Retro is all the rage at the moment, with scooters, scramblers, bobbers and cafe racers from many manufacturers blending ultra-modern technology with classic styling from the past. But for those preferring their new bike to look like it’s a 21st century marvel there is also plenty of choice. Here’s a selection of what’s here and on the way.
Honda Super Cub C125
At the lower end of the retro spectrum is the Honda Super Cub. Since its arrival on the market in 1958, Honda have sold 100 million of these bikes in their various incarnations. This latest model has a 125cc four stroke, single cylinder, air-cooled engine. With frugal fuel use of more than 100mpg and a range of 80 miles it’s an economic bike to use around town.
The timeless simplicity of the step-through design appeals to males and females alike. The red or blue paintwork has a metallic matt appearance and is set off by the white fairings and side panels. The chrome details and Y spoke wheels add an upmarket feel to the bike. The C125 is fun and easy to handle which has always been one of its major strengths.
Bringing it bang up-to-date without detracting from the styling are LED lights, keyless starting and a remote fob. A number of improvements have been made to reduce the noise of the engine and changing gear is also smoother. For additional comfort the single saddle and the handlebars are mounted on rubber.
This scooter will suit anyone seeking a stylish, run-around-town bike.
Moving to a mid-size scooter, but far from retro, the BMW C400X is the German brand’s entry into this market, which has annual sales of around 40,000 bikes. To enable competitive pricing, the BMW design is built in China by Loncin.
The engine is a single-cylinder, SOHC 350cc water-cooled unit linked to a continuously variable transmission. The ‘twist & go’ provides nippy acceleration while remaining smooth with hardly any vibration. The safety of the C400X is assisted by the traction control and a two-channel ABS system. Braking is provided by 265mm dual front discs and single rear disc.
The styling of maxi-scooters is certainly a matter of taste – people either “love ‘em or hate ‘em”. They may not be pretty but they’re certainly practical. The BMW’s agile feel, nifty performance and tight turning circle make it great for getting around town, and it’s not too shabby on the open road either. With fuel consumption of 70 to 80 mpg and a tank range of over 200 miles this is an economical commuter machine.
It looks futuristic from the front with the small windscreen, unusual headlight configuration and indicators built into the sides of the fairing. For storage there are two lockable compartments in the front, one with a 12-volt socket. Under the seat, BMW’s Flexicase storage system allows room for a full-face and half-face helmet when the bike is parked.
The C400X has LED lights all round and, as an option, the headlight can incorporate a fibre optic daytime running light. Another optional extra is the colour TFT dash with BMW Connectivity for phone, music and satellite navigation.
Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe
For another retro offering, the Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe is basically a restyled version of the naked Z900RS. A small fairing around the front light along with the lowered handlebars, mirrors and seat distinguish it from its stable mate. The split spoke 17-inch wheels and the humped pillion seat adds to the cafe racer look.
There’s a six-speed gearbox and the four-cylinder 948cc engine is liquid cooled and produces 110bhp with a top end of 140 mph. Stopping power is via twin 300mm front discs, a 250mm rear disc and Nissin ABS. There are two levels to the traction control system for sure-footed cornering. The 17-litre tank has a range of 170 miles.
The dash features retro analogue speedo and tacho dials, but between them is an LCD display incorporating a trip computer and gear indicator along with the fuel and temp gauges. The all-round LED lighting will get you noticed.
Up to now the 2018 model has only been available in the bright green and white paintwork which reflect its 1970s roots. But, for 2019, alongside the green, there should be a subtler version in blue with grey stripe and black side panels, and one in grey with green graphics.
Yamaha Tracer 900GT
The new 900GT sports tourer is a significant upgrade from the base model Tracer 900 and, although it costs £1,400 more, the additional equipment that comes included as standard on the GT more than makes up for it. The basic weight of the GT is about the same as the base model.
The water cooled, three-cylinder 847cc engine is capable of 140 mph and produces 114bhp. The six-speed gearbox has a slick quickshifter, although only for up shifting, and a slipper clutch. The upgraded suspension vastly improves the quality of the ride and the composure on the road. The GT has three mode traction control, a shock with remotely operated preload adjuster and forks that are fully adjustable. The braking system, with ABS, uses 298mm dual front discs with a 245mm rear disc.
As standard, the GT also comes with cruise control, 22 litre quick release hard panniers, heated hand grips, adjustable screen, 17 inch ten spoke wheels and gold coloured front forks that make it stand out from the basic Tracer 900. The colour TFT dashboard screen, in addition to the usual information, shows riding mode, gear position, cruise control setting and the level of the heated grips.
As optional extras you can have LED indicators and fog lights, heated saddle, radiator guard and, for a sweet sound, a full Akrapovic exhaust.
Whatever type of riding you do, there is always the risk of an accident. If it happens to you and it’s not your fault, always speak to a legal expert for advice.