50cc vs. 150cc Motorcycles (Which One Is Right For You)


Riders tend to have many questions when it comes to the engine size of motorcycles. There’s just so many different options and alternative.

But then, even motorcycles sharing the same engine displacement tend to vary a lot in what they can offer the rider, making things even more complicated.

So is the case with 50cc and 150cc motorcycles. Although both are very close in terms of ccs, they are also very different.

In this article, we will take a more in-depth look at both 150cc motorcycle and 50cc motorcycle.

An overview of 50cc motorcycles

The small engine displacement can generate lower acceleration and top speed.

Usually, 50cc motorcycles are considered entry lever or beginner motorcycles due to their low power.

Typically 50cc motorcycles can reach top speeds of 28 to 60 mph depending on different factors, including whether they are restricted or derestricted. Restricted models usually capable of reaching between 40 to 60 mph, while may of the restricted ones reach about 35 mph.

That being said, 50cc motorcycles tend to be easier to control and ride due to their nimbleness and low weight. Usually, 50cc motorcycles weigh between 183 and 291 pounds.

They can be fun to ride, but the majority of people may find them slow and boring.
Overall 50cc motorcycles and scooters are not built for speed in mind, but more of a cheap mode of transportation suitable for flat roads with less traffic.

See article: Are 50cc scooters worth it?

An overview of 150cc motorcycles

Compared to 50cc motorcycles, 150cc motorcycles are going to be more powerful. 

However, both motorcycles are at the low end in terms of power, torque, and speed.

Most 150cc motorcycles are very nimble and quick at the low end but lack power in the mid to high end. In comparison, 50cc motorcycles also lack top-end power but are also slower in the low-end compared to 150cc models.

The average speed of 150cc motorcycles is generally about 55 mph. They can be expected to reach between 40 mph up to 70 mph. Some modded 150cc motorcycles can reach top speeds of 85 mph, though.

In terms of acceleration, 150 cc motorcycles can be expected to reach 0 to 60 mph anywhere between 10 to 17 seconds. The actual time can vary depending on a number of different conditions.

What makes 150cc motorcycles great is that they are fairly lightweight—150cc motorcycles weigh between 240 and 350 pounds (110 to 160 kg).

All that means that 150cc motorcycles are very light, easy to control, and easy to handle. That makes them great beginner or entry motorcycles.

They are fun to ride in the city and on backroads. 

What is the difference between 150cc and 50cc motorcycles?

The difference between 50cc and 150cc motorcycles is in power. Both 50cc motorcycles and 150cc motorcycles are considered sluggish and fairly slow. However, 150cc motorcycles will generally be faster than most 50cc motorcycles.

Top speed

Usually, 50cc motorcycles have between 2hp up to about 8hp or so. And 50cc motorcycles that have been unrestricted can reach up to 12 hp. 

In comparison, 150cc motorcycles have between 13hp to 19hp.

As a result, most 150cc motorcycles will be faster than 50cc motorcycles.

The majority of 150cc motorcycles can reach between 40 to 70mph, while 50cc motorcycles can reach about 30 to 60 mph. It also takes more time for 50cc motorcycles to reach their top speed.

Hills can also be fairly problematic for most 50cc motorcycles.

Acceleration-wise, both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles will do better on the low end but will lack top-end power.

Beginner-friendliness

Both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles are good and suitable for beginners. Both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles are not very powerful, easy to control and handle, making them safer for beginner riders. 

That being said, they are best used on backroads and city riding.

Safety

Both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles are great for beginners. Due to their low power and top speed capabilities, they can be considered safe to a certain degree.

However, they should not be taken on highways and roads with fast-moving traffic. Both types of motorcycles may not be able to keep up with the traffic in a safe manner or allow the rider to overtake other vehicles on the road quickly.

Highway commuting

Although often motorcycles above 50cc are allowed to be taken on highways, this does not mean all motorcycles are suitable for highway commuting.

Both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles are not enough for the highway. (See article: How many CC are best for the Highway?)

They do not have enough passing power. Their top speed is fairly low, which means that the rider will have trouble keeping up with the traffic. In fact, some may not even be capable of reaching the minimum highway speeds. The top-end acceleration is very slow. All that can put the rider in danger while riding on highways.

Touring

Long-distance commuting and trips can be very tough and tiring on both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles. Although a 150cc motorcycle can do a lot better, both are not ideal for long-distance commutes.

