Fuel economy Yamaha V Star 1300

Published on April 27th, 2013 | by Jo Borrás


The 13 Best Fuel-efficient Motorcycles You Can Buy in 2013

Unlike my general disdain and subtle aggression towards street-clogging cars, overly smug Prius drivers, and bloated “crossover” SUVs, I’ve never hidden my love of 2-wheeled motor vehicles. In addition to being cheaper, faster, sexier, and (I am wholly and utterly convinced) safer than 4-wheeled “cages”, 2 wheelers typically give back more mpg than conventional cars, making fuel-efficient motorcycles a great alternative for environmentally conscious commuters who aren’t afraid to get a little wet every now and again.

It seems like I’m not alone in feeling that way about the more fuel-efficient motorcycles out there, either! Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune posted their (rather poorly researched) “top 10″ list of fuel-efficient motorcycles. I’ve included their choices, below, and added of few of my own, as well. See if you can guess which ones are mine in the comments, at bottom.



Honda NX700
Honda 2013 NC700X

Honda’s new NC700X delivers up to 64 miles per gallon, and some owners are reporting even higher fuel economy, thanks to the bike’s available automatic keeping the low-speed/high-rpm antics to a minimum.


Honda CRF250L

Honda’s smaller-caliber CRF250L sips gently at the gas, getting a reported 73 mpg.



BMW’s F650GS is a big-bore, single-cylinder street bike, but it gets (what the Chicago Tribune calls) “little-bike mileage” with a claimed 63 mpg rating.


Yamaha V Star 1300
Yamaha V Star 1300

Yamaha’s hulking 1300cc V Star touring bike goes a long way towards proving the old “it’s not what you ride, it’s how you ride it” theme. The big, loping V-twin makes big power at WOT, but has a tiny appetite for fuel when it’s lazily cruising along, getting a reported 78 mpg!

Suzuki TU250X
Suzuki TU250X

Suzuki’s retro TU250X is just as fuel efficient as any of its 1960s predecessors, but has much cleaner emissions and modern brakes that would’ve make it a real track day contender 40 or 50 years ago. The entry-level Suzuki gets nearly 80 mpg.


Kawasaki Ninja 250
Kawasaki Ninja 250R

Kawasaki’s small-bore version of the popular Ninja street racer series has many of the visual styling cues and cornering chops of its track-ready bigger brothers, but gets 77 mpg.


Kawi KLX250
Kawasaki KLX250s

Like Honda’s all-road capable 250, above, Kawasaki’s dual-sport KLX250s model performs on and off-road, and gives back at least 70 mpg.


Honda Rebel
Honda CMX250C Rebel

Despite a few examples having been found fossilized in Jurrasic-era rock formations, the immortal Honda Rebel continues to be a hit with younger, newer, and smaller riders. The little Rebel is easy on the wallet, with an MSRP under $3000 and an 84 mpg fuel economy rating.


2013 Suzuki DR200
Suzuki DR200SE

Suzuki’s popular DR series of motorcycles are capable of both on-road and off-road travel, and gets an estimated 68+ mpg.


2013 Royal Enfield Bullet
Pretty Much any Royal Enfield

The classic Royal Enfield road bikes are still built the old way, in India, by hand, and are fully new interpretations of the old English Enfield designs. The bikes look like a million bucks, and get as much as 85 mpg from their torquey, single-cylinder power plants.


2014 Vespa 946
Vespa 946

Vespa’s retro-style, steel-bodied scooter may not “count” as a motorycle to you, dear reader, but its powerful 125 cc single, CVT gearing advantage, and lightweight construction mean it will leave most of the bikes in the list above in the dust from 0-30 mph, where city traffic lives. It may not be quite available to ride home, but you can definitely buy this bike today … just don’t expect to take delivery before Thanksgiving (but what a thing to be thankful for!). Expect the 55-ish mph Vespa to get over 90 mph when it arrives in showrooms later this year.


Cleveland Cyclewerks Misfit
Cleveland Cyclewerks Misfit

Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you don’t like this bike, then you hate America, Jesus, and probably cheddar cheese. This is the cooler-est 250 cc bike you can buy, and even though every ounce of your true biker spirit will want to call this a poser sack of Chinese crap, but get up close and you won’t be able to. The people involved are genuine enthusiasts, the build quality is excellent, and the look, the feel, and the pitch are dead-nuts-on. This is, in my opinion, the second best physical object 3500-ish US American dollars can buy, and it gets well over 80 mpg.


