Oct 17, 2023

The Top 10 lightest production motorcycles of 2023

Like things light? These are the lithest motorbikes you can buy today that are over 125cc

Weight, or the lack of it, can be one of the most important – but also contentious – topics in motorcycling. After all, low weight, Honda revolutionarily realised with its original Fireblade, is just as important to performance as power and torque.

It’s also crucial for how manageable a bike can be. When you’re starting out in bikes, or perhaps short, or intimidated by large, heavy bikes, a light motorcycle is often A Very Good Thing Indeed.

This is all why you’d be forgiven for assuming weight figures are widely publicised, consistently measured and easy to compare – but they’re not.

Instead, there’s confusion over the terms used and no ‘standard’ that manufacturers have to follow, that it’s hard to even know which figures are comparable. Dry weight? Wet weight? Kerb (or curb) weight? Fuelled or dry? All these are quoted, despite leading to massive variations. And so, despite our best efforts, we’re also sure that there will be disagreement over this list.

Where possible we’re using ready-to-ride weights, including fluids and fuel. Unrealistic dry weights – which often discount things like the battery as well as oil and water – are ignored. We’re also sticking to currently available models from the mainstream manufacturers (so there’s no CCM, MASH or Fantic, whose figures are difficult to corroborate) and to road bikes. Motocrossers and full-on enduro machines (even those that are nominally roadworthy) aren’t included. We’re also focussing on bikes over 125cc to avoid this simply being a list of tiny mopeds.

So, here goes, in reverse order, the lightest bikes according to their claimed wet/kerb weights – and let us know if there are any we’ve missed out.

Any ‘lightest bikes’ list inevitably favours those with the simplest, lightest single-cylinder engines, but there is room for a few twins: KTM doesn’t actually publish ‘wet’ figures, so there’s some guesswork here, but by our reckoning, the 890 Duke just sneaks in ahead of Yamaha’s similarly lightweight MT-07, which is 184kg (Yamaha’s R7 and XSR700, meanwhile, are both 188kg)

So, into the singles. Launched last year, the HNTR 350 (NB, it’s not called the Hunter here, as elsewhere, due to trademark issues), uses the same 24bhp single cylinder as the Meteor 350 cruiser but is lighter due to its simpler layout. Royal Enfield’s Scram 401, by the way, and Himalayan adventure bikes are 185kg and 200kg respectively.

Another twin that slips into this list is the top-spec Extrema version of Aprilia’s gorgeous mini superbike, the 100bhp RS660. In this trim, it gets extra power and less weight (via a carbon fibre lower fairing and more) and as a result, is the best performing and only sports bike in this list – although we’d also expect Aprilia’s imminent smaller version, the RS457, to appear here soon, too.

We’re taking a little bit of a liberty here, as the all-new, single-cylinder Speed 400 isn’t officially on sale yet. That comes in January at a price that’s also yet to be announced. But the first examples have been ridden by members of the press and all reports are so good that it has to be included here. Not only is the 398cc machine light, it’s also an impressive performer, with 39bhp. Finally, it was also the only way to include a Triumph – the next closest, the Street Triple and Speed Twin 900, are both too heavy to qualify (although the 400’s sister bike, the Scrambler 400 X, does, but is slightly heavier at 179kg due to its scrambler accoutrements…)

We discovered last time that it was all too easy to fill this top 10 up with KTMs, thanks to the Austrian marque’s fondness for lightweight singles. This time around, however, we’re trimming them back a bit as so many models are based on the same underlying architecture. So… the lightest 125cc+ KTM of all is the 390 Duke which has just been restyled and improved again for 2024. Light, nimble and bonkers, it also forms the basis of the slightly heavier RC390 sportster (172kg) and is also effectively the same bike as the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen/Vitpilen duo.

Among the lightest of all mainstream twins is Yamaha’s perky and pleasing A2 class roadster, the MT-03. Its 321cc twin produces a decent 41bhp; it's manageable and easy to get on with and, if the roadster look isn’t for you, Yamaha also produces a faired, sportster spin-off version, the YZF-R3, which is 1kg more.

Just pipping the Yamaha for performance and low weight, however, is the Kawasaki Z400 roadster as uprated and reintroduced last year. Its 399cc twin produces 44bhp, it’s smartly styled, easy to get on with and again, like the Yamaha, has a fully faired, sportster brother, the Ninja 400, which weighs a little more.

Back to single-cylinder machines for our top three and, in third place, might be something of a surprise. BMW’s Indian-built, novice-targetted G310R is a cute, simple, light roadster that’s remarkably easy to get on with, is a great introduction to (A2 class) motorcycling and has a few classy BMW touches, too. At just over 30bhp it may not be the fastest, but it’s pleasing, affordable and light. And, if you want a touch more style and substance, BMW built the adventure-styled 175kg G310GS, too!

Strictly speaking, we should highlight the more straightforward, trail version of the CRF here instead, as it’s slightly lighter. But the adventure-style Rally with a tall screen and extra comfort is a far better all-rounder. Both were initially introduced as 250cc singles before growing to 300cc. If you want a light, off-road capable all-rounder, this is the one, although remember there’s also a KTM 390 Adventure as well…

The lightest mainstream 125cc+ road machine currently available is…. Honda’s ultra-cute and ridiculously easy-to-ride CB300R. One of Honda’s extended, stylish ‘Neo Café’ family – which starts with the CB125R, then CB300R, CB500R, CB650R four-cylinder and CB1000R super naked – the 300 is Honda’s most affordable, A2-compliant single-cylinder offering. Not fast, admittedly, but it’s willing, cute, ridiculously easy and unintimidating to ride, has plenty of reassuring Honda quality and… is very light!