The first time I rode a motorcycle was in the early '80s. It was an evil-handling, unattractive beast with nearly bald tires and soft brakes. The front end had been extended and topped off with apehangers. The frame and rear suspension were stock and well worn. And every time I flopped the motorcycle onto its sidestand, I wasn't sure if it would stay standing or fall over. I bough it on the spot, dragged it home, and spent a few weeks sorting it out, cleaning it top to bottom, and selling it for almost triple the price I paid for it.
When I compare motorcycles from then and now, I see some similarities and huge differences. The greatest similarity isn't so much the motorcycle as much as the rider who chooses a specific style of motorcycle over other motorcycle designs and styles. Most people who ride sporty motorcycles tend to be younger, more rebellious, and certainly not bothered by the attention a fast and shiny machine is bound to bring. You not often see a cruiser and sports motorcycle parked in the same garage, unless both father and son lived in the same house.
There is also a world of difference between secondhand motorcycles from the early years of modern motorcycling and those of today. Most of the old ones were temperamental, poorly constructed, difficult to handle, and often thrown together in a backyard or worse. And most used reworked stock parts bought from any location they could find. With a secondhand motorcycle from the mid '80s you don't have to be surprised to find some parts from other make or model motorcycles. Of course even in '80s, early '90s, you had a few diehard motorcycle repair shops, most guys were not long in business. Today's motorcycles are sleek and sexy. They're dependable and they handle well. Most of then even state-of-the-art electronics, disc brakes, and good quality suspension. But they don't have the wild and wacky exhaust we used to see and hear back in the day, global exhaust emission regulations made that impossible.
But then again, that might not be such a bad thing. If you don't know what I mean, check out the aftermarket exhaust pipes for your motorcycle and I can imagine the 'I want that exhaust system' look on your face.