Why Can't Honda Sell India's $900 100cc Street Motorcycle In The USA?

This is the memorable CB100 from 1972, but the same engine still powers hundreds of thousands of motorcycles across Asia today.
This is the memorable CB100 from 1972, but the same engine still powers hundreds of thousands of motorcycles across Asia today.

Right Now You Have To Shell Out Between $3,000 & $6,000 (!) To Ride Away On The Smallest Street Motorcycles!

You have to wonder why GM and Chrysler went under. Could it have anything to do with the fact that they were simply not producing the types of automobiles that the customer wanted? Both manufacturers were total losers when it came to smaller economy models. The Caliber was the most economical offering from Chrysler and it was a rolling pile of dung that looked like an elephant sat on a minivan, performed like a slug on wheels, and was as long lasting as a nitroglycerin milkshake machine. On the GM side, the profoundly repugnant, dated, poorly designed, badly built, underperforming and ridiculously fuel thristy (I have a friend who gets a completely unacceptable 26 mpg on his '09) Korean Daewoo Kalos rebadged as a Chevy Aveo is an embarrassment with a bowtie badge.

Now that we're on the subject of not providing the vehicles that the public wants, let's discuss the various motorcycle manufacturers. These companies are so damned busy carrying on a horsepower and displacement war where gargantuan, Brobdignanian 2.3 litre juggernaut motorcycles that generate 140+ horsepower are considered "sedate cruisers," and you can buy a motorcycle straight off the dealership floor that will comfortably break 200 mph, that they have completely ignored the overwhelming market demand for an affordable, small, easy to handle, "starter bike" for students, commuters, shoppers, and Sunday cruise riders.

There are only four, count them, four street legal motorcycles offered for sale in North America in the 2009 model year that are even as small as 125cc. They are:

2009 Aprilia RS125 - MSRP: $5,499
2009 Honda CBR125R - MSRP: $2,999
2009 Husqvarna SM125 - MSRP: $5,799
2009 Kawasaki Eliminator 125 - MSRP: $2,799

Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW, Harley Davidson, Triumph and other manufacturers are not represented because, obviously, they couldn't give a rodent's derriere about small entry level motorcycles.

The outrageous 2009 Husqvarna SM125: Add about a thousand dollars, shop around, and you can drive home on a 2009 Harley Davidson Sportster. Is anyone crazy enough to actually buy this thing at this price?
The outrageous 2009 Husqvarna SM125: Add about a thousand dollars, shop around, and you can drive home on a 2009 Harley Davidson Sportster. Is anyone crazy enough to actually buy this thing at this price?
Or you could save $300 over the price of the Husky above and buy this 2009 Aprilia RS125. Groan...
Or you could save $300 over the price of the Husky above and buy this 2009 Aprilia RS125. Groan...
Waaaaaay down on the price scale from the Husky and Aprilia, this 2009 Honda CBR125R is still one buck under three grand!
Waaaaaay down on the price scale from the Husky and Aprilia, this 2009 Honda CBR125R is still one buck under three grand!
Here we have it, folks. The lowest priced 125cc motorcycle available in North America today, the 2009 Kawasaki Eliminator 125 with an MSRP: $2,799. Such a deal! NOT!
Here we have it, folks. The lowest priced 125cc motorcycle available in North America today, the 2009 Kawasaki Eliminator 125 with an MSRP: $2,799. Such a deal! NOT!

These prices are utterly outrageous. It would cost well over $6,000 to ride the Husky out of the dealership once tax, PDI, etc. is tagged on.

Where do "entry level" riders have $6,000 to blow on a starter bike? Where? In Dubai? Brunei? Certainly not in the USA or Canada!

If you shop around you can find brand new 2009 economy cars for $7,999. And the manufacturers are trying to sell "entry level" motorcycles for a couple of grand less?

Completely looney tunes.

That's why I read with special interest that Honda was about to debut a 100cc single cylinder motorcycle in India that would sell for approximately 42,000 rupees. That works out to $882 with the current exchange rate, and as compared to the laughably overpriced small bike dreck that is currently in North American dealers showroom floors, it's the deal of the century!

There is NO excuse to not sell a sub $1,000 100cc Honda single in North America today. It's not like you have to re-engineer a 100cc motorcycle for emissions, crashworthiness, safety standards and all the overbearing standards which stifle importation of low priced automobiles from countries such as India and China. Very minor tweaking of Honda's India 100cc would make it more than suitable for North American sales.

And, yes, there would be sales. Lots of them. North America is ripe for another "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" campaign. A 100cc Honda is the perfect substitute for legs, and at over 100 mpg, would be gobbled up as fast as they could be produced for the North American market.

So, what about it Honda? Are you still going to try to keep foisting inexcusably outrageous hyperbike suicide machines like the Honda CBR1000RR, or two wheeled Krystal Koach limousines like the Gold Wing, or are you going to start listening to your customers who want A NICE, CHEAP, ECONOMICAL, RELIABLE, FUN LITTLE BIKE???

The 100 cc Honda Single was sold in North America in a wide variety of models to suit almost every "entry level" street and even mild off-road rider untl 1975:

 Many of the Honda 100 images come from this Vintage Honda site.

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Comments 93 comments

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

You are so funny, I was laughing out loud reading this hub which should make any one think hard about the current motor cycle scene. I would like one of those little old Hondas myself. When ever one of those massive 1000cc bikes rushes past white lining on the freeway I just think "organ donor"


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

I too laughed at the colorful and descriptive language. I have to contest though, what kind of car can you get at $8000? Can't be much. I think bikes are somewhat more affordable than a car, but not as practical. There are a lot of scooters that would meet the criteria of a cheap bike. I personally want the power of a larger engine, especially on the freeway, where extra power can get you out of sticky situation, (or into one if you're riding a Ninja death machine).

