Imagine a country with a motorcycle market eight times the size of the market in the USA. A market where low price and high fuel economy mean more than styling, performance or coolness. No need to imagine: that country would be India, where roughly eight million motorcycles and scooters are sold each year.
Of course, we’re not talking about eight million 160-hp sportbikes, although such machines are available (but at a high-tariff premium: base MSRP for a CBR1000RR is 1.25 million Indian Rupees, or $26,700). Most of the bikes sold are under 125cc, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize most roadways in India are poorly paved and mobbed with pedestrians, pushcarts, buses, cars, scooters and literal sacred cows: not conducive to high-speed cruising. What’s valued in a country where per-capita income is about $800 a year is economy, durability and versatility: welcome to the world of motorcycles as cheap, efficient transportation.
Honda India has introduced its new CB Twister 110. It’s a stone-simple bike, with a tube-steel frame, single-cylinder, air-cooled 109cc motor and drum brakes. It makes about nine hp, has a four-speed gearbox and weighs in at 241 pounds full of fluids. Not impressive performance specs, but if there were a MotoGP for frugality, the Twister would be on top: The Twister is priced around 42,000 Rupees, or $900. That’s affordable for even the bottom rung of India’s rapidly growing middle class, and the savings don’t stop there: fuel economy is 70 kilometers per liter, or 164.5 mpg. Styling is aggressive to evoke the speed and performance this little runabout can’t provide.
Interesting that with all the talk and hype about hybrids and electric cars, the low-tech environmental solution may still be the best. Proponents of plug-in hybrid vehicles spend tens of thousands of dollars modifying their vehicles to push the fuel economy into the triple-digit range. It’s ironic that a developing nation can build a 164.5-mpg vehicle and sell if for less than the cost of a good set of car tires.
MD Readers Respond:
- I’m not buying the 164 MPG. Maybe at a steady 30mph. Off the top of my
head I will guess for a frugal, never whack the throttle open driver,
real world mpg will be near 110 max. For a junior Rossi, 80. Robert
- How do we get Honda to import the Twister to the USA. Neat bike, great MPG. Don
- I think it is a great idea but I do question the superbike design. What about something more practical with much more attention to the things the bike will be used for such as carrying things and passengers? Something more of a cross between a motard and the carrying capabilities of a scooter with racks etc. Pete
- I take two, thank you. Claude
- Too bad the market here in the US isn’t great enough to sustain smaller bikes such as this. My first thought was what an ideal little runabout to put on the back of an RV. I really do miss my trusty old CT-200. That would have been ideal. Rick
- Folks: While the Honda Twister mpg is impressive, this new hybrid drive motorcycle is even more so. At a price of US $855 and a mpg of 280mpg this should give the Honda a run for its mpg …
- It seems people will trade their money for ‘green’ things, but only as long as it’s new, conspicuous (ever seen a hybrid vehicle that doesn’t announce it on the trunk?), ‘cool’ and doesn’t compromise their lifestyle. The Twister is none of these things. What it is is practical, cheap and effective.
When asked to put their money where there mouth is – the ‘green’ people will come up with thousands of reasons why vehicles like the Twister can’t work. All except the one that’s accurate – Their vanity won’t let it work. Brett
- It would be a great run about! Reminds me greatly of the MB5 from the early eighties ( of which I have been in search of). Bring it here. Much cooler than a scooter! Ron