Kings of the stone age - Yamaha XJR1300 V Honda CB1300

The two surviving muscle bikes of the modern age come together for a pose-down and a rideout, but which one is king?

Posted: 8 April 2010
by John Hogan

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The Southbank in the sunshine is as cool a place to ride bikes as any reasonable twisty road. Trade flowing for filtering and lean for lady watching – there is fun to be had. You may have to get used to having chicken strips on your tyres and will need to keep an eye out for plod and mental drivers, but if you can accept it as a ride rather than a battle, it is possible to enjoy a cruise deep in the capital, without having to head for an alleyway in Soho. Your choice of bike is paramount.

If you want to make the most of built up areas, say goodbye to sportsbikes. You need looks and speed in town, partly because absolute performance is a complete waste of time, you want people to look at you and mostly because you’ll spend a lot of time looking for your reflection in shop windows. What you need is some retro muscle.

The term “retro bike”, what does it mean? Does it define a bike that was so good out of the box that its popularity never waned, and to change it would be to lose sight of the original appeal? Or does it simply mean to dress up a new bike in old clothes and squeeze a few more sales out of glazy-eyed bikers, hungry to stand out from the crowd, but sensible enough to know when their back is more important than their bike. Either way, retro bikes have their own place in the British bike market.

Muscle bikes, such as these two, fall into the category of retro, and seem to have been around since time began. The XJR Yamaha and the CB1300 Honda are arguably the only surviving members of the muscle bike gang. Both have watched the Kawasaki ZRX and the Suzuki GSX 1400 come and go. So what is it that these two have that the others don’t?

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