Motorcycle drivers seem to always be in a competition for who can ride the biggest, best bike around. The more cylinders, seating and storage, the better, right? In fact, a lot of modern bikes seem overly saddled down, nowadays. People are quick to mock or turn their noses up at zippy, small motorcycles, but they can oftentimes make for excellent and fun rides. In our opinion, there’s a time and place for all bikes, including small bikes.
Our list provides you with five of the best small motorcycles you can purchase today. These bikes earn top scores on reliability, speed and overall fun. For our definition of “small motorcycle,” engine sizes will be capped at 499cc. Anything else counts as a big bike, and today we aren’t talking about big bikes. Check out the list below… Do you agree with our rankings? What is your experience with riding smaller bikes? In your opinion, why do riders seem to prioritize bigger bikes?
This dual-sport motorcycle is a shockingly zippy and fuel-efficient bike from Yamaha. Known for its reliability and quality, Yamaha knocked it out of the ballpark with this motorbike. It gets an estimated 71 MGP out of its 250cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine, making it one of the more efficient bikes on the market today. And even with a 250cc, it can easily keep up with its competitors, bearing 650cc engines. In addition, the bike has a fully-adjustable suspension for one of the smoothest rides you can experience. With a starting MSRP of $6,700, it’s one of the more affordable options on the road, too (reliability and affordability – two things Japanese brands are good at). The small, compact design is ergonomically friendly, designed for maximum comfort as you ride. The specs are just a bit better than other Japanese competitors with similar designs; Yamaha wants you to consider this a valid option, as you should!
Honda bikes are known for their reliability, which means a bike like the CB500X might last you a surprisingly long while. This particular bike has a comfortable seat design that won’t wear you out after a day of riding. Its puts you in a tighter riding position than, say, a cruiser would, which means this puts you more in control of the bike. On top of that, it has a decent passenger seat if you want to carry two, and its compact size makes it easy to weave in and out of tight traffic. With a 471cc twin engine, it’s on the upper end of powerful for compact vehicles, making it an economically sound choice. The 2018 model has an MSRP of $6,600, and the price for the 2019 model is still to be determined. However, don’t expect it to shoot up too much; affordability is one of the upsides of this little bike. Finally, Honda has plenty of options to accessorize and customize this particular vehicle. You can design the bike that’s perfectly suited to your needs. With its size and speed, this is a great bike for riding through both the city, and traffic.
The Yamaha SR400 is the smallest in Yamaha’s lineup of Sport/Retro motorcycles, but that’s no drawback for this bike. The smooth, straight line that makes up the seat is a classic, retro design that bikers can recognize instantly. Familiar is the classic Japanese silhouette that emphasizes aerodynamics. The motorcycle is plenty comfortable, and rides like an exceptionally smooth stallion. The SR400 was introduced as a street version of the XT500, and it resembles older models like the XS1, XS650 and XS400, while forging a new name and image for itself. It’s got a solid 399cc, air-cooled single engine that offers a zippy and fierce ride. The bike gets an estimated 66 mpg, which means riding it won’t break the bank. And with a starting MSRP of $6,000, buying it won’t break the bank, either. This bike is a ton of fun to ride, and it’s easy to maintain, with a perfectly manageable wet weight of 384 pounds on the ground.
If you are involved in the world of Supermoto, you know about the more unique bike designs that they typically include. These features make for a lightweight, ultra-fast bike with a coincidentally convenient traffic-riding position. Today, the Suzuki DR-Z400 SM is pretty much the only supermoto option available as a stock bike on the market for new riders. That’s okay – competition isn’t needed to make this bike the best it can be. It’s the perfect vehicle for navigating through narrow, winding roads or congested traffic. The 398cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine comes with a start button for easy riding, and it has a fully adjustable suspension to keep things smooth. It weighs 322 pounds wet, making it a relatively lightweight and manageable bike, even for inexperienced riders. With a base MRSP of $7,300, it’s not the cheapest bike available, but it’s certainly worth the cost.
The KTM RC390 is a sports bike, period. This powerful bike is designed to get you across tough roads and corners without a sweat. The seat is raised up high, and the handlebars are kept down low to accommodate the bent-over position that racers lean into when they’re roaring across the track. The one-cylinder, four-stroke engine can produce up to 44 horsepower, making it a punchy small bike. It’s got state-of-the-art ABS equipment to provide a smooth and easy braking experience, and the fuel tank holds a generous 11.5 liters. Despite being a racing bike, it has a passenger seat, so you can comfortably travel with two, when needed. For all this, the RC390 retails for an affordable $5,500. It’s estimated to get about 50 to 60 mpg, depending on where it’s riding. That means this isn’t the most fuel-efficient bike you can buy, but with a low price and great performance, that’s not a massive sacrifice. This is one of our favorite bikes; you can’t go wrong by selecting this KTM. It’s a powerful bike, and the spoked design is a unique attention grabber. If you’re going to get a small motorcycle, it might as well be this one!