TOAD TALKS: Why do folk get so worked up about retro-style bikes?

With many manufacturers dressing up new bikes in old clothes, Visordown thinks if what we actually want is the real thing??

Triumph Scrambler


Toad's been thinking about retro bikes and how the public response to them is generally a bit rubbish.

THE retro-reboot is big at the minute. There aren’t many makers out there that aren’t cashing in on the history of their brand and building a bike along the lines of one of their more iconic models.

Take Suzuki for example, their Katana is, in effect, a GSX-S1000 in a vintage 1980s party dress. The inner workings of the machine are all – fairly – bang up to date. But to the casual on-looker, that is a bike from the 80s.

It seems they’re at it again with the DR Big, which could be making a comeback in the form of a kitted out, off-road-ready V-Strom of one engine size or another. And I bet I can tell you what will happen when that bike gets released officially by the factory.

First off, proper off-road types will complain that it ‘Isn’t a DR Big ‘cos it isn’t a single cylinder…’ and then there will be complaints that it’s water-cooled and not an air/oil-cooled bike like the original. And some will moan that this new model has ABS and riding modes and there were no such luxuries on the original ‘because that was a proper bike’ blah blah blah.

The Suzuki Katana suffered the same fate...

And how do I know this will be the response from people? Because that’s how a massive proportion of the public reacted to the Katana. I went on the launch of that earlier this year. Yes, it is a GSX-S1000 in a retro dress, but it’s still a mega bike and it looks like nothing else on the road – apart from the original.

But still, the keyboard warriors took to their laptops with fury and scorn fired at Suzuki. Shouts of: ‘That’s not a Katana, it isn’t air-cooled!’ and ‘the proper Katana was an 1100 and this is only a thousand’. One person within the echo chamber that is Facebook even bemoaned the fact that it was fuel injected when the original had carbs! For fuck's sake pal, new bikes haven’t been sold with carbs for about 10-years – get a grip!

The thing is, I doubt any of those folk posting would actually take the original over the re-boot - I honestly don’t think they would. Comparing one against the other would be a whitewash in favour of the new machine. They’re always better to ride – whether you admit that or not. They make more power, are better for the environment, faster, safer and they go around corners. You try chucking an 80s Katana on its ear on a bumpy bend at 70mph and then guess which tree you’ll land in.

If you are one of these who gets extremely worked up over retro-style modern bikes. Please don’t. We know they aren’t the same as the original, they can’t be any more, things have moved on somewhat. Nobody is trying to steal your liberty by making it. They aren’t trying to push the original off the road. It’s just a modern bike, with modern tech that wants to look like an old bike. Go and make yourself a cuppa and relax, you’ll give yourself a hernia if you carry on like that.

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