Americans are willing to pay, and the market is what it's all about. In India, they know people are unwilling to shell out a whole bunch of money, because who knows how many years it takes to save up for an 800 dollar bike. Maybe buy one there and import it? After all is said and done, you will pay the same as for the cheapest bike here. Everyone has to get their share in this rich country we live in, which unfortunately screws those of us who are more frugally minded and less driven by flash. Great article by the way, love your points.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Gypsy Willow: Thanks, I appreciate the kind words! The manufacturers have completely forgotten what got them into the North American market in the first place, and it sure wasn't two wheeled living rooms or Saturn V rocketships. It was nice, cheap little runaround bikes that cost next to nothing and used a tank of fuel a month. It's high time that they brought them back.

Alexander Mark: Thanks! The "Miracle Mile" in the nearest city has dealerships fighting with each other to sell you an US$8000 car: You can pick from 2009 new Chevy Aveos, Pontiac Waves (same thing), Kia Rios, Toyota Yarises, and Nissan Versas. And let's not even mention the Chrysler dealers who right now would likely give you a Dodge Caliber in exchange for a case of beer and a large pizza.

Importation is tricky as there are various minor regulatory differences which cost next to nothing if the manufacturer does them on thousands of bikes, but can cost well over the MSRP of the motorcycle if you do it yourself.

The bottom line is that in this globalized economy if something can be produced and sold at a profit in Market A at $900 then it should be able to be sold in Market B at $900 (or so). To have the cheapest bike be almost $3,000 is highway robbery.


jlstrine55 profile image

jlstrine55 7 years ago

as a vintage japanese mc fan, your post-especially the pictures was quite fun!


EZ 7 years ago

You can often pickup a CB250 Nighthawk for well under $3000 (new).

80mph and 75mpg for less than $5000. Find another vehicle that can do that. Prius? Nope. Scooter? Nope. City bus? Maybe, depending on how you look at it.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

jlstrine55: Thanks!

EZ: Sure, but why not a 100 for a grand? In the city there is no effective difference in the usabilty of a 100 or a 250.


Capt. Hollister 7 years ago

You're dreaming. You forget that in North America motorcycles are subject to safety and emissions standards. The current batch of Indian-mad 100cc bikes all use 1970's technology and have no hope of being brought into compliance with these standards. Even if they could, the cost of emissions certification needs to be included in the selling price, easy to do at $3000.00, impossible at $1000.00. And don't kid yourself, those Indian-made bikes only sell at such a low price because they can be produced and sold in the 100's of thousands. It does not cost any less to manufacture a small bike than it does to produce a large one, but the smaller bike is expected to sell for less, therefore in order to be profitable the smaller bike has to sell in larger numbers, so the question is: in 2009 what is the size of the market for small road-going motorcycles in North America ? obviously Honda and all the others have calculated that this market segment is not large enough to justify the (large) investment required to either develop a new model or bring an existing small-capacity model into compliance with current and future regulations.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Absolutely incorrect. Your statement that the small and big bikes cost the same to manufacture is ridiculous. So according to you a Honda VTX1800 costs the same to make as a CB100? Furthermore, the emission standards compliance for at 100cc four stroke single at the factory adds barely a few dollars to the cost. As for safety standards, again, the compliance AT THE FACTORY is a few bucks. Instead of plugging in headlight A they plug in headlight B. Big deal. The tooling for the vertical Honda small single was amortized and paid for a few centuries ago, so there is NO need to do anything in development other than just stamp out a few zillion more for the North American market.


Information Ninja profile image

Information Ninja 7 years ago from Canada

loved the ad pics. I am thinking that a 100 cc bike would be pretty underpowered.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

If you're trying to race Hayabusas, most definitely. But with an average weight rider, a 100 will keep up to highway speeds, so what more do you need? :)


Ralph Cantrell 7 years ago

Anyone who doesn't believe a small, street legal bike isn't marketable in America needs to price all the older, still running ones that are being bought today. A clean, low mileage, street legal CT70 from the 1980's will cost you $1500.00 or so. And they are selling like hotcakes - check it out. Why? Because people still want a small, street legal, "errand runner", but can't buy one any other way. The argument that a 100cc American bike can't be produced inexpensively is hog wash. Even if it were true, people would pay the higher price to get one. They are paying 2 and 3 times whay older ones should be worth now.

I say the problem is liability issues in this country. The manufacturers know that young, inexperienced riders will get out on the roads and die on them. Not a problem in India, but a HUGE one in America - 'the land of the liable' - where you can sue anyone for anything and everyone does.

Whatever the snag, I hope they get it resolved and once again bring us the smaller, economical, little bikes that won our hearts and made Honda the successful company it is.


Ralph Cantrell 7 years ago

Oh Ya....

And twitchy handling little scooters don't count! Americans want a MOTORCYCLE - with foot pegs and gears. Maybe even a clutch. Something you must throw your leg over and can put full sized knobby tires on if you want. I'll be glad when this 'scooter craze' runs it's course.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I agree with you fully Ralph!


HarperSmith profile image

HarperSmith 7 years ago

Thanks for the Hub. I love the old pictures and ads. Auto companies understand the laws of supply and demand. There in business to make money. SUV's made them big money before gas prices skyrocketed. Why did it go through the roof?? that's a different hub. Thanks loved your hub.


