While a 50cc motorcycle might not be the most obvious form of transport, there are plenty of good reasons to get interested in them. Firstly, they’re ideal learner bikes for young motorcyclists. They’re also great bikes for those looking to improve their technical racing skills. And most importantly, they’re cheap and simple modes of transport. Your average 50cc motorcycle isn’t going to be a speed demon, but it doesn’t mean it has to be a goofy looking scooter either. In this list, we’ve collected together some of the most attractive and most appealing looking 50cc motorcycle models on the market, all in one place. But why?
What About A 50cc Motorcycle?
We understand that the USA isn’t like Europe or Asia. We don’t have narrow little roads, and we don’t have overly congested city streets either – so why should we care about the humble 50cc motorcycle? They’re not fast enough to keep up with the rest of the traffic, they don’t have enough road presence to make an impression on the rest of the road, and they’re hardly the most practical vehicles out there…but that doesn’t mean we should discount them completely. There’s a tool for every job, sure, but when do you need a 50cc bike?
A 125 is probably a superior choice to a 50cc motorcycle 90% of the times you use the arguments like a small urban run-around is all that you need, or I don’t want anything that goes too fast, but not everyone can ride a 125, and in a lot of places a 50cc motorcycle rarely requires proper licensing. And of course, you might be trying to get your kid into motorcycling. In some cases you may even be trying to enter into the completely underrated and often overlooked 50cc racing class that does exist out there. In fact, that 50cc motorcycle racing class is a lot bigger than you’d think, with all kinds of track racing subclasses that include vintage 50cc racers, modern 50cc sports racing, and there’s also the massive 50cc motocross class out there too.
Who Makes 50cc Motorcycles These Days?
Unfortunately, most major manufactures have turned their back on the humble 50cc motorcycle. The big Japanese companies have stopped exporting little 50cc road machines to the United States, with Honda finally ceasing production of the classic Z50 Monkey Bike in 2017. The likes of Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki might have pulled the plug on 50cc road bikes, but they still field a few 50cc, 60cc, or 75cc off-road bikes for the US market and some of those will make this list. But if you’re looking for a real road-going 50cc motorcycle, then you’re going to have to look into some more obscure and exotic brands for answers. Fortunately, we’ve done some digging and have put together the best of the 50cc motorcycle market for your viewing pleasure. Road-going and off-road included…the only thing we’re not covering is little 50cc scooters and mopeds…because that is an entirely different list altogether. So, without further ado…
10 50cc Motorcycle Options For Those Looking For Smaller Thrills
Most of the major manufacturer’s 50cc motorcycle models are geared towards young riders, so we’re going to start with smaller framed machines aimed at getting your little ones on two wheels. If you’re looking for an adult sized 50cc motorcycle, you’ll find the entrees from #07 and onwards infinitely more appealing…
#10. The Honda CRF50F
Up first, we have the smallest member of the legendary Honda CRF family. It might not be as beastly as the new Africa Twin, but this Honda 50cc motorcycle is one of the best options for young riders. Why? Aside from the obvious mechanics and Honda engineering, it actually acts a great springboard into the Honda CRF line, allowing new riders to graduate through the engine sizes on familiar technology as they go.
Mechanically, it’s powered by a compact and reliable four-stroke 50cc engine that promises smooth and easily accessible power. To keep things simple, Honda have mated the little engine to a three speed transmission that’s commanded by an automatic clutch. This allows for your young rider to grasp the basics of gear shifting but without the hassle of a clutch. As for the rest of the chassis, it comes with robust suspension and tough bodywork that can handle the inevitable drops and bumps that it will suffer. Honda has sensibly made it easy for supervising adults to limit the throttle, and made the mechanics as basic as possible to help inspire a new generation of race technicians as well as riders. If you’re looking for a cool little Honda 50cc dirt bike, this is the one.
#09. The KTM 50 SX
Next up, we’ve got the KTM 50 SX. Unlike the Honda, this little 50cc motorcycle comes with a two-stroke engine that offers a higher power output, and features a fully automatic, single-speed engine. The power output is higher, but since your little one won’t have to worry about changing gear, they can focus on throttle control, steering, and braking a little more – which KTM consider to be important skills for upcoming MX racers to learn. And they’re right. Again, it’s a great springboard into the world of off-road riding and the first rung of the illustrious KTM off-road ladder.
It might not seem like much, but thanks to the controllable power and dirt bike focused ergonomics, it’s quite a potent package. It also features KTM’s in-house produced WP Suspension that includes a WP AER 35 front fork twinned with a fully adjustable rear shock. For serious riders, KTM also offer a wide range of add-on upgrades, including a high performance cylinder, and a more race-oriented exhaust pipe. And of course, it’s a KTM, so it looks cool. Naturally. Is it the best 50cc dirt bike for sale that kids can ride? Absolutely.
