Nobody that I know of learns to drive in a formula one race car, so why do beginning motorcyclists expect to learn to ride on a 600cc sport bike or a heavyweight cruiser? Today's sport bikes are often so fast that the average rider will never be skilled enough to push them to their limits. Ideally, I would like to see more beginning riders buy a standard 125cc motorcycle for their first street bike. There is a reason that so many Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses maintain their aging fleets of 125cc Hondas for their entry level classes.
These bikes are especially well suited to beginning riders of smaller than average stature, limited upper body strength, or limited confidence in their ability to master this new activity. Even very experienced riders find use for a small bike. Often small motorcycles are still enjoyable to experienced riders for "in-town" rides.
Many 125cc street bikes can accelerate briskly off the line, are fast enough to keep up with city traffic, will cruise at 50 mph, and handle like a "real" motorcycle, not a scooter or a trail bike. If it falls onto its side, most riders can right it without assistance.
Of course, few riders will be satisfied with a 125cc machine in the long run. But, for the new motorcyclist's first few thousand miles, one of these lightweight machines will make a fine commuter and primary trainer. And, no matter what motorcycle a new rider buys first, within a year or two he or she will want to try something different. Most riders own several motorcycles before they find the bike they like best. Burn those last two sentences into your brain. Your first motorcycle is a trainer, not a "keeper," no matter what you buy! Unfortunately, Harley-Davidson, Buell, BMW, and Triumph offer nothing in this class.
The discontinued Honda CB125S was just about the perfect first motorcycle. The CB 125S was produced for many years. A friend of mine used to let me ride hers, which was a late 1970's model. This lightweight standard looked and handled like a real motorcycle, which it was. It was powered by a 124cc four-stroke single cylinder engine, and the final drive was by chain. The wheels were laced. Stopping power was provided by a front disc and rear drum brakes. There was even a helmet lock. Top speed was about 67 mph. The last year I can find it cataloged in the Motorcycle Price Guide was 1984. That year it cost $898 brand new. Now, a decent used one should sell for around $500.
Unfortunately, only Kawasaki (with their Kawasaki Eliminator cruiser) among the Japanese "Big Four" has recently imported a 125cc street bike into the U.S. (It is no secret that the big profits are in big bikes.) The Eliminator's decent suspension allows it to handle and corner well. It is powered by a 124cc air cooled, single cylinder motor. There is a 5 speed transmission and chain final drive. The brakes consist of a disc in front and drum for the rear. The seat height is 26.8 inches, and the dry weight is 290 pounds. Top speed is about 60-65 MPH. The gas tank holds 3.4 gallons, enough to go a long way on this economical motorcycle.
Pages in category "125cc displacement motorcycles"
The following 23 pages are in this category, out of 23 total.