ALEXinsocal 7 years ago

I think this is how America runs. We dont stoop that low. All for safety, only because people that really want a fast bike will get one. OR, This does sound crazy but I think its a well hidden plan from the super rich owners/and so on of companies to stay rich. Soo lets not sell cheaper stuff, have the rich buy expensive things, have the poor buy the used expensive things. who will buy the used expensive things if the poor are buying their own equally awesome stuff at a cheaper price? could cause the rich to stay richer by buying cheaper things and thus losing a lot of profit from more expensive things. All these companies have their name out there already, you know they will last. just shady that they dont sell cheaper stuff that'll last too? they know we'll buy the expensive things, this is why were in this economy junk hole to begin with. hmmmm sounds like a conspiracy to me!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

HarperSmith: You're welcome! And I'm still waiting for that cheap 100 minithumper! :)

ALEXinsocal: I think we have to call that ALEXonomics! :)


J de G 7 years ago

Totally agree. Good well priced 100cc motorcycles disappear off of Craigslist as soon as they are posted. I have been looking for one to commute on for months, but I keep getting beaten to the punch.

Even 30 year old 70cc Passports go for $1k if they are in half-decent shape.

If it looked and handled like a real motorcycle and had some storage it would sell. The manufacturers need to remember that a motorcycle can be a useful vehicle and not just "toys for boys".

Most bikes I see used for in town commuting are older and rarely over 650k, at least around here (Vancouver).

I have tried a scooter but they seem skittish compared to a bike.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I fully agree. It is completely inconceivable why all the major manufacturers are involved in mano a mano battles at the litre plus level, but completely ignore the decilitre mark. Just goes to prove that the marketing bozos they hire are all squids and speed freaks. No wonder the industry is such bad shape! :(


Ralph Cantrell 6 years ago

Still waiting for that small, economical, dependable, reasonably priced, street legal, UJM. Remember them, Big 4? I'd gladly pay good money for a re-introduced classic CL100 instead of what they want for the smallest, cheapest 'rocket sleds' and 'stylebikes' available to us today.

And don't even get me started on silly little scooters! Can anyone say "GAY"? ...And I'm not against homosexuals either! I know several and like them just fine. "To each his own" I always say. I just don't want to be mistaken for one if I can help it and don't especially care who knows it.

I was at my local Japanese dealer a week ago. They sell all brands - Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha. I left there totally convinced I would never buy another Japanese bike as long as I live, and I have owned over 40 of them so far. I swear, George Jetson, The Power Rangers, Sonny Barger, and Peter Fonda must all be alive, well, and employed by the Big 4 to run their R&D departments. And John D. Rockefeller must be risen from the dead and in charge of pricing their unholy creations.

I hate to admit it, but only the Chinese seem to get it any more with their small, economical, 1970's Japanese clones. I guess we'll just have to wait for their quality control and dealer networks to come up to par. The sooner the better too if you ask me. I'll wait till I'm dead and buried if I have to.

Are you listening, Big 4?


Herman 6 years ago

In Australia Kymco now sells their CK125 motorcycle for AUD$2000.00 (approx. US$1800.00).

Kymco sell scooters in the US.

Why don't you ask them to bring in the CK125?

http://www.kymco.com.au/Motorcycles/CK.aspx

Kymco USA

http://www.kymcousa.com/showroom/index_onroad.html

I have no connection to Kymco or even the motorcycle industry, but am considering purchasing a CK125 for the reasons you outlined.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Ralph Cantrell: The Big 4 aren't listening. All they're interested in is selling VMaxes and Hayabusas for the cost of a decent small car to teenagers who end up splattering themselves on the sides of minivans.

Herman: Yeah, considering that CK125 is a knockoff of the venerable old CB engine, I'd LOVE to see that on this side of the Pacific! COME ON KYMCO! THERE IS A MARKET! TRY IT AND SEE!


ntrudr_800 6 years ago

I totally agree. America is screwed right now. And all the 250cc motorcycles that used to cost $3000 now cost 4000. A decent Yamah Vino 125 scooter is 2800 msrp. ??? WTH???? 125cc for 3k? That is ridiculous.

I would LOOOOVE a 100cc motorcycle by honda for $1000. Most of these entry level bikes here in the states dont even have an odometer or tachometer! They have less feature thean the bikes of the past and cost so much $$$. I cant justify the cost. I would love a 250cc but am not going to spend 4k. That is 1/3 the price of my car. MY TOYOTA CAMRY! This is bull crap. U suck Honda, Yamaha. Suzuki. You all suck!


Jerry 6 years ago

i too want to know. look at all the products they sell over there for under 1K. http://www.herohonda.com/products.htm

i'm no expert in trade or commerce but something is not right. most if not all of those have 4 stroke engines. i'm not buying that they don't meet emissions. maybe its because americans are willing to pay 4k for a 250 so why bother selling a 100 for 1k?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

ntrudr_800: I fully agree that every single motorcycle in the lower displacement field in North America is RIDICULOUSLY overpriced.

Jerry: Yeah, all the ones that are clearly visible there are all four strokes and to make that venerable Honda single meet emission standards costs virtually nothing. What you've stated is completely correct, why undercut your own market? It's a completely boneheaded policy by the manufacturers!


Ralph Cantrell 6 years ago

I'm going to research this Kymco CK125 Herman mentioned. There is a very dependable, full service, Kymco dealer in my vicinity that has been in business almost 30 years. (Just started selling Kymcos a few years back.) A true, trusted, dealership seems to be the biggest missing factor in other Asian marks. I am starting to see plenty of Kymcos around on the streets too. The owners I have met seem very satisfied.

Thanks, Herman. Maybe Kymco will make it available here.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Kymco has dramatically improved its quality control over the past few years and they're quite good now. I'd buy one with no qualms.


Timeless 6 years ago

I would like a street legal 100 cc motorcycle for under $1000.


