Rolling mechanics of neo-retro motorcycles


It is the perfect marriage of the past and the present—oil, of course; carp and hare undeservedly grieve sad souls. It doesn’t matter as long as they don’t spoil the fun of others…
But if the future of the motorcycle is in the past, looks are deceiving. The roundness of the lines, the simple and elegant elegance of the colors, and the nostalgic reflections of chrome hide the modern mechanics resolutely.
As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek reminds us, “to go back” does not necessarily mean “to go back.” In this case, you can also do it on the handlebars of clean and reliable machines, even if it means going back in time.
In search of the carelessness of the sixties, nothing is left to the details. Standing out is already part of the journey. So, for example, fake carburetors were supposed to hide the electronic injection with absolutely hidden efficiency.

short line

And it’s working. Through the intersecting gaze, a series of mirrors reflect the illusion. A complicity distills an entangled scent of space and time. The vivacity of a heterosexual twin in his boots and the wind whipping his face add meaning to this waking dream. The sixties will emerge at the next corner; British Isles, possibly to the next.
British, really. Because, in this niche, the past begs the favor of British brands that have the famous Bonneville as their muse. Éric Pecoraro, Marketing and Communications Director of Tiumph France, the leader in this market segment, welcomes this on both a professional and personal level.

The well-performing Triumph Thruxton 1200 RS has 105 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 11.4 mkg of torque at 4,250 rpm in the 2022 version. (Photo by Richard Brunel)

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“It happened to me, smiling, that while riding in a brand new Bonneville a motorcyclist complimented me on the quality of my restoration, or someone else told me it was the same. And rightly so: Triumph, while paying homage to the style of the 1960s icon, for over half a century It allowed him to follow the evolution that he would learn over a period of time. We forgot then, Bonneville passed for a hypersport…”

Road map

“In this case,” he continues, is the 1968 model used as a reference for current Bonnevilles. Sleek line, round tank, proportion of the original vertical twin engine, separate sump, liquid cooling with no visible water hose, flat pots, round headlights, etc. Everything is there, right down to the carburetors. But even if you want to be discreet, the neo does not fall short of the retro between electronic injection, ABS brakes, traction control, liquid cooling, LED lights, digital displays, etc. »

On a motorcycle the road is not a routine

And as ever more restrictive traffic conditions have changed since the 1960s, manufacturers have reviewed their roadmap. Motorcycles that made people dream yesterday are disappearing from the landscape with the speed of being unlicensed with points today.

new gentleman motorcycle

“Eric Pecoraro points out that 201,000 motorcycles were sold in France in 2021, of which 110,000 were over 500 cm³. The Queen category remains roadsters, with 33,000 sales, despite the decline. “Adventure” type motorcycles, especially road bikes, 12,000 per decade. At the same time, tours fell from 11,000 to 6,000. Sporting, already in decline a decade ago, weighed in at less than 3,500 sales. Cruisers, long worn by Harley-Davidson, went down slightly for three or four years and recorded fewer than 10,000 sales. Scooters and others such as the approved enduro, for example, represent 15,000 sales. As for the classic or neo-retro category, only 2,500 motorcycles were sold in 2011, half of which were Triumphs. Since then, new brands have With its arrival, 11,000 motorcycles have been sold, more than half of which are Triumphs. »

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

Buyers? Rather silver purses and temples, of course, but not only: “On the contrary, sportswomen Éric Pecoraro, who are forced to act like a pilot or hide, notes that the neo-retro is less intimidating, less impressive. Beyond ease of driving, these models are considered socially better, 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. 10% of motorcyclists in France are women. They are more numerous on neo-retro motorcycle handlebars, around 15% on Triumph and even up to 25% on some models. »
First of all, don’t come to false and hasty conclusions: “These,” insists Éric Pecoraro, are motorcycles for everyone, not motorcycles for women…”

Jerome Pilleyre

A dating site for motorcycles with character. From September 9-11, the fourth edition of the Aces Experience will take place in Murol and Saint-Victor-la-Rivière, in the heart of the Sancy massif (Puy-de-Dôme). “The event dedicated to machines with character, beautiful mechanics excites the organizer Fabrice Roux. But we are not sectarian. Can we come without a motorcycle?! In short, any bike is welcome as long as the owners understand that it’s not about going fast or making noise. Here, it’s all about sharing in friendships, on the road, over a drink or at a concert. Because blues concerts are planned for these three days. »