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The fellows in Sri Lanka just did a Bandit 250 stem-to-stern. 20K tach. The rest of the world gets the really cool small bikes. We did get a VTR250, but that was 30 years ago now. And the CB-1. Oh, and the sublime CB400F of 1975! Those pipes! Unaffordable or junk these days. I think that 600-mania killed the cool small bikes in the States.

 

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Discussion Starter · #762 ·
I think that 600-mania killed the cool small bikes in the States.
I disagree. American's appetite for bigger bikes killed the impetus for the import of cool small bikes to the US.

Few people bought the CB1, or even the 650 Hawk because they didn't have the "cool" displacement. Both bikes are now cult bikes along with certain others of similar vein.

Yamaha's SRX and FZR 400, Suzuki's Bandit 400....I can't think of many others really that fit into the same cult bike cool. Save maybe the Rebel 250 and 450 from the late 80s-90s.

I just know that the line I always heard was "Why get a 400 when you can get a 600 for the same or not much more money?"

Usually followed by "Forget the 600, get the 1000.....you'll want the 1000 after you've ridden the 600 for a few months"

The only exception to this rule of thumb seems to be the Ninja 250. They seemed to be everywhere and a seemingly high number of riders got them to learn on.

There was a time here when low mileage 250s were all over CL for a song as they were handed down from NEWB to NEWB for small change.

There were tons of EX500s for a time too. Likely for the same reasons....but after a short time from the mid 90s to the early 2Ks that largely stopped.

I'd estimate you see around 2-3 list on CL every few weeks. Good ones get snapped up fairly quickly. Sometimes, even overpriced ones go surprisingly fast. None seem to go truly cheap anymore.
 

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I disagree. American's appetite for bigger bikes killed the impetus for the import of cool small bikes to the US.
agreed, but i'll also add that how people/society view motorcycles is very different in the states vs a lot of the rest of the world. in a lot of places, bikes are just a fact of life due to price and space. cars take up a huge amount of space and are taxed to ****. america is more car heavy/car focused, and we have the space/money for it. many people here who are on bikes want to be on a bike. but in asia for instance, it's just so crowded and in many cities the streets are so narrow with all kinds of different traffic. a bike is just a cheap way to get around, so what benefit is there to having a 1000, a 750, or even a 500?

when i tell my taiwanese cousins/friends and family overseas that i have a 500, their response is usually "dang that's a big bike." but the riding/reason for it is just so different, most of them have 50-250 cc scooters/motorcycles. but yeah, if you do like small bikes for sure we miss out on some cool models stateside. i realize that these are scooters and not motorcycles... but point still stands heh.

check out the madness

here's a couple personal photos from my visit in 2018. one is a police parking lot (police scooter squad!), the other is just an empty street but look at the scooters lining the side of the road, pretty common sight.






just such different worlds and cultures, right?
 

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I remember the CB-1 when it came out along with the Bandit 400 and the Yamaha SRX single - I had a 600 cc at the time, I was walking around Tokyo and saw a boat load of CB-1s as well as Rothman replica 250s and 400s. I had a 650 Hawk and besides the build quality being better than than our EX500s the performance sucked (it was a used bike and I ended up selling it off)

After living with these Honda gear drive cam bikes for decades, my interest piqued with that blue CB-1. I would go for one, but the problem would be getting parts for it probably. Ebay is not what it used to be for second hand motorcycle parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #765 ·
I remember those things as well. I spent 9 years of my early adult life in Europe, between what was then West Germany and the UK. I've traveled all over the Western part of the continent as well.

What I learned from those experiences are that the rest of the world, particularly Europe gets some really cool small displacement bikes that would never make it to our shores.

Later on in my life and career, I traveled to Asia often. Spending time in Japan only furthered my thoughts that the JDM got some amazingly cool small bikes that would never make it to US shores.

I've already stated my perceived reason for this, and that is the distinctly American philosophy of "there is no replacement for displacement" when it comes to bikes.

No manufacturer is going to go through the expense of getting a bike certified as meeting US specs for approval for sale if they aren't going to sell enough to justify the expense.

