Rolling mechanics of neo-retro bikes

It is an unblemished marriage – of oil, of course – past and present; carp and rabbit, mistakenly mourn sad spirits. It doesn’t matter as long as they don’t spoil the fun for others …
But if the future of motorcycling is in the past, the look is deceiving. The roundness of the lines, the sober and subtle elegance of the livery and the reflection of chrome with nostalgic reflections hide the decidedly modern mechanics.
“To return”, as the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek reminds us, does not necessarily mean “to return”. In this case, even if it means going back in time, you can do it on the steering wheel of clean and reliable machines.
In this search for the carelessness of the 1960s, nothing is left to detail. Catching an eye is already doing part of the journey. Hence, for example, fake carburetors should hide electronic injection with certainly discrete efficiency.

To rush

And it works. Thanks to the crossed views, the set of mirrors reflects the illusion. Complicit consent distills the scent of space and time mixed together. The strength of the real twin in his boots and the wind that blows his face give the essence to this waking dream. The sixties will emerge at the next turn; British Isles, probably until the next one.
The British, indeed. Because, in this niche, the past pleads in favor of English brands with the famous Bonneville as a muse. Éric Pecoraro, Marketing and Communications Director of Tiumph France, a leader in this market segment, welcomes this on both a professional and personal level.

Excellent performance, the Triumph Thruxton 1200 RS whose twin, in the 2022 version, has 105 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and a torque of 11.4 mcg at 4,250 rpm (Photo by Richard Brunel)

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“It has happened to me, he smiles, riding on a brand new Bonneville that one cyclist has praised the quality of my restoration or that another has told me it has the same. And with good reason: Triumph, in its main features, respected the style of its icon from the 1960s, while making it follow the evolution that it would have known for more than half a century. At that time, we forgot, Bonneville passed for hypersport… ”


“In this case, he continues, it’s a 1968 model that served as a reference for the current Bonnevilles. Elegant lines, a round tank, the proportion of the original vertical two-cylinder engine, a separate housing, liquid cooling without a visible water hose, straight pipes, round headlights, etc., everything is there to fake carburetors. But, even wanting to be discreet, the neo is not left out of the retro between electronic injection, ABS brakes, traction control, liquid cooling, LED lights, digital screens, etc. »

On a motorcycle, the road is not a routine

And as increasingly restrictive traffic conditions have changed since the 1960s, manufacturers have revised their roadmaps. The motorcycles that people dreamed of yesterday are disappearing from the landscape today at the fast pace of revoking the license with points.

New genetic motorcycle

“In 2021, Éric Pecoraro points out, 201,000 motorcycles were sold in France, including 110,000 over 500 cm.” The queen category, although in decline, still remains roadsters with 33,000 vehicles sold. Adventure motorcycles, especially trail motorcycles, have grown from 12,000 to 27,000 in ten years. Tours fell from 11,000 to 6,000 sales at the same time. The sports, which were already in decline ten years ago, have less than 3,500 sales. The cruisers, long worn by Harley-Davidson, have been burning for three or four years, recording more or less 10,000 sales. Scooters and others like approved enduros, for example, account for 15,000 sales. As for the classic or neo-retro category, in 2011 only 2,500 motorcycles were sold, half of which were Triumph. Since then, with the arrival of new brands, 11,000 motorcycles have been sold, of which more than half are Triumphs. »

On a motorcycle, in Bhutan, on winding roads of happiness

Customers? Before silver wallets and temples, of course, but not only: “On the contrary, says Éric Pecoraro, athletes who are forced to act like pilots or hide, neoretro is less intimidating, less impressive. In addition to ease of driving, these models are better socially accepted, with more positive connotations than sports cars or cruisers that are too noisy. They attract sympathy, convey a more responsible, less unconscious image. Neo-retro thus attracts a new clientele of young people and women. In France, 10% of motorcyclists are women. They are more numerous on neo-retro motorcycle steering wheels, about 15% at Triumph, and even up to 25% for certain models. »
Without false and hasty conclusions, first of all: “These are not, insists Éric Pecoraro, motorcycles for women, but motorcycles for all…”

Jerome Pilleyre

A page to introduce motorcycles to character. The fourth edition of the Aces Experience will take place from 9 to 11 September in Murol and Saint-Victor-la-Rivière, in the heart of the Sancy Massif (Puy-de-Dôme). “The event is dedicated to machines with character, beautiful mechanics,” said the organizer, Fabrice Roux. But we are not sectarians. Can we come without an engine ?! In short, all motorcycles are welcome until the owners realize that it is not a matter of fast driving or noise. This is about sharing, in every friendship, trip, drink or concert. Because blues concerts are scheduled for these three days. »

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