Five Small Motorcycles You Can Be Proud to Ride
A list of five tiny, mighty motorcycles you'd be proud to have in your garage
Why is it pride of ownership is so often connected to engine size in the motorcycle world? Are we compensating for other shortcomings? Not only are these small motorcycles you can be proud of, but often, they're much more fun to ride than their super-sized counterparts.
For the purposes of point proving, let's cap capacity at 499cc and use the criteria that all of these machines must be the absolute best at their respective roles. No caveats, these are small bikes that are better than their larger counterparts.
Hands down, the Yamaha WR250 is the most capable dual sport motorcycle sold by a Japanese company. The WR is just as fast as its 650cc rivals and comes standard with higher quality suspension. Believe it or not, but the 30 bhp motor is better at highway cruising than those larger rivals too, largely because its DOHC design is far more modern than other Japanese dual sports as well as higher spec; this little 250 even has Titanium inlet valves.
Suzuki DR-Z400 SM
This is the only real supermoto available as a stock bike right now and it will destroy pretty much any other motorcycle—regardless of size or performance—through city streets or down a tight mountain road. The best part? A little tuning work can make this tiny Suzuki genuinely fast in a straight line too.
MATTERS: 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 - First Ride
The CB500X is all day comfortable, good at carrying passengers, and a blast to ride through heavy traffic. We've been tempted to describe it as having 75 percent of the capability of an R 1200 GS for a third of the price, but then remembered that this little Honda is actually far better for city riding.
KTM's RC390 is a pocket-sized superbike developed from the popular Duke 390. It's light, flickable, fast around a corner, and an absolute joy to ride. Whenever pint sized sportbikes are discussed around here, we're always torn between this and Kawasaki's new Ninja 400. Maybe we'll have to arrange a shootout...
The smallest member of Yamaha's Sport/Retro line, the SR400 is a great little bike. It has the cool retro looks of the old XS1 and XS650 (and, well, the XS400) with modern running gear and a bulletproof 400cc single. Easy to ride, easy to live with, and a whole lot of fun.
Do you ride a small bike? Which one? Why do you think pride of ownership is so often connected to engine size in the motorcycle world?
Original story by Wes Siler published December 5, 2013.