How To Know If Your Motorcycle is Vintage, Classic or Antique

When you see an ad for a vintage Honda Hawk for sale, what comes to mind? The terms vintage, classic, and antique are often used to refer to older motorcycles that are in some way unique and desirable. But what do these terms really mean?

Classic

Classic is a subjective description that can refer to a motorcycle in a few ways and does not necessarily relate to the age of the bike. For example, some newer motorcycles can have the look and feel of an older bike and might be called an instant classic. They usually have some unique characteristics of an older version, such as performance level or a retro body style.

Most motorcycle enthusiasts do agree that any motorcycle over 25 years old could be considered a classic, while insurance companies usually set the bike’s age at 30 or older.

Vintage

There is no official age for a vintage motorcycle. The American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association defines motocross racing bikes built before 1975 and road racing bikes built after 1975 as vintage motorcycles.

Vintage and classic are just descriptions and not categories of bikes, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Antique

The Antique Motorcycle Club of America defines an antique motorcycle as one that’s 35 years or older, though some states will allow you to register a motorcycle older than 20 years as an antique.

Some states also allow a motorcycle to be registered as historical, but it has to be a certain age and owned as a collector’s item. That means it can only be used for things such as car and motorcycle shows, parades, and historical club activities.

Given the lack of agreed upon guidelines, these designations can be confusing. It’s safe to say, though, that any motorcycle at least 25 years old that has been restored to its original condition could be considered vintage, classic, or antique. So that Honda Hawk, which was produced from 1988 to 1991, is indeed a vintage bike.