Outclassing the Competition
As offerings from the superbike segment have gotten more and more angular and edgy in their design, they have begun to alienate many grown-up riders who are looking for something a bit simpler. It’s not just about the looks either, as the aggressive stance of these bikes often contributes to the discomfort that is already associated with wrangling such high-performance machines for an extended period of time. On longer routes, this discomfort can lead to pain in the wrist, ankles, back and other parts of the body. However, that doesn’t mean that riders want to give up the performance aspect of their bikes just for more comfort.
This is where a new segment of two-wheelers is making a name for itself, as it combines the power and technological advancements of modern bikes, with the laid back and nostalgia-laden design language of classic motorcycles from a bygone era. It is in this modern classic segment where most motorcycle manufacturers have begun slugging it out, with new offerings that do their best to reinvent the word cool. Here are a few of the top contenders.
Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Harley enthusiasts take the name of the Street Rod in hushed tones, lest they are accused of blasphemy. Not only does this bike feature the smallest engine on any Harley, but it also bastardises the Street 750 by converting it into a retro racer bike which has a body type that is nowhere close to the cruiser company’s iconic image. However, the motorcycle still manages to achieve the carefree yet powerful riding experience it is aiming for, thanks to a familiar 749cc V-Twin motor that churns out 68.4BHP of power and 62Nm of torque. The six-speed gearbox tackles the power output well, and you feel comfortable at almost any speed, even though the vibrations from the body become quite noticeable despite the beefed-up suspension. For a starting price of ₹6.53 lakh, it is still more than enough motorcycle to live up to the Harley name.
Kawasaki W800 Street
The W series from Kawasaki has a long heritage that goes back more than 50 years, and it honours that legacy by sticking pretty close to the original, unassuming design that made the bike popular. At the same time, in the newer avatar, the bike comes with a bigger 773cc V-Twin engine that creates up to 51BHP of power and 62.9Nm of torque. The engine features the latest fuel-injection technology, yet remains air-cooled even though most of the competition has moved on to liquid cooling. Other than a LED headlamp cluster and LCD display, there is hardly anything else that gives off the impression of being modern, although once you push the throttle, you feel like it is an entirely new beast. Thankfully, you have the support of the massive 310 mm-270 mm front-rear discs to make sure things don’t get out of control. At a starting price of ₹7.99 lakh though, this will certainly be an expensive investment to get the retro feel.
Triumph Street Twin
When it comes to British engineering, Triumph is easily the biggest name around. In recent years, this brand has come back in a big way by merging old school design with the latest in technology. The result is a motorcycle that looks like a beautiful relic of a bygone era but packs a mean 900cc parallel-twin motor that churns out a solid 64BHP of power and 80Nm of torque. It also features a lot of modern safety and monitoring features such as switchable traction control, a slipper clutch and even an optional tyre pressure monitoring system. This makes for a safe riding experience that is a lot more hi-tech than it looks. The only thing that does bring back memories of less advanced times is the heat that comes off the engine, which can become a bit uncomfortable on long trips and hot days. For a starting price of around ₹7.45 lakh, it is quite an advanced throwback to olden days.
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
You can’t have a conversation about classic motorcycles in India without mentioning Royal Enfield. Even though it is one of the most prominent Indian brands, it wasn’t a contender in this category until very recently. This changed with the launch of the Interceptor 650, which brought the fight to the market with a brand new 648cc parallel-twin engine that produces a relatively decent 47BHP of power and 53Nm of torque. The rest of the bike is new as well, as the company has tried to do everything in its power to address almost every problem associated with past Enfield’s. Even though the power delivery is quite linear and the suspension feels a bit floaty at high speeds, it never seems underpowered and is quite refined; which is great since it is also one of the most affordable options, starting at just ₹2.5 lakh.