#08. The Suzuki DR-Z70
Ok, it’s not a 50cc motorcycle, but rather than include Yamaha’s 50cc offering which is essentially the same as the CRF50F, we decided to include the slightly larger Suzuki DR-Z70 instead. It’s bigger, and therefore better suited to kids who are a little older that could benefit from an additional 20cc and a slightly higher ride height. Like the other two, it’s the smallest in a long line of off-road bikes in the DR-Z line, and offers that obvious graduation. Boasting a three speed transmission partnered with an automatic clutch, the Suzuki DR-Z70 is a great little bike for learners, and the tidy little engine offers more than enough power in a smooth and manageable way.
Of course, it comes with an adjustable powerband to keep over ambitious riders safe until their talent outweighs their ambition, and Suzuki insist that its easy mechanics and reliable nature will ensure that it stays in the family for years as a trainer bike for riders from one generation to the next. Having owned a DR-Z, they’re not wrong with their estimations – the things are unkillable, making it a sound investment, even if junior doesn’t take to it.
And Now For Adult Sized 50cc Motorcycles!
While the 50cc motorcycle might seem a touch on the small side, why let the kids have all the fun? Bigger isn’t always better, and no matter what you think, everyone can benefit from taking a spin on a small bike every now and again. Take a look at the picture above which comes from a dedicated racing series in the UK – yeah, you can really race and lean a little 50cc motorcycle…and if you can’t get your knee down on a 50cc, maybe you’ve got no business riding a bigger one until you can? Yeah, we can’t see that rule sticking…it would be fun though. Anyway…
#07. The Aprilia SX 50 Motard
Aprilia have pretty much got the 50cc motorcycle market well and truly mastered, so you’ll see a few on the list. The Italian company knows how to build potent small capacity machines, and very few manufacturers pay as much attention to the segment as Aprilia. First up, we’ve got the SX 50 Motard, a fearsome supermoto machine that performs as good as it looks. Powered by a punchy liquid-cooled 50cc two-stroke motor and equipped with a six speed transmission, you can see why this is a serious motorcycle.
Six gears means that it’s not a “twist and go” toy. Featuring a digital dashboard, a tapered seat, and even the ability to take a passenger, the SX Motard is a real motorcycle in every sense of the word. And thanks to Aprilia’s long and illustrious racing heritage, they’ve managed to apply the culmination of years of experience into this little 50cc motorcycle. Of course, it comes with all of the accoutrements you’d expect on a modern motorcycle, from sophisticated suspension to disc brakes…all in a package that weighs a mere 218 lbs. Cool huh?
#06. The Rieju MRT 50 SM Pro
Next up, we’ve got another European supermoto machine. This time, it’s from the Spanish manufacturer Rieju. Now, Rieju is one of those manufacturers that isn’t as well-known as it should be, and because of its slightly foreign sounding name it often gets lumped into the “Chinese” department. But they’re not Chinese, they’re Spanish, and they make great bikes, and this 50cc motorcycle from them is particularly interesting.
Built around a cool CAD developed dual beam chassis, and equipped with a potent Mineralli AM6 two-stroke engine, the MRT 50 SM Pro offers a great ride experience thanks to its innovative weight distribution and top end parts. With USD suspension and gas rear shock, powerful Galfer disc brakes, steel braided lines and hoses, Dell’Orto carburator, and aluminum racing exhaust, you can expect some firey performance from this 50cc motorcycle. Naturally, if you want to squeeze some more performance from it, Rieju offer a wide range of aftermarket performance parts and upgrades too.
#05. The Aprilia SX 50 Factory
The Aprilia SX 50 Factory might look identical to the aforementioned SX 50 Motard, but there are more than enough differences to include it on the list. You see, if you’re looking for a cool 50cc motorcycle for ambling around on, or taking off-road a little, then the SX 50 Motard will do the job. However, if you want the best performance possible, on and off-road, combined with modern rider comforts, extra practicalities, and a stylish Aprilia Factory paint job, then the SX 50 Factory is the tool you need instead.
Boasting superior USD forks, an aluminum swingarm, a rear hydraulic shock, lightweight alloy rims, a floating front brake caliper, extra rear wheel travel, and a whole host of black anodized components, the Aprilia SX 50 Factory claims to be the perfect choice for new riders who want to enter the two-wheeled world with a modest size motorcycle that makes little in the way of compromise. It’s the undisputed king of the 50cc supermoto world, and it’s not hard to see why. It doesn’t look like a little 50cc motorcycle, does it?
