2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
Kawasaki makes inroads into the naked streetfighter market with the new-in 2017 Z650 and adds some brush-up changes for 2020. Drawing from the popular Ninja line, the factory gave the Z650 that 649 cc parallel twin and put it in a new, lighter weight frame for improved handling and a exponentially greater fun factor.
Which motorcycles on sale today give the best mpg?
The beginning of this century saw the world views changing gradually towards climate change and the need to preserve the environment. This, along with stringent policies, has forced the manufacturers to develop motorcycles that can run cleaner fuel and extract the maximum economy from it, sometimes even at the cost of performance.
Bad news for people who seek the element of thrill, but a pretty good one for someone living in urban jungles where folks prefer commuting on a motorcycle rather thank a car for its practicality and frugal fuel-efficiency. Then there are us few who love the idea of putting serious miles on two-wheels and living the adventure.
We here have compiled a list to give you the best available tools for such situations and save some money on gas while at it.
2018 - 2019 Suzuki GSX-S1000
Engine upgrades joined other improvements in the 2018 model year as Suzuki pushes to keep its sport-standard-sector momentum going with the GSX-S1000. The family tree branched yet again with the new-in-2018, blackout GSX-S1000Z and Suzuki dropped the “F” in favor of the “FZ” for last year. The family now has even more of what it takes to dominate the street with a Gixxer engine in a naked bike chassis.
2016 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
When Harley-Davidson makes changes to the Iron 883, they stay faithful to at least one important aspect – performance. While XL models have never been known as ’fast’ bikes, they certainly have a well-deserved reputation as ’quick’ bikes. Nothing in the Harley world comes out of the hole like a Sporty, or handles the corners like one, and the Iron 883 maintains that tradition with aplomb. Bikes like this show how the XL line has not only survived, but also thrived in the entry-level and sport-minded American markets.
2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
“Cheap thrills” takes on a whole new meaning — or maybe just a revitalization of the old meaning — when it comes to the Z125 PRO from Kawasaki. It’s small and relatively fast for the thrills, good fuel economy, and a bargain-basement price. Sure, as a fun bike, it has that hands down. It’s also a commuter if you have to navigate congested thoroughfares because it’s small, lightweight, and narrow so filtering through traffic is a breeze. As a first bike for someone new to two wheels, this is a completely approachable bike, not intimidating at all and without the electronics that frequently get used as a crutch. On this bike, you learn how to ride.
2017 - 2020 Honda Grom
Introduced in 2014, the Grom from Honda is a compact bike with sportbike styling, two-up capabilities if you don’t mind having to Fred-Flintstone the take-off, has amazing fuel economy, and offers a little something more for folks who might consider a scooter in this size-range. Marketed in other countries as the MSX125, the Motrac M3, and the Skyteam M3, the Grom is a spunky little — “little” being the operative word here — motorcycle, good for folks new to two wheels or for anyone else who wants a fun ride. It’s not fast, but that’s not the point.
2017 - 2020 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
Honda brought one of its most recognized model families into the 21st century with a complete overhaul of the much celebrated Rebel range in 2017. Available as the Rebel 300 and 500, this reworked line features water-cooled mills and fuel-injection induction control to meet modern and near-future emissions standards. A sportier look greets the eye this time around, though the Rebel still targets the same small-[cruiser-mot392], entry-level market.
2015 - 2020 Yamaha V Star 250
If you’re a carburetor fan, you’re still in luck for a 250 cc commuter bike with the 2020 V Star 250 from Yamaha. Simple, classic-cruiser good looks and scooter-like fuel economy make the V Star 250 a no-nonsense choice for a budget-minded or entry-level rider.
2020 Yamaha MT-03
Yamaha expands its MT lineup (formerly the FZ in the U.S.) with an all-new, entry-level model, the 2020 MT-03. Previously available in other markets, it joins the MT-07, -09 and -10 within Yamaha’s hyper-naked range it touts as the “Dark Side of Japan.” The MT-03 toes the family line with minimalist appointments that waste not an ounce on superfluous details. Power delivery is both smooth and predictable to reinforce its rider-friendly nature. ABS protection provides an extra safety net to help make sure you keep it rubber-side down.
2016 - 2020 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec / Bolt C-Spec
The Bolt from Yamaha’s Star cruiser line is a cool little bobber-style bike with its high tank, short wheelbase and solo seat. It’s a nice around town bike — lightweight and agile — and naked with real-steel sheet metal, so it just begs you to customize it. What could be better? Enter the Bolt’s siblings, the dressier Bolt R-Spec and the café racer Bolt C-Spec. The Spec duo are every bit as snappy and fun to ride as the Bolt, but with some upgrades, both hardware and cosmetic. Powered by the air-cooled 942 cc V-twin engine, the Specs are in the same size slot as the Bolt: not too small that you’ll outgrow it right away and not so big to be overwhelming for new riders. At just a few bills more than the Bolt, they’re worth a look.
2015 - 2019 Suzuki Boulevard C90T
Cruisers and touring bikes go hand in hand for that relaxed, comfortable ride you get. The Boulevard C90T from Suzuki is the touring version of the C90 that was dropped after the 2013 model year. Leather-look — not real leather, just leather textured — hard saddlebags and an ample windscreen give the C90T that "I’m ready for the road" look along with a 1,462 cc engine and five-speed transmixer.
