Which does ‘retro’ the best?


We might not read­ily ad­mit it but we all like to be seen on our bikes and to get ad­mir­ing glances from other bik­ers and passers-by. But which one of these three turned the most heads? And once in traf­fic are they sim­ply fash­ion items or ac­tu­ally prac­ti­cal? We used so­cial me­dia to gauge the de­sir­ably of our test bikes and the vast ma­jor­ity pre­ferred the Tri­umph fol­lowed by Kawasaki with the Du­cati last. Tri­umph have got the Thrux­ton’s de­sign bal­ance ab­so­lutely spot-on. I love the neat lit­tle touches like the faux-car­bu­ret­tor bod­ies, the Mon­za­style fuel cap, its or­nate clocks and the tank strap. As a re­sult it turned heads every­where we went, its com­bi­na­tion of clas­sic styling and the iconic Tri­umph badge work­ing their magic. Tri­umph had also thrown a few ac­ces­sories onto our test bike, in­clud­ing road-le­gal Ar­row cans and bar-end mir­rors which to­gether pushed its price past £13,000 (or £3000 more than the Kawasaki). It’s just a shame the Thrux­ton is the worst around town. It’s un­com­fort­able, its clutch is heavy, gear­box lumpy and the wooden feel­ing from the Brembo stop­pers robs you of feel and fi­nesse. I was also sur­prised to see the Du­cati come last in our so­cial me­dia sur­vey. I think it looks fan­tas­tic. It’s sim­ple and classy and sounds great – there’s no need to fit af­ter­mar­ket ex­hausts to the Duke. What’s more, in town it’s so light and flick­able you can re­ally throw it around and have fun. Be pre­pared, how­ever, to be cooked on hot days as the Scram­bler’s air-cooled mo­tor gives the best im­per­son­ation of a mo­bile bar­beque. And while it got at­ten­tion on the High Street, it wasn’t as much as ex­pected.

But there’s some­thing sim­ple and hon­est about Kawasaki’s Z900RS which makes it hugely ap­peal­ing. It doesn’t need fake car bs or other trin­kets for retro cred­i­bil­ity. In­stead it just gets on with it with­out try­ing too hard. It’s also in­stantly recog­nis­able as a clas­sic Zed. You could re­move all the RS’s badges and still know it’s a retro Kawasaki. It’s also the most ef­fort­less to ride in town due to its smooth power, light gear­box and clutch and easy er­gonomics. In fact the only neg­a­tives are its taller seat (835mm vs 810 for the other two) plus it’s 9kg heav­ier than the Scram­bler – al­though it’s about the same as the, al­beit lower, Thrux­ton.

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