Many US riders have lamented that we don’t enjoy the spectrum of small-displacement sportbikes available in the European market. These bikes include such models as the 125cc two-stroke Derbis and Aprilias, as well as four-stroke 250cc models such as the CBR250. You could argue that we do get the Ninja 250, of course, but until the recent redesign, few riders wanted to endure the smallest Ninja’s 1980’s styling. And the only other option is the Hyosung GT250R, and many consumers are loathe to chance an investment in Korean craftsmanship.
Well, American bike enthusiasts can now rejoice. Two new novice-friendly sportbikes are coming to the US:
- Aprilia RS4 (125cc)
- Honda CBR 250R (250cc)
Unlike the two-stroke Aprilia RS125, the new RS4 is a four-stroke, liquid-cooled single-cylinder that makes about 15 hp. Sure, that’s not going to churn out 10-second quarter-mile times, but styling, suspension, and chassis are all Aprilia. Plus it’s a featherweight at only 264 lb. One member of our team used to own a two-stroke Aprilia RS50, bored out to 70cc, and he still rants and raves about how he never should have sold that bike. About how you could actually push the bike to its limits on public roads without breaking the law.
Honda CBR 250R
Honda’s littlest CBR will outpower the RS4 by 73%, making 26 hp, but weighs significantly more: 359 pounds. It will have big-boy wheels at 17 inches, and ABS will be optional. Styling is strikingly similar to the new VFR1200F. Sure, many hardcore sport riders may feel that this non-aggro machine does not deserve the CBR badging; but it’s a heck of a lot safer for new riders than going out and buying a 100+ hp CBR600RR or the like.
No official word is out on the pricing of either of these bikes. We’ll update you once we know something.
A Word on Graduated Licensing
Whenever the topic of smaller sportbikes comes up, so does a discussion of graduated licensing. In the UK, of course, you must graduate through multiple levels of motorbike licensing – each restricting the rider to a certain range of bikes in terms of power and displacement – before achieving a full motorcycle endorsement. Surely such a process would curb the number of young rider accidents. On the other hand, America was a country founded upon the ideals of less government regulation. Perhaps – just perhaps – the greater availability of these entry-level, novice-suitable bikes will allow riders to make better choices for their first motorcycle. And, of course, some responsibility must rest on the motorcycle dealerships. Selling an R1 or GSXR1000 to a 16 year old is certainly dubious from an ethical perspective, to say the least.
What do you think?
No matter what, both of these bikes will allow for much more affordable motorcycle insurance quotes than any 600cc sportbike, surely.