With so many different motorcycles to choose from, it can be very difficult to pick the right one. After all, you want to get the best motorcycle that is suitable for your needs.
And choosing between 150cc and 250cc motorcycles can be very difficult—especially since their engine displacement is so close.
Although very similar to a certain degree, 150cc and 250cc motorcycles are also very different.
So let’s take a more in-depth look.
An overview of 150cc motorcycles
Usually, 150cc motorcycles are not that popular among riders due to the smaller engine displacement, which results in lower top speed and acceleration. This gives 150cc motorcycles a little more limited application compared to 250cc motorcycle, nonetheless, they can be very fun to ride.
In terms of power, 150cc motorcycles are definitely on the low end. In other words, 150cc motorcycles are not very powerful and thus cannot go very fast.
In fact, most 150cc motorcycles have an average top speed of 55 mph.
Usually, 150cc motorcycles can reach anywhere between 40 mph to 70 mph. However, some 150cc motorcycles can get up to 85 mph depending on their model, the presence of any mods, and riding conditions.
The time it would take most 150cc motorcycle to get from 0 to 60 mph will normally also be fairly slow. It is not uncommon for a 150cc motorcycle to do 0 to 60 mph in 10 to 17 seconds.
Most 150cc motorcycles are very light and easy to handle. This makes them a lot of fun riding in the city and back roads. Usually, they are very nimble at the low end but lack power in the mid to high end.
Another advantage of 150cc motorcycles is that they do not weigh a lot. Most 150cc motorcycles can weigh anywhere between 240 and 350 pounds (or about 110 kg to 160 kg).
An overview of 250cc motorcycles
250cc motorcycles, due to their larger engine displacement, are usually faster than 150cc motorcycle. As a result, 250cc motorcycles are a little more appealing to most riders compared to 150cc motorcycles.
A 250cc motorcycle will nearly always reach higher top speeds than a 150cc motorcycle.
The average speed of most 250cc motorcycles is about 65 mph. However, most 250cc motorcycles should be capable of comfortably reaching speeds of 70 to 85 mph, depending on the type of motorcycle, riding conditions, and mods installed (if any).
Some 250cc motorcycles like the Ninja 250, for example, can cruise comfortably at 70 to 80 mph and even reach 100 mph if necessary.
Due to their larger engine displacement, 250cc motorcycle can accelerate fairly fast. For example, the Ninja 250 can do 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds.
Due to the smaller engine displacement and the motorcycle’s overall low weight, 250cc motorcycles are normally very nimble, quick, and easy to handle.
Most 250cc motorcycles usually weigh between 280 and 410 pounds (or about 127 to 185 kg). The average weight of 250cc motorcycles is around 350 pounds (or 158 kg).
What is the difference between 150cc and 250cc motorcycles?
The difference between 150cc and 250cc motorcycles is in power. Most 150cc motorcycles are not very powerful and should not go on highways. In comparison, most 250cc motorcycles can be comfortably ridden on highways because they can reach higher top speeds compared to 150cc motorcycles.
Most 150cc motorcycles can reach average speeds between 40 to 70mph, while 250cc motorcycles will often be able to reach speeds between 65 to 100mph.
In terms of horsepower, typically, 150cc motorcycles can have between 13hp to 19hp. In comparison, 250cc motorcycles can have between 22hp and 35hp.
Compared to the majority of other motorcycles on the road, both 150cc and 250cc motorcycles can be considered slow. However, 150cc motorcycles are usually not enough for highway speeds, while the 250cc motorcycle can be taken on the highway.
If something unexpected happens on a highway with a more powerful motorcycle, you always have two options. You can (1) speed up or (2) slow down. And with a less powerful motorcycle, your only option will usually be one—to slow down.
A 250cc motorcycle will allow you to better avoid dangerous situations and navigate past cars to get to areas of the road with a safer line of sight. A 250cc motorcycle will usually max out at higher speeds than most 150cc motorcycles giving riders greater freedom on the road.
On top of that, often motorcycles with smaller displacement engines can have underpowered brakes, which translates to less stopping power. However, this is something that both 150cc and 250cc motorcycles can be guilty of.
Because of the large engine displacement, 250cc motorcycles may generally have worse MPG compared to most 150cc motorcycles
Most 150cc motorcycles usually get 105 to 140 mpg (45 km/l to 60 km/l), while 250cc motorcycles typically have slightly worse fuel efficiency and can get between 40 to 150 mpg (17 km/l 64 km/l).