Fuel efficiency

Although smaller engines typically have better fuel efficiency, most 50cc and 150cc motorcycles have fairly similar mpg.

Most 150cc motorcycles usually get 105 to 140 mpg (45 to 60 km/l), and most 50cc motorcycles get about 95 to a little over 130 mpg (40 to 55+ km/l). In addition, 50cc dirt bikes usually have worse average mpg on average and 50cc scooters also have a little worse mpg compared to 50cc motorcycles due to the way they are designed.

Versatility

The problem with 50cc motorcycles is that they have more limitations. As long as the rider understands these limitations, they can make the right decision.

Compared to 150cc motorcycles, 50cc motorcycles are less powerful and are best used for shorter rides around town and other back roads that generally don’t have huge traffic.

On top of that, 50cc motorcycles may not even be able to meet certain minimum speed regulations and laws.

On the other hand, depending on local regulations, often 50cc motorcycles may have looser restrictions allowing the rider to park them in different areas without having to pay taxes or fees. In certain cases, for motorcycles and scooters that are above 50cc, the rider may be required to pass a separate class of driver’s license.

Now when it comes to 150cc motorcycles, they are often considered a better alternative. They are just as easy to handle and are a lot more capable. A 150cc motorcycle will allow the rider to get on nicer roads

Payload capacity

There is a common belief that a 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, all things equal, a lighter motorcycle will be faster and quicker.

The smaller the engine, the bigger the impact from the extra weight the motorcycle will have to carry.

Thus 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, these 50 extra pounds may have an even bigger impact on 50cc motorcycles.

That being said, these numbers should be taken with a big grain of salt as they are very rough averages. In reality, these numbers are vehicle-specific because other factors should be taken into account, as the weight to power ratio.

Overall, a smaller engine will have less payload capacity.

Prices

The prices of 50cc motorcycles (and scooters) vary a lot. There are very cheap and very expensive models. Some 50cc models can be even more expensive than some 150cc motorcycles. The reason for this is that these motorcycles can range in their quality and features.

That being said, generally speaking, 150cc motorcycles can be expected to be more expensive than typical 50cc models.

Maintenance costs and taxes

Both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles tend to have low maintenance costs and taxes, though 150cc models will generally be on the most expensive side.

Some 50cc motorcycles (and scooters) are often regarded as great machines that can last thousands of miles with just some basic maintenance and care. 

In addition, two-stroke engines are often considered better than four-stroke ones.

There are examples of 50cc bikes that are 10, 20, even 30 years old, have put on a lot of mileage, and are still running great.

So smaller displacement does not necessarily mean you will run into more trouble in terms of maintenance and care.

Typically the biggest difference in costs will be insurance costs and road taxes, which will be significantly higher for 150cc motorcycles compared to 50cc motorcycles due to the bigger engine capacity.

Is a 150cc or a 50cc motorcycle right for you?

Both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles are good beginner motorcycles. They will do great as introductory motorcycles and be used for daily city commuting but are not suitable for highway riding.

Experienced riders may find both 50cc and 150cc motorcycles very sluggish, slow, and boring at longer sections and long-distance riding.

And even beginners can also start to feel like they have outgrown their 50cc or 150cc motorcycles after several months.

Overall it really depends on the way the motorcycle will be used and what the daily commute of the rider looks like.

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. 

Most 150 cc motorcycles are definitely better commuters compared to 50cc motorcycles.

That being said, 50cc motorcycles are good for shorter commutes and on slower roads. These motorcycles will allow the rider to keep up with traffic in most cases. However, if you live in a hilly area, you may run into some difficulties. In addition, 50cc motorcycles can be fun, too; it is just that they have very limited use and capabilities.

Riders often wish they had more power with their 50cc bikes, too. 

So, as long as the rider understands the limitations of 50cc bikes and does not mind them, then a 50cc motorcycle may be a good choice.

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 50cc motorcycle may be nearly as powerful as a 150cc motorcycle, depending on the engine. For example, two-stroke 50cc motorcycles are faster than four-stroke 50cc motorcycles. However, the same applies to 150cc motorcycles as well. The number of pistons can also impact fuel efficiency and overall maintenance costs.
  • The actual engine displacement: Although some models are touted as 50cc or 150cc, 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 50cc motorcycle or purchasing a 150cc 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.

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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