2021 Husqvarna Svartpilen125
Husqvarna expanded its burgeoning Svartpilen lineup downward with the addition of the entry-level “125” model, the smallest in the family. A 125 cc thumper drives a rugged machine that has clear urban DNA with a dual-sport bent. The lightweight and narrow-waisted 125 both enables and encourages the use of body English so you can practice and get accustomed to shifting around on a bike. For our friends in areas with tiered learner’s permits, the 125 comes “A1” compliant right off the showroom floor to make it even more accessible for younger riders.
2022 Honda Grom
Honda rolls out its 2022 Grom 125 with a handful of improvements to go along with a reworked, retro-styled body. It carries a new transmission ahead of a cleaner engine in terms of emissions, and sports a larger fuel tank to extend the good times. In spite of its new look, it’s still readily recognizable as a Grom ’cause the monkey-bike charm still shines through to make that crucial connection to Honda’s own rich history and the 1963 model that started it all.
2016 - 2020 Yamaha Zuma 125
Reintroduced in 2011, Yamaha’s Zuma 125 provides a viable alternative to the old-fashioned, ’60s-style scooter prevalent from the Italian manufacturers, and those who would try to garner a slice of that market. A modern shape and revised chassis carries the four-stroke fuel-injected engine in a spiffy little scooter that — with upwards of 100+ mpg — makes a capable commuter or errand-runner.
2015 - 2020 Honda Ruckus
Bare bones — naked bike, anyone? — and gnarly, the Ruckus looks like it’s right out of Mad Max. Even though it does have a 50 cc engine, no one is going to say, “Awww, isn’t that cute?” when you ride by on a Honda Ruckus. Granted, you won’t get going very fast on a Ruckus, so on-lookers will get a good, long look.
2016 - 2020 Honda Metropolitan
Honda revamped its classic-looking Metropolitan – known in other markets as the Giorno – for the 2016 model year. Early models enjoyed a bit of popularity starting back in 2002, but that took a hit with the changes made for the ’13 models up through ’15. The factory proves that it listens to customer feedback and acts on it with a fresh set of changes for the 2016 and 2017 models, tweaks that directly address the concerns coming from the customers. On the top of the list was a new, liquid-cooled engine that ramped up overall performance, as well as relocating the fuel tank for more storage under the seat. What we have for 2020 is a scooter that aims to regain the popularity it once enjoyed with a classic look and a revamped engine.
2017 - 2020 KTM 125 Duke
The battle of the flyweights rages on as KTM stays in the fray with its race-tastic 125 Duke. KTM takes much the same tack as the competition and builds its entry-level ride to resemble the machines it has to offer further up the licensing chain. The angular Duke bodywork and exposed Trellis frame set the stage for the key player, the 11 kW powerplant that keeps the 125 Duke within the A1 performance envelope and turns it into a weapon in the fight for the zenith of the nadir, ie, the entry-level masses yearning to breathe free. KTM has established quite a name for itself as the King of Thumpers with a proven off-road record, but today I’m going to take a look and see how the littlest Duke stacks up against the rest of the 125 cc streetbike field.
2021 Honda Hunter Cub CT125
Honda teased us last year with a tantalizing glimpse of its CT125 Hunter Cub update as a concept model, and now it looks like the bike is going into production and coming to our side of the pond. Based on the legendary Super Cub that also recently saw a relaunch with an updated, modernized model, the Hunter Cub is built with a bias toward back-road/off-road work. Laced wheels and stealth knobbies join with the already handy little Super Cub platform and a specially-tuned, 8-plus horsepower plant to boost its terrain-tackling capabilities.
2020 Vespa Sprint 50 S
Piaggio refreshed its Vespa Sprint 50 range for the 2018 model year and added an “S” version as its top-shelf offering within the family that carries over through 2020. This is Vespa’s sportiest line, and it’s made even more so by the new 4T3V powerplant and digital instrumentation package. Of course, that timeless Vespino look shines through all the modern touches to tie in with the factory’s long-running history and deliver an up-to-date riding experience.
2020 Vespa Primavera 50
Vespa’s Primavera line marked its gold anniversary in 2018 with, among other things, a range of refreshed models in its 50 cc range: the Chrome Crest (CC), Yacht Club, and Touring. Each sports its own choice of colors and brings something unique to the table in its design, but the overall panache and proven, 4T3V engine technology are a constant across the board. Also available through the Primavera 50 is the Limited Speed variant that restricts top speed to 30 mph, allowing you to ride with a driver’s license and no motorcycle endorsement.
2018 - 2020 Vespa Sprint 50
Piaggio’s Vespa division renewed its classic Vespino design ahead of MY2018 with a new Sprint 50 Chrome Crest (CC) model and an accompanying blackout model, the Notte. The factory touts this smallest Vespa as a “green” model due to its stellar fuel economy, and a compact build makes its physical footprint as small as its carbon footprint. Timeless Italian style and a modern engine make these Vespinos ideal for students or commuters who are looking for a ride with class and taste with an eye toward environmental health.
1958 Honda Super Cub
Every once in a while a machine transcends the constraints of time and taste to become a modern-day legend, and Honda’s Super Cub is just such a machine. From its humble beginnings back in 1958, the Super Cub (aka Honda 50 or Honda C100) has, according to sales numbers, grown into the most popular motorcycle. Ever. Back in 2018, the line passed the 100-million-unit mark, and I am old enough to remember when McDonald’s had served fewer burgers than that according to their sign out front, so that is a lot of units around the world.
1955 - 1958 Yamaha YA-1
Post-War Japan gave rise to the beginnings of the Big Four even as it saw the launch of dozens of other small domestic motorcycle builders, and the Yamaha Motor Company owes its own genesis both to this era and to its first effort, the YA-1. Like so many of its counterparts, the YA-1 was a scant half-step up from the powered bicycles that preceded the motorcycles proper. But, after its success in various domestic racing events it found itself catapulted into the spotlight and into the prominence that would eventually build to the powerhouse of production we know today. The YA-1 was named one of the island nation’s 240 landmark automotive technologies by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan.
2019 - 2020 Honda Super Cub C125
After much speculation and anticipation, Honda finally released the all-new Super Cub C125 ABS to U.S. dealerships in January 2019, and will carry over into 2020. This iconic ride brings the same 124.9 cc powerplant that drives the popular Grom coupled with a semi-automatic, clutchless shifter, and four-speed gearbox delivering the same ease of operation that helped to make the original such a hit. A disc front brake and ABS bring the classic design closer to modern standards, but the looks are straight outta’ the ’50s for a genuinely dated vibe that is impossible to imitate. Entry-level pricing provides the icing for this charming little cake in order to endear itself to that critical market segment, but I’d argue that this ride is good for more than just as a trainer.