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3 lightweight learners for first-time motorcyclists

Motorcycling is a sensory rush you simply cannot get on four wheels. If you’re a brand-new motorcyclist, the ride is best learned and enjoyed aboard a small machine. For every heavy-hitter Vincent or Indian headlining an auction stage, there are a jillion unheralded 90–200cc bikes that can provide equal joy for an iota of the price. Read the full article on

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If you've got a choice of the three, go for the Honda.  Some parts are still available new (as in Honda is still making some of the engine parts, forget about any of the tinware), and it's going to be the most reliable of the three.


The Hodaka is pure fantasy.  The line of bikes went out of production in the early 70's when the Japanese motorcycle industry settled down to the Big 4.  Restoring and keeping one running today is a matter of having a couple of parts bikes stowed in the back of the garage.  Plus there's a matter of finding one in the first place.  Hodaka owners tend to know what they've got, and they're usually not interested in selling.


For serious riding, actually going somewhere on the street, and resembling day-to-day transportation, the Triumph Cub is the one to go for.  It's got the performance, comfort, and actually has some aftermarket support, mainly because once the aftermarket covered the Triumph and BSA 650's and 500's, the Cub was the next on the list.  Just the same:  All those horror stories you've heard about owning a vintage British motorcycle (electrics, leaks, vibration, fragile-ness, etc.) are here on display in spades.  It's nowhere near as reliable as it's vertical twin siblings, the parts availability is at best about half the bigger bikes, and you're going to be a pretty good mechanic by the time you've owned one of these for 2-3 years.  There's a reason why the Japanese motorcycle industry stomped the British industry flat, and this is a prime example.  It's a wonderful example of everything that was both wonderful and horrible about British motorcycles of the Sixties.


If you really want to live a wonderful history lesson, I strongly suggest owning both a Honda 90 and a Triumph Cub, and ride them both regularly.  No matter what you read in books, this will drive home the motorcycling Sixties.

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