Both 150cc and 250cc motorcycles are good for beginners. Both are not too powerful and are fairly easy to handle and ride, so they are safer than other more powerful motorcycles.
See article: Best CC range for beginners
If you are looking for a daily highway commuter, 250cc is probably the lower you should go.
Highway riding is not an issue anymore with most newer 250cc motorcycles. Most of the new 250cc motorcycles can ride comfortably at highway speeds without that causing any safety concerns, discomfort, or vibrations.
A 150cc motorcycle is not enough for the highway. It will not be able to keep up with the rest of the traffic, and using 150cc on the highway can end up being very dangerous. Some 150cc motorcycles may not even be able to reach the minimum highway speeds without redlining.
You may have heard the notion that 10 lbs gain equal to losing 1 hp. In other words, for every 10lbs the motorcycle has to carry, it losses 1 hp. This rule of thumb is connected to the motorcycle’s power-to-weight ratio, and generally speaking, a lighter motorcycle will always move faster than a similar but heavier motorcycle.
With low displacement engines, the rider’s weight and any additional weight can have a notable impact on the top speed the motorcycle can reach, its acceleration, and handling.
For example, adding an extra 50 pounds on a 150cc motorcycle can sometimes reduce its top speed by 2 to 10 mph. In comparison, 50 extra pounds on a 250cc motorcycle will have a smaller impact.
Most 150cc motorcycles will be significantly cheaper than the majority of 250cc motorcycles. For example, some 250cc motorcycles can sometimes be at least twice as expensive as some 150cc motorcycles.
Maintenance costs and taxes
Both 150cc and 250cc motorcycles have low maintenance costs. That being said, 250cc motorcycles can have slightly more expensive maintenance costs than 150cc motorcycles.
Typically the biggest difference in costs will be insurance costs and road taxes, which will be significantly higher for 250cc motorcycles compared to 150cc motorcycles due to the bigger engine capacity.
Is a 150cc or a 250cc motorcycle right for you?
Both 150cc and 250cc motorcycles can be used for daily city commuting. A 150cc motorcycle is enough for city riding and going on backroads but will not be fast enough for highway riding. On the other hand, a 250cc is going to perform a lot better on both city roads and highways compared to a 150cc.
Both 150cc and 250cc motorcycles are excellent motorcycles for beginners and can be used as introductory motorcycles. However, riding a modern 250cc motorcycle can be very fun, even for more experienced riders.
So it really depends on what your normal daily commute looks like, how you will be using your motorcycle, and what your riding speeds have to be.
If you are riding on low-traffic areas, city, or backroads where you can comfortably ride at speeds between 40 to 60 mph, a 150cc motorcycle may be more than enough for you.
However, if your daily commuting involves city roads, backroads, and areas with higher and faster-moving traffic, a modern 250cc motorcycle that can comfortably cruise at 70 to 80 mph can be enough for you. You will want at least a 250cc motorcycle for highways, too.
Other factors that should be considered
Although we can draw some conclusions, it is never a good idea to judge a motorcycle based on its engine size alone. Other factors can also influence the handling of the motorcycle, its capabilities, maintenance costs, riding comfort, and fuel efficiency.
The factors that will affect the performance and behavior of a particular motorcycle are, but not limited to:
- The type of the engine: That includes two strokes vs. four strokes, the number of pistons, and more. Sometimes a 150cc motorcycle may be just as powerful as a 250cc motorcycle, depending on the engine. The number of pistons can also impact fuel efficiency and overall maintenance costs.
- The actual engine displacement: Although some models are touted as 150cc or 250cc, there can be some slight discrepancies or variations.
- Mods and customizations
- Model-specific differences: This includes the dry and wet weight, overall design, aerodynamics, built-quality, and other unique features.
- The payload: This includes all the extra load expected to be carried by the motorcycle, including the rider(s).
- The riding and weather conditions
Now I cannot overlook the psychological factor, too.
When you are making a purchasing decision, you need to feel comfortable and happy with what you buy.
In order to avoid any regrets, think for a moment whether or not purchasing a 150cc motorcycle or purchasing a 250cc motorcycle will make you feel self-conscious. If it does, then maybe a different type of motorcycle may be better for you as long as it is appropriate for the rider’s skills.