Dan Yaklich 6 years ago

Nice article.. I have a 100cc Honda dirtbike from 1995 that I've been just using to ride around the yard at a leisurely pace, and more than likely it feels exactly like what these motorcycles would in power and handling (or at least for what I've been doing with mine, riding on a flat piece of land!) You're exactly right though, I would buy this Honda motorcycle tomorrow if it was available in the states for the same price... and I'm sure I'm not the only one who agrees! I even hate that the classic affordable "sports bike", the Kawasaki Ninja 250, has jumped in price in these past years (from 2,999US to 3,999US) with, in my eyes, little to no improvement warranting a $1000 hike in price. If only these companies thought like you and I!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Unfortunately they don't Dan. All they want to do is push 5 figure overpowered bikes on under-experienced riders!


Mike H 6 years ago

I detest oversized, unwieldy vehicles. It doesn't matter if it is an SUV or a motorcycle. I wore out a CL175 Honda many years ago, and would buy another in an instant, if a decent one were available. The CL70 was great fun. I had a chance once to ride a CB125T (twin) Honda that belonged to a friend. Crisp handling and a reasonable amount of power, what a great combination. I even owned a Honda Express 49cc (not-quite) moped... 28 1/2 mph, but 155 mpg. It was hard to beat for around town. I have spent the last 10 years, or so, trying to convince cycle dealers to consider importing the Chinese offerings. They just are not interested. There is not enough profit margin. I remember the 60's. When Honda and the other Japanese manufacturers started importing their "little" bikes, all the big dealers predicted it would be just a short fad. Not too many of the big bike companies still exist today. Even Harley imported an Itallian make with HD's name on it, "just in case." When the Chinese start importing their bikes into the US, I wonder if Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki or Yamaha will survive. Five to ten years will likely see a major change in the way America views cycling.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I certainly hope so. I'm sick and tired of 2.3 litre threes!


Fly JSH 6 years ago

For a new rider, the other great thing about a $1000 bike is when he drops it (he will, we all did), he doesn't shell out $500 to replace a bunch of tupperware. Maybe a mirror and a lever and he is back in business for under a hundred bucks. Those learning mistakes just don't aren't as discouraging.

Then there is the ease of maintenance. First ride in spring, the bike runs like crap because he forgot to pickle the bike for the winter. Instead of being able to clean his own carb on Saturday afternoon, he is forced to trailer thing to the dealer, wait a couple weeks, and pay through the nose. Another reason to give up on riding.

It seems to me, the manufacturers just don't seem to care about cultivating future customers. Sure, there are a bunch of Gold Wingers running around today, but they all started out on Scramblers twenty plus years ago.

Sell some cheap bikes today, get these kids addicted to riding, and have customers for life.

Honda lost my business years ago. Oh, I still buy them, but they are all 20+ years old: the ones that LOOKED like motorcycles and got me hooked on riding.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

100% agreed! Hear hear! :)


robert frank 6 years ago

I once owned a small honbda cr90? and loved it. It was built on a standard frame, was very agile and easy to handle. I would love to have another today, if I could spend about $1000-1500. Can I order one from India and pay shipping?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I think you're referring to the great C90, the motorcycle that Honda was built upon. Interesting question about importing a bike from India... There would be some questions about roadworthiness certificates depending on your state. I'm sure in some cases it would cost you $50 to get it legal on the road and in others it could cost several thousand dollars! :(


timt 5 years ago

no way a 100 can do a hi-way nonetheless frontage or boulevards. you can't put beginners out there. so we have scooters. a time and place/space for every cyclist.


timt 5 years ago

no way a 100 can do a hi-way nonetheless frontage or boulevards. you can't put beginners out there. so we have scooters. a time and place/space for every cyclist.


vrdm profile image

vrdm 5 years ago from Bristol, UK

It would be interesting to have a competition to see who could get the best mpg out of that 100.

Nice article.


Shadruek 5 years ago

I know they aren't 100cc in this example but have found some good priced smaller CC'd bikes there are some videos of them "in action" on youtube also... check them out

http://evosales.com/cat_motorbikes.cfm


jacques navarre 5 years ago

I road a Honda(s) to anchorage Alaska from Monroe Michigan. I used a cb 100 to go from Monroe to Butte Montana on the super hi-way loaded down with 60lbs of gear "out law cb100 rules"!,then when i got to the Honda dealer in Butte I traded it in for a xl 250 which i road to Monroe wash.then due north up to the Alcan to Alaska.I have been on hondas since 1965...I just found a73'honda Cl 100 scrambler and it is my ride where I sell motorcycles, 301 449 5900 call me any time...there is a huge market for the cl/cb/ and other used bikes contact me ...I got mine super cheep and 11.5 Original Honda Hp. on a light frame is wonderfully quick (0 to 50 mph in no time) and 70 mph down hill efortlessly. Happy trails!..........................Jacques Navarre


mozmeelsadsfdsgf 5 years ago

I'm young still and its not time for me to move off because I won't be doing that until I'm done with college. I recently moved to texas from ohio and although I do love ohio, I love it in the south. Thing is most cities in texas are hugee and I'm a small town girl, so any suggestions on small towns to live in ANYWHERE where its warm mostly lol would be nice. Email me at kl82793@yahoo.com. Thankss (:


jacques navarre 5 years ago

An update to my last post of two weeks ago... I just picked up a Honda XL 250 1980 for 400.00 dollars...it runs great...magnesium cased engine and rims....

