There’s been a slew of announcements for new small-displacement bikes that will soon hit the asphalt around the world. The announcements come from big and small bikemakers alike, from KTM and Husqvarna to Hanway and Bullit.
I’ve taken to endearingly calling these machines “tyke bikes” because of their relatively low output, but these little motos would be a hoot to ride while being cheap to own and operate.
And while most of these bikes are coming to market to comply with global A1 license requirements, which caps engine size at 125cc, this does not stop anyone — regardless of license — from using these around town where big, powerful motors are largely unnecessary.
The first example is the 2021 KTM Duke 125:
The Duke is a popular naked bike from Austrian marque KTM, and it’s been getting smaller and smaller variants over the years. You can actually get a Duke in the U.S. with a 200cc engine, and the range for American riders goes all the way to 890cc before you get to the 1300cc Super Duke.
The new Duke 125 gets refreshed styling, similar to some of its bigger brothers; its single-cylinder engine produces 15 horsepower and a six-speed transmission. In one of its largest markets, in India, it will start at 150,000 rupees, or a little over $2,000 USD. It will cost significantly more in Europe, however, if it retains the price of the outgoing Duke 125 there, which comes in just shy of €4,500 EUR, or roughly $5,400 USD.
The second bike is the 2021 Husqvarna Svartpilen 125:
This bike is so new there aren’t even any photos yet, so I’m teasing all you riders with images of the Svartpilen 250 from India. The 125 has been confirmed by Motorpasion Spain, which says it will be unveiled in February. These Huskys represent one of the rare instances when a concept goes through production and actually ends up looking as good as it did when first conceived. We’ve awaited a smaller variant of the Huskies for a long time, and it seems to be happening at last.
Husqvarnas are available in the U.S. but only as 401cc and 701cc models. Riders around the world will now get to have one of these bikes in its lowest displacement yet at 125cc. It will have very similar specs to the 2021 Duke 125 because it’s actually sharing a platform. KTM bought Husky years ago, and this is one such product born of the marriage between two storied bikemakers. The Svartpilen 125 is expected to cost more than it’s KTM cousin, though, possibly around €4,990 EUR, which is just a hair over $6,000 USD.
The third bike is the Hanway Muscle 125:
This is not from a very well-known maker, but it reminded me of the bikes from Cleveland Cyclewerks that we first saw in the U.S. some years ago. These were supposed to entice new riders with bikes that cost little money and came with lots of style. CCW did not become hugely popular but they’re still around.
The Muscle 125 is cafe-racer inspired and powered by a single-cylinder 125cc engine. It has a five-speed transmission that sends power to its 17-inch rear wheel. The front wheel is also 17 inches. I make a note of these sizes because I want to distinguish these bikes from the minibikes we’ve seen lately. These are much more in line with what you imagine when you think of motorcycles.
The Muscle 125 is one of the cheaper models coming to market, starting at £2,299 GBP in the UK, which is a little over $3,100 USD.
And the fourth bike is the Bullit Hero 250:
Another bike from a less-well known marque, the Bullit Hero 250’s larger displacement exceeds that of the other bikes here, but it is available with a 125cc engine so I’m throwing it in just to show the kind of variety riders enjoy in the rest of the world.
This newer, larger Hero 250 is powered by a single-cylinder air-cooled engine, with a six-speed transmission and it has a 15-liter tank, which is almost four gallons. The front tire is 18 inches, while the rear is 17. For reference, the older, smaller Hero 125 is similarly proportioned but drops displacement to 125cc per its badge and loses a gear, going down to a five-speed. The Hero 250 will cost €4,199 EUR in Spain, which is just over $5,000 USD.
The Belgian bikemaker makes a range of bikes with sizes ranging from 50cc to 250cc, and it’s quite a culture shock to see that many disparate models with small-displacement engines. Some of their bikes even feature twin-cylinder engines, which is just fascinating to me as an American who instinctively thinks of Harley’s big twin as the average two-cylinder mill.
The bikes above are mostly made to comply with the A1 license overseas, where motorcycle endorsements are on a tiered system so new riders don’t exceed their riding skills on machines that could potentially hurt them.
The licenses start at AM, then go A1, A2 and end at A, but they don’t account for engine output exclusively since they also have age requirements. The restrictions vary from country to country, but overall the system seems to encourage experience in the saddle. This is a good thing even if it comes with its own disadvantages.
Admittedly, the American motorcycle market is insulated from the rest of the world. Our riding culture, too: Lane-splitting is neither widely practiced nor widely legal here. Motorcycle safety is not standardized around the country, and when it comes to engine size many seem to think that 250cc is the floor. Or at least, that was the case before the advent of the beloved Honda Grom.
But outside of the U.S., bikes come in many more shapes and engine sizes. These tyke bikes are just some of the newest additions to motorcycle stables elsewhere.