The Brain Bucket

The Best Modern Retro Motorcycles of 2018

Dec 29, 2018 12:00:00 PM / by Jo Kelley

Old School Cool: The Best Modern Retro Motorcycles of 2018

We are all familiar with the motorcycles of a simpler time: those with a classic look, the minimalistic technology, and the relaxed performance; The types that deliver an experience and a reliable ride, the kind you take on the road to make memories.

In the past few years, we have seen a resurgence and return of retro-style motorcycles. Today’s big brands seem to have tapped into a trend that is on the rise and have been on board with reviving these machines with the addition of modern amenities and more affordable price tags. But what is the driving force behind the return of retro-styled motorcycles?


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The short answer is, there is a demand for them. Generation X and Y, the generation which is also known as Millennials, are now at the age where they can afford to buy a motorcycle. The models that top their list are likely ones which are reminiscent of the bikes they saw and dreamed of having when they were young. Newly released bikes of today capture this nostalgia and offer modern-day conveniences without the hefty price tag of a legitimate classic. The retro styles of the '60s, ’70s, and ’80s have, finally, made a comeback.

Here are three 2018 models that channel that class-act, throwback style. Which do you think pulls it off the best?


Honda CB1100 EX

Source: AutoMotoTube YouTube

Honda took a classic idea and improved upon it until they arrived at the 2018 Honda CB1100 EX. The retro-styled Honda model delivers that performance and reliability the brand is known for, all wrapped in a small, spunky package reminiscent of the 1970s.

Big things come in small packages with the CB1100 EX, and, as with most new retro motorcycles, is taken to the next level. Displacing 1140cc, the air-cooled machine has a modern blacked-out look and an in-line four, four-stroke engine. That classic Honda red is featured proudly on the old-school design that also tightly packs some modern displays in between the twin pod instruments. With just a touch of modern technology in all the right places, the Honda CB1100 EX has enough to please fans of tradition while still meeting the requirements of a younger generation.

2018 Honda CB1100 EX Specs
  • Displacement: 1140.00 ccm (69.56 cubic inches)
  • Engine type: In-line four, four-stroke
  • Power: 88.51 HP @ 7500 rpm
  • Torque: 67.1 @ 5000 rpm
  • Compression: 9.5:1
  • Bore x stroke: 2.9 x 2.6 inches
  • Fuel system: Injection. PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
  • Fuel control: Double Overhead Cams/Twin Cam (DOHC)
  • Ignition: Digital transistorized with electronic advance
  • Cooling system: Oil & air
  • Gearbox: 6-speed
  • Transmission type, final drive: Chain
  • Clutch: Multi-plate wet clutch
  • Fuel consumption: 39.20 mpg
Suzuki TU250X 
Source: AC Comunication YouTube

When it comes to new vintage style motorcycles, you can’t get more old-school than the Suzuki TU250X. The tri-colored stripes on the fuel tank, the spoked wheels, and the round headlight are all styling remnants of a simpler time. However, the Suzuki isn’t a true-blue blast from the past, but a modern retro motorcycle with modern touches in handling and performance.

The 2018 TU250X is a light and agile ride that is smooth and economical. The small, low-end torque machine is great for zipping around the urban grid with a 249cc, air-cooled four-stroke, single-cylinder, SOHC engine, and Suzuki's industry-leading fuel injection system. The bike channels English bikes from the 1950s, but excellent throttle response and an easy-pull clutch for precise gear shifting and smooth take-offs provide the comfort and convenience required for jetting around today.

2018 Suzuki TU250X Specs
  • Displacement: 248 cc (15.13 cubic inches)
  • Engine type: Single cylinder, four-stroke
  • Power: 24.00 HP @ 8500 rpm
  • Top speed: 83.9 mph
  • Compression: 11.5:1
  • Bore x stroke: 2.1 x 2.2 inches
  • Fuel system: Injection
  • Fuel control: Overhead Cams (OHC)
  • Ignition: Electronic
  • Lubrication system: Wet sump
  • Cooling system: Air
  • Gearbox: 5-speed
  • Transmission type, final drive: Chain
  • Driveline: Chain, DID520V, 108 links
Triumph Bonneville T120
Source: MotoChooch YouTube

So it goes with many of the bikes created by Triumph: the Bonneville is a favorite among those who are fans of throwback style. Since 1959, the Bonneville has been a fan favorite, and the 2018 T120 is a new retro motorcycle that strongly carries on the legacy of the original.

With such pressure as to live up to a name like “Bonneville,” you can safely assume that the T120 delivers a modern ride with retro curb appeal to a new generation of riders. As the rebirth of a classic, the Bonneville T120 features the contemporary power of a 1200cc high torque engine combined with the iconic style of the iconic Triumph model. The 8-valve single overhead camshaft parallel-twin provides a smooth ride, while the bike also provides enough room and inspiration to creatively personalize to your heart’s content.

2018 Triumph Bonneville T120 Specs
  • Displacement: 1200 cc (73.22 cubic inches)
  • Engine type: Twin, four-stroke
  • Power: 80.00 HP @ 6550 rpm
  • Torque: 77.4 @ 3100 rpm
  • Compression: 10.0:1
  • Bore x stroke: 3.8 x 3.1 inches
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Fuel system: Injection. Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
  • Fuel control: Single Overhead Cams (SOHC)
  • Ignition: Digital-inductive type via engine management system
  • Cooling system: Air
  • Gearbox: 6-speed
  • Transmission type, final drive: Chain
  • Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
  • Fuel consumption: 52.27 mpg
  • Exhaust system: Chromed 2 into 2 exhaust system with twin chrome silencers

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Topics: Articles, Motorcycles, The Brain Bucket

Jo Kelley

Written by Jo Kelley

I cover the history of motorcycles, motorcycle news, and tell the stories of some of the most popular brands.