It just goes to show you that if you do your home work you'll find inexpensive bikes all over the United States,and if you love polishing up old motorcycles to make em beautiful again, there out there -you just have to do the searching I'm affiliated with a new place to sell call me at 703 237 3400.


jacques navarre 5 years ago

Look me up at Freestate Cycles on Central Ave exit 15 off the 495 Beltway here in the D.C./Maryland local and then come .....see me...or zap me at my E-mail address at...mauibra1@yahoo.com


Jacques S. Navarre 5 years ago

Motorcycles will change your life...they grow on you..they have the power to make you a kid again!

Motor cyclists look at people chained to their 4 wheelers like body builders look at: out of shape "couch potatoes".One thing in life..... don't be the guy who wakes up one day and hears the Pink Floyd song lyrics "10 years went behind you -no one told you when to run.....you missed:The Starting Gun!

Call me at 1-301-808-9500...I'll get ya a great motorcycle and I'll spend all day teaching ya how to survive on the sometimes all too mean streets of life.

Jacques Navarre


John 5 years ago

You know I lived in the Phillipines for 3 years I had a honda wave 100cc it was awsome They mostly have motorcycles from 80 to 175 cc there I paid $800 dollars for mine new with warranty. the also had yamaha kmc kawasaki and really cool shops that sold racing parts for bikes from 80 to 175 cc I wish the had this stuff here.


Chris Chambers 5 years ago

Hal, you really hit the nail on the head here. I recently purchased my first bike, and after seeing all these enormous, chunky, beastly bikes, I decided I just wasn't going to be able to buy a new bike, not only because of the size and power, but because they look terrible! I found a nice local guy here who only wanted $700 for a working '75 Suzuki A100. Got it on the road for less than $800, works great, and doesn't take up a whole lane!


chris 5 years ago

this guy is absolutly correct. This whole country is at fault for not producing its own motorcycles. Many 250cc bikes of the 70s and 80s had plenty of power but simply were not geared correctly stock, or simply just didn't have that 6th or 7th gear for the freeways that were needed and now they do even worse with the speed limit being being 65 even 70 on some freeways. Even my big 1300cc yamaha venture 1988 has some is reved up higher than is should be on the freeway


chris 5 years ago

MY MAIN thing that brought me to this page is that i was searching for a small lightweight enduro machine around 100 lbs that about the size of a minibike, something i can throw in the back of a car. the yami gt80 is the only thing that comes close. Although it will need a speed sprocket. It blows my mind that they dont make super small mini enduros like the gt 80 anymore yet they can make all this other garbage like what the author of this post was talking about. I was searching for something street legal small lightweight on google which is what led me here. There is nothing i even went to yamaha japan website to try and see what they sell in other countris, (ITS ALL A CONSPIRACY))))


tom 5 years ago

I live part time in the Philippines. There i own a passenger jeep, a toyota corolla and a kawasaki 125cc motorcycle which cost me just under $1000. The first two rarely get used. My wife and I use this motorcycle to go pretty much everywhere. Im back in the states for now wondering why i don't have the ability to buy one here. Im not a small guy and this little bike gets me around just fine. Land of the free and home of the brave huh!? Free to buy a monster bike or a gas hog but not a reasonably priced and frugal on gas small motorcycle. I blame the insurance companies myself.


amy bishop 5 years ago

to the author and all the folks who chimed in....Thanks! i felt like an idiot coming back into the bike market as a boomer and finding nothing ready to roll in my range....bring on the rupees!


Frank Weldon 5 years ago

I owned a Honda 49cc moped while in Thailand whose engine was totally contained in the rear wheel. I also had one once back in the USofA. Like a dumb ass, i sold both. Sure wish I could purchase another. They cost me a measly $50 each. The Thais called them a girl's bike so we saw no Thai male riding them. They had to have at least a Super 90, which I also had while there.I finally found, purchased, and rode a CB 100 that was a great little bike.


psw 5 years ago

learned to ride on honda 100cc back in the early 80's. would love to be able to get new 100cc for $1,000. that would be totally AWESOME.


chris 5 years ago

i forgot to say i refuse to buy a chinese product but what do you know there the only ones that have what im looking for but no way


chris 5 years ago

to the dummy that said what kind of car can you get for 8000. well i can buy a used car for 300 dollars so what exactly is it that you are trying to compare. Bikes last, are easy to fix, cheap to maintain, cars are expensive to fix. burn a lot more gas, and in snowy states dont last near as long as a bike, cars are A lot more to insure. cars are usually only on par with even small bikes when comparing speed. cars are not nearly as fun to drive as a bike either i can go on and on.


Zeke rigg 5 years ago

Try. try to import one, try to live with one in America, just try it out. i have given up explaining y it won't work.

I have lived with most Asian bikes. and i have tried to import them. you say it can reach highway speeds which is true in theory. but i take the back roads with mine because in all reality it can't. I tried to import them however the testing is not a couple of bucks for a new headlight it is emisions control, frame integrity, and a million little small things that add up to a couple thousand. so try i hope you succeed but i doubt you will.


Ted 5 years ago

Owning yamaha 100s and honda 90s back in the late 60s and early 70s is how we all became good mechanics! I remember flying through orange groves outside of Tampa FL on them.


andre 5 years ago

Any bikes from japan year 2011 50% less then india market

interested contact me

neyous@live.jp


wild-tangent 5 years ago

Hey, Cleveland Cycle Werks is offering new bikes for pretty cheap. They're Chinese imports, but with Western oversight.

I'm honestly not sure at all how well they're selling/their quality control.

Haha, disregard that. They're $3,000+. For a Chinese bike. Fuck that.

I picked up an old Yamaha RX-50. It's two-stroke, gets me along just fine. No storage (yet) but it's very convenient for gas, and is a LOT of fun.


