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.