For those of you who don’t know me, I’m all about the environmental and social benefits of motorcycles. This attitude speaks to my general disdain and- let’s face it- subtle aggression towards street-clogging cars, overly smug Prius drivers, and bloated “crossover” SUVs.
In addition to being cheaper, faster, sexier, and (I am wholly and utterly convinced) safer than 4-wheeled “cages”, motorcycles are genuinely greener than conventional cars, requiring fewer materials to make, ship, and maintain than most (all?) cars- even green ones! In addition, they’re almost always a more fuel-efficient way to shuttle environmentally conscious commuters who aren’t afraid to get a little wet every now and again to and from work, school, and- with the right luggage and smart shopping- even the grocery store.
For 2015, we’ve been cursed with goodness on all sides when it comes to fuel-efficient motorcycles. There are slick scooters, outrageous cruisers, and even a few surprise appearances by companies that, frankly, we didn’t think would still be around the last time we put together a “best bikes” list. That said, this list of is sort of informally divided up into categories, so there’s no “winner” here- they’re all winners! Shall we get started, then? Here is Gas 2’s semi-official list of the 11 best fuel-efficient motorcycles you’ll be able to buy in 2015. Enjoy!
2015 Honda Grom 125 | 103.5 MPG
Remember that part where I said there was no winner? The Honda Grom 125 comes real close to making me ignore that nonsense- and why shouldn’t it? Honda’s best-selling, 50 MPH new-age monkey bike is utter bats*** insanity wrapped around a solid, reliable 125cc Honda dirt bike engine that won’t leave you stranded. It’s lightweight, small enough to sneak onto the bike lane without attracting too much negative attention, and good for 103.5 MPG in real-world conditions, according to MPG crowd-sourcing site, Fuelly.
2015 Motoped Pro | 100 “ish” MPG
If there’s a better bike to blast across the bumper-to-bumper, rush-hour grind of major cities than a Honda Grom, it might be the Motoped Pro. Built and spec’ed by you, the Motoped client, you can go for the BMX-inspired “pro” shown, above, or the more outdoorsy “survival” model meant to whisk you away from the city and deep into the forest primeval, where you’ll be forced to face down hordes of flesh-eating zombies or, you know, glampers. Either way, you can’t go wrong with the ultra-lightweight, full-size banzai experience the 100-ish MPG Motoped offers … and it, too, is powered by Honda.
2015 Yamaha SR400 | 66 MPG
Few bikes on the market today capture the idea of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) better than the Yamaha SR400. Launched earlier this year, the SR400 evokes classic Yamahas of the 1970s and early 80s in terms of look and feel, but modern brakes, suspension bits, and tires mean the new version is worlds ahead of the 1975-81 SR.
2015 Yamaha Star Bolt | 51.6 MPG
When considering a middleweight cruiser for this “best fuel-efficient motorcycles” list, Chris and I almost chose the new-for-2015 Indian Scout for this list. In the end, however, it wasn’t the Indian or even the newest Harley-Davidson Street model that best captured what I think of as “a modern American motorcycle”. It was this, the 51.6 MPG Yamaha Star Bolt.
The Yamaha’s 942cc air-cooled V-Twin sounds like ‘Murica, and the fit, finish, and look of the Bolt is absolutely pitch-perfect as a bobber. And, if Harley had smart product-planners working for them in Milwaukee, they’d shelve the shoddy-looking, wires-everywhere, Made in India “Street” lineup and license Bolts from Yamaha. The fact that the Bolt is about $2000 less than a comparable Harley, too, would mean Harley dealers would have plenty of “H-D mark-up” room.
2015 Honda GoldWing Valkyrie | 35 MPG
Touring / Big Cruiser
The 35 MPG fuel economy rating on the 2015 Honda Valkyrie may not seem impressive at first glance, but I can’t think of anything faster that gets better mileage. When Honda announced the GoldWing-based Valkyrie last year, it was unlike anything else on the road. It’s still unlike anything else on the road- and it’s still got a better power-to-weight ratio than Nissan’s GTR.
2015 Genuine Stella Automatic | 140 MPG
Small Scooter (under 150cc)
Picking a “small” scooter was tough this year, primarily because the Genuine Stella (which showed up in our 2013 “best bikes” list, as well) has taken a serious nose-dive in terms of desirability. For starters, the 150cc engine has been down-sized to 125cc, and the best part of the Stella experience- the 4 speed manual transmission- has been replaced by a chunky-looking automatic. Worse yet, the beautiful “avocado”, “dijon yellow”, and “creme white” colors have been replaced with cheap-looking metallics that have no business on what is, otherwise, a classic 1970s steel-bodied scooter.