Alex 5 years ago

"It's not like you have to re-engineer a 100cc motorcycle for emissions"

I'm not an engineer -- can you explain this statement? Do Honda's Indian-spec motorcycles meet EPA emissions standards already? I've heard of motorcycle companies discontinuing entire lines due to not being able to meet new standards, and I've heard that bikes don't have catalytic converters because they would add too much to the price, so it doesn't seem inherently unreasonable to me that a 100cc bike wouldn't really be sell-able in America.

People buying new bikes want used bikes, anyway, or should. I can buy a used Honda 100cc off Craigslist right now for ... $500, or barely half the price of their new Indian model. A $5000 new bike would be silly for a newbie, but a $900 new bike would be silly, too. (250's are known for being passed around from learner to learner -- we only need a few silly riders to eat the initial cost, and we have them.)

"Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW, Harley Davidson, Triumph and other manufacturers are not represented because, obviously, they couldn't give a rodent's derriere about small entry level motorcycles."

All of the Japanese bikemakers already make many smaller vehicles that they don't sell in America (probably because of the much more restrictive motorcycle licensing there). I think it would be more accurate to say they just don't care about going to the effort to export model lines that they know will be less profitable. Toyota doesn't export all of their car models to America, either, nor do American companies export all of their models to Japan. Exporting something takes time and money.

I would say the blame is probably on H-D, since they're native here, but they've long been more of a lifestyle brand than a vehicle brand, and 100cc motorcycles are definitely not congruous with the H-D brand. (It would be like suggesting that Ralph Lauren could sell a lot of Hello Kitty-branded clothes.)

The blame, if at all, is on all of the other American engineers who aren't making motorcycles at all.


wild-tangent 5 years ago

Alex, I can't find a single bike at 100cc for anything less than a $700-$900 in my area, and they're typically from the '70s, break immediately, and are in need of major servicing. Why they have been discontinued is beyond me. Putting a newbie on a new machine is a bad idea, but so too is sticking them on a 41-year-old machine. I can't find anything at 250cc for less than $1,500 in my area, and even then they've been dropped often, don't start, and require more investment than your average broke student can afford to drop into it.

A $2,000 entry-level bike would be VERY welcome, because then the used market for such a bike would have to drop to sub-$1,000 within a couple years, depressing the entire used market for older bikes, re-igniting the new market as well by undercutting them.


chris 5 years ago

acidently stumbled upon this page again. Just look at the ts125x that was never brought to america. What an amazing bike. It produced 23 horsepower and its 125cc street legal!!! HEre in america we were never even given the chance to see this bike.. I beleieve that this country seriously needs to start using motorcycles as transportation. This country teaches our children to be energy hogs as it feeds the pockets of the rich. Motorcycles can save the country but even motorcyclist will argue with me about this.


rawk 4 years ago

kawasaki eliminator 175cc


rawk 4 years ago

Great article here. I found it while searching for references about the older, smaller cc bikes because I am resorting to the ebay route as it is difficult to wait on something to turn up locally.

I'm under 140# and like the ease of handling with the smaller bikes.

Why aren't there more choices? One point of speculation I've heard mentioned is that manufacturers have made a calculated business decision that selling the smaller bikes cuts into sales of the larger bikes which bring them more profit somehow. (Flawed logic by my analysis, but I have had dealers try and convince me I could and should consider the larger bikes when I have stopped in just looking and mention this "smaller" preference.)

(Not that small, but two more I would throw into the current smaller class of street bikes are the Suzuki TU250 and GZ250.)


dean 4 years ago

scooters killed the xl100 market


dean 4 years ago

the riding of trailbikes/ dualsports in the bush has all but been stopped

mainly due to not much bush left to ride in these days.

its now replaced by boxes made out of ticky tac


anirbanniyogi 4 years ago

lovely and intresting article!

i am from india and i couldn't agree with you more. i am a R&D engineer working in the country's largest selling two-wheeler manufacturing company-Hero MotoCorp. the bikes from this firm has technology borrowed from honda and they have incredible fuel-efficiencies. and the engines are not the old-school like from the 1970s. they are new generation hi-tec and they comply to emission norms till 7-8 more years at least! these are so advanced!

ok picture this.the 'commuter' bike which is a no-frills no-nonsense zero maintainance bike -splendor pro-gives a fuel eff of 65kmpl..i.e. 195 miles per gallon!cost $780 in india.ex-showroom

and the premium sports model which which is 150cc has a figure of 150 miles per gallon!at twice the power of the 100cc!cost $1320 ex-showroom

these bikes certainly bear a lot of context to the north american market.i was so happy to read this blog i told my boss about plans to venture into the north american market.


snake eyes 4 years ago

I am young and going to college in the city. I would love to have a small, reliable motorcycle for about $1000; especially if it had some off-road capabilities.

My biggest qualm with the idea of commuting with such a vehicle is safety. There is so much traffic. Cars drive so close even on the highway. People generally are not expecting to see motorcycles (when/if) they look over their shoulder to change lanes.

That said, it's more strategic for us broke students to drive around junk cars.

I think that motorcycles are much more sexy than scooters, even with less cc's.

I don't know how everything works economically in the U.S, because I don't think every piece of knowledge is public knowledge (if you know what I mean).

I would say that small, cheap motorcycles would become very popular very fast among my age group, (with the right advertisement) but I don't see them being available any time soon.

I was priveledged to ride a Honda CT90, recently restored by a family member. Since then I have read about the very interesting Australian 'postie bike', the CT110.

