2020 MV Agusta Superveloce 800
Italian marque MV Agusta throws its hat into the retro-tastic ring in 2020 with its Neo-Classic Racer model, the Superveloce 800. Clearly a modern machine, the factory managed to incorporate the flavor of the old café racers to deliver an interesting blend indeed. A high-compression triple delivers 148 horsepower with an electronics suite that gives the machine multiple personalities to match your own attitude and skillset. Make no mistake, this is a racebike through and through, but one built for the road rather than the racetrack, just like the original café racer bikes.
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
Triumph Motorcycles took last year’s Thruxton R and levied a bevy of improvements to create the new-for-2020 Thruxton RS. The tuneup is far from just being a facelift. Power increased almost 8 horsepower on the torque-rich powerplant, the bike dropped about 13 pounds from its curb weight, and grunt comes on earlier for a broader, more useful powerband. Triumph finished it off with top-shelf safety electronics, contemporary style, and a two-tone paint package over a blackout frame and powerplant.
2018 - 2020 Suzuki SV650X
Suzuki expanded its SV650 roadster lineup for the 2019 model year with a café-tastic SV650X ABS. The “X” adds some subtle changes to the bodywork, plus a not-so-subtle bullet fairing to make that crucial historical connection to the target era sometime back in the seventies. The suspension system was updated for the whole SV650 family across the board, and it brings a spring-preload feature to the front end that is difficult to match at this price point and genre. Power comes from the same 645 cc twin that pushes the rest of the family with 75 ponies ready to go and a handful of electronic fandangelries to help manage them.
2020 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer 10th Anniversary
Moto Guzzi celebrates a decade of V7 Racer bikes with the 2020 V7 III Racer 10th Anniversary. The factory builds on the third and current generation V7 Racer with some café-tastic bodywork that sets it apart from the base model. There are Easter Eggs a’plenty from models past scattered about this celebratory machine to turn it into something of a rolling tribute piece. As with the rest of the V7 III line, power comes from the signature, transverse-mount V-twin with over 50 ponies on tap and a new, adjustable, house-brand traction control feature to help you keep it under control. Under the hood, wireless connectivity to web-based services brings an infotainment element to the table along with bonafide modern credentials.
2016 - 2020 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
The Bolt from Yamaha’s Star cruiser line is a cool little bobber-style bike with its high tank, short wheelbase and solo seat. It’s a nice around town bike — lightweight and agile — and naked with real-steel sheet metal, so it just begs you to customize it. What could be better? Enter the Bolt’s siblings, the dressier Bolt R-Spec and the café racer Bolt C-Spec. The Spec duo are every bit as snappy and fun to ride as the Bolt, but with some upgrades, both hardware and cosmetic. Powered by the air-cooled 942 cc V-twin engine, the Specs are in the same size slot as the Bolt: not too small that you’ll outgrow it right away and not so big to be overwhelming for new riders. At just a few bills more than the Bolt, they’re worth a look.
2019 Norton Breitling Sport
British bike builder Norton Motorcycles teams up with Swiss watchmaker Breitling to turn out the Commando 961-based Breitling Sport Limited Edition for 2019. The bespoke Breitling Sport LE carries a number of special touches from the famed watchmaker to set it apart from the base-model Commando 961, and naturally, the watchmaker produced a companion wrist piece that’s meant to compliment the bike. While this isn’t the first bike-watch pairing in history, far from it, but it may well be the most exclusive.
2019 - 2020 Kawasaki W800 Café
2018 - 2019 Norton Commando 961 California
The Norton Commando 961 lineup, in general, brings a healthy dose of classic café racer DNA to the table — some models more than others — and the California adds some old-school custom flavor to the mix. The British influence is unmistakable throughout, and even the engine exudes an Englishness that just cannot be faked. Norton has its own deep roots to draw upon for design points, and the “Cali” delivers authentic historical looks with modern performance.
2017 - 2019 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer
Moto Guzzi marks the 50th anniversary of its V7 model family and its racing roots with the race-tastic, limited-run V7 III “Racer.” This third-generation model brings a distinct cafe’ racer vibe along with modern comfort and performance for what the factory hopes is a bike that is “more pleasure to own and ride.” Did they succeed? Well, the jury is still out on that, but the 52-horsepower engine, fully-adjustable rear shocks and pillion pad hidden under the tail fairing certainly bode well for the Racer. ’Guzzi boosted the power, and it also updated the visuals and slimmed the bodywork down for more appeal. Traction control provides some contact-patch protection, but that seems to be the fanciest gadget the Racer has to offer.
2016 - 2019 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
Triumph has been busy as of late, expending vast energies and resources reinvigorating the venerable Bonneville range. The Thruxton family got some lovin’ in 2016 and the new incarnation certainly had big shoes to fill considering the fame and glory associated with the Thruxton name from back in the ’60s and ’70s, a fact not lost on the designers. A brand-new engine drives the range, and a whole host of modern, race-tastic features brings the old-school cafe’ racer look to the table with contemporary performance and features that make it less like just a tribute piece, and more of a modern machine with real-world relevance.