Despite all of that, however, Genuine’s Stella is still a great-looking, fuel-efficient motorcycle that turns heads, delivers an “authentic” classic scooter experience at a reasonable price. Genuine also offers the best warranty in the motorcycle business, and that 140 MPG rating is tough to beat … it’s just not the “no brainer” it once was. Get yours in “ivory”.
2015 Yamaha TMax | 50 “ish” MPG
Maxi Scooter (over 150 cc)
Yamaha calls the TMax “the ultimate long-distance scooter”, and they’ve got to be right. What else is there? The BMW C Electric Scooter and Honda SilverWing might look like rivals, but neither is as remotely aggressive and sporty as the 530cc TMax.
Granted, you can’t buy a 2015 Yamaha TMax in the US- so, yeah. If you’re in the US and you want a big, comfy, fast, fuel-efficient motorcycle with a twist-n’-go style automatic, you’re out of luck. Or- are you?
2015 Honda CTX700 | 64 MPG
We just invented a new segment called “automatic motorcycle”. This is a real, honest-to-goodness motorcycle experience wrapped around the ease, convenience, and stop-and-go comfort of a “twist n’ go” scooter (“Maxi”, or otherwise). Unlike the TMax, BMW C, or Suzuki Burgman maxis (which feature a “feet-forward” riding position), you swing your leg over the 2015 Honda CTX700 and ride it like a
big boy bike steel horse.
You can get a Honda CTX700 decked-out for long-distance touring (as shown, above), or as the Honda CTX700N, which features a more “naked”, stripped-down look that’s not all that dissimilar to the bigger, badder Valkyrie. If you can wrap your head around “CTX700N is to Valkyrie as French Bulldog is to American Bulldog”, then you’re already most of the way there.
2015 KTM Freeride E | Electric
Supermoto / Motocross
Are electric motorcycles also fuel-efficient motorcycles? Are the two mutually exclusive concepts? It doesn’t matter, in the end, because KTM is offering the best lightweight supermoto/motocross bike of 2015 with both gas and electric power plants.
KTM may not be well-known in the US, but the company’s “Duke” ushered in the era of the “supermoto” bike in the mid 1990s- but even that was long after the brand had established itself in off-road and trials events across Europe and Asia. There, KTM has responded to stricter environmental policies’ clamping down on what kinds of vehicles are allowed in parks and wooded areas with this: the all-electric KTM Freeride E.
With a claimed output of 21 HP and 31 lb-ft of TQ available as soon as the throttle is twisted, the 2015 KTM Freeride E promises to not suck. The bike is available in select markets, in both a “pure” motocross and the (more) street-able super moto form shown at top and above, respectively.
Brammo Empulse RR | Electric
While Tesla is chasing down McLaren F1 hyper cars with its big, heavy, 4-door, 7-passenger luxury sedans and proving that electric cars have the guts to take on all gas-powered comers, Brammo is doing the same for bikes with its all-electric, all-awesome Empulse RR race bike.
The Brammo Empulse RR is the more aggressive, track-only version of the street-going Empulse R. While the bike isn’t road legal in any country you really want to live in, it is more than enough bike to smash “the ton” around the Isle of Man, where the Brammo/Icon team has been challenging the ICE boys for years. As such, unless your last name is Rossi or Fogarty, this plug-in bike is faster than you.
Like, way faster.
2015 Elio & (“And”) | 84 MPG
When Paul Elio first announced that he was going to build an 84 MPG, three-wheeled, enclosed, motorcycle … AND successfully sell the thing in the US, I was beyond doubtful. When the Caddo Parish in Louisiana released Elio’s financials, its numbers didn’t add up, either, leading many- including and especially, me!- to suggest the whole thing was a scam.
Kudos to Paul, though. Since then he has been utterly transparent- and sharp enough to convince taxpayers in Louisiana to buy him an old GM plant, explain that the deposits he’s been taking were a proof of demand in order to qualify for a $200 million DOE loan, and explain that the company had plans to sell its EPA/CAFE credits to the big
three two to the tune of several hundreds of millions of dollars. Per year.
That, kiddos, is a man with a plan. Whether or not Elio’s fan base will stick with the company now that all the gov’t money has come to light is another issue- but it shouldn’t matter. A new American autocycle company- finally!- looks like it might happen in 2015. Maybe.
Regardless of the politics, political intrigue, and potential pitfalls involved, if Elio’s “And” does make it to production, it’ll be the only climate-controlled, weatherproof, 100 MPH, 84 MPG, two-passenger trike on the road- and it can be yours for about a fifth of the price of Harley Davidson’s trike.
Original content from Gas 2. Photos and EPA fuel economy figures courtesy of the bikes’ manufacturers representatives (via text or email), or their respective websites, unless otherwise noted and linked to in the text. Special thanks to Fuelly.com.