Genuine Stella 150 4T
Genuine Scooter Co. Stella

If not liking Cleveland Cyclewerks’ Misfit means you hate America, then not liking Genuine’s Stella means you hate yourself. A nod to Vespa’s classic 70′s-era PX scooters, this 150 cc low-emissions scooter features an honest-to-goodness MANUAL transmission, as well as a host of go-fast goodies and customizing options available through Genuine’s captive parts-house, Scooterworks. Except for my old Honda Ruckus, this is the only bike I’ve ever ridden that got waves from Harley riders (read: accountants and dentists), crotch-rocketeers, and Key West scooter trash alike … and this bike has enough juice to pull some serious road-trip duty. The best part? This low-emission, recycled-steel-bodied bike gets over 140 mpg.



Source | Photos: the Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Cyclewerks, Genuine Scooter Co., Vespa.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Wallace/100003395604526 Joseph Wallace

    I have a Ninja 250. Absolutely love it. I get 70 mpg average and my best was close to 80 mpg. I loved to drive it and save money over driving my car to work. But now I bought a Chevy Volt. Now the Ninja 250 is a gas guzzler compared to my Volt. I can drive to work and back with my Chevy Volt for only 0.44 cents of electricity. With my Ninja 250, the round trip will cost $1.10 in premium gas.

    I feel guilty driving the Ninja now. I need a Zero motorcycle, or preferably a future eNinja.

    • Jo Borras

      The amount of fuel needed to build a new e-bike is far more than your little Ninja will burn, even after 50,000 miles of riding (I picked that number out of the air, but I’ll stand by it). Plus, that Volt blows compared to the bike. We both know it. You deserve to have some fun and can switch it to ethanol, if you decide you want a greener alternative. :)

      • anderlan

        “The amount of fuel needed to build a new e-bike is far more than your little Ninja will burn, even after 50,000 miles of riding (I picked that number out of the air, but I’ll stand by it).”

        Wait, is this true of EVs generally? If not, then why is it true for e-bikes? Are you thoughtlessly repeating anti-EV FUD?

        • eidolon

          Pulling the embodied energy argument out of the hat when reminded about the efficiency of e-motorcycles is quite specious. No mention of the amount of electricity it takes to refine gasoline, either.

          • Jo Borras

            Your use of the word “specious” aside, ignoring the fact that most US electrical energy still comes from dirty fuels is also silly. :P

          • http://twitter.com/pinkyracr Susanna Schick

            Not in Santa Cruz, darlin’, where Zeroes are born. The hippies wouldn’t allow it. I bet Ashland, OR (Brammo’s home) even uses fairly clean energy.

        • anderlan

          An editor of an alt-fuel site stands accused of repeating anti-EV propaganda from the likes for Bjorn “I’m not a scientists so I can’t get called out on my bullshit science” Lomborg. And he offers no defense. WTF?

          • Bradrad Radranaginn

            I have a tire in my back yard that I intend to burn in a few minutes, but I have time to say that I think saving the planet is for sissies. Electric stuff is fun, and gas burning is fun, but arguing with a hippie over which machine burns more fuel is useless and gay.

      • eidolon

        Apples and oranges, Mr. Borras. The amount of energy it takes to manufacture an e-bike is irrelevant. What exactly are the sunk energy costs of building gasser bikes? Also, electric motorcycles are far more efficient than gas bikes. Electric motorcycles/scooters can get 300+ mpg equivalents.

    • Pandabear

      First, pumping premium gas in a ninja 250 is silly. It is designed to run on regular, so that 1.10 is more like..0.98 for a “fair” comparison. Second, and more importantly, the chevy volt costs as much (or more) than 7 times that of the ninja 250. Penny wise, pound foolish if you ask me. Comparing a vehicle that costs roughly $25-30,000 more to a $5k bike for the sake of saying i save some 50-60 cents a day in gas.

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  • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

    my guess on your 3, without reading anything except the names or having a very good clue:

    -Pretty Much any Royal Enfield
    -Honda 2013 NC700X

    • Jo Borras

      Cleveland Cycle, not the Honda.

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  • cycle broken @home

    I wish you provided a graph or chart of speed correlated with fuel consumption. I commute about 90 highway miles round trip w/65 mph limit…realistically 70-75 mph to stay with traffic and visible. I’m guessing that most of these bikes high efficiency drops of (significantly?) at some point, but where? Is there a realistic option to increase the teeth ration on the sprockets or would they be too underpowered at, on average, 250cc or less?

    • Jo Borras

      Most bikes, even these, have pretty bad aero compared to cars (drag, specifically). I’d say ANY bike is going to lose a metric s***ton of efficiency above 55-60 mph. That said, these are EPA numbers,

      Here is your speed chart, from http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/images/hwfetdds.gif.

