In case you haven’t heard, the 125cc class of streetbikes is hot. The Honda Grom kicked off the latest craze, which was followed this year by Kawasaki’s Z125 Pro, as well as a few entries from China. However, all but one of the entries have teenie 12-inch wheels, making the bikes feel a little less than full-grown.
Honda‘s Indonesian subsidiary Astra Honda announced the new CBR250RR, the production version of the Light Weight Sports Concept showcased last year at the Tokyo Motor Show. The double-R is a significant step up from the CBR250R, offering aggressive styling, an all-new Twin-cylinder engine, throttle-by-wire, selectable engine modes and other features usually expected from larger-displacement sportbikes.
It took a while for Suzuki to get in on the small-displacement motorcycle market in the U.S., but the company now counts four models punching in under 250cc with the retro-styled VanVan 200 scrambler joining the returning TU250X, GW250 and the previously confirmed DR200S for the 2017 model year.
Going into it we surmised the little Duke was going to be the sportier ride and the Honda the more practical one. Guess what, that’s how it shakes out. Having said that, though, the practical Honda is really pretty damn sporty and the sporty little cheap KTM is practical enough to be your commuter – if you’re not much taller than 5’10, anyway. It’s way more compact than the CB500F.
A little more than a month after showing a stunt-influenced concept, BMW revealed the full production version of its entry-level G310R roadster. Produced with help from India’s TVS Motor Company, the G310R is BMW’s lowest displacement motorcycle and its first roadster under 500cc.
In the great old US of A, lightweight motorcycles have traditionally garnered little respect – though that is changing with the recent focus of major manufacturers on developing modern, exciting motorcycles in the less than 500cc class. Still, while the 250cc cruiser market may be almost as minuscule as the displacement in the United States, this class of cruiser shouldn’t be ignored. World-wide, the class carries much more importance thanks to tiered licensing and tariffs on large-displacement motorcycles. Additionally, the 250 class is also extremely price conscious, challenging manufacturers to make the tough decisions to build a quality, desirable motorcycle for a diminutive MSRP. This is the environment that spawned the Hyosung GV250 Aquila.
The Lightweight Nakeds Comparo we did last September was such a hoot we decided to do it again on a few more little thumper/screamers. Flying around sunny SoCal’s freeways and mountain roads like little white blood cells fighting pathogens and boredom in your cardiovascular system is what we do best, flitting from Starbucks to Starbucks, letting the lattes fall where they may.
There is nothing else quite like KTM’s new RC390. Sure, there are some sporty motorcycles displacing less than 500cc, but none of them are as sharply edged or as exotically styled as the RC390. America’s bigger-is-better mentality doesn’t usually give much credence to a single-cylinder sportbike, but the RC390 has the visual appeal and sporting cred that may change some minds.