Retro motorcycle design is hot right now, and it’s a great time to shop for one because this trend isn’t just for high-dollar machines. Just about every segment of motorcycling has a vintage feel and half the bikes on this list have a cool back-in-the-day flavor. Here are the latest bikes, both retro and modern, that offer a big bang for the buck.
Base Price: $12,999
Indian has scored remarkable successes since the brand’s relaunch in 2013, progress that was built on the back of traditional cruisers with classic riding dynamics. In other words, not the kinds of bikes you’d choose to chase a Ducati into the canyons. But for 2019, Indian finally has a sportier offering, and it’s a stunner.
Based on the company’s off-road FTR750 dirt track racer, the uses a 1203-cc twin delivering around 120 hp, which is plenty for the bike’s sub-500-lb dry weight. Thanks to a big 43mm inverted front fork, an adjustable monoshock rear suspension, and big Brembo brakes, the FTR 1200 should be a worthy adversary for quite a number of naked sporty bikes.
It’s cool to see Indian taking a big risk to build such a radically different bike for them—and pulling it off big time.
Base Price: $9,999
The evergreen Harley-Davidson Sportster has been in continuous production since 1957. The classic style and easy riding nature of these bikes makes them favorites for newbies and experienced riders alike.
The best deal for 2019 has to be the Iron 1200 model. At just under 10K, this is the least-expensive way to get the larger of the two Sportster engines. The 1200cc twin provides a nearly 20 lb-ft boost in torque over the standard 883cc twin, and that’s a difference that can be felt. The new Iron 1200 looks tough thanks to its bobbed rear fender and completely blacked-out appearance.
Of course we dig that ‘70s inspired tank graphic, café racer-style seat as well as those comfortable “mini-ape” handlebars, too.
Base Price: $4,
The affordable 300cc class of bikes has ballooned in recent years. But many of those machines duplicate the style of a full-fledged sport bike in a smaller size which can mean hunched-over, cramped ergonomics for the daily commuter—especially if the rider is on the tall side.
The Honda CB300R fixes that with a more upright riding position and a modern café racer style that makes this bike look more expensive than it is. And because it hits the scales at barely over 300 pounds, this one will be fun on a snaky backroad and make the most out of that 286cc thumper. We’d save a few bucks by selecting the non-ABS brake model.
Base Price: $5,999
The Royal Enfield brand has 100 years of history behind it, but the name hasn’t held much sway with American bikers in recent years. The reason is twofold: middling build quality and an incomplete product lineup. But lately the motorcycle company based in India has been eager to expand and has doubled down on quality.
Early next year, Royal Enfield will offer its first twin-cylinder motorcycles in a long time, and will do so at a very reasonable price. The 650-cc Continental GT and Interceptor models are all new from the frame up and promise to be far more robust than any Royal Enfield that has come before. The Continental GT looks like it rolled right out of the 1970s. We dig it. And because Royal Enfield has largely operated under the radar, buying one means you probably won’t see many others parked at your local bike hangout.
Base Price: $4,999
These are glory days for anyone seeking small-displacement sporty bikes with budget-friendly price tags. The Yamaha has filled that niche since 2015. Now the R3 is redesigned for ’19 with sleek new bodywork that makes it look like its bigger, more powerful siblings. A redesigned fuel tank should help riders nestle in behind a more aerodynamic front fairing. There’s a clean new LCD dash pod, too.
Power comes from the same sweet 321-cc twin-cylinder engine, backed by a six-speed. Yamaha improved the R3’s suspension with an inverted KYB front fork that is said to dole out a smoother ride and increased capability on tight corners. Like most small bikes, the R3 is a great one for shorter riders thanks to its 30.7-inch seat height.
Base Price: $12,100
The original Triumph Speed Twin was introduced in 1938 continued into the 1960s, and cemented Britain (and America’s) love for brisk twin cylinder bikes. This new one lives up to the name with a nearly 100 hp 1200cc motor that’s been plucked from the company’s sporty Thruxton.
And despite the laid back, comfy Bonneville riding position, this Triumph is built for hustling with dual Brembos up front and a multi-mode traction control system. Better still, the Speed Twin ends up lighter than both the performance-oriented Thruxton and the mellower Bonneville T120 at a bit over 400 pounds.
The design isn’t overly rooted in the past either. So it should strike a chord with those that are looking for bike that combines a traditional standard riding position with agile handling and torque wrapped in a stylish package.
Base Price: $6,299
The Swedish brand Husqvarna has a long and storied history producing dirt bikes. But this new Svartpilen (which translated means ‘black arrow’) 401 along with the larger, more powerful and more expensive 701, mark a return to road bikes.
Still, one look at the design and its clear this tough-looking Husky is a nod to its heritage. The styling of this little machine is—rad. It looks like nothing else and the upright riding position should make it an excellent commuter. But don’t expect a lot of muscle to back it up. The 373cc single-cylinder makes only 44 hp.
Still Svartpilen riders can alter the performance of the stock bike by adding a slip-on exhaust, lowered suspension and even a new wave-style rear disc brake to match the front. This is one very unique and very cool bike for not a lot of dough.
Base Price: $9,999
It’s not often that a new model shaves almost $2,000 off the base price of the last one. But that’s what Kawasaki has done here. The new 2019 ZX-6R is exactly $1,700 cheaper than the 2018 model. And for any rider considering a middleweight sports bike—that’s an amazing deal.
Beneath the fresh bodywork the ZX-6R isn’t completely new. In fact it carries over the chassis and most of the mechanicals. But this is no bad thing. The ZX is still one hugely talented machine that will rev its 636cc four-cylinder all the way to 16,000 rpm, and that qualifies as a hefty jolt of excitement per dollar. This might qualify as the best buy of the year.
Base Price: $8,399
No bike deserves the popular café racer look more than Suzuki’s beloved SV650. The SV is one of the greatest starter bikes on the market, but these machines are fun to ride for any skill level.
The café look comes from a pair of clip-on style bars (to place the rider farther forward and lower for a sportier feel). The SV650X also comes with a new saddle, fairing, and graphics. But what hasn’t changed are the SV's -cc twin and the great suspension. It should be just as easy to ride as any other SV and Suzuki makes ABS standard here. And the new Glacier White paint scheme fits the bill perfectly. At just over eight grand, the X is only a bit pricier than the regular SV650 with ABS.
Base Price: $8,499
Okay, so this isn’t really a motorcycle. It’s a trike. But here’s the thing: Can Am has been building trikes for a decade and the new Ryker is its first truly affordable model, shaving about ten grand off the price of last year’s least expensive Spyder.
More significant to those who like to hustle through twisty roads, the has been designed to be far sportier with a lower stance and improved handling dynamics. You sit seriously low in this thing. The seat height is just 23.5 inches above the tarmac. The base model uses a 600-cc twin from Rotax, but a more powerful 900-cc triple is also available.
The Ryker just looks cooler and more modern than the older touring-oriented Spyder. There’s even a Rally Edition model for around $11,000 that wears a slightly raised suspension and tires meant for mild off-road adventures.