For some perspective: a lot of my generation is that of clubs, bad music, powerful machines, large houses, UFC, smartphones, and many social 'incompetencies'.


hoowha 4 years ago

hmm... you can get scooters that are made to look just like motorcycles. Such as the 150 cc Hornet.


rick 4 years ago

am indian and i have seen and rided almost all bikes available in india and ussually they are just up to 350 cc, i had a royal enfield myself which cost me 62000 rs in 2002 almost 1200$ and we are talking about most power full bike in india , but they have 100 cc bikes starting from 25000 which is 500$ ,and human beings drive those bikes to so yes they are or could pass all safety tests ,but only problem is they are not bigg bigg companies so cant be sold in us ,,,,,,,,,,,


Troyboy 4 years ago

I have a 2008 Honda rebel 250cc that if I granny shift, travel at a constant speed round 45-50 mph I will get over 100mpg with it all day. And that's carrying a passenger too.


jan 4 years ago

Totally agree. I bought a 1982 185 Yamaha and it has been the perfect commuter, and is lots of fun too. I would love a 100cc Honda.


mary 4 years ago

I agree 100% with the article. I long for a small motorbike-100cc or 125cc. Not a Shadow or Rebel, etc. What the hell is wrong with Honda. I actually think of starting a used small motorbike import business. I wish someone would import these small bikes in the USA.


Andrew 4 years ago

Agreed, I own three bikes a 76 CB750, 79 CB750 and a 81 KZ440. If you do the math the 76 was the equivlant of about $8,000 when it came out. For that matter my 76 toyota pickup was about $6,000 new. Granted there is some cost added to new technologies. However especially with bikes they have not changed enough to justify the change in price. If anything I think bikes are a captured market that caters to the "recreational" market more than to the practical market. One exception you might want to look into is Lifan, which is a Chinese manufacturer who makes up to 400 cc bikes. They tend to be inexpensive (under $3,000)and get decent reviews, although parts seems to be an issue. Any which way I agree completely with your analysis...


jason 4 years ago

I recently stumbled upon a 1972 honda SL100... its basically the same as the CL100 and the CB100... just with an up-swept exhaust, a single seat and some enduro tires and a smaller tank..

its a hoot to ride around town, I manages to get it up to 55 mph... that's plenty fast...

i got it for only 500$... and 800 for insurance!!! that's only 1300 all together!!!

way cheaper than a brand new 250cc bike, once you pay for the bike and the insurance for a 17 year old rider your already down over 10 grand. THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!!!,

please honda, kawasaki, yamaha, suzuki, H-D... and others

BRING SMALL EFFICIENT BIKES TO NORTH AMERICA!!!

you would make more profit than a store filled with munchies across the street from a pot house!!!!


Jason 4 years ago

I also would LOVE to have a 100cc I currently commutee 10 miles to work on a Kymco 50 cc and it does fine but the 100 would be perfect. I'll tell ya the SYM wolf 150cc is now in the USA and it is a great little bike. I'm tempted to run out and grab one but if Honda brought this here it would be my choice.


Lee A. Paquet 4 years ago

I don't have a problem with scooters of any size. If you like 'em, ride 'em. I just might be on one next year! I've been saying that Americans are crazy for these monster 1500cc stump-pulling tractors for about ten years too long! It's time to ride a small bike and keep the money you save in gas in your pocket. Who needs a bike that goes 175 miles and hour if you're not a professional racer???


Wayne 4 years ago

I did a search of "why are there no commuter motorcycles in america" and found this post. I'm a middle-aged man who wants to get back into motorcycling, and would love to buy a small displacement commuter bike. Another problem I have is that I have long legs. I just got a 1980 CX500 that will be fine when I'm done spending a small fortune fixing it up, but would be thrilled if Honda would bring the CB223S to North America.

I would be at my local Honda dealer buying one today if it was available, and have talked with several of my friends and relatives who would be interested in one as well. At a decent price, of course.

This is the same Honda single that has been around for years, and would have a hard time believing the the emissions would be worse on this 80+ mpg bike than an 1800cc cruiser.

I don't need a 500cc engine to take me the 3 miles to work and back, but that is what I found for an affordable price.

Our city is overrun with electric scooters that are a danger to themselves and others (32 km/h limit), which shows that people are interested in cheap transportation. This is in Northern Ontario where there is only a few month season.

I honestly believe that there is a market for 100 - 250cc commuter bikes in North America. Not crotch-rockets, and not low-rider mini Harley wanna be's.


steve burkett 4 years ago

there is a HUGE market for 100cc to 400cc commuter style motorcycles. right now, one rare breed is Royal Enfield (500cc). Women, men, college students, etc who dont want an overpriced trendy moped, or a huge overweight 200mph bike. just something simple to get around town. like all the bikes in Asia.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I remember the Honda 50's/70'/90's tooling around Arizona streets years ago, and I had a 200cc Triumph, but nothing like that is for sale in the US anymore. I suspect it is out of fear of lawsuits.

I wonder if one can be ordered.


osreinstall 4 years ago

Yes there is a good excuse. The Honda 100cc bike in India is a 2 cycle engine with a carburetor that is crankcase pumped. You would have to use DFI, (direct fuel injected) like Bombardier of Canada uses to meet EPA laws. Honda also vowed never to sell another 2 cycle engine to the 1st world market. Also this would drive up costs quite a bit, probably another $1000 and the EPA would tighten up it's rules again. Also if there was a demand for 100cc 4 strokes, Honda would build them. Another thing, there was razor thin profits in the UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle). It's a bygone era. People already voted with their wallet.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"The Honda 100cc bike in India is a 2 cycle engine with a carburetor that is crankcase pumped."