It really is that simple. When a 250 or 400cc road going motorcycle is met with complete disdain by the buying public, and the asking price is going to be well near that of a more powerful 600cc....economics becomes the deciding factor.

One other factor in this situation is that 2 strokes have been banned since the middle 80s where they were not in either Europe nor Asia. That kept a number of very cool small bikes out all by itself.

Aprilia RS250s and RS125s along with Cagiva's Mito only made it to our shores in tiny numbers. The RS250 mainly for race use in the RS250 cup. The rest through the gray market or brought home by GIs returning from abroad.

There were others too, like the Kawasaki KR1S 250, Honda's NSRs and Suzuki's RGV 250. Simply because they were 2 strokes, they were never sold here.

Then there was a whole raft of 400cc bikes that were only available in the rest of the world. ZXR 400s, GSXR 400s, RVF400 NC30,35 and 40 to start with....but the only ones I can think of at the moment.

When I was in Japan, I saw a JDM fully faired version of the EX500 with an alloy frame and swing arm. Quite decent looking too and unavailable here.

Also, there was a ZRX version of the 500 that I saw with twin shocks and tube type swing arm and similar ZRX body work. The EX500 engine is pretty unmistakable.

There were also Honda's I'd not seen else where, like a 250 and 400 RR. Look like a shrunken version of the 900RR. Both 4 cylinder too.

Those, and the 400s included above were also not available here.

Again, I have to point to the fact that manufacturers did their market research and concluded that those small bikes would be a sales disaster here.

That is changing, but too late for all those cool bikes. What is showing up now, bar the RS660 Aprilia are a bunch of neutered twins that lack the kind of performance once found in those 400cc inline 4 bikes.

Unfortunately, with the market trend leaning farther and farther towards the "adventure" sector, all the major manufacturers want to be on that boat.

I am not an adventure rider, and have no pretensions of taking my bikes off road. Not that I haven't but I don't set out to.

I would like to have the opportunity to own a really cool small bike like the ones I've listed but unfortunately that is not likely to occur. Probably the bike I started this series of posts off with is as close as I'll get besides an RS660.
 
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Discussion Starter · #766 ·


Cagiva Mito. Mito is Italian for Myth. 125cc two stroke single with a 7 speed transmission.

The 916 styling is a clue to the lead designer at Cagiva, Massimo Tamburini who also styled the Ducati 916 and the MV Agusta F4.

This particular Mito was for sale in Boulder Creek, CA for $6K USD. Found on Bikeurious.
 
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oh man, the cbr400rr and the rvf400... like a dream. would love to try one someday. yeah the mito story is something else, such an iconic design with a totally different heart. aprilia you ever think about importing a bike?? i've been loving browsing these japanese import bike for sale websites, like one, two, or three. they're always on the expensive side sadly, but they do have some really neat and cool things for sale that aren't available stateside. seems like it might be perfect for you heheh....

if you have any pics of interesting jdm bikes you saw, would love to see them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #768 ·
if you have any pics of interesting jdm bikes you saw, would love to see them!
Unfortunately I don’t have any from the bikes I saw in Japan. At least, I don’t think so.

That was before cameras in cell phones and at times I did not have a digital camera….or any camera readily at hand when an interesting bike appeared.

I may have some pics from the bike shops I visited if there was something out of the ordinary there.

I didn’t bother if it was something seen everyday at home.

Kinda the same in Europe….but I probably have photos that I could scan from then.

Then again, there are better pics of those bikes on the interwebz
 

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I want a Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250, I love the gold rims with the two tone paint, I know I never will get one and really, Do I need a forth road going motorcycle? Probably not, I just finished registering three bikes and a trailer for two years each for a grand total of $196 US dollars.
 

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I want a Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250, I love the gold rims with the two tone paint, I know I never will get one and really, Do I need a forth road going motorcycle? Probably not, I just finished registering three bikes and a trailer for two years each for a grand total of $196 US dollars.
This one is for sale relatively near to me.