2017 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6
If you’ve ever wanted to own a bona fide racing machine but didn’t have the money or vanity to go for one of the $100K-plus literbikes on the market right now, I’ve got good news for you; Yamaha updated its mid-size YZF-R6 in MY2017, and it can be had without selling a kidney or your firstborn. At just over the $12K mark, the R6 claims over 120 horsepower with a host of features to help riders manage the tremendous forces this thoroughbred generates. The 600 cc-ish bracket has been getting a little stale as of late between competition from the liter category and the burgeoning interest in the 300 cc bikes, so the updated version of a proven mid-size racetrack champ is exciting news indeed.
2020 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
With its recent success on the Flat Track circuit and burgeoning footprint in the worldwide market, it’s easy to forget that Indian Motorcycle is actually America’s oldest bike manufacturer, and the marque reminds us of its deep roots with the new Scout Bobber Twenty model. This bike takes us right back to the custom bikes of the early 1900s with bobbed sheet metal, blackout treatment, and laced wheels on a modern chassis that mimics the geometry of the old-school hardtail bikes. A modern V-twin delivers 100 ponies for your riding pleasure, and ABS protection is available on all the colorways to deliver some modern safety as well.
2019 - 2020 BMW R 1250 R / RS
BMW’s R 1250 base serves as a platform for a number of variants, including the more streetwise pair of models: the R 1250 R roadster and the sport-touring R 1250 RS. As their names suggest, the “R” is a sport-naked with minimal body cladding and an essential layout that wastes nothing on superfluous equipment, but like the yin to the R’s yang, the “RS” is more about long-range comfort. Toward that end, it sports a fullish front fairing complete with screen. Both ride on a common chassis and suspension system with a few color choices per model plus BMW’s Option 719 Spezial and a host of dedicated accessories across the board. A liter-plus engine delivers the goods with ride-quality features as standard equipment and a whole lot more as part of the optional ex werke gear.
2017 - 2020 Suzuki SV650
Suzuki continued with the evolution of the SV650 line with the all-new-in-2017 SV650. Built on the success of the original SV650 that covered 1999 through 2008, and its offspring, the SFV650 “Gladius,” the new ride carries the SV DNA into a new generation. With a revamped 645 cc engine, it has more horsepower than ever before.
2018 - 2019 KYMCO Xciting 400i
The Taiwan-based Kwang Yang Motor Company grabs a slice of the U.S. commuter-scooter pie with a machine that hit our shores in time for MY2018: the XCiting 400i ABS. This all-new model replaces the outgoing 500 Ri ABS, but retains the same sporty nature, professional looks, and eagerness in the corners that we associate with the XCiting family name. To top it off, the 400i powerplant delivers a claimed 35 horsepower to drive it up to interstate speed, which is of paramount importance in the American commuter market.
2015 - 2018 Yamaha XT250
It seems like when God said “Let there be light,” Yamaha was already making the XT250. Okay, maybe not that long ago, but it has been since 1980 and I’ll bet a lot of folks reading this weren’t born yet. In 1982, Rambo rode one inFirst Blood. If it was mean enough to carry Sylvester Stallone, you know it was pretty awesome. With a wide-ratio five-speed and an air-cooled 250 cc engine, the XT250 is a proper little dual-sport machine and with a little more attention to two-up riding than you might expect in an off-road-capable bike.
2018 - 2019 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa
Triumph Motorcycles beefed up its Tiger 800 line ahead of MY2018 and carried the improved models — including the Tiger 800 XCa — directly over into the 2019 model year. The Tiger “XC” range represents the more off-road-oriented models within the Tiger family, and the “A” variant brings everything the marque has to offer in a mid-displacement adventure bike. Among the new features are a half-dozen riding modes and TFT-screen setups along with bright LED lighting to make it an all-LED ride, and that’s on top of the top-shelf features the previous models already carried.
2016 - 2019 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
Triumph has been busy as of late, expending vast energies and resources reinvigorating the venerable Bonneville range. The Thruxton family got some lovin’ in 2016 and the new incarnation certainly had big shoes to fill considering the fame and glory associated with the Thruxton name from back in the ’60s and ’70s, a fact not lost on the designers. A brand-new engine drives the range, and a whole host of modern, race-tastic features brings the old-school cafe’ racer look to the table with contemporary performance and features that make it less like just a tribute piece, and more of a modern machine with real-world relevance.
2015 - 2019 Yamaha WR250R
Essentially a carry-over from 2008 when the WR250R was added as a street-legal offering in the Yamaha WR lineup, the 2019 model carries-on carrying-on dual-sport fun. It’s not really a street-legal version of the WR250F, though the model designation tends to make it seem so. “WR” indicates it’s a wide-ratio gear box, and beyond that, the sky’s the limit. The wide-ratio gives an acceptable balance of highway capability and off-road responsiveness, both desirable in the dual-sport market.
2018 Honda NC750X
Honda introduced the NC750X to the U.S. market last year in a bid to solidify its position in the adventure-commuter sector. Like its predecessor, the NC700X, the new sled is built for comfortable riding with a capacity for touring. The new engine lends it a sportier attitude with 54 horsepower on tap and a two-level torque control to help you keep it under control.