It’s not even Halloween, as I type this, but the local Walgreens is already putting out the Christmas merch. That cynical cash-grab is a frustrating reminder of America’s wanton consumerism, sure, but it’s another kind of reminder, too: don’t forget to tell Santa what kind of motorcycle you want!
With that, I welcome you, once again, to Gas2’s kind-of annual list of the best fuel efficient motorcycles you can buy. As in years past, this list is divided into categories and the “winner” is selected as much for its “hugging trees” cred as it is for its “burning rubber” cred. So, check out
our my choices, below, then let me know which picks you think I got right- and which picks I got wrong!- in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
Motoped Pro 50 / 125 | 100+ MPG
Best Fuel Efficient Moped
Time was, you could ride a 49cc bike just about anywhere, at any age, without a license. Those old Tomos and Sears Allstates and Vespa Ciaos launched a generation of riders- but those days are gone. States like Nevada, South Carolina, and even Hawaii are quickly passing nanny laws requiring licensing for even the miniest of minibikes. What does that mean for you, as you shop for the best fuel efficient moped money can buy in 2018?
The entry-level 50cc and top-shelf, 125cc versions of the Motoped Pro were always just barely legal, anyway, and they still set the bar for ultralight bikes with surprisingly good build quality, BMX-inspired styling that isn’t over the top, and the ability to carve both traffic and trails with aplomb. If you want to buy a new moped in 2018, this is the one.
Honda Metropolitan 50 | 100+ MPG
Best Fuel Efficient Small Scooter
It might come as a surprise to longtime readers, but I wasn’t a fan of the latest iteration of Honda’s small Vespa clone when it was launched in 2013. Some recent updates for the 2017 model and personal exposure to a fetching, cornflower blue Metro, however, have definitely swayed me in the little Metro’s direction.
Sure, the Metro doesn’t have the scene-stealing panache of the $14,000 Vespa 946 Emporio Armani or the scrappy attitude of its Honda Ruckus sibling- but that’s OK. The Ruckus has been played out for at least a few years, frankly, and $14,000 really is too much to spend on a scooter.
As for the Metro, it delivers exactly what you think it will when you first hop on it. Which is to say: reliable, practical transportation. Maybe not fast transportation and maybe not posh transportation, but you will get from A to B every time, and it will cost you pennies.
When you factor in Honda’s nationwide dealer network, massive parts inventory, available roadside assistance, three year, unlimited mile warranty coverage into the mix, however, and the little Honda Metropolitan starts to look pretty good. You can even fit a backpack full of groceries into its 22L under seat storage bin!
BMW C Evolution | EV
Best Fuel Efficient Large / Maxi Scooter
We’ve been raving about BMW’s big electric scooter for years, now. So much so, in fact, that it hardly seems possible that 2018 will be the first year you’ll be able to buy The Ultimate
Driving Scooting Machine here in the US.
The C Evolution is packing a powerful, 48 HP electric motor that delivers more than 50 lb-ft of TQ at 0 RPM for thrilling stoplight-to-stoplight performance. And, with a 99 mile range available from a single charge, the big BMW should provide more than enough cruising range for the riders in BMW’s trendy, young, suburban target demographic.
The yuppies have never had it better.
Honda Africa CRF1000L DCT | 45 MPG
Best Fuel Efficient Automatic Motorcycle
If the promise that motorcycles made to you involved going anywhere, any time, with or without a moment’s notice, Honda’s DCT-equipped Africa twin is the one you’ve been waiting for.
Packing a torquey, 1000cc parallel-twin engine, eye-catching “adventure tour” styling, go-anywhere suspension, a comfortable riding position, and Honda’s world-renowned reliability into any motorcycle is impressive enough. Doing all that- with a DCT!- for under $14,000 seems something like a minor miracle.
If I could have any bike on this list to live with forever, it would be this one.
Zero SR ZF14.4 | EV
Best Fuel Efficient Standard / Commuter / City Bike
When we named the Zero SR to our last “best bikes” list, it had a 60-90 mile range and decent enough performance. How times change!