#04. The Mash Motorcycles Dirt Track 50
How about something really unusual? This is the Dirt Track 50 from Mash Motorcycles, a small manufacturer from Europe. While the styling should grab your attention, since it looks a little like a fusion of the Ducati Scrambler and Ducati Scrambler Café Racer, there’s a lot more to this 50cc motorcycle than a pretty face. You see, Mash build these little motorcycles with learners in mind, or those who want to circumvent getting a full motorcycle license.
You see, they’re powered by a sweet fuel-injected, air-cooled, 50cc single cylinder engine that can have its power output and top speed restricted depending on which country it’s being sold to. On top of that, it comes with a CVT automatic transmission, meaning there’s no need for any gear shifting either, making it the perfect choice for those wanting a simple machine but with motorcycle good looks. The Mash Motorcycles Dirt Track 50 also comes with disc brakes, modern suspension and a cool digital dash display with a USB port too. If you want a small 50cc motorcycle with a retro 70s vibe, but with modern technology, then Mash Motorcycles have got you covered.
#03. The Aprilia RS4 50
And now for the main attraction, because let’s be honest, these were the ones you came to see. Once again, we’ve got Aprilia leading the charge with their super sports mimicking RS4 50, a 50cc motorcycle decked out like its bigger racing brethren, the legendary RSV4. This motorcycle is for those who want a bike that looks the part but also offers modest performance too. There are places where 50cc sports bike racing is still a widely respected contest, and the surest way to succeed in those competitions is to have an Aprilia strapped between your legs.
Sure, it’s not as punchy as its slightly bigger RS125 family member but if you’re looking to get into track racing properly, starting out on one of these little Aprilias will put you in good stead for the future. From here, you graduate to the RS125, and once you’ve truly mastered the RS125, and we mean truly mastered, then you’re likely a world class racer by this point. And while that sounds like a joke, it’s probably not too far off the truth. And Aprilia knows it.
#02. The Rieju RS3
Rieju have long been front-running contenders in small capacity races, and they’ve put years of racing engineering and knowledge into their latest range of 50cc bikes, and at the top of their 50cc motorcycle class is the Rieju RS3. As an evolution of their already successful RS2 range, the RS3 is as good as its predecessor but better. How? The success comes thanks to a new dual perimeter frame, newly engineered and scientifically researched aerodynamic bodywork, that makes the whole thing look like a bigger sport bike, but conveniently makes the rider more streamlined at the same time.
The bodywork and frame is great, but the real success comes from the Yamaha and Minarelli developed 49cc liquid-cooled, two-stroke engine and six speed gear box, which allow for some racy tuning if you give it a chance. Up front, the bike is planted to the floor courtesy of Showa inverted suspension, with a rear shock at the back, rolling on alloy rims, and kept under control with disc brakes. To keep things road legal, Rieju have equipped the RS3 with LED lights and a dual projector head lamp. Overall, it’s a very impressive setup for something that’s only a 50cc motorcycle. Only.
#01. The Aprilia RS4 50 Race Replica
And in first place, we have the Aprilia RS4 50 Race Replica: the ultimate 50cc motorcycle. This is the model you really want, isn’t it? This is a motorcycle for those who want to start their motorcycle journey on the right footing, and can see an RSV4 somewhere off in the not-so-distant future. Combined, Aprilia has won over 52 world titles, and over 294 individual GP races, piloted by champions you’ve heard of, like Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Casey Stoner, Marco Melandri, Loris Capirossi, and Jorge Lorenzo – and it’s because of their technical know-how that the Aprilia RS4 50 Race Replica is the most sought after 50cc motorcycle in the world.
Why? Because it offers class leading power and performance from its tried and tested, race developed 50cc two-stroke engine; a comfortable ride experience thanks to its advanced suspension and braking package; and every day usability for new and young riders thanks to its modest and not-overly-aggressive nature. It’s a shame that we don’t start youngsters off on 50cc motorcycles in the USA…because these would be their ideal weapon of choice.
Lastly, let’s look at legality. Are 50cc motorcycles street legal? Mostly yes, but it depends on licensing and titling and registration requirements that vary state by state. We’ll touch on this in the FAQ below too, but it’s worth pointing out that different states categorize 50cc vehicles differently, and this significantly affects the legality and the licensing requirements.
Most states class a vehicle that equipped with a 50cc engine and under, with a maximum power output of no less than 5 horsepower, and a top speed that’s not in excess of 30 mph, with automatic transmission, as a moped. Generally, these can be ridden with a standard car license.
However, if they don’t meet those criteria, you may need a full motorcycle license or endorsement, even for a 49cc motorcycle or 50cc bike. On top of that, some states require titles and registration, while others aren’t so concerned. Be sure to check with your local authorities before investing in the wrong kind of vehicle or unwittingly breaking the law.