Small Motorcycles – Does Size Matter?

Small Motorcycles – Does Size Matter?

Small bikes: are they big fun, or just gateway motorcycles to much larger machines? Lemmy, Spurgeon, and Joe are back for another discussion, and this time they’re unpacking the small bike segment. From beginner bikes to off-roaders to sharp race machines, there’s lots to say about the tiny side of two wheels. The guys also explore common ideas like “outgrowing a motorcycle” and “a slow bike fast is more fun than a fast bike slow”. Get comfortable and tune in to hear their thoughts. To get the extended podcast for a longer, uncut experience, High Side / Low Side is now available in podcast form:


Jen Bishop says:

I have a 125CC so its on the smaller end there. But compared to other 125`s it is quite large. Compared to me it is perfectly size i think. I love my bike and you can definatly have alot of fun on them it just depends on you and what you “need” for fun. For me just riding to work is fun. For others they will need to go off road or do loads of wheelies. thats fun things like small and fun are very much relative the the individual in question.

Kt T says:

For years Ive wanted to learn to ride but I live in LA county and its pretty scary to have a bike here…. but im in my late 30s now and I really want to ride now. The last month ive been watching lots of Revzilla video for how to choose the correct bike and how to ride and what type of gear to use. Just wanna say thanks for these awesome videos cause they really help me out a ton. I was looking for a CBR600RR but after those vids maybe not now… prob gonna look for a 400-500cc cruiser to start with and slowly work my way up to that 600RR. Keep up the good job guys!

Momz says:

I’m 65 and disabled due to spinal chord issues and I still ride. Up to three years ago I rode a Honda Valkyrie (still have 3 in my garage). I’ve been riding since 1971 and have had about 40 bikes since I started my obsession. My wife is a certified MSF rider coach and she has always ridden large bikes her (first was a GL100 GoldWing). My wife suffers from MS and cannot handle stress and excessive heat without causing physical weakness.
We demoed Indian Scouts in 2015 at Daytona Bike Week and were amazed at the power and controlablity of the Scouts. And in 2016 at Bike Week we demoed the Octane, Scout and Scout 60’s. We came to the conclusion that the 60’s were the perfect bikes for our needs. We purchased the first two 60’s at the local Indian dealer (had to wait two days for hers). After nearly 50 years and hundreds of thousands of miles, we now found the perfect size motorcycles for our physical need/capabilities and experience.

Zed 31 says:

I feel like the size ego is still an elephant in the room, i was lucky and got a 2018 Yamaha Bolt r spec, i absolutely loved it, and in theory (Im 25) but it was still a little too much. Given i didnt even know how to ride. It did me perfect i drove it to florida once a month. My buddies had busas and sport bikes and made me feel inadequate about it so it lost appeal after that. so i ended up trading it for an MT10. I had about 8k miles under my belt and 6months or hard riding. I love my MT so damn much but it was a bad choice. I was way in over my head. A liter bike is way out of my skill level, even 14k miles in. DONT GET A BIKE THAT IS TOO MUCH! you will hurt yourself like i did, coming from experience.

digger4rar says:

these types of discussion videos are great. perhaps you guys could do one on – does country of manufacture really affect build quality and if so how?

Tom Byrne says:

I have an Ultra Classic and have not outgrown my GT380. Yes, it is a lot of fun to ride a slow bike fast. Joe is right that the novelty of an “oh sh*t” bike wears off. This is why I chose the Street Cup over the Thruxton R in my Smiles Per Hour article.

Tom Byrne says:

As for taste in fashion, I took notice of Spurg’s Stone shirt. Previously he has mentioned being a fan of Pink Floyd. This has me questioning his age. Maybe he is just hip. 😉

JoeShep71 says:

HAHA when you are 6’4″ 295 all motorcycles are small motorcycles LOL

Tom Byrne says:

That is right Joe! My “middleweight” GT380 and CB400T are my Dunkin getters.They are blasts and great conversation starters.

gna104191 says:

Get the size that you can enjoy but also respect.

Continuedpapers says:

I’ve rode two street bikes. A honda mb5 upgraded to a 60cc piston, and that’s a blast riding around but the one I’ve rode the most and started on is an 82 honda ft500 ascot. Just enough power to go on any trip, but not to powerful. I’ve been considering a cb500x and people I know say I should go bigger. The thing is the new cb500x puts out almost 50 hp and that’s a big difference from the 28 to 34 my bike puts out. This I feel displays the thing that I believe makes a “small” bike. The displacement kind of matters but horsepower and torque kind of make a bike big or small. My friend has a 400 that is more powerful in every way except displacement. So I feel that that bike is “bigger” than my bike.

