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In Search of Utility: The Over-Kill of Modern Motorcycles

Ever wonder why scooters are so popular? Yeah, I know, there is a bit of a sales slump in Europe right now, but scooters are big, and big fun.

Scooters have two wheels and a motor . . . just like a motorcycle. Most scooters, however, have relatively tiny engines and tiny power outputs. They might do zero to sixty in nine seconds (if they can even get to sixty), while your garden-variety Hayabusa does it in three seconds flat. The scooter rider might just have a bigger smile on his face, however.

“Bigger is better” seems to have pervaded every aspect of motorcycle manufacturing.

Open-class sportbikes were roughly 900cc for years, but now all of them are creeping towards 1000cc. Sport tourers on the lighter end of the scale are also now 1000cc, typically. We all think we need more power and torque. We need to feel like King Kong on our bikes, blithely dismissing the cage drivers with a quarter turn of throttle.

Does anyone remember when Honda’s CB350 twin was a big seller? It had style, performance and utility. It could get you where you wanted to go, and you could have a lot of fun getting there . . . okay, so you don’t remember. Just trust me.

The point is this. Good, cheap transportation can be plenty of fun. You don’t need mega displacement and mega horsepower. Maybe, it took the resurgence of scooters to remind us of this, but it’s true. Now, if the manufacturers would just start making new, modern, small displacement, lightweight, simple machines that are easy on the pocketbook, while providing plenty of utility and fun. Hey, there might even be a market for bikes like this.