Riding a vintage-style motorcycle might actually automatically make a guy cool — and it requires way less energy (and possibly coin) than revamping your entire wardrobe and dropping 20 pounds. The two-wheeled style of a bygone era simply grabs everyone’s attention without seeming ostentatious. And, contrary to popular belief, buying one doesn’t mean dealing with out-of-date tech and hair-ripping mechanical frustrations.
That’s because some modern motorcycle manufacturers — some of the best, in fact — have designed and built bikes that hark back to timeless style. Though we don’t recommend that you get out there with a flimsy leather helmet and goggles, we do strongly urge you to invest in the right gear and then hit the road on any of these five fantastic vintage-style motorcycles, looking damn good while doing it.
Best Vintage Motorcycle for the Enduro Lover: Everyone knows the Triumph Bonneville, but it’s the rough-and-ready Scrambler that gets our attention. The 865cc eight-valve-powered motorcycle is actually based on the Bonneville but toughened up and made to look like the classic Triumph TR6C Trophy Special from the late 1960s. The engine’s been tweaked to give it more low-end grunt, with 90 percent of the power available at 2,500 rpms. The Scrambler aesthetic is simply glorious with its vintage fuel tank, high-level twin pipes, chunky knobby tires and exposed tubular steel twin cradle frame. This is the kind of bike that you wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty, if only for hammering out a touch more back-roads fun.
Moto Guzzi V7 Special
Best Vintage Motorcycle for the Touring Rider: The Moto Guzzi V7 Special is one of the most delicious vintage standard production bike we’ve seen in a while. (Okay, we’re partial to orange and black.) The V7’s basic design keeps things classic and handsomely so, but that doesn’t mean it’s not built for the modern road. The 750cc V-twin engine offers plenty of power and boasts 70 percent all-new components that deliver more low-range torque and better fuel economy. That beautifully colored tank holds 5.8 gallons and gives the V7 a whopping 310 mile range. Throw on OEM saddle bags and you’ve got yourself a great functional touring bike, not just a pretty face.
Best Vintage Motorcycle for the Rider on a Budget: The Rebel is proof that you don’t have to second mortgage the house to get a great vintage-style bike, especially if you’re a fan of the ’70s. This classic cruiser has a 234cc four-stroke engine that won’t set any speed records but has enough power for a fun ride. It’s just about the perfect city bike with a low ride height and the solid Honda reliability. Whether you’re looking for classic cruiser styling, a fuel-efficient commuter or flat-out fun, all roads lead to the Rebel. Sure, you won’t roast anyone at a stoplight — except maybe a vintage Ford Fiesta — but you’ve got a fun bike with great style at a ridiculously good price.
Royal Enfield Classic Battle Green
Best Vintage Motorcycle for the War Bike Fan: This Enfield’s paint job wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Band of Brothers; it’s so vintage cool that Steve McQueen might just dig himself out from six feet under for a midnight ride. The fat-tire-ensconcing front and rear fenders along with a massive round headlight and 1950s-style toolboxes make it deliciously war-era, while the nicely buffed chrome accents and exhaust pipes provide the right amount of modern flair. The single cylinder air-cooled pushrod engine delivers 27 hp from its 499ccs, so you likely won’t be jumping any barbed wire fences — but who really cares? Astride this thing you’ll be hounded by the ladies like you just returned from a victorious tour overseas.
BMW R Nine T
Best Vintage Motorcycle for the Urban Speedster: We’d just about kill for a vintage BMW R60/5, but the urge to do so has been seriously mitigated by the new R Nine T, which most assuredly pays homage to vintage BMW roadsters without compromising modern riding pleasures. The two-tone silver and black tank looks like it was pulled from a BMW Motorrad Museum, and the overall shape is straight muscled café racer. The potent roadster houses a big 1,170cc 2-cylinder, 4-stroke flat twin that’s good for 110 hp and 88 lb-ft of torque, so getting out of (and possibly into) trouble should be no trouble at all. It also comes with all of the modern touches you’d expect from BMW, including a constant mesh 6-speed gearbox and two-wheeeled ABS and for quick shifts and sure stops.