Each time we post a story or video around a small-displacement motorcycle, inevitably we’ll see a comment along the lines of, “That bike sucks! It’s way too slow. 1,000cc or nothing, bro!” If you’re one of those people, you’re absolutely going to hate this list. Longtime readers already know this, but if you’re new to Motorcycle.com, you should know that, while we clearly enjoy riding big bikes, we absolutely love riding little bikes – minibikes, even! There are a variety of reasons why, and here we’ve gathered six of them for your consideration. If after reading all six you’re still not convinced, come out with us to give it a try. Really.
We were intrigued when Honda introduced its Grom for the 2014 model year, as the little 125cc street-legal playbike looked to be a fun and accessible way to ride a motorbike around town. It proved to be one of Honda’s best-sellers in its street lineup. It was lightly updated for 2016, which inspired a ridiculously fun shootout between new competitors from Kawasaki (Z125), Kymco (K-Pipe 125), and the SSR Razkull.
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.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then SSR most really be trying to suck up to the Italians. First it was the Razkull 125, the miniature playbike that looks like someone stuck a Ducati Monster 796 in the dryer for too long. Now it’s this, the SSR Buccaneer Cafe, which resembles another Italian: the Moto Guzzi V7 II Stornello.
By now, we’ll assume you’ve read the Part 1 of the Ankle Biters test, wherein we asked some newer riders to ride the Honda Grom, Kawasaki Z125 Pro, Kymco K-Pipe 125, and SSR Motorsports Razkull 125. Their job was to give us feedback as to which bike makes the best learner for the absolute noob because it’s been awhile since any of the MO staff could call themselves one. Our riders had a lot of fun with the test, but as for us MOrons, we wanted a bit more excitement once we got a chance to throw a leg over the quartet.
Some of you may not be familiar with SSR motorcycles, but with 200 dealerships across America, the company is steadily establishing itself within the industry. At AIMExpo 2016, Tom Roderick visited the SSR booth, where he saw first hand some of the cool new models the company will be releasing soon, including the Buccaneer Cafe and Buccaneer Classic. Both are powered by 250cc, air-cooled V-Twins with stylish designs and attractive price tags. Other models include the scrambler-style XF250-DT and custom-looking XF250 Snake Eyes. Both are powered by a 250cc Single. Rounding out the range are the Lazer 6 moped and SEEV-800 electric scooter.
The last quarter of each year gives us a glimpse into the future as motorcycle manufacturers begin to display the latest machines we’ll see in showrooms during the upcoming year. Last month saw the introduction of a new engine platform from Harley-Davidson, plus the unveiling of more than 20 new or revised bikes at the biennial Intermot moto show in Germany.