HOW TO WHEELIE

“Generally speaking, this is one of the most time-consuming and difficult moves out there,” says Hans. “Some guys, even in the World Cup race, cannot ride a good wheelie. But you’ll see kids riding them because they put the time into it.”

Steps:
1. Adjust your seat to a low position. You’ll ride the wheelie sitting down, and seat position will help keep your center of gravity and balance.

2. Put the bike into a medium or low gear and begin at rolling speed.

3. Crouch your upper body so your weight is over the handlebars.

4. Turn the cranks to the 11:00 position.

5. Pedal down and pull up on the handlebars simultaneously.

6. Immediately lean back – as if you were in a rocking chair – and continue pedaling. You need to trust your rear brake, otherwise you’ll flip over backward.

7. Outstretch your arms and sit on the tip of the seat.

8. Keep one finger on the rear brake while the others firmly hold the grip.

9. Feather the brake continually – this helps to control speed and can prevent you from falling on your butt.

10. Relax. The front tire should be pretty high in the air.

11. Begin controlling the two balances: vertical and sideways.

12. Adjust the vertical balance with the rear brake (if leaning too far back) or by pedaling (if your front wheel begins to drop).

13. Fight the sideways balance early; it’s impossible to recover if you wait too long.

14. Control the sideways balance by sticking out a knee or foot, or by turning the handlebars in the opposite direction. (Just make sure the handlebars are straight before you come down.)

15. Let the front wheel drop to come out of the move.

Tips:

All these intricate and slight movements happen at once, which is why this is a difficult trick.

“I hate riding wheelies clipped into the pedals,” notes Hans. Ride it flat.

For beginners, try riding slightly uphill. Also, practice hopping off the back for practice – so you’ll be able to in a pinch.

There’s no such thing as perfect balance – you will always be plus or minus your balance point. It will slowly become easier to correct.

Warnings:

Don’t keep your weight over the handlebars once the front tire is in the air.

Don’t try to pedal too fast or your speed will become uncontrollable.

RETRO MOTORBIKES

THE BEST RETRO MOTORBIKES:

Kawasaki Z900RS

Kawasaki Z900RS For Sale 

Brand new for 2018 the Kawasaki Z900RS is a bit of a game changer and is truly a work of art.

It’s based on the slightly more angry Z900 but has a de-tuned engine, wheels designed to look a bit like wire spokes, a retro style seat, a modern LED headlight disguised as a traditional light and a blacked out engine with machined mock engine cooling fins.

At first glance it looks like a traditional pair of clocks but nestled between them is a modern inverted LCD dash with all the info you would expect from a modern bike. Read the review.

All in all it’s a lot of bike for the money and there is also a cafe racer version available in the Z900RS Cafe.

BMW R nineT

BMW R nineT For Sale 

Launched in 2017 the BMW R nineT isn’t cheap but looks great, makes a statement and oozes quality.

The pillion frame is easily detachable for a solo look or you can opt for the pillion hump with hidden storage compartment and the Boxer engine is tried and tested, with a design that keeps the weight low down. Read the review.

There’s also a cheaper version available in the Pure and a cafe racer version or you can customise it in almost unlimited ways to create your dream bike. 

Triumph Speed Twin

Triumph Speed Twin For Sale 

Powered by the legendary Thruxton High Power engine the new Speed Twin is like a sportier version of the popular T120, with some weight lopped off and cooler mirrors.

It can be massively customised using the Triumph parts catalogue and should sell really well. Read the review.

Triumph Bonneville T120

Triumph Bonneville T120 For Sale 

It doesn’t get more retro than the incredibly popular T120 and like the Speed Twin customisation potential is massive. Read the review.

Honda CB1000R

Honda CB1000R For Sale 

The highly anticipated 2018 CB1000R is perhaps the odd one out on this list, both in power and looks.

The previous generation de-tuned Fireblade engine produces way more power than you need for the road at 143bhp, combined with looks that are genuinely somewhere between a modern naked bike and a modern retro bike.

There’s plenty of modern technology on offer but this bike is really all about the visual details and virtually all metal construction. Read the review.

Yamaha XSR900

Yamaha XSR900 For Sale 

Launched back in 2016 the Yamaha XSR900 is essentially the best selling MT-09 with a few mods to make it look a bit retro, in the way of a round headlight / tail light, curvier tank and quite a few parts blacked out.

That’s a good thing because the MT-09 is an excellent bike with nearly 50,000 sold in Europe before it received a small update for 2017.

The 60th anniversary yellow and black Speed Block edition looks particularly good. Read the review.

Triumph Street Twin

Triumph Street Twin For Sale 

The original 2016 Triumph Street Twin had a really classic look and was super learner friendly with a low 750mm seat, although not the lightest bike out there.

It should last a while though because it can be made A2 compliant with a restrictor and can be completely customised with Triumph’s massive parts catalogue.

For 2019 it gains 10bhp, a Brembo front caliper, better fork, ride modes, an improved seat with more padding, cool machined wheels and down pipes with a goldish finish.

Moto Guzzi V7 III

Moto Guzzi V7 III For Sale 

The V7 has been slowly evolving since 2008 and is very much about the way it looks and sounds, with quite a following and plenty of customisation options.

It’s also a little bit special because the engine is mounted at 90° to most other V-Twin bikes, ensuring you’ll stand out wherever you go and the shaft drive means easy maintenance. Read the review.

Ducati Scrambler Icon

Ducati Scrambler Icon For Sale 

The seemingly infinite flavours of the 803cc Scrambler were a sales success for Ducati so for 2018 they have updated the Icon with a new headlight, cornering ABS, lighter hydraulic clutch, gear position indicator and fuel gauge.

