10 January 2011

Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better.

That's a photo of a Harley Davidson "Sprint", the motorcycle I bought at the age of 16 when I decided it was time to graduate from motorscooters to motorcycles.
It had a single-cylinder 250cc four-stroke engine that produced about 15 horsepower.
At the time it would still out-accelerate most cars on the road because it was very light and even at 15 horsepower it probably had a higher horsepower-to-weight ratio than most family trucksters of the day.
Top speed was 85 miles per hour, me literally laying across the fuel tank with my legs stretched straight out horizontally behind to lessen wind resistance as much as possible. (Another of those things I did as a youth that makes me shake my head in amazement that I survived beyond my 18th birthday.)
You may remember my critical review of this bike from previous posts...
That is to say, it was better than having no motorcycle at all.
I didn't care what kind of gas mileage it got so I never checked. I wish I had.

For whatever reason, motorcycle manufacturers are showing renewed interest in the 250cc segment of motorcycledom. I think a few (but not all) of the reasons for this is-
Like cars, if they can get someone to buy a 250cc "Fireball", the customer is more likely to graduate to larger "Fireball" motorcycles.
More and more gals are beginning to ride. Smaller bikes with their lower seat height make this more comfortable for those of shorter stature.
Many of these 250cc street bikes get upwards of 70 miles per gallon, yet they ARE real motorcycles, not toys. They have enough power to safely travel the Interstate highway system. They can (sort of comfortably) carry two people around town and (depending on your threshold of pain), for short distances out on the highway.
They are really, really, really maneuverable and fun to ride.

If gas prices do in fact approach $5 per gallon, I think it's possible we'll begin to see lots of people taking another look at small bikes.
And when they do they'll find several manufacturers with very nice examples for sale:



Well Seasoned Fool said...

Knew I was domesticated when I took a lawn mover and cash for my 200cc Yamaha. The odometer stopped working so I don't know how many miles it had. I did wear out one set of sprockets. It was my post Army starving college student ride and my sole transportation in Denver for two years.

Finances permitting, I will get another smaller displacement motorcycle while I can still physically get on one.

Greybeard said...

Please WSF- come back here and let us know when you do.
We can be from opposite ends of the world, but motorcyclists have a few things in common, (like pilots)...
A love of life and a willingness to take some risk to enjoy it.

Old NFO said...

Greybeard, that 'hook' is what the mfgrs want... I started with a 50cc Yamaha, then a 250cc Big Bear, then a Triumph 400cc Thumper... I quit riding after helping scrape a friend off the back end of a semi.