Tire Wheel Fuel tank Plant Automotive fuel system
 

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Discussion Starter · #771 ·
Probably not, I just finished registering three bikes and a trailer for two years each for a grand total of $196 US dollars.
You got off light. I pay more than that for one motorcycle.....though my trailers only require registration every 10 years.
 
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I want a Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250, I love the gold rims with the two tone paint, I know I never will get one and really, Do I need a forth road going motorcycle? Probably not, I just finished registering three bikes and a trailer for two years each for a grand total of $196 US dollars.
I decided to sell my Super Sherpa this last summer so I registered it for the first time in a couple of years, figuring any potential buyer would want to ride it before they did the deal.

What happened instead is I fell in love with it all over again and spent all summer out on the local trails riding it myself. Never even advertised it, lol. I agree, the Super Sherpas were one of Kawasaki's best kept secrets.
 

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ooooo never heard of these super sherpas, they look lovely. the gold rims are a great accent. i learned to ride on a similar bike, yamaha tw200. loved the fat back tire on the trailway... will pick one up for myself some day






man fog that bike is gorgeous. how'd it ride?? that plunger suspension though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #775 ·
Tire Wheel Fuel tank Motorcycle Vehicle

Ducati 1000DS.
Same frame and body as the 800 and 900SS but with the dual spark plug, 1000cc fuel injected air and oil cooled twin.

One is currently for sale on Bay Area CL for a mere $3800
 
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ooooo never heard of these super sherpas, they look lovely. the gold rims are a great accent. i learned to ride on a similar bike, yamaha tw200. loved the fat back tire on the trailway... will pick one up for myself some day






man fog that bike is gorgeous. how'd it ride?? that plunger suspension though!
Good old TW200! We use them a lot on the MSF program I teach for. Very fun to ride and very tough....the abuse they take each week from students mangling the throttle-clutch transition and gear changes is something to behold, not to mention surviving the occasional crash.

Interesting that the bike in the picture got flush mounts to replace the OEM signals that likely got wiped out in the first spill. Ours just got the turn signals removed altogether. Ditto the mirrors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #778 · (Edited)


RVF 400R NC35. Found for sale on Rare Sportbikes for Sale dot com.
 
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Discussion Starter · #779 ·


CBR 400RR found on Bennett’s dot CO dot UK
 
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Discussion Starter · #780 · (Edited)
Bonus BOD today:


Honda’s oval piston NR turns 30. Introduced in 1991 for the 1992 MY it was Honda’s technological tour de force.

It showcased all Honda had learned from their NR500 Grand Prix oval piston race program.

They owned over 200 patents for the innovations they designed along the way.

They were and are quite rare. To quote MCN here:
Yet just 322 NR750s were ever made, with 220 built in 1992 - of which 20 were the 100bhp RC41 variant for the French and Japanese markets, plus 102 more bikes in 1993, before production was terminated as orders dried up
Why did those orders dry up? Well, in 1992 it would have cost you £68,000 to own one.

I was stationed in the UK at the time and doing the conversion to the USD in the day came to over $100,000.

I submit there were few riders with that kinda cash to drop on a bike in 1992-3.

Them there was the matter of performance. The French and JDM got a 100 bhp version while the rest of the world got 125 bhp.

Hardly stump pulling numbers at the time. Other 750s at the time performed better and were faster for a tenth the price.

Again, to quote MCN:
The NR750 wasn’t a razor-sharp race replica like the RC30, and though it was a lot more relaxing and comfortable to ride up to a certain level, beyond that it was more sports-tourer than superbike.
I read elsewhere that Honda could have bumped up the horsepower as high as 160 but couldn’t do so and still meet emissions requirements of the time.

The engineer in that interview felt they could have done 140 but required more cooling to do so reliably. Thus, 125 it was.

It was geared quite tall also, so acceleration was described as “brisk” but not impressive by James Whitham when he road tested the bike for Fast Bikes magazine.

He further described the sound from the exhaust on acceleration as sounding like a soggy fart.

As he was contracted to ride for Honda in WSBK the following season, his contract was terminated for those remarks.
 
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