Honda Monkey

Honda Monkey For Sale 

Honda’s Monkey is new for 2018 and channels the styling of the original Z50 monkey bikes.

It’s actually just a Honda Grom in disguise but that’s no bad thing and it’s learner friendly with a really low wet weight, economical engine and low seat height. Read the review.

  • Engine: Single Cylinder
  • Capacity: 125 cc
  • Power: 9.3 bhp
  • Licence: A1
  • Seat Height: 776 mm
  • Wet Weight: 107 kg

How Did We Rank Our Top Ten?

We looked at all the best retro bikes you can buy new and picked the top contenders, taking into account style, power, technology and value for money.

WHAT IS A RETRO MOTORBIKE?

What is a retro motorbike?

Most of the retro models you can buy today started life as a naked bike which has been modified to look more traditional, but without sacrificing all the modern tech and riding experience you would expect from a new bike.

They usually feature a single round headlight, simpler rounded clocks, stitched seats, more subtle colour schemes, rounded exhausts, loads of optional shiny bits and often wire spoked wheels or cast wheels designed to look a little bit like spokes from a distance.

Closely related are modern cafe racers which tend to start life as retro bikes but with the addition of low bars, a headlight fairing and pillion seat hump. They are bang on trend right now.

GET YOUR KNEE DOWN

If you’re into riding fast, like we are, then there’s no greater sensation than getting your knee down. Like sex, you’ll always remember your first time. Also like sex, it’s probably going to be a lot easier than you think it will be, you just need to get your body position right. Here’s how to get your knee down. 

The thing with knee down is that it’s kinda pointless. It won’t make you faster, it won’t make you safer and ignore what you read about in forums — you’ll never catch a lowside on your knee. But, it looks awesome, it feels awesome and your friends will think you’re awesome when they see your scuffed knee pucks. The things you need to do to drag knee can help with speed and safety though. Look at knee down as a sign of proper riding form rather than an end unto itself.

It should also be stated that there’s a lot more to safe, competent, fast riding than dragging a knee. We’ll address other skills another time. For now, let’s just concentrate on this, assuming that you already know how to do things like look through a corner, use your brakes and not run into obstacles.

Step One: Get the right equipment. You’ll need a sport, standard or supermoto type motorcycle with good tires, good suspension and reasonable ground clearance. You’re also going to need, at the very minimum, a two-piece leather suit with knee pucks. Not only are you going to be pushing the limits of your own performance capability — meaning you need to wear safety gear — but the articulation offered by a real riding suit makes all the difference in attaining the proper body position.

Step Two: Find some good corners. If you’ve got the funds and a track close to you, book yourself into a track day. Tracks have ambulances, corner workers to pick you up when you fall and instructors who can help translate this advice into reality. Tracks also don’t have cops.

This is the part where we tell you that riding fast and dragging a knee is illegal, dangerous and just a terrible idea. It’s not big and it’s not clever to ride outside of your ability anywhere, anytime or speed when you’re around other drivers, pedestrians or homes. It can also be a bad idea to do it in the middle of nowhere. Out on some mountain road you might find yourself injured and unable to move to safety or find help in an area without cell phone service. So if you’re going to do this on the road bring a buddy, a tool kit, a tire repair kit, a first aid kit and some water. Know how to use all of the above. Having passenger pegs on your bikes is also a good idea as it can save some serious walking.

An ideal road corner on which to get your knee down for the first time is likely going to be taken in second gear, be smoothly paved, have good vision, plenty of runoff and choose uphill rather than downhill. A nice place to turn around on either side of a series of corners is also a good idea. Watch the yellow lines, car drivers won’t.

Step Three: Work up to pace. Start at a nice easy speed, trying to string corners together smoothly without much in the way of heavy braking or acceleration. Gradually up your speeds, limiting how fast you go on the straights to not much faster than you’re going in corners. The goal here is to work up to a good corner speed and lean angle, not to test your brakes. Your tires and your brain need time to get up to temperature and adapt to reacting at speed. Take it easy, don’t push, just do what feels comfortable. Develop a flow.

Now is a good time to learn from your faster friends too. In racing, this is called getting a tow. Ask them to lead you through the corners at a reasonable pace. Watch what they do, where they are on the road, where they’re braking and where they’re accelerating. You can learn a lot doing this in very little time. Don’t feel pressure to keep up though. If they’re riding too fast for you to comfortably follow, just hang back and ask them to slow down next time. Experienced riders, it’s your responsibility to help your friends.

Step Four: body position. This is where it starts getting technical. Way back in 1983, Keith Code put a chapter about body position in “A Twist of the Wrist.” It, along with motorcycle technology, has evolved in the ensuing three decades. The current style — which is designed to work with modern tires, modern suspension and modern motorcycles — is to move once butt cheek off the seat, move your head low and to the inside, stretch your outside arm across the tank and point your inside elbow towards the ground. The main goal is to move your center of gravity as far to the inside of the corner and as low as possible. This means the bike will lean less at a given speed, which in turns means more grip and more safety. Hanging off also allows you to stand the bike up quicker on a corner exit, allowing you to get on the gas earlier. Hanging off means more outright corner speed is possible.

Modern sportbikes are built with this in mind and riding them with the correct form is necessary to fully access their performance potential.

Most guys you see riding on the street sit as far forward as possible with their heels hooked on the pegs and their feet sticking out like a duck. That effectively makes you a dead weight on the bike, harming performance. If you’re talking about getting your knee down, you’re talking about riding a motorcycle as a sport. Start treating it like one by riding your bike athletically.

First, pick your feet up. You want to have the balls of your feet on the tips of the pegs. This will keep your boots off the ground and allow you to put your weight onto the pegs when moving side to side.

Next, scoot back in the seat. Where, exactly, you’ll sit depends on you, your bike and how your suspension is set up.