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.
Indian FTR 1200
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 FTR 1200 S 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: $4,649
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.
Royal Enfield Continental GT
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.