Updated for 2018, the Zero SR ZF14.4 + Power Tank offers more than 200 miles of range in stop-and-go traffic (150 miles in combined city/highway riding) and new battery chemistry that means you can charge the 2018 version up to six times faster than before (6!). If that wasn’t enough to convince you that EVs are the future, consider the following: a 2018 Zero SR will out-accelerate a Porsche 911.
Is all that enough to make the Zero SR the best fuel-efficient standard money can buy in 2018? Yes. Yes, definitely.
Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster | Doesn’t Matter
Best Fuel Efficient Touring Bike
People don’t buy cruisers for practical reasons. People buy cruisers because they stir the soul, and- hot damn!- just look at that bike. If the 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster ran on baby seal blood it would still be the right choice.
Luckily, the good people at Fuelly show comparable Triumph motorcycles getting better than 50 MPG, so you can leave your seal clubs at home and just enjoy the ride. Assuming you can get over that ICE guilt, that is. A good long look at this gorgeous new cruiser might help.
Honda Gold Wing | 35 MPG
Best Fuel Efficient Touring Bike
Cycle World recently announced the all-new Harley-Davidson Road King Special as their pick for 2018’s best touring bike. Nonsense. In my experience, Honda’s Gold Wings are as reliable as the sun rising in the East. With proper maintenance, your Gold Wing will be running strong long after Harley (the brand and the bike) is dead and buried.
If you want a big, comfortable bike to see the world on, choose the bike that inspired the Iron Butt Rally. If you want to see the world a bit faster, choose the Gold Wing-based Honda Valkyrie. You won’t be disappointed by any of the flat-6 powered Hondas.
Well, there is one reason you might be disappointed by your Gold Wing. Honda is planning to release an updated ‘Wing later this year with an innovative, duolever-type front suspension. That bike might be better than the Gold Wing you can go out and buy, today, but the usual first-year bugs and supply issues probably mean the ’17 model is still your best bet. For now.
Zero FX ZF7.2 | EV
Best Fuel Efficient Supermoto / DP
This one was an easy choice. The Zero FX has always been quick, fun, and packing enough real-world supermoto chops to take on the bar-setting Suzuki DR-Z400SM in a heads-up contest, and win. And that was back in 2016.
Simply put, Zero’s FX (and its SM sibling) have been one of the best choices in this segment for years.
For 2018, the FX is making almost 30% more power than before, charges exponentially faster, and uses hot-swappable battery pack technology to make middle-distance adventure touring a real possibility. What other EV offers that!? This is one of the first electric bikes to hit the market that is objectively superior to its ICE competition in every way. Tree-hugging be damned!
Piaggio MP3 500 Sport ABS | 55 MPG
Best Fuel Efficient Trike
Everyone from Honda to Yamaha to Harley-Davidson seems to be working on a tilting three-wheeler these days, but it was Piaggio that started the trend with its MP3.
You’d have to say, then, that few bikes have inspired imitation like the Piaggio MP3. Because of that, and because “real” motorcycle makers like BMW and Honda seem intent on building motorcycles for people who are afraid of motorcycles, it might be worth checking this one out. With 500cc of power, a natural, “leaning” riding experience, and an 89 MPH top speed, you could do a lot worse.
BMW HP4 Race | Doesn’t Matter
Best Race Bike
BMW’s HP4 Race is barely out, and almost no one has ridden it. It won’t be made available to many testers, and it might not even be a “real” race bike in the sense that it doesn’t seem to have been designed with WSBK, Moto GP, or any other major racing series in mind. Make no mistake, however, the BMW HP4 Race is a track bike with the look and feel of a future classic, and I am getting on the hype train early.
The HP4’s spec sheet is out of this world. It has a super stiff, ultra light carbon fiber frame. It has a 215 HP engine that revs to a screaming 14,500 RPM. It has bored counterweights and variable length intake runners to improve throttle response. It has a close-ratio transmission to keep the engine on boil. It has carbon fiber wheels, Öhlins shocks, dynamic tractions control- this bike has it all!
Unfortunately, that means the BMW HP4 Race also has a nearly $90,000 price tag. That might seem like a lot, but it’s half of what Honda wants for its flagship repli-racer. What do you think?
What you think of any or all of my picks for this year’s list, while we’re at it? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you still upset about the baby seal blood thing? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Original content from Gas 2.