At this point, it's safe to say that the whole retro craze is more than just a craze. What started out as a design exercise in heritage and a nod to classic styling has taken the motorcycle world by storm. These days, nearly all motorcycle manufacturers have at least one bike in their roster which hinges on a heritage aspect—both in name and styling.
The influx of neo-retro bikes in the modern motorcycle industry has attracted quite a number of new riders into the fold. Folks with a penchant for all things retro will always have a soft spot for cafe racers and scramblers. Not only do these bikes showcase the rich heritage of their manufacturers, they also serve as lifestyle pieces, excellent platforms for customization, and ulitmately, an extension of the rider's character. Having said all that, here's a rundown of our picks for the best beginner-friendly retro-styled motorcycles currently available in the local market.
Team Green's entrant into the entry-level classic bike segment comes in the form of the W175. Sharing the W namesake with its bigger sibling, the W800, the Kawasaki W175 offers the same classic styling, barebones motorcycling experience, and no-frills ownership as the rest of the bikes in the Kawasaki stable. The W175 stays true to its roots both in terms of styling and tech. It gets a round headlight, analog gauges, and a long, comfortable banana seat which gives it that unmistakable 1960's classic motorcycle aesthetic.
The Kawasaki W175 gets a rudimentary powertrain consisting of a 177cc, four-stroke, SOHC, single-cylinder motor. Pumping out an adequate 13 horsepower, this engine is powerful enough to give a confidence-inspiring ride, and is perfectly comfortable cruisng around town. Power is sent to the ground via a chain-driven final drive mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The Kawasaki W175 retails for just P130,000, and is the most affordable motorcycle in our list.
The Yamaha XSR155 had quite a bit of hype surrounding its launch when it was first unveiled over a year ago. For years, the Yamaha XSR900 and XSR700 dominated the retro-modern big bike segment. This left more budget-conscious enthusiasts longing for an affordable, retro-styled Yamaha to make it to the local market. Lo and behold, when the XSR155 finally became avaialble, it was met with much acclaim, becoming an instant favorite both among daily commuters and die-hard aficionados.
On the performance front, the XSR155 gets Yamaha's ultra capable 155cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor found in the rest of Team Blue's 155cc lineup. Capable of churning out 19 horsepower, this engine makes the XSR155 quite the spritely machine. Yamaha has loaded it chock full of tech, too, with LED lights, a slipper clutch, and premium suspension components as standard. Priced at P162,000, this bike definitely isn't cheap. But you're guaranteed Yamaha reliability and class-leading performance. We got the chance to run this little neo-retro machine through its paces. Needless to say, we were rather impressed. Be sure to check out our written review on this bike in the link below.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350
The next bike on our list has been talked about quite a bit lately. The newest addition to Indian motorcycle manufacturer, Royal Enfield's stable has been making waves all across the globe as of late. Indeed, the Royal Enfield Meteor 350 hits the nail on the head when it comes to striking a balance between timeless styling, approachable performance, and excellent value for money. The Meteor 350 offers beginner riders a full-fledged cruiser experience thanks to its proportions and ergonomics. Available in mutiple variants and even more colorways, there's surely a Meteor that'll suit your fancy.
During our time with this bike, we were surprised at just how nimble the bike felt. We'd even go as far as saying that it punches above its weightclass in terms of overall performance. It's just a shame that this bike doesn't make the expressway-legal cut. After all, its 350cc single-cylinder, air-cooled engine pumps out a decent 21 horsepower—jsut enough to maintain highway cruising speeds. The Royal Enfield Meteor 350 can be yours starting at just P232,000 for the base Fireball variant.
Husqvarna Svartpilen 401
For many people, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 came as a surprise to the local market. Sharing the same platform as the highly successful KTM 390 Duke, this bike is certainly a performer, and the first bike on our list to feature expressway-legality. As a whole, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 can be considered a technological marvel for its price. At just P295,000, this bike boasts premium features which you would likely find in bikes twice its price. For starters, it gets 43mm inverted forks, a full-LED lighting system, switchable ABS, and a punchy engine.
Speaking about the engine, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 is fitted with a single-cylinder, DOHC, four-valve engine pumping out an exhilarating 44 horsepower. Its short gear ratios makes for a very manic, almost hooligan-like riding experience. To top it all off, several in-house aftermarket options are avaialble such as a quickshifter, luggage options, as well as loads of other accessories designed to elevate the bike's overall aesthetics.
Benelli Leoncino 500
The last bike on our list is the biggest and most powerful one yet. Made by Chinese-owned Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Benelli, the Leoncino 500 hinges on the company's rich heritage fromt the late 1960s. Translating to 'Lion Cub', the Leoncino 500 packs a friendly ergonomic design characterized by a low seat height and upright seating position. It gets classic scrambler styling, a full suite of LED lights, and a pod-style digital instrument cluster. A notable nod to Benelli's heritage is the Lion of Pesaro emblem proudly displayed on either side of the bike's fuel tank.
From a performance standpoint, the Benelli Leoncino 500 gets a 500cc parallel-twin engine which is rated at 46 horsepower. Although this is more power than the previously mentioned Husqvarna, the Leoncino 500 offers a very smooth and tractable power delivery which is enough for newbie riders to grow into, but not too much to intimidate. The most expensive bike on this list, the Benelli Leoncino 500 retails for P369,000.