While we focus a lot on starter bikes here, we sometimes forget that the term “bike” encompasses more than just rip-snorting sport nakeds, rumbling cruisers, and screaming supersports.
Not everyone wants or needs a large displacement bike to get around. In fact, not everyone even wants a full-on motorcycle. This is where the venerable scooter—popular, user-friendly, and fuel-efficient—comes into the equation.
For the purposes of this list, I’ve allowed anything up to 160cc to qualify—motorcycles and scooters included. Without further ado, here are the best four bikes in each category with around 125cc of displacement, circa 2022.
Best 125cc+ Motorcycles
#4: 2022 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS
It might resemble a scooter at first glance, but the Super Cub C125 ABS is a fully-fledged motorcycle—thanks to the pegs it offers instead of a full floor for riders to rest their feet on. Produced continuously since 1958, the Super Cub is the single best-selling motorcycle of all time by production volume, with well over 100 million produced and sold since its debut.
Powered by a tiny 125cc air cooled single engine putting out just 9 HP , the Super Cub is not meant to set any speed records—but it will get you around town effectively and efficiently. The low seat height (31 inches) makes the bike usable by short and tall riders alike, and the power is easy to manage, with no risk of overwhelming the rider. Plus, you get legendary Honda reliability—now that’s a good deal.
#3: 2022 Kawasaki Z125 Pro
Billed by Kawasaki not as a mini motorbike but as a “junior streetfighter”, the 2022 Z125 Pro is meant to be a little troublemaker. And with its aggressive angles, it’s definitely capable of living up to that reputation. More of a sporty naked than a runabout, it will still plaster a grin on your face on the ride to the nearest corner store and back.
That said, this is still the most powerful bike listed here today, delivering 15 hp from its 125cc single engine, which is horizontally mounted to keep as much weight as possible down low and close to the center of gravity. That makes it extremely flickable compared to the rest of these small bikes, which only adds to the fun factor.
#2: 2021 Honda Trail 125
Originally a motorcycle from the 60s and 70s, the Honda Trail was a lightweight, durable, and surprisingly fun little adventure bike. It could get you into (and out of) wooded trails and the campsites buried deep at the end of them, all while offering a comfortable and easy riding experience.
For 2021, Honda brought back the Trail with the Trail 125, which uses the same engine from the Super Cub C125 to put out about 9 hp. Unlike the Super Cub, however, it has improved suspension, a built-in package/luggage shelf, and a semi-automatic four-speed transmission. These features help riders get around when they’re off the beaten path, making this bike an ideal mini-moto for fun adventures!
#1: 2022 Honda GROM
Looking like something straight out of a TV cartoon, the goofy charm of the Honda GROM is undeniable (for riders who don’t take themselves too seriously, anyway). The 2022 GROM has no real new mechanical parts, but it does have a few new color options—including Cherry Red, Blue Raspberry, Incredible Green, and Halloween Orange. And yes, those are the official color names.
The GROM is the perfect little backup if you need a sanity break from working on your larger displacement bike, or need to quickly hop down to the corner store for a couple of things to bring back in your backpack. There are even GROM clubs in many cities around the US and Canada—and it’s always comically brilliant to see a swarm of these mini motorbikes go buzzing by.
Best 125cc+ Scooters
#4: 2021 Benelli Caffenero 150
Leave it to the Italians to make even a small scooter look exciting. Instead of following the trend set by most European manufacturers to go as retro as possible, the Caffenero 150 is much more angular and sporty. It also can get up and go with a little more gusto than most of the competition, with its 150cc single pumping out 12.5 hp.
Of particular note is the fact that the Caffenero 150 has an estimated range of 180 to 200 miles—from a 2 US gallon tank. It can also go up to about 60 mph (or 70 mph going downhill with a good tailwind). So not only does this scooter look Italian, but it also performs like an Italian scooter should—which is to say that it performs remarkably well.
#3: 2020 Piaggio Liberty S 150
If there’s such a thing as a “sport” scooter, the 2020 Piaggio Liberty S 150 (the newest model currently available) probably qualifies. With a 155cc motor producing about 13 hp and using an automatic CVT transmission, this little scooter is able to beat many cars off the line and up to the speed limit.
It is also immensely handy, with a huge storage compartment (for a scooter, anyway) under the seat, a bag hook on the front column, and more than enough power to handle two-up riding on city streets. It’s not the Ferrari of the scooter world—but you can think of it more like an Abarth model Fiat. This shouldn’t be a surprising comparison, as Piaggio is the parent company of supersport manufacturer Aprilia.
#2: 2022 Yamaha Zuma 125
Like the Honda GROM, the 2022 Yamaha Zuma 125 is one of those little machines that’s silly in an absolutely wonderful way. A lightweight scooter with pretty much everything slung down low (and surprisingly stiffly sprung), the Zuma will still get you around the city comfortably.
It’s when you want to have a bit of fun that the Zuma really perks up. It is amazingly tossable, has enough grunt to make cornering fun, and has impressively large brakes for a scooter, all of which speaks to its fun-loving character. It’s no wonder that it’s often the favorite machine of scooter racers. Yes, scooter racing is a thing.
#1: 2021 Honda PCX150
The 2021 Honda PCX150 nails the three most important things about scooters: efficiency, usability, and fun. Borrowing its styling from maxi-scooters, the PCX150 has a very city-friendly shape and makes two-up riding a breeze as well.
The 149cc engine also has some great poke, with 14 hp and a super-efficient fuel injection system that sees its efficiency approach 110 miles per gallon. Unlike many scooters in the same class, it also has a 12V accessory adapter, LED headlights, a bang-up-to-date digital dash, and enough storage to carry at least two decent bags of groceries under the seat.
A new PCX is also on the way for the 2022 model year, with a new 157cc engine that the manufacturer claims is “freeway capable”. It’s also getting a new chassis to help it corner better—so this already-incredible scooter is about to get even better. We’ll have updates for you as soon as it does.