It’s easy to look towards the past when it comes to historically significant Singles, as the modern racing landscape has been dominated by multi-cylinder motorcycles for 50-odd years. However, cutting-edge single-cylinder racing is alive and well and it’s happening right now. It’s called Moto3, and while there are three manufacturers currently competing in the 2016 Moto3 championship – KTM, Honda, and Mahindra (well, four, but the Peugeot entry is just a rebadged Mahindra) – the top spot on this list goes to both the Austrian and Japanese manufacturers.

As of this writing, both the Honda NSF250RW and KTM RC250GP have four wins apiece this season, with Indian firm Mahindra capturing the other two; one at Assen with Francesco Bagnaia, the other at Brno with John McPhee riding the Peugeot. As the photo above illustrates, the Honda and KTM have been very evenly matched this year. The manufacturers are understandably hush-hush when it comes to specifics about current racing machines, but we do know all Moto3 bikes are limited to 250cc with dual overhead cams, four valves, a maximum bore of 81mm, and a rev ceiling of 14,000 rpm. KTM houses its Single in its tried-and-true steel trellis frame, while Honda uses an aluminum twin spar. Weight savings comes in the form of magnesium wheels and triple clamps, though bike and rider combined must meet a minimum weight of 326 lbs.

It’s estimated the top Moto3 machines make somewhere in the ballpark of 55 hp – from its 250cc Single – which equals or betters the Singles from half a century ago with twice the displacement. And thanks to their modern engines, transmissions, brakes, tires, suspension, and chassis, today’s Moto3 riders could easily outpace the great Giacomo Agostini, the 500cc champ from 50 years ago, 1966, aboard his booming MV Agusta.

  • Starmag

    It’s said that Soichiro Honda was quite the fan of NSU racers.

  • Old MOron

    I like thumpers.

  • DickRuble

    The Supermono ended up second at the Isle of of Man in 1994 with Robert Holden atop.

  • Mahatma

    I think the AJS wins the style competition here.

    • Ian Parkes

      I’d put it third behind the Manx Norton and, in top spot, the dustbin with the blue whale on the side.

  • craig collins

    Y’all forgot Isle of Man champion Bultaco Metralla. I had two of ’em.

    • MikeH

      I’ll put in a nod for the Bultaco Metralla as well. I had one and it was surprisingly good, especially handling. Very neutral and forgiving, you could really push them HARD.

      • craig collins

        True – performance was limited only by the tires of that era. I raced the kitted version ( oh, god – priceless today, ) at a couple of old converted airports in northern California. My everyday street / canyon ride was the victim of a nasty, dirt strewn, decreasing radius, left-hander in the hills above the eastbay. I bailed about two thirds of the way through – bike and rider straight off cliff into the poison oak. Fantastic times!

    • TroySiahaan

      That is, in fact, a very cool Single. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Ian Parkes

    Never heard it called a Norton Manx before. I’m pretty sure they were always Manx Nortons over the pond. Amazing too how the MV Augusta engine has such a strong family resemblance to its descendents. Powerful genes.

    • Kevin Duke

      Just sticking to conventional naming conventions. Same reason we don’t call it a Tuono Aprilia.

      • Ian Parkes

        Wow, it’s usually me that gets put in Pedants’ Corner. Your Tuono example is not be the same thing at all because but no-one (let alone everyone, as in the Norton’s case) says that. I’m just sticking up for the naming convention of using its actual name…

        • Jon Low

          It’s not “MV Augusta”. It’s “MV AGUSTA”.