Do you have a link to that info? The only Honda 100cc bikes I'm aware of are all 4 cycle.


osreinstall 4 years ago

rushlane-dot-com/honda-motorcycle-and-scooter-india-100cc-bike-will-be-shown-at-2012-auto-expo-1220146

Since no HTML is allowed highlight this and copy & past and put period html on the end and period for -dot-. I don't know why I have to do your work for you. A simple search like, Honda 100cc India works for me in duckduckgo.

Take a real good look at that motor with the exhaust exiting that low on the cylinder and the simple cylinder head.

Honda quit making the cb100 40 years ago.

cyclechaos-dot-com

Then search for cb100.

A 4 cycle 100cc would be under powered for a quick trip on the thruway to the next exit ramp. Go to Suzuki-dot-com and look up the 250cc road bike 4 cycle single. Gets 80 mpg. Around $3700.

You guys may laugh at those muscle bikes hitting something, but I would rather not be hit in the backside by an earth moving device because my bike was too slow. I can always choose not to go fast on the wrist rocket. I also don't want my knees up near my shoulders.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Every source says it's a four stroke. That's why I asked if you had a source that says it's a two stroke. Apparently, you made that decision yourself.


osreinstall 4 years ago

Worked on motorcycles for years. Did major engine work and modified them for the track, mostly 2 strokes. Both on & off road. Can spot them a mile away.

I went to Honda of India to see what was offered. The only source that matters. 4 strokes were the only engines but these guys are not your CB series. They have plenty of body work and you are hunched over in a sport position. They are not stripped down and simple. They are also more expensive than 42,000 Rupees. Prices are not locked down and they are climbing now projected at 48,000 Rupees according to their online write ups. Not the website I showed you earlier.

What was uploaded was a H100S in 1986 and was unreliable and discontinued 2 years later. Cycle Chaos provided the correct data. Wrong image but somewhat accurate article. Talk about misleading. Looks like I have to go to dozens of websites to get accuracy.

Never mind.


Wayne 4 years ago

Well, maybe Yamaha is coming up with something. Gizmag dot com has a write up on the Yamaha Y125 concept bike. It looks weird, but if they made it look a bit more "motorcycle-like", I'd be interested.

Oh yeah, it still needs to be affordable. Fingers crossed.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I finally found it. Here's a ;ink:

http://www.heromotocorp.com/en-in/cddawn

It's a four stroke.


Wayne 4 years ago

I was looking at that bike. 32 inch seat, 7.6 horsepower. Even my 36 inch inseam could tough it out for a few miles, and that would be enough horsepower for commuting around town. Better yet, keep it as simple, add 5 horsepower, and raise the seat a couple inches for us tall guys. Honestly, even if priced slightly under the CBR, I'd be interested.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I'm the opposite Wayne, with a 30 inch inseam, but I agree that it would be great for motoring around town!


terry 3 years ago

Go to www.motorcycleatvforsale.com. any scoot or bike size 1/2 off


Rich 2 years ago

We were on Cozumel in Mexico last week (Feb. 2014). The cook at the hotel just bought a 2014 Honda 125 for $1,500 U.S. It looks just like the bikes of the 60's and 70's. I apologize in advance for the poor picture. Cameraphone before dawn as we were leaving for the airport.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pfs4x2jgou067ji/Rich%20%...

I wanted that bike sooooo bad!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Rich,

Are you saying that it can be bought in Mexico? If so, it's worth a trip across the border to get one!


gaffo 14 months ago

Amen - great article. 10 yrs ago I looked into buying a motorcycle. I assumed someone offered a 125/150cc (like in the 70s/80s - I rem them here in the US as a kid back then). Well surprise surprise, Yamaha had a nice CB125, as did Honda (both sold all over the world - EXCEPT HERE!! another nasty surprise - no only did the small bikes disappear - but all the remaining ones were NOT Standards, and/or they had plastic crap all over them! looked like a transformer dork-mobile! - or some dub bloated-whale Cruiser ;-/. So I gave up for 0 yrs, and waited for the Chinese to fill the void (just like the Japs did in the 70's) - well I think the Chinese stuff is now "good enough" - they've had 20 yrs to reverse-copy the old 60's Hondamonkybikes/CT70's and Suzuki R90's (Skyteam and ZhenHua both make these and have for years. I've done my research - these bike are all over Finland/Germany/England and Austrlia (Nations that had a Monkeybike culture) - and their owners are happy with them. So, if HONDA will not provide and now play the same Game Truimph did 50 yrs ago - fook-em, I say. Go China! I just bought a 1969 replica of the original Honda Monkeybike z50a /w a sidecar by Zhenhua (drop shipped to by front porch - fully assembled) . All I need to is the PDI (lock-tite the bolts/ silicone-seal the electrical connections/ ACF-50 the chrome/ lube the chain)..................all for 1100 bucks - no tax and free shipping from Atlanta. MCO and Bill of Sale from City of Industry CA - both bike and paperwork showed up -week after internet buy. Tagged and Titled shorty after.

mechanically simple - simple air cooled engine, 110 cc (made by Locin - reputable engine builder - they make engines for BMW BTW), simple carb.

so WHEN something breaks - I can learn how to fix it myself. I don't want Hi-tech! (that means I pay others to not-quite fix it properly while ripping me off at a dealer shop)

Not all Chinese stuff is decent. in fact it probably 50/50 now at best. Replicas have the best reputation because the Chinese have had 20 yrs of making them and the original is Honda design is simple to start with (so replicas are a safer bet). Some of the Scooters - like Tank and Tao Tao are utter shiet however.

Its takes several months of trolling forums to do the research on the Chinese offerings - and get info from the hourse mouth (i.e. owners). and most of them are as I said in Europe.

good day.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 14 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Gaffo and thanks for the info. Do you have a link to where I could look at one? I can't find a Zhenhua outlet in the US.

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