The major opportunity in the vintage market may not be with pure vintage machines (at least not in restoration), but rather with repair and parts, particularly with an eye toward the newly emerging Japanese segment. For some dealers there’s also an opportunity with retro units currently being produced by Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Ducati, Moto Guzzi and Royal Enfield. Equipping these bikes as café racers with custom period parts, low bars, rearsets, pipes, and pipe wrap allows the dealer to give the bike a vintage custom look by simply using bolt-ons either from an aftermarket company, like Joker Machine, or for Triumphs, Bella-Corse or from the OEM’s accessory catalog.
Will more companies jump on the retro bandwagon? It’s hard to say, but with the revived interest in bikes of the 1960s and ‘70s, the possibility exists for the Japanese brands. Both Honda with its GB500 and Kawasaki with the Zephyr and W650 have taken a whack at it, but with the exception of the Zephyr, neither company was building a machine that reflected their heritage.
Maybe it’s time for Honda to bring back bikes reminiscent of old CL/CB250s and 305s, and 160s and Kawasaki revitalized Zephyrs that look more like the old bikes. Both have facilities in China, so perhaps the prices can be lower than for the original Zephyr and CB500. If so, Snuff-or-Nots may be making a comeback!
This story and chart originally appeared in the July 2012 issue.