      • Tiffany

        Fuel economy aside, most smaller bikes do not do well on the highway without some sort of enhancements (which would also decrease mpg efficiency due to added weight/drag/etc..) I rode a 2004 Honda Rebel CMX250c (technically 234cc’s) for 7 years and occasionally made a few highway trips. After about 30 minutes (without a windshield) your neck is killing you from the wind resistance against your helmet pushing your head back. And at 5’2″, 128lbs I MIGHT get 82mph.. if I’m following a rig down a decent hill lol. Otherwise, my max speed is between 68 and 75 mph- no add-ons, just me.

  • T-Bone

    V-Star 1300 @70+ mpg? In what alternate universe? Product spec site reports 48. http://www.starmotorcycles.com/star/products/modelspecs/528/0/specs.aspx

    • Jo Borras

      As I said in the article, it seemed poorly researched. Still, that’s the number the Chicago Trib got, somehow.

    • 1972Mach1

      The V-Star 250 gets 78 mpg per the website, all the bigger ones get in the 40′s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.leggett.7 Joel Leggett

    I have a Royal Enfield Bullet G5. Its really fun to ride, looks great and is getting at least 70mpg.

  • dan

    Your picture of a ninja 250 is actually a 300 SE

    • Jo Borras

      Good catch! Thankfully, it’s the Trib’s picture – and I did call their article “poorly researched” for a reason. ;)

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  • http://twitter.com/pinkyracr Susanna Schick

    that Vespa 946 is HAWT!!! Not as sexy as my 1965 Lambretta TV175 was, but still hawt.

    All of these bikes pale in comparison to mine. ;-P The electric one, that is. My gas bike is the Lamborghini of motorcycles with a whopping 20mpg average (according to it’s own calculator). So glad the R1 is relegated to touring duty only, that bike was costing me a fortune as a daily rider.

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  • http://www.motorcycle-transportationlondon.co.uk/ motorcycle recovery services

    Fuel price is such a big problem in today’s era where it’s price going higher and higher day by day. We must need this kinds of fuel efficient bike who give best performance and save our money as well.

  • CBR Rider

    Most popular bike in the UK last year………….Honda CBF125 returns close to 130MPG

  • addy

    When u say: “The 13 Best Fuel-efficient Motorcycles You Can Buy in 2013″, it may include plzz:
    HONDA 50cc gasoline, which I got +100km/L from…
    on 300km highway in a 4hrs stretch @ 85km/hr top speed.

    • Jenny

      Addy, what Honda 50cc bike/scooter is this? I would love to have this one only for it’s cracking mileage. 100 plus kms/l is a lot. I would be grateful if you could share the model of this Honda bike with us. I wish the newer 50cc Vespas could do this sort of mileage. I would have 2 of them in one go.

  • EricTheRon

    So sick of people touting electric vehicles as “green” or “efficient”. Yes, there’s no fumes from your tailpipe and the electric motor uses electricity efficiently. But the generation of that electricity is not as efficient as modern cars (and certainly not hybrids). And since electric vehicles are an additional load on the electric grid, so long as there are coal generation plants on the grid then this additional load is coming from coal plants (and also causing them to remain online longer for the additional loads). You are currently getting a fuel “deal” because you are avoiding gasoline road taxes, but if electric vehicles become commonplace you can bet the taxing authorities will make up that difference in license fees.

    • meep

      Power plants are way more efficient then cars.

      • Sparky

        .. That efficiency is lost in the many miles of power line “Line Loss” (resistance) with electrons radiating outwards, unused, before it reaches consumers.

    • John Berrey

      We don’t need another Nuclear plant either to make electricity. We cannot risk; look at Japan! We simply need to switch fuels from gas to alcohol.

