Less Is More

Are small capacity bikes more fun on today’s overcrowded roads?

Have you noticed that, while Wagon Wheels are getting smaller, bikes seem to be getting bigger?

Take the BMW GS adventure sport bike for example. It started out in 1980 with an 800cc motor, pumping out 50 hp and tipping the scales at 186 kg. By 2013, engine capacity had increased by 50%, to 1200cc, horsepower had more than doubled (to 123 hp) and weight had ballooned to 238 kg.

Something else has changed; between 1971-2007, car ownership in the UK rose from 19 million to 31 million. As motorcycles grew bigger and more powerful, our roads became significantly more crowded.

Some riders have decided that it’s time to downsize and it’s easy to see why smaller capacity bikes are attractive;

  1. They ain’t heavy. Light and compact, they are less hassle to hustle through traffic or squeeze into tight parking spaces and are easier to throw a leg over too.
  2. More bang for your buck. They’re less expensive to buy and generally cost less to run, so it’s much easier to justify your hobby, especially if you only get out for a ride occasionally.
  3. Take it to the max. Apart from the track, there aren’t many places you can ride a powerful modern motorcycle at anything close to its limit, and certainly not legally. You’ll have plenty more opportunity to explore the limits of smaller bikes.

Whatever style of motorcycle appeals to you, the major manufacturers all offer their popular big cc models in a ‘fun size’. From Suzuki’s V-Strom 250 adventure sport bike to the Yamaha YZF R3 supersports machine and KTM’s 390 Duke street bike, you’ll find something small, but perfectly formed, to suit your tastes.

And for the minimalists among you, Honda recently reintroduced the Monkey Bike, inspired by the huge success of their MSX125 (AKA ‘Grom’). Originally conceived as a paddock bike, many fans will think nothing of riding serious distances on the modern versions, which are incredibly capable machines.

Could ‘pocket rockets’ be the future of motorcycling? Maybe it’s time to book a test ride and decide for yourself.

 

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