Andrew Freeman says:

You guys nailed a good point at 7:00 – New riders often don’t really know what CC numbers mean and what size motor is right for them because they don’t have a point of reference. They’re going off of YouTube videos and the opinions of their friends, but don’t have a clue what it feels like to have 150cc vs 650+cc. Whenever a new rider asks me what they should get as their first bike, my answer is usually the same. “Get a pre-owned 250 dual sport and beat on it.”

FLEX316 says:

have a ktm 512. ktm 250 2stroke .& ninja 300. & the ninja is my fun toy great in traffic ton’s of fun.

Ride Virginia says:

I would like to hear more from Lem and Joe and a lot less from Spurgeon. Why don’t you guys find a motorcycle riding chick to take spurgeon’s place? Suddenly, you would have a real cool show!

Sierra Nevada says:

Joe makes a good point of a powerful bike being more stressful. You are always in a hurry even if you are standing still.

Edwin Ramos says:

I have crank my CBR650F to 136MPH and I love it . But I would like to get a different sport bike that have better suspension and overall better performance.

methamphetasaur says:

“Get a bigger one. You’re gonna outgrow it”

I don’t know why this argument exist really. You’ll never hear someone say “Are you sure you want to buy that Golf? You’ll outgrow it in less than a year. If I were you I wouldn’t start out in anything less than a Corvette. I started out with a Veyron, but that’s just me personally because I knew how to handle power and I knew I would get bored with a middleweight car pretty quick.”

[Yes I do know why, it’s because bikes are toys to most American bikers- and also the types that think this way are generally not too bright anyway.]

RevZilla says:

If you want to check out the podcast head on over to Common Tread for the uncut version of the episode!

Michael Kastner says:

i own some of the fastest bikes on the planet- but if i had to choose 1 it would be my Honda-Monkey 125 !!!!!!!!

Dave Maz says:

There’s no replacement for displacement. -Joe Dirt.

chipmunkshavenuts says:

Just throwing this out there. Practicing/racing with a miniGP league ( improved my riding more than doing track days because of not being intimidated by the bike. I’ve enjoyed riding small bikes on track so much, I’m actually building my own custom aluminum framed RR style sport bike based off of Honda Grom wheels and the Daytona Anima 190cc to compete with the Ohvale italian mini bikes being imported now.

Michael Cocks says:

The first 15 mins is a very American view of the world – Most of the world’s bikes are under 200cc and sold in Asia…. 100M Honda Supercubs have been sold!! On Youtube there is worldwide audience not America only!! Also doesn’t account for off road bikes…A Harley 800 is a small bike? – Really ??? – Try telling that story in India or China that make up 2.6Bn of the world’s population (1/3rd) – (let alone the rest of Asia) Good to see you guys got to what the rest of the world considers a small bike towards the end of the video…

Joseph Guzman says:

I have a question I have a Sportster 05 883 how do I solve heating on the engine there are no fans that I can equip on my bike

paintball878 says:

Im a sportbike rider and for me it comes to Displacement and size of the bike. I owned a cbr300r as my first sportbike, bought brand new sold it after 1500km. Was it a great bike to get the feel. Was it a great beginner Bike? Totally! It was easy to handle, great on gas, comfortable rider position. Problem for me is the bike was to light, so when i went on long trips and it got windy i felt like i was getting blown around. Also putting my girlfriend on the back made us feel squished and the biggest thing for me is i like a thicker bike, somthing that doesnt make me feel like im riding a toothpick. Now i have a Gsxr600 its heavier, thicker, i can put my girlfriend on the back. It doesnt feel squished AND when i ride with my friends and family it’s easier to keep up.

Christopher Vincent says:

My first bike was (and is) a SV650 that’s been built into a bobber. I’d call it a small bike because of the low-ish HP even though it’s a 650. It’s a fantastic commuter and a ton of fun that looks cool as well. I also have a 92 Seca 2 that I’m working on. My brain is constantly shopping bikes and I think when I buy the next bikes to add to the stable they’ll be both bigger and smaller. My next cruiser will probably end up being a 800cc Suzuki M50 (or similar). If I get an off road capable bike it’ll probably be the BMW G310 GS. I’ve been on “big” bikes and I generallt don’t like them. Ok that’s not true. They’re all cool. I do love my Dad’s VTX 1300 but I truly don’t want to own it. I’m 5’8″ and 155 lbs, ride single, and I just don’t feel like I need a “big bike” to haul myself around with a grin on my face and get into trouble.

Shaun S says:

I got a Suzuki GW250. It’s my first bike. It’s perfect for me and not because it’s a “beginner’s bike”. I use it to commute 5 minutes to work and scoot around town, a small suburb area. I can take it through the 35 mph twisties at 45 with no issue whatsoever. I can throw it into all the 90 degree turns around town at speeds no car would ever dream of and not worry at all about tipping or losing my grip. The stoplights don’t bother me. I get on the highway at 55mph and can move with traffic. It’s perfect.

