150cc vs. 650cc Motorcycles (Which One Is Right For You)


Riders tend to have many questions when it comes to the engine size of motorcycles. There are just so many different options and alternatives to choose from.

It is not just the size of the engine that matters though, motorcycles sharing the same engine displacement tend to vary a lot in what they can offer.

So is the case with 150cc and 650cc motorcycles. Although they seem like entirely different types of motorcycles, things may be a little more complicated than that.

In this article, we will take a more in-depth look at both 650cc motorcycles and 150cc motorcycles.

An overview of 150cc motorcycles

Generally, 150cc motorcycles are not very popular among some riders due to their smaller engine displacement, which results in lower top speed and slower acceleration. This gives 150cc motorcycles a more limited application compared to 650cc motorcycles. However, 150cc motorcycles are still very fun to ride.

In terms of power, 150cc motorcycles are definitely on the low end. They are not very powerful and thus cannot go very fast. 

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, mods, and riding conditions.

In terms of going from 0 to 60 mph, 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 on 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 weight a lot. Most 150cc motorcycles can weigh anywhere between 240 and 350 pounds (or about 110 kg to 160 kg).

An overview of 650cc motorcycles

As a result of their larger engine displacement, 650cc motorcycles are fairly fast and have good acceleration. The better acceleration and top speed capabilities allow 650cc motorcycles to be a lot more versatile and sought after.

Most 650cc motorcycles can reach average speeds of around 100 to 135 mph quite comfortably. That being said, 650cc motorcycles can go very fast, reaching as much as 150 mph in certain cases.

The time it would take most 650cc motorcycles to get from 0 to 60 mph can vary between as little as 3.33 seconds up to 7 seconds or more.

On average 650cc motorcycles can be a little heavier, depending on the type and model, but usually, they are fairly light, remaining easy to control and maneuver. Most 650cc motorcycles can weigh between 385.8 pounds up to 491.7 pounds (or 175 kg to 223.03 kg)

What is the difference between 150cc and 650cc motorcycles?

The difference between 650cc and 150cc motorcycles is in power. Most 150cc motorcycles are not very powerful and should not go on highways. In comparison, most 650cc motorcycles can be comfortably ridden on highways because they can reach higher top speeds compared to 150cc motorcycles.

Top speed

Most 150cc motorcycles can reach average speeds between 40 to 70mph, while 650cc motorcycles are often able to reach speeds between 95 to 135mph.

In terms of horsepower, typically, 150cc motorcycles can have between 13hp to 19hp. In comparison, most 650cc motorcycles tend to have between 44hp and 86hp.

Safety

When it comes to motorcycle safety, things can be a little trickier.

Since 150cc motorcycles are a little slower, they can be a lot safer. A motorcycle with a bigger and more powerful engine is usually considered more dangerous and less forgiving, especially for beginners.

However, in certain situations, underpowered motorcycles can also be dangerous.

A 650cc motorcycle is capable of accelerating faster. Since it can also reach a higher top speed, this makes it safer than most 150cc motorcycles when it comes to avoiding dangerous situations on the road. For example, riding a 650cc motorcycle on the highway allows the rider to accelerate faster and get out of dangerous situations a lot quicker if and when necessary without redlining.

In addition, sometimes motorcycles with smaller displacement engines can have underpowered brakes, which translates to less stopping power.

Touring

Long-distance commuting and trips can be very tough and tiring on 150cc motorcycles. They are just not ideal for long-distance trips, while generally 650cc motorcycles do a lot better.

Versatility

Compared to the majority of other motorcycles on the road, both 150cc motorcycles can be considered slow. However, since 150cc motorcycles are usually not enough for highway speeds, this gives them a significantly more limited use compared to 650cc motorcycles.

Fuel efficiency

On average 650cc motorcycles have worse mpg compared to 150cc motorcycles. Most 650cc motorcycles get between 45 to 75 mpg (19 km/l to 32 km/l), while 150cc motorcycles typically get 105 to 140 mpg (45 km/l to 60 km/l).

Highway commuting

Highway riding is not an issue with 650cc motorcycles. The vast majority of 650cc motorcycles can ride comfortably at highway speeds without causing any safety concerns, discomfort, vibrations, or feel of lack of power.

