Kawasaki W650 And Triumph Legend TT - Retro-Activity

Kawasaki W650 And Triumph Legend TT: One Recalls History, The Other Refuses To Be Held Captive By It

By Marc Cook, Photography by Kevin Wing

Off The Record
Age: 30
Height: 6 ft.
Weight: 205 lb.
Inseam: 32 in.
Pub grub: warm beer, bangers and mash
Excuse me while I wax nostalgic, but in a previous life, I'm fairly certain I was an English baron, born and bred in the pastoral world of a Merchant-Ivory film: emerald-green fields, winding pebbled roads leading to my 17th-century estate, me in a half-helmet and goggles astride a W650... what? I'm sorry if it offends any of you old-timers, but this little classic-yet-functional Kawasaki really does let you have it both ways-which is exactly why this bike will sell in droves, not just to old folks, but to young, retro-hungry whippersnappers who can't be bothered with dripping carbs or faulty electrics. But isn't that a good thing? In a hyperactive word full of caffeine, dot-coms and Ritalin, a bike like the W650 urges you to slow down (in more ways than one: at 75 mph on a modern six-lane superhighway, the W becomes painfully anachronistic) and, well, smell the decaf. And the Legend TT? Love the snarl of that triple, and there's no cheaper way to buy into a modern Triumph, but the TT's aura just feels a bit bland-something that's perhaps not so forgivable on a Brit bike. So while the Legend's 28.5-inch seat height might be nice for some, I think I'd take my $7700 and go shopping for a used Thunderbird Sport instead.- Greg McQuide

Age: 38
Height: 6 ft.
Weight: 225 lb.
Inseam: 32 in.
Pub grub: hard cider, shepherd's pie
Forty-five horsepower vertical twins aren't my idea of the ideal retro-bike (the hugely entertaining ZRX1100 is more like it), but Kawasaki's done a great job of capturing what was great about '60s-era motorcycles-and leaving all the Bad Shite associated with them (Jennings says there was a lot of it!) far, far behind. Which is a good thing. (I hope a certain other overseas manufacturer about to launch a retro-twin is as successful at getting the majority of details right. What? I didn't name names!) The W650 has funky ergos and needs plenty of coaxing to generate much velocity, but as a do-it-all runaround machine-and one that really gets folks talking, enthusiasts and nonriders alike-it's pretty tough to beat. The Legend TT is a fine bike, and an even better entry or re-entry machine, though it lacks the sort of emotional pull Kawasaki's talented engineering corps were able to coax from their bike. (Patience, Triumph fans, patience.)-Mitch Boehm

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