Classic Motorcycle Mechanics

Smaller bikes, bigger smiles?

- Editor

What is it about smaller bikes? Do they really give us bigger smiles?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and there are shades of it in this very issue. Firstly, we’ve got our mate Andy Bolas on board a tiddler, Yamaha’s FZR250 Zeal. He waxes lyrical about the sound the little four-cylinder four-stroke made and how the power delivery was almost two-stroke in feel…

Then there’s Charlie Oakman, our ad-man turned racer. £1500 saw him bag Honda’s humble little CB500 parallel twin. This is a bike from the 1990s that, while a stoic, capable commuter, also went racing in the CB500 Series, helping to launch the Tarmac race career of future double World Superbike champ James Toseland. Charlie asks the question of how much fun he can have on something so cheap, compared to more modern tackle. This issue also sees us look at Ducati’s 748. Was it really a better bike to ride than the mighty 916?

Personally, I’ve always erred towards the larger bike, simply because I’m larger! But then I recall riding bikes like the Street Triple (a future classic for sure) where you can just enjoy more of the performanc­e compared to the Speed Triple. Recently I also rode a mate’s Honda CBR400RR, and while I patently looked daft on it, the way you can rev the motor and enjoy all the rev range was addictive.

Strangely, one of my best biking memories was having a mate’s Suzuki Bandit 600 for the weekend back in the mid-1990s. I did 600 miles in two days and wouldn’t have wished for anything bigger or better. It was honest, simple, smaller capacity fun!

What say you?

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