Motorcycle.com

It’s been almost three years to the day since we posted the 10 cheapest bikes of 2014, and, my, has the landscape changed since then. So much so that we thought it necessary to update the list for 2017. Generally speaking, cheap bikes have gone small. Partially due to the uptick in 125cc playbikes sparked by the Honda Grom, but also due to the proliferation of Chinese motorcycles all powered by little engines. Those two clues should give you an idea of the kind of bikes you’ll see in the coming pages.

For this list, just as we did three years ago, we decided to keep things relatively simple and stick with street-legal motorcycles. Also included is the country of origin. Other things of note: Only Kawasaki is represented among the major Japanese manufacturers, as the mighty Honda Grom at $3,299 would have qualified at the number 11 slot. And unlike three years ago, where a loose limit of $4000 covered all the bikes, now just $3200 is needed to purchase any bike on this list – with change to spare! So which bikes are they? Listed from most expensive to least, here’s our list of the cheapest street-legal motorcycles. . .

Here’s yet another dual-sport motorcycle from China, this time the CSC TT250. We’ve had relatively good experiences with CSC products in the past, having tested both the RX3 adventure bike and RC3 sport bike, but we have yet to ride the TT250, CSC’s least expensive offering. Featuring a counterbalanced, carbureted, air-cooled 229.5cc Single and five-speed transmission, the TT250 is by no means a speed demon. However, it does get a new digital speedometer for 2017, so you can keep track of the modest speeds its claimed 16 hp and 13.5 lb-ft will get you. An 18-inch rear and 21-inch front are fitted with knobby-ish tires, ready for some light-grade off-roading.

Like the Qlink in the previous spot, if a full-size motorcycle appeals to you more than the mini bikes like the Z125, and bottom dollar is key, then the TT250 is also worth a look. And unlike other bikes on this list, which may have questionable after-sale support, CSC has an office space and warehouse in Southern California, ready and eager to send parts and offer servicing advice if you need it.

Now we’re playing in super inexpensive territory, where less than $2000 will get you a  new motorcycle. In this case, the Kymco K-Pipe 125. For those especially on the cheap looking for a bike with something resembling big bike dimensions, the K-Pipe is it. Its 17-inch wheels give it a taller seat height than others in its category with 12-inch wheels, but we were let down by the K-Pipe’s anemic 125cc air-cooled Single. Weak even for its class, the meager 7 hp and 5 lb-ft it puts down to the ground are less than awe-inspiring. That said, its semi-automatic transmission will keep the engine running while in gear even at a stop – making the clutch seemingly trivial. Experienced riders might scratch their heads at this, but new riders could find this a huge benefit.

Sharing the top spot on this list for cheapest street-legal motorcycle of 2017 with the Kymco K-Pipe is the SSR Razkull 125, though we put it at the numero uno position because we genuinely enjoyed riding it. For $2,000 you can get a fun and attractive 125cc playbike with a dollar left over. Pay no attention to the fact I’m wearing leathers and dragging a knee on the Razkull in the photo above, the thing to take away from the Razkull is that it’s supremely easy to ride and not the least bit intimidating. It’s also pretty stylish, too, with its mini Ducati Monster resemblance. Yes, its Chinese build quality means it’s not as well refined and put together like the Kawasaki or Honda, but it’s not half bad. Plus, for $2,000 does it really matter?