motor? Maybe they’re going to surprise us with a real standard ala the old R90.

  • ish

    ha, I wear my Triumph jacket while riding all the BMWs we rent here in Los Angeles at Jupiter’s motorcycle rental, talk about fashion faux pas. I guess I’m just hoping and wishing we’ll get a vintage BMW in here to ride and rent someday!
    I would love to check out how the ride is on a CB and Moto Guzzi though, especially the guzzy, man those machines are sexy!

  • GeddyT

    I’ve never understood any of these bikes. Not necessarily why they exist, I get that (fashion accessory), but why they cost what they do. When I first saw the retro Ducati I thought, “Well that’s a cool way to get people on a Ducati that otherwise might not be able to afford one.” Then I saw the price tag. Then, after picking my jaw up off the floor, I wondered why anyone would pay more for a retro bike than they would for a modern liter bike that would be better in every way other than helping someone fit in at a hipster rally.

    Retro bikes make sense as a way to get entry level buyers in the door: Old engine designs, leftover suspension components (non-adjustable, damping rod, etc.), last gen brakes, simple electronics. Plus you get the benefits of a cool retro look (benefit to some). This formula goes right out the window, though, when they’re priced over ten grand! When very few bikes on this list match the fun and mechanical competency of a $6500 SV650, it kind of puts things into perspective: You’re paying a 50% mark-up just to look cool and hip.

    And people bash Harley Davidson all the time on here (and I bash them plenty myself)… But, really guys, what’s the philosophical difference between any new H-D and a new Honda CB1100?

    • Epyx

      “You’re paying a 50% mark-up just to look cool and hip.”

      You are making the irrational assumption that a motorcycle is a rational purchase. It is a a toy. Not everyone uses the same metrics to measure value and not all said metrics can be found an a stat sheet.

      The SV650 has little to no appeal to me. I dont dispute it’s abilities, I just dont have one shred of “bike lust” for it. For me, “bike lust” is 75% of the purchase equation.

      • Cameron Baum


        Maybe for you. I’ve never understood this “motorcycle as a toy” concept.

        Yeah, they are extremely enjoyable alternatives to 4-wheeled vehicles. But for many of us they are our primary transportation when the road isn’t covered with ice and snow.

        Perhaps this “it is a toy” concept explains a lot of the posing I see.

        • Wes Siler

          Let’s please not get into a poser vs real-honest-to-god-badass-hairychest-blackleather-biker-swear-to-satan thing. If you like bikes, you’re the real deal, period.

          • CafeRacer1200

            Yeah, well welcome to Cameron Baum’s Real Motorcyclist Emporium. It’s successful since he’s so much smarter than the average bear and he doesn’t need approval from anyone but himself

            • Cameron Baum

              Still have sand in the hoo hoo? Go buy yourself a brand new bike. That should make you feel better.

        • Epyx

          Ok cool your bike is primary transport, who cares?

          You dont get extra bonus points from the motorcycle gods for ridding your bike in all weather with your laptop strapped to your back and groceries in your saddle bags.

          Having a bike as a recreational vehicle is not a pejorative any more than having a sports car as a non-daily driver.

          The only time in my life my bike was my primary transportation was when I was a dirt poor college kid. Believe me I wished it was a weekend toy to compliment a car. Now, I ride public transportation to work, use my wife’s car for major errands and my bikes are just for fun. Sorry if this does not jive with your version of what is acceptable use.

          In the United States the majority of riders are recreational…so you know, its a toy to most. Dont act like you are surprised or that is matters in the slightest.

        • pauljones

          Even if it is your primary commuter when weather permits, the simple fact is that most motorcycles really aren’t all that practical. If you have any more than a briefcase worth of stuff with you, it’s useless (unless you ride a bagger, and even then, storage is limited).

          From a standpoint of sheer rationality, a little econobox makes a whole hell of a lot more practical sense than a motorcycle. It may not get the same fuel economy, but it will still be up there, it’ll get you from point a to point b just as effectively as a motorcycle, and will do so more comfortably in less-than-ideal weather conditions. It can also care four passengers and their cargo with some degree of comfort, and will bring home enough groceries to last you and your family for a week. A bike can’t do that. That’s why most motorcycle owners also own a car/truck.