Do I sometimes wish I had more power? Sure. Sometimes I dream of having a SV650 where I can actually twist the throttle and move. But then I remember I’m only going up to 45 mph anyway so it’s not the biggest loss I can’t get there super fast. I also happen to love shifting through the gears, something I’ve had a fascination with since I was very tiny. I drove manual cars for years so needing to be in 6th by the time I’m at 35 mph is great.

Overall, I think there’s a lot to recommend smaller bikes. The right tool for the job is correct.

John Fowler says:

i hadn’t ridden in 17 years, my other half buys a 1200 sportster then insist I get something, he found a bmw 1200 GS and says here is your new bike. I picked it up in rush hour traffic to ride it home on a cold day in Feb last yr. Good thing Youtube has lots of vids on how to pick one up once you drop it, cause everyone does. Not while riding it but once you come to stop.

Peace Love says:

No one mentioned that maybe the current interest in smaller cc bikes is economic, cost. Minimum wage should be $15 per hour, and it’s half that in a lot of places. Healthcare costs continue to go up, etc, etc, +_)(*&^%$#@! you, 1%!! Not that I like labels or stereotypes, but could also be a millennial thing, a generation with different experiences, different values than ‘bigger and faster is always better!’ Great discussion though. Keep up the great work!

John Morris says:

Seven and a half minutes in and still no mention of weight?

Allen Roby says:

At 27 years old, the first motorcycle I rode was a Street 500 in the Harley MSF course. I immediately purchased a new 2017 Dyna Fat Bob upon completion and rode it home. I’ve had it for almost 2 years and I feel like that 103 twin cam is still perfect for me.

Jesse Fretwell says:

Good news about the podcast fellas. Will Anthony record the intro?


Videos like these help to bridge the gap during this snowy winter. Good questions raised by Lem. Unfortunate for the poor children with Mr. Dunbar as a teacher, and unfortunate to call NJ the destination. Great video.

mike breton says:

Any thoughts on the Janus Halcyon motorcycle I would really love to see some thoughts on this bike and even some reviews since there is nothing out there as far as reviews.

ElroyMcDuff says:

My progression:
250 Rebel – just starting out, kinda’ scary at first but no dumb mistakes (yet)
Ninja 300 – feeling more confidant & make a few speed related mistakes – one left me feeling really lucky to not have any broken bones (target fixation)
FJR 1300 – getting really cocky & taking more and more chances – a few leave me surprised that I’m not paralyzed or worse – just by commuting etc (Joe is spot on there)
Versys 650 – trying to live longer so I downsized, find myself still taking really dumb chances with even more close calls – I’m done.

This was all over 3-4 years so I didn’t give myself enough time on the small bikes I think. Anyhoo, be safe out there!

mike breton says:

Janus motorcycles are small displacement Bikes

Fool Injected says:

20:55 someone dropped the ball on the profanity buzzer. Lol

Chris Philhower says:

I would consider a Small Bike a Grom. And the other similar models. Being that I am 5′ 4″ Tall. Short Inseam. Weigh about 150 Pounds. My 2018 XL1200C is Physically a good size for me. And the 1200cc engine with Stage 1 upgrades, She can move. At times feels like she wants to throw me off. With just under 3600 Miles, Has been the Most Reliable of all my previous bikes. 2015 XG750, POS. Could not wait to get rid of it. First 2 years, 3 months in the shop.

freesoulvw says:

Part of the appeal of being a motorcyclist is the image factor. It’s cool to have a cool bike. I try to tell new or potentially interested new riders to get the cheapest bike they can find and work up from there. There are many hobbies out there that people jump in head first and buy the best they can. While there is nothing wrong buying the best and going all in you have to be prepared to fall out of love or interest with said new hobby or interest. I try to tell new riders that until you know this is going to be your new lifestyle start small, start with something used and start with a bike that if it falls over you aren’t going to go into a fetal position. Once you feel completely comfortable in how you can handle that first bike then move on to the next level. Respect the process, respect and understand the power of the machine you are on, and you will enjoy the growth experience that comes with motorcycling.

Kame Rider says:

I passed up many larger displacement bikes to get my WR250R, because the bike was higher spec in suspension, engine components, etc, and 250cc was all I knew I needed for the intended use. That’s after starting on a SV650 and riding various 250F off-road bikes. Never regretted it. Every mile on it has been a total blast.

Brian T. says:

Did you make a video for short riders? I’m like around 5 foot 6, so what would be a good beginners motorcycle for me?

David Houma says:

Well, if ones buttocks suffocates the whole seat and the seat doesn’t get a chance to breathe oxygen? Then yes size DOES matter!

Val Tito says:

how about shear weight. how a bike handles on the highway and does not get blown away by passing trucks.

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