On the other hand, 150cc motorcycles feel underpowered on the highway. They will not be able to keep up with the rest of the traffic in a safe manner. Some 150cc motorcycles may not even be able to reach the minimum highway speeds without redlining. The lack of top-end power is also a serious cause for concern when overtaking other vehicles or trying to get out of a tricky situation.

See article: How many CCs do you need for the highway?

Since 150cc motorcycles also tend to be fairly lightweight, they will also be affected by crosswinds and headwinds. Heavier motorcycles are not affected by winds as easily. A lighter motorcycle can even be easily tipped over by winds while being parked outside.

See article: How much wind is too much for a motorcycle?

Beginner-friendliness

Both 150cc and some 650cc motorcycles can be considered good beginner motorcycles. On average 150cc motorcycles, due to their less power, are considered safer for beginner riders, while 650cc motorcycles can be more dangerous and less forgiving if the rider makes a mistake. Some riders may also find heavier motorcycles more difficult to ride and handle.

See article: Are 650cc motorcycles suitable for beginners?

Payload capacity

There is a belief that a 10 lbs gain is 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. Generally speaking, a lighter motorcycle will always move faster than a heavier motorcycle, all other things being equal.

With low displacement engines, any extra weight the motorcycle has to carry can significantly impact its top speed, 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 650cc motorcycle will have a significantly smaller impact.

Prices

On average 150cc motorcycles will be cheaper than 650cc motorcycles. For example, the cost of some 650cc motorcycles can sometimes be 1 to 4 times as much as a typical 150cc costs.

Maintenance costs and taxes

It is not a surprise that a motorcycle with a smaller engine tends to have smaller taxes and sometimes maintenance costs associated with it.

On average 650cc motorcycles are expected to have more expensive maintenance costs and higher taxes than 150cc motorcycles.

Typically the biggest difference in costs will be insurance costs and road taxes, which will be significantly higher for 650cc motorcycles compared to 150cc motorcycles.

Is a 150cc or a 650cc motorcycle right for you?

Both 150cc and 650cc motorcycles can be good beginner motorcycles. They will do great as introductory motorcycles and be used for daily city commuting. However, 150cc motorcycles are not suitable for highway travel, and there is the possibility of riders quickly outgrowing them.

Experienced riders may find 150cc motorcycles very sluggish, slow, and boring—especially at longer straight sections and long-distance riding.

In comparison, 650cc motorcycles are often considered the golden mean, and there is a good chance that even experienced riders may not really feel any need to go beyond 650cc, making them excellent long-term motorcycles.
Overall, it depends on how the motorcycle will be used and the rider’s daily commute and needs.

Most 150cc motorcycles are more than enough for riding around the city and can be very fun as they are very nimble.
If your daily commuting involves city roads, backroads, and areas with higher and faster-moving traffic, where you may need a motorcycle capable of cruising comfortably at speeds between 40 to 60 mph, a modern 150cc that can motorcycle may be more than enough.

However, suppose you will need to go on highways and travel longer distances. In that case, a 650cc is definitely a better and safer alternative. These motorcycles will allow the rider to keep up with traffic in most cases. The thing is, 150cc motorcycles are simply better suited for shorter commutes and on slower roads.

So, as long as the rider understands the limitations of 150cc bikes and does not mind them, then a 150cc motorcycle may be a good choice.

Other factors that should be considered

Although we can draw some conclusions by looking at the engine size, it is never a good idea to judge a motorcycle based on this factor 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-stroke vs. four-stroke, the number of pistons, and more. Sometimes a 150cc motorcycle may be more powerful than previously anticipated. The same applies to 650cc motorcycles; some can end up being fairly underwhelming and slower than expected. 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 650cc, 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 one is making a purchasing decision, they need to feel comfortable and happy with what they buy.

In order to avoid any regrets, think for a moment whether or not purchasing a 150cc motorcycle or purchasing a 650cc motorcycle will make you feel self-conscious and whether it meets your needs. In some instances, in order to avoid any regrets about buying a motorcycle, a different type of motorcycle may be more appropriate as long as it is appropriate for the rider’s skills.

Mike

Hello, two-wheel enthusiasts! My name is Mike, and I am the person behind motorcyclebrave.com. I am ready to go for a ride at any time of the day (or night). There is something about motorcycles that nothing else compares to. Here I share everything that I learn about motorcycles.

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