    • UncleB

      New Clean Electricity Coming!
      My cut and paste for this: “China is taking American discovered, American developed, American proven viable, Thorium nuclear technologies: safer, cheaper, scalable, plutonium free, 99% fuel efficient, near waste free, with benign waste after 300 years sequestration, to a new level. They rebirth,
      research, re-engineer, modernize, improve, Thorium LFTR styled technologies as we speak. Will this newer, safer, nuclear technology,
      already proven in working reactors in U.S., and brought to a new Chinese level of sophistication, eventually supplant the suicidal, dirty, inefficient, expensive, dangerous, Plutonium creating,
      current American enriched Uranium systems? Could China give birth to a new nuclear age? For all mankind? Remember: Uranium is in limited supply on earth. Thorium yields much higher energy per unit of fuel and Thorium is a much more plentiful fuel on earth. China speaks of a debut of Thorium in 2017. Can this newer fissioning technology supplant coal, oil, and enriched uranium (humanocidal, dirty) systems currently in use? at par or lower overall costs? Will China’s ‘politburo of seven’ enact this by law, as they have the electric car? More electric trains? More electric bullet trains? Larger population? My Question: Can a blinkered corpocracy like America keep up, compete, maintain itself beside this raging communist giant? Will the stagnant Corpocracy fade away
      with its fiat fairy money, from the world scene? China’s Thorium systems to debut in 2017?
      See: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4971
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UT2yYs5YJs Kun
      Chen from Chinese Academy of Sciences on China Thorium
      Can The Great Corporate American Propaganda Whores hide reality for much longer? Will the peons soon enough realize that Socialist Welfare for the failing Corporations is not working well for them? Can America change this? Yes! She can so!
      Forgive my out-brake but every now and then an innocent like me just has to vent.

  • Singapore Rider

    Hmm, my Honda Wave S 125 run 60 km per liter. But you want the best, checkout Honda Future 125 which only sell in Malaysia, full tank 5.6 liters run 386 km with a storage which can fit a full face helmet under the seat. Too bad not selling in my country.

  • bymaak

    you forgot theYamaha XV250N or the Virago 250…Stock mine gets 84…changed the Sprockets increased my tire pressure by 5 pounds and am currently getting 110 mpg on the HIGHWAY and Maintaining 75 mph and STILL GETTING 98 mpg. Suck it Honda!!! and what about the new 300 ninja’s?..any clue what their MPG is?

  • mrokit

    I have a 2009 Honda CRF 230 M. I’m getting between 67 to 78mpg and I’m a heavier rider than most (235lbs) for this size of bike. This includes 2-20 liter saddlebags as well. Its still beats my Buick Lacrosse any day of the week.

  • mrokit

    Also, own a 2012 TaoTao CV 150. Honda CRF 230 still beats it in fuel economy. Word of advice on my Chinese scooter. Get about 73 mpg tops. Don’t buy one! They are cheap and the engine runs well. Its the rest of the scooter that falls apart, muffler bolts, throttle cable and housing and crappy rubber intake manifold. Can be a maintenance nightmare! Stick to Japanese or European scooters if you want one.

  • Gregory Faulkner

    The author should have added the Honda CTX700 and CTX700N, which, at time of the write up, they were coming to market sporting the same power train as the NC700X but for shorter, cruiser-preferring consumers. I’ve got the more expensive, sport-touring CTX700. I started riding in the hot summer and achieved upper 70s for mpg running pure gasoline and assuming a 2% trip meter error. Added a top case, mounting on the passenger’s seat for 42 liters of storage w/o negatively impacting mpg, but added a taller windscreen, because the wind was deafening on the highway, and this move looks like its going to cost me 4-5 mpg, but since the temps are getting cooler at the same time, I’m not sure how much of this is attributable to seasonable change and how much is windshields. That’s one of the problems with MCs. The more one tries to make them highway capable, the more one affects mpg due to drag increases. MCs need streamline options to correct this dilemma.

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  • kanga

    Yamaha V Star 1300s does not get 78mpg. Looked at several of sources and it is in the 40′s mpg range.

  • Knapweed

    Can’t read the article at all because of the bloody stupid banner blocking the whole of the left-hand side.

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  • Josh

    I love my 07 zx10r but when I’m not on that I like to ride my bicycle, the most efficient mode of transportation ever made. Yes, I have a car too, but it usually just sits there hoping it will rain so I will drive her.

  • dude_creative

    150 mpg Honda dream neo

  • APerfectCircle

    “Watch out for motorcycles” I’ll watch out for them when they all stop riding like dicks. Why is every Harley rider a fat balding old man?

    • Peter Negru

      because they are still stuck in the: ‘MURICA IS DA BEST mind set.
      truth is, harely are slow, poorly made, unreliably noisy, and in-efficent bike that are priced about 2-3 times what they should be.

      the younger kid want performance and bang or the buck, so they buy whatever is the best. usually a japanese bike (they make cruisers as well you know) or if they are feeling flush, something european.

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  • wilson

    I don’t care if my mode of transport is less polluting than another. I’ve ridden muscle powered bicycles nearly all my life and I think I’ve earned the right to emit a bit of pollution now. I’m only concerned because of the cost of fuel. It’s outrageous in the UK. Americans would have a heart attack if they had to pay what we do.

  • Sudeep Cheruthitta

    There are a dozen Indian bikes which offer you 70mpl instead of the listed 70mpg. Why don’t you include those frugal kings here?

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