          What sets them apart is that motorcycles are actually fun, while econoboxes roughly equate to NyQuil on wheels. And why do we own motorcycles? Because they’re fun. That fun factor, which we trade a great deal of practicality for, is what edges them into the “toy” category to me. You may ride it as often as humanly possible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a toy; it’s just a well-loved and oft-played with toy.

        • CafeRacer1200

          I assume, of course, that you’re looking in the mirror as you type.

  • tony starr

    nice to see all the important numbers in one place. well done wes. all that’s missing, is the fuel consumption data and difference in brakes.

    i wanted a CB1100 from the moment i took notice of the 2007 CB1100f concept. what a beautiful looking machine. all it needs is those dual pipes from the 2009 customize concept. it’s completely different from the usual bikes i see on the road everyday (besides the odd bonnie). would be a nice upgrade from my CB400 too. although a little overweight and maybe more engine than i’ll need on my daily commute. but it’ll probably be a little nicer on the freeway and a little more stable from those freeway cross winds my little 400 loves to hate. and more brakes than a modern bonneville. bring it to australia please honda!

  • MTGR

    I worked at a major Jap OEM and I think the reason they don’t do this class well is a lack of understanding. They deal in high volume sales so they think strictly in terms of numbers and not passions. That kind of thinking, by definition, goes against the grain of Niche markets so it is not surprising the Jap OEMs are not strong in these types of categories.

    I saw the same thing happen more than once while there – they would get major requests for a non-US model, or good response to a Retro-concept bike, and immediately they see dollar signs. So they build/import it but jack the price up to almost the same as their leading edge machines thinking it will still sell because of all the “desire” and then they sit back in confusion when it does not. Next they blame the “unpredictable” US market that “does not know what they want” for the slow sales. They can’t seem to understand that the people wanting that bike are doing so when they expect the price to be in-line with the technology it uses.

    Most bike guys are smart enough not to buy outdated and/or budget designs, no matter how pretty, when the bikes for sale next to it have all the latest and greatest for hardly any more cash. It is all relative. Something with a $10k+ MSRP had better be way tricker/faster than most of these retros were ever intended or designed to be.

    Just look at the cost comparison section, the best sellers in this group are also some of the cheapest, even though they already have a lot of character and good looks going for them.

    I’ll take the reasonably priced and cool Scrambler over the possibly cooler but too expensive to justify Ducati sport any day.

  • MTGR

    Oh yeah, and 10,500 for a CB? And more than that for a glorified Sportster?

    As if we needed more proof that Honda and HD have totally lost touch with the realities of their target market.

  • tony starr

    oh and it would be great if honda made a retro styled twin.

  • Retrograde

    $10,500 is just an estimate, hopefully they’ll be more realistic, and price it in the 7 to 8k range, which to my mind is really what it’s worth.

    “sublime 5th gear crusing” sounds good, casual riding is fun.

    Wonder if you can modify the baffle to give it that classic kirker type sound (without being obnoxiously loud).

  • GeddyT

    This is exactly what I was trying to say.

    Of COURSE a motorcycle is just a toy for most buyers. And, yes, this makes the purchase a bit less rational in some respects. But it doesn’t completely eliminate the concept of value.

    I agree with Wes that everyone that rides does so for the right reason because there is no wrong reason. That being said, if performance isn’t your bag and a retro feeling or certain look is what incites your “lust” more than a bike that can go, stop, and turn in a manner reasonably close to state of the art, then good for you. You should be lucky, as such a bike that would satisfy your needs should be relatively inexpensive. But that’s not the case.

    If you’re willing to spend close to $11,000 on essentially the same bike that sold for $1500 in 1971 when sitting right next to it on the showroom floor are a pair of new holdover ’09 1000RRs for $9K apiece… Well, enjoy. Personally, even if the CB is the bike I’d rather have, I’d feel too ripped off to complete the deal.

    Hell, there are a million CB750s on craigslist that could be purchased and fixed up for under three grand. And if that classic look and feel and “character” are what gives you bike wood, what’s more retro than the real thing? At least that way you’re not overpaying.

  • fazer6

    I like ‘em all.

  • Boxer Sport

    GO BMW!!!!
    Test drive a Tele-whatever front with the ohlins and you’ll understand.

