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Answering the age-old question

January 18, 2011
Honda SH150i

SH150i and Ninja 250R (

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how I ended up on a scooter because there weren’t any small motorcycles on the market in late 2003, right?

Times have changed. In 2011, there are no less than three 250cc motorcycles on offer from three of the Big 4 Japanese motorcycle companies. Kymco and SYM have 150cc motorcycles as well. If you’re new to the idea of getting around on two wheels, you have many more choices than I did. How do you decide?

Gabe Ets-Hokin of offers an excellent, thoughtful analysis of the pros and cons of scooters vs. motorcycles. My only quibble is the somewhat apples/oranges nature of comparing a 150cc scooter to a 250cc motorcycle, though upon reflection a newbie is probably more likely to be focused on price, so these two similarly-priced bikes are logical choices.

I’m not going to say what the right choice is, because that’s for YOU to decide. As I tell everyone, think carefully about how you plan to use your bike before you write the check. You will be a much happier rider. Favicon

  1. jon permalink
    January 18, 2011 9:26 am

    The 250cc motorcycle class is growing. Suzuki has the GZ250 (probably dropped this model now?), the TU250 (fuel injected), (the DR200-though under 250cc is a reliable basic dual sport), Yamaha the 250 VStar, the WR250 dual sport, the XCT250 dual sport, Kawasaki the 250 Ninja, KLX250 dual sport, KLX250SF super moto,Honda is dropping the Rebel 250 I believe, but has the new single cylinder sports bike model (can’t think of the model designation). Hyosung has the GT250 and GT250R,and the 250 cruiser model using the same engine as the GT models. Theres also the Honda CRF230L dual sport and the cr250 super moto style.

    Strange about displacenment. It would seem to me that 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 500cc, 750cc,and 1000cc would be logical sizes. Yet theres few 125s, about zero 500s, not many 750s, but lots of 600cc models. I think that 250 and 500 sizes maybe the most versatile for solo riders. Anyone that thinks a 500 is a slug should take out a 500 Ninja with an open mind. If that motorcycle doesn’t have enough muscle to get your heart pumping then you are just jaded. Sadly, they have dropped both the 500 Ninja and the 500 Vulcan. The Ninja 500 I owned (about a 1991 model) easily got 65 mpg and had a big tank.No problem on freeways. I raed about a guy that toured all over on one and was at 80,000+ miles on the bike the last I heard.

    The new 250 Ninja has no centerstand. That seems to be the way of the world. Most scooters have both center and side stands I believe, and are better for it. With a centerstand one CAN pull a spoked wheel off and patch a flat on the road if you pack the tools. Also chain adjustments are way easier with a centerstand.


  2. January 18, 2011 12:21 pm

    Jon, displacements in a manufacturer’s model lineup are often determined by local laws regarding taxation and operator licensing. In Europe, one need not jump through as many hoops to get licensed to ride a 125.

    As for the centerstand, it seems most motorcycle safety classes focus on raising/lowering the side stand, since you have to be in the saddle to do that, given the weight of most motorcycles. A neighbor who was having trouble with his crotch rocket (because he couldn’t grasp the concept of shutting the fuel off) was dumbstruck to discover the bike had a center stand. They’re really only useful on a hard, level surface, anyway…

  3. Jack Riepe permalink
    January 18, 2011 2:55 pm

    Dear Orin:

    I greatly enjoyed the article written by Gabe Ets-Hokin, and I thought his analysis was very interesting. There is no doubt in my mind thst I will someday own a scooter. But the question remains “to what purpose.” Ets-Hokin is correct in that the preflight for a bike, plus the rider prep, can be time consuming (if the operator is following ATGATT) and other things. It can be somewhat aggravating just moving a heavy bike around in tight quarters.

    In my dreams of riding a scooter, I do not see myself in full ballistic gear (mistake #1). I think I could be happy with a 250cc scooter, if my rides were confined to city traffic. But if I wanted to head to the beach, or the mountains, I’d be looking at a Honda Silverwing, or hopefully, the new BMW. I am addicted to the 100mph stretch… But may come to need the step-through frame of the scooter.

    It is hard for me to be objective, having always ridden motorcycles. Regarding engines, I do believe that bigger is better (not always true). It is hard for me to conceive of anything less than 70hp as being adequate.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  4. January 18, 2011 5:56 pm

    Jack, the 250cc, 23-bhp GTS easily keeps up with freeway traffic. It’s the erratically-driven trucks that keep me off the freeways…

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