Tempus Electric Bikes Titan C & Titan R
Tempus Electric Bikes burst onto the green scene back in ’17 with its freshman entry, the CR-T1, and the Ontario-based builder reprises its effort with the Titan family. The new model comes with much of the same café-tastic look that made the first a hit, but with more in the way of performance at the top end. Like the original, it rocks a pedal-assist drive system offered in a 500 Watt hub-type motor on the “C” model or 1,000W on the “R” variant. Top speeds and range vary according to motor size/model to give the platform an outsized footprint in an ever-expanding market.
2019 Husqvarna Svartpilen 701
Husqvarna expanded its streetbike lineup ahead of MY2019 with the new, flat track inspired Svartpilen 701. The Svartpilen – literally Black Arrow in Swedish – carries the relatively new family of naked bikes into streetfighter territory with a race-tastic chassis and the largest engine currently offered by the streetbike division. Thoroughly modern, the Svartpilen comes loaded with all sorts of top-shelf safety and ride-quality tweaks to deliver the stability and peace of mind that is becoming more ubiquitous, and expected, almost daily.
2019 Honda CB650R
After a race to the upper displacement range and a subsequent search for the bottom usable cubage, Honda is revisiting its midrange and spruced up its CB650R ahead of the 2019 model year. That’s right sports fans; the Neo Sport Café concept has gone to production under this new moniker, and it rolls into MY19 with a handful of tweaks that brush up the looks and carve off a little fat. The powerplant also took a beating from the buffhammer to turn out a 5-percent increase in power with steps to improve rideability and safety.
2018 - 2019 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
Honda revamped its naked CB1000R for the 2018 model year, but rather than dressing it up, the Red Riders actually dressed it down even further with a retro café-racer kick. The CB1000R replaced the CB600F Hornet back in ’08 and its naked streetfighter presentation and performance envelope was an instant hit all across Europe. Fast forward to ’18 and we find it still going strong with the same 998 cc mill and a brand new handle as the Neo-Sports Café’. Subtle refinements give the NSC a new look that takes inspiration from the past without becoming enslaved to it, and the result is fresh, modern and appropriately aggressive. Today I’m going to take a look at this decade old model to see what else Honda has done to keep it relevant and competitive in today’s market.
2017 - 2019 BMW R nineT Racer
BMW expanded its Heritage lineup for MY2017 with the R nineT “Racer” variant that it carries over right on into 2019. The Racer takes Beemer’s popular roadster and gives it a café-tastic bent that, in spite of the fact that it adds more body components, seems to accentuate the essential nature of the model. Power comes from a classic boxer engine, and of course, the factory threw on a handful of extra safety items to help you keep it all under control.
2019 - 2020 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer
Ducati refined its Scrambler lineup ahead of MY2019, and the Café Racer benefits from a number of improvements. New graphics, a new seat, and old-school laced wheels buff curb appeal, but it ain’t all about the vanity. The factory upgraded rideability and safety as well. In other words, Duc took one of its best mid-size rides and made it even better.
2019 Triumph Bonneville T120 ACE
Triumph enjoys some of the deepest roots around, and it takes advantage of them with the new Bonneville T120 ACE. The “Ace” comes loaded with retro styling and old-school custom flavor for a double-whammy of dated British style. Under the hood, the Ace is a thoroughly modern ride with a robust electronics suite and powerful engine to go with contemporary comforts and convenience.
2017 - 2019 Triumph Street Cup
Triumph expanded its Bonneville Street Twin family a bit to include the new-in-2017 Street Cup. The SC brings the café-tastic vibe of the Thruxton to a smaller engine bracket with a 900 cc mill, thus opening up the club-racing world to entry-level riders and offering experienced riders the option of downsizing for convenience without giving up too much in the way of fun. Sporty and quick, this ride seems to be everything one would expect from a contemporary café racer.
2016 - 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE
As the lightest bike in the Kawasaki cruiser lineup, the Vulcan S appeals to a variety of riders with adjustable footpegs and options for seat height and handlebar position. Carrying the same low and lean profile of the bigger Vulcan cruisers, the S stable combines Ninja-derived power and handling with the comfort and personalization capabilities of Kawasaki’s Ergo-Fit components
Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S, Vulcan S Café and Vulcan S SE.
2017 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Traffic-carving performance wasn’t the first thing I think of when hearing the name Harley-Davidson, but the MoCo started changing that perception with the new-in-2017 Street Rod 750. While it is, in fact, based on the current Street 750, multiple changes in the setup and equipment turn it into another animal entirely. Shorter steering geometry, a more aggressive rider triangle and a more powerful engine come together in H-D’s decisive push into the sport-standard market.
Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.
2019 Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber Sport
Celebrating 95 years for a company is a big thing and to have survived against all the odds was a mountainous task for Moto Guzzi. Paying tribute to this past effort of custom motorcyclists, MG headed to a major revival plan and launched the new range of V9 platform a couple of years ago that angles towards the cruiser style rather than the V7’s roadster theme.
The first offerings were in the form of the mainstream-custom “Roamer,” and the more sinister “Bobber” that was launched a couple of years ago. For 2019, the Lario eagle moniker is getting a sporty new variant of the Bobber to show its mean and racing side of its character. Called the “V9 Bobber Sport”, is has been inspired from the ‘bobbed’ flat track racers from the ‘50s America.