Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blast from the Past: Would You Retro Mod a Motorcycle?

Before going anywhere with this article, I must disclose that I myself am a big fan of retro-modding
photo: dreamstime.com
motorcycles. I'm not sure what it is precisely, but something about taking a modern bike and reworking it to resemble the classic marques of years gone by brings a nostalgic rush that I can't find anywhere else. They perform like modern machines (because they are), they look great, and they don't have the brain-melting price tags you'd find on true classics. But my own opinions notwithstanding, Let's have a look at the modern incarnation of the retro-mod motorcycle.

Retro-modding isn't exactly a new concept. For as long as their have been motorcycles, riders have been modifying their machines to fit their individual tastes. But where retro-modding does stand alone is the style of modification involved. In retro-modding, the modern motorcycle is stripped of its technology and reduced to a state that might have existed in the distant past. Exhausts are chopped, seats are made cruder, suspensions are lowered or omitted all together, and the paint schemes favor the styles of the past--no more neon greens or tangelo oranges. Now, the retro-mod motorcycle can be scene wearing flat and satin paints in dark colors reminiscent of the "primer-only" paint jobs made popular by hot rodders of the 1950s and 60s. 
photo: dreamstime.com

But not everyone is on board with this idea. For many, the bastardization of modern production motorcycles is deplorable. They hold firm that a vintage motorcycle is special for what it is, and that faking the look and feel of a classic on a modern bike is not to be done. To the purist's soul, a Harley knucklehead is one of a kind, and no fugazi bike can, or should, touch that territory.

photo: David Palmer
If you're like me, however, you don't much care what they say. You love building bikes and tinkering whenever you can, so why not see your dream bike assembled in your own garage and by your own hands? I can recall several years ago when I first bought my 03 Honda vt750 (ACE). It was my first large, American styled cruiser, and I love it at first sight. But something wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. The bike was beautiful and all, but it didn't feel like mine, like something I had put my touch on yet. So I cruised the history books and found a few ideas of what I knew I did like in a motorcycle, and set to work bringing it to life. Fast forward a few years, and here I am in possession of my dream motorcycle: A black and chrome tip o' the hat to post-war motorcycles (photo on right). It's simple, elegant, and wonderfully mine-all-mine.

So my question is this: How do you feel about taking a modern motorcycle or car and refitting it to look vintage, even though it isn't? Does it bother you because it's what some would call a fake, or are you okay with it?

In either case, drop a line or two in the comment section with your thoughts/questions or opinions and let me know. 

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