Return of the Parallel Twin

April 19, 2024 | By Mike Seate

Cafe Racer Magazine’s away team headed to sunny So Cal this week for a well-needed update of sorts. We’ve hit up several major motorcycle manufacturers for test bikes to get a feel for their latest naked performance offerings. Though we hadn’t even considered the trend, most of the 2024 streetbikes dropped off at our hotel are parallel twins. Fans of classic British motorcycles are well aware that the horizontally opposed powerplants were the industry’s go-to engine platforms for most of the 20th century. However, the advent of Japanese in-line four cylinder machines pretty much ended the twins’ long reign by the middle 1970s.

Today, these highly adaptable engines have made quite a comeback with everyone from Triumph to Aprilia, Royal Enfield and Honda embracing the time-proven design for a whole new generation of middleweight motorcycles.

Best of all, these new parallel twin bikes are far from their relatively docile forerunners. The Aprilia Tuono RS660 Factory Edition we’re testing this week is a ripping, track-ready missile that generates 96 horsepower; that’s an astonishing figure considering the first generation 1,000cc V-twin Tuono made scarcely 20 more ponies from nearly twice the displacement. Likewise the Triumph Bonneville Scrambler 1200 that’s proven a real thrilling ride all week, punches out 99 horses and superb on-off road manners, moving the game along nicely.

How these modern machines have so successfully re-invigorated a form of motorcycle engine previously considered defunct is a fascinating story and one you can read more about in Cafe Racer magazine’s June and July issue.