    • CafeRacer1200

      Very true. My “I don’t need it but I need it” bike is an R850R. I use it for occasional urban duty (If you knew the history, you’d understand why I don’t ride it that much) I have never ridden a standard that handled that well. Ever

  • RTRider

    I think the Moto Guzzi has one of the best sounding motorcycles on the market. You do not have to have straight pipes like the Harley morons to have a sweet sound. The V7 is a great bike even though it is a little low on the HP.

  • eric

    Every few years, the japanese try to build a good ‘classic’ bike, and they always fail in the US market. I’ve seen them come and go, from the Z1000, to the CB1000, to the ZRX. They are almost always really nice bikes, but they never sell. Heck, I came pretty close to buying the old CB1000, which had nice suspension, a modern engine sourced from the CBR1000 of the early 90′s (this was in the mid 90′s), and had really nice proportions. I didn’t buy it because it was 560 pounds or so, and they detuned the engine, knocking 25 horsepower off! It drives me crazy that they do this. Triumph didn’t dumb down the triple when they built the speed triple, so why do the Japanese?

    Back to the retro cruisers we’re actually talking about, Kawasaki built the jewel-like w650 at the same time that the new Bonneville came out. It’s better detailed and proportioned, and even had a fair price. The Triumph was a big hit, and the W650 bombed. What gives? I have a theory. Most of the guys looking for retro-style machines won’t even go into Japanese shops, because they don’t associate the Japanese with timeless classics; they associate the Japanese with high performance and technical excellence. These are great qualities, but they’re not going to get you success in the retro market. In addition, most of the retros they’ve built (but not all) have often been described as bland or characterless. Those words are the kiss of death for a classic, retro-style bike. I fear this new honda will suffer a similar fate as the others.

    • Cameron Baum

      I would like to pick up a W650 someday. Too bad so few were sold. They might have some serious collector’s value someday.

      A very nice bike indeed.

    • Epyx

      Eric, I think the W650 suffered from being considered a knock off Triumph, which would have been fine had the Bonneville not existed at the same time. Why buy something that looks like a Triumph when an actual Triumph is available?

      The W650 is pretty cool though – doesn’t it have a kickstart?

      Sad thing is that from what I understand the W650 did a better job recreating the original Bonneville than Triumph did.

      • Wes Siler

        And don’t underestimate the importance marketing plays. Excellent motorcycles often languish in dealerships for lack of anyone knowing about them. In fact, it could be argued that the entire motorcycle industry languishes in obscurity for lack of a cohesive, powerful message, but that’s a story for another time.

        • Cameron Baum

          Oh, people know about motorcycles. But in the US, at least, most people have a very negative opinion of them. Mostly it is because of the Harley “bad-boy” loud brum-brum-brum revving it at stoplights and setting all the car alarms off as they go down the street. But it is also because of the silly stuntah kids blocking traffic and wheeling between cars and making general jackasses of themselves.

          Then there are the squids who bring their share of the amberlamps out onto the highways and into the twisties to block traffic.

          So yes, we have an image problem. It’s not so bad in Europe or in other parts of the world. In Europe and the first world they actually wear gear and usually ride professionally -and harleys are few and far between.

          I’m seeing a pattern here…

  • Zac

    Speaking of retro-roadsters, the new TRON legacy trailer features a Ducati GT-1000 in two scenes – one in which it is being jumped over a guard rail.

    That is all.

  • Retrograde

    I look forward to seeing that Ural ST when it comes out. We have a local dealer and there are several of the side hack models around town, I always stop to check them out. The build quality looks really good on those bikes, which was a surprise to me, expecting them to be typical army surplus type machinery. It’s only got a 4 speed though right? I wonder how reliable they are?

  • Alvin Davenport

    I owned both a W650 and a newer Bonneville. While the W650 was a nice looking bike with eye-catching details, it was really not the equal of the Bonneville. The Triumph had more power and better handling. The W650 was best suited to short trips on Sunday morning while the Bonneville was capable of longer trips at higher speeds. It felt more solid and sporting. I wouldn’t mind having either now.

    There’s an excellent video from Honda on YouTube showing the new CB1100. I thing it sums up how many mature riders feel about the joy of riding rather than the thrill of speed and risk taking.

  • Grant Eric Hodgdon

    Great article !