Forget your big-bore liter-plus adventure bikes! If you want to see a really practical machine, check out what the revised Honda Wave Alpha, just unveiled for the Asian market.
At first glance, there’s nothing terribly exciting about the updated Wave Alpha—it’s an underbone-style motorcycle, with an air-cooled 110cc engine. There’s a four-speed gearbox with centrifugal clutch, so riders can click through the gears without needing to use a hand clutch. It’s fuel-injected (this is the big upgrade for 2023), and it makes 8.7 hp and 6 lb-ft of torque, supposedly. All very modest numbers, like you’d expect for a bike in this category.
However, the price is also very modest. Honda’s introduced this bike to the Malaysian market first, at a price just shy of $1,200 US, once you convert currencies. That’s pretty affordable, and this machine comes with a two-year warranty (or 12,500 miles). The savings continue as you ride, with fuel economy dropping to 1.41 liters per 100 kilometers, which works out to a whopping 166 mpg.
This bike only has a 4-liter fuel tank, but with that sort of fuel economy, you should be able to do at least 300 kilometers (almost 200 miles) before you even think about needing fuel.
Since gas prices seem to be climbing once again, this machine might start to look pretty appealing, even if it’s not very fast. Unfortunately, it’s been years since anything like this has come to North America. Instead, Honda seems to be focusing on mostly goofy playbikes in the Mini Moto category, and nobody else seems to be taking the sub-250 category seriously at all.
Along with frugal commuters, there’s one other group that might find this motorcycle appealing: frugal travelers. Considering that these are the exact same machines that locals will be riding everywhere you go in Asia, why do you need more? If you’re on a fly-and-ride, you can buy one of these for the same cost of flying your bike to Asia, and leave it behind when you return home. It comes with 7 liters of underseat storage, and the market will be quickly flooded with cheap accessories for these things, so luggage won’t be a problem either. Or maybe you think the engine won’t be large enough to haul you around? All the more motivation to get on those New Year’s Resolutions and lose 40 pounds…
But seriously. As the world changes around us, and our dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to, bikes like this may become an option for those of us who still want to travel but don’t have the same excess cash as before. You won’t be able to fit massive knobbies to those skinny 17-inch rims, but again—if the locals can get everywhere on these bikes, why can’t you? If Ed March and Nathan Millward can go rtw on commuter/postie bikes, there’s no reason you can’t too.