Petrol Pinchers: The Winner - First Look

The envelope, please...

Petrol Pinchers: The Winner - First Look

In real life, reducing spending on fuel is a lot like the quip about the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. Witness Honda's car branch cranking out hybrid economy cars along with a new line of trucks and SUVs, which are still selling by the way, so much for a revolution brought on by $3-plus gas.

But here, on the bright side, we have a fleet, multiple choices, of two-wheelers that return 60 mpg and up, half again better than any hybrid econobox at 10 percent of the purchase price, or less.

As far as our econo-shootout's winner, no envelope needed. The Kawasaki. Reasons? First, the Ninja is a bargain at the list price. Kawasaki has been making this model for years, and all the tooling is paid for. Two, it's right in the middle of the mpg chart. Three, it's a real, full-time motorcycle. Wins admiring glances from those who know bikes, fast enough for any freeway, light enough for city combat and, heck, the clincher here is that the Kawasaki racked up three times as many miles during the test period as any of the others, because the panel rode it even when they didn't have to.

And now, as Dr. Laura puts it, go do the right thing.

Ride to work.

The Petrol Pinchers 2008 Price 2006 Observed Fuel Economy (MPG) 2006 Top Speed (MPH) 2006 Dry Weight (pounds) 2006 Seat Height (inches)
Honda Rebel 250 $3199 78.3 78 315 26.6
Suzuki DR200 $3949 68.4 75 256 32
Kawasaki Ninja 250R $3499 74.2 101 335 29.7
Vespa LX 150 $4399 71.9 66 247 31.5
Yamaha TW200 $3799 79.2 71 268 38.1
Vento V-Thunder 1400 (now named V-Thunder XL) $3599 59.5 68 406 26.8
Tank Urban Sporty 150 $1349 70.0 58 221 31.2
Buell Blast $4695 71.2 95 380 29.9