Road Test Editor
Weight: 177 lbs.
Inseam: 33 in.
I’m a big fan of vintage bikes, but old bikes tend to break. Getting that retro look without the anachronistic technology is why these three bikes are great. The Guzzi gets a nod for style—neither the Harley nor Triumph can compete with that silhouette. Unfortunately, crappy fueling and an atrocious gearbox make the V7 fairly disappointing to ride. The Triumph has the least visual appeal (especially in purple!) but it works the best by a long shot. It makes the most power, handles well, and is comfortable enough to use as a daily rider. A pragmatic person would pick the Bonnie, but the Triumph is so practical that it’s boring. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d go with the Harley. I like the shuddering engine and the obscene mechanical noises it emanates. Plus I’d be curious to see just how much metal I could take off the footpegs and muffler!
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Inseam: 34 in.
I am child of vintage racing. I grew up around finned motors and drum brakes, so in my mind all of these bikes are cool. Choosing between them is a matter of usability and fun-factor. The Harley looks great, but it’s the least comfortable by far, and sorry, I just don’t want a bike that drags its pegs leaving a gas station. The Stone is much more usable and oozes character, even if it’s a little dorky. Mostly it’s Guzzi’s “retro” transmission feel that irks me. For me, the Bonneville is the whole package. It doesn’t vibrate, the fueling is perfect, and it’s the most agile of the group. You want clatter and clunky shifting? Get an actual vintage bike. I’ll be cruising smooth on my Bonnie. And, no, it will not be purple.
Weight: 220 lbs.
Inseam: 30 in.
Hands down, the Harley is the best styled bike here and would have been my pick, but the 883 Iron has issues. Starting with the name: Harley-Davidson 883 Iron. Ironic, because that’s what the suspension is made of: solid iron. Most Harleys need less, but the Iron needs more. More ride height. More suspension travel. More cornering clearance. Perhaps Harley should change the name to the 883 Irony?
What about the Guzzi? I parked it at 3rd and Traction, left the key in it, and took the bus home. It’s actually a tolerable motorcycle with some power, comfortable ergos, and it handles adequately. But the V7 Stone just doesn’t excite me. Maybe I need to be… stoned?
The race really is for second because the Bonneville runs away from the competition. It’s a complete package with retro styling, buttery smooth motor, and sporty handling. There’s a reason Steve McQueen owned one, and he’s the only guy who could get away with purple.