Is a 250cc Motorcycle Slow? The Surprising Truth

Although I eventually upgraded, the first motorcycle I ever rode was 250cc. I still remember cracking open the throttle and realizing just how much power these “little” 250cc motorcycles have.

It is a common misconception that 250cc motorcycles are slow, especially with the recent introduction of 300cc and 400cc motorcycles. I am here to remind any doubters that this is not the case.

250cc motorcycles are definitely not slow. They typically have a top speed of around 85 mph, which is more than enough for anything from commuting to interstate riding. And with their efficient power-to-weight ratio, they can accelerate faster than your average car.

250cc motorcycles are surprisingly capable, even in today’s market. To get a better understanding and see if a 250cc motorcycle is worth it for you, keep reading below.

How fast are 250cc Motorcycles

One of the most popular questions riders have about 250cc motorcycles is how fast they are.

In general, 250cc motorcycles have around 20-30ft-lb/s horsepower and can go as fast as 85mph. With a low weight-to-power ratio and torque ranging in the 10-20 lb-ft. This makes them more than capable and fast enough to have fun on the street or track.

But you can easily break this down even further.

How fast is a 250cc motorcycle compared to your average car?

Let’s first start by comparing a 250cc motorcycle to your average car – what 90% of people drive on the street.

Don’t let the MPH gauge on your car fool you.

While cars have 250cc’s beat when it comes to top speed, most of these cars will also never see anything above 100mph, especially not on a public road.

What it really comes down to is acceleration, something that puts 250cc motorcycles ahead of your average car.

Motorcycles have a better power-to-weight ratio than cars, even something as small as 250ccs.

This is good because it is actually usable power on the street.

When it comes to accelerating from a stop light or passing a slow car at street speeds, 250cc motorcycles can accelerate quickly – making you feel a lot faster than you would expect.

Sure, you’re not going to be breaking any speed records or beating any supped-up Camaro’s in a race.

But you will be able to get up to speed and maneuver a lot faster than you’re an average car – which makes a 250cc surprisingly fast for the street.

How fast are 250cc motorcycles for beginner riders?

A lot of people recommend that beginners start on a 250cc motorcycle, but will also say that they will get bored with it after a few months.

This can leave a lot of new riders confused, as you don’t want to spend all the money on a 250cc and scramble to save up enough to upgrade shortly after.

So, how do you know what to get? Is a 250cc fast enough for a beginner?

A 250cc motorcycle is fast enough for a beginner to learn and have fun on, without being overpowered and potentially dangerous for a new rider. While it is easy to adjust to the speed of a 250cc motorcycle, this affects all riders regardless of the size of their bike, and there is still way more to learn.

I can’t lie, you will quickly adjust to the speed of a 250cc motorcycle, even as a beginner.

But on the flip side, there is so much more to learning how to ride a motorcycle than twisting the throttle and seeing how fast your bike can go.

You do not have to have the fastest motorcycle on the street to be fast and you certainly don’t need the fastest bike to have fun.

A 250cc is plenty fast for a beginner rider.

How fast are 250cc motorcycles for experienced riders?

Now this brings up the other side of the spectrum, what if you’re not a beginner rider and actually have some experience under your belt?

Is a 250cc motorcycle fast enough for an experienced rider?

An experienced rider will know that a 250cc motorcycle is fast enough for anything from commuting to track riding.

Not only that, an experienced rider will be able to get the most out of that little 250cc motorcycle.

These are the guys who first coined the phrase:

Its more fun to ride a slow motorcycle fast than a fast motorcycle slow

Just check out this guy tearing it up at the track alongside 600cc and 1000ccs.

The only caveat with experienced riders is that they are most likely ready for more power.

If that’s the case, then no worries.

Just remember that…

A 250cc is plenty fast for an experienced rider as well.

Is a 250cc Motorcycle slow for Commuting

Now that we established that 250cc motorcycles are not slow – at least in some capacity – it is time to break this down into some of the most common areas.

First up, the most common thing people use their motorcycles for – commuting/daily riding.

This is for riders who use their motorcycles for store runs, getting to work or even the occasional ride on your local back roads.

A 250cc is fast enough for commuting and daily riding. It can easily keep up with traffic on most public roads, including the interstate or highway. It is also fast enough for spirited riding on back roads or where speeding is allowed.

There are actually a lot of reasons to have a 250cc to commute or use as a daily rider.

The real task is seeing if a 250cc is worth it for you.

For a quick breakdown and to help you understand, check out some of these pros and cons of using a 250cc as your commuter/daily rider.


  • Cheap to fuel
  • Cheap to maintain
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Easy to park


  • Limited speed
  • Limited carry capacity
  • Limited comfort

A 250cc will be cheaper across the board. It’s gas efficient, cheaper when it comes to insurance, and cheaper to maintain all around.

It will also be easier to maneuver and park should your ride include any time in a congested area like the city.

While 250cc motorcycles have enough power to keep up with traffic, they won’t have too much power left over.

This becomes more apparent at highway speeds, where 250cc motorcycles are close to their top speed.

The good news is their maneuverability more than makes up for it, allowing you to get around quicker than most cars – like lane filtering.

Is a 250cc Motorcycle too slow for Highways

As I mentioned before, 250cc motorcycles are allowed on highways and are definitely capable of keeping up with highway speeds.

The fastest speed limits in my area are 70MPH and 250’s top out around 85mph.

A 250cc motorcycle is not too slow for the highway but it is definitely not one of its strong suits.

In fact, highways are one of the weaker areas for 250cc motorcycles.

And this comes for a few reasons

A. Limited Power

Since 250cc motorcycles top out around 85mph, they will be close to their limits of power while riding on the highway.

Depending on how fast you’re going, you may lose all passing power.

Not to mention, riding your bike near its limits for long periods of time can feel uncomfortable.

And getting on and off exists may feel a little intimidating.

B. Limited Comfort

In addition to having limited power, 250cc’s have limited comfort when it comes to riding at highway speeds.

A 250cc at highway speeds will be high in the rpm range, meaning a very loud motorcycle full of vibration.

This can really wear down the rider – and that’s not to mention all that wind noise.

Speaking of wind, it will be blowing that poor 250cc all over the road. 250s are fairly light and will not feel as stable at highway speeds.

But don’t get me wrong, plenty of people take their 250cc motorcycles on the highway and interstate.

That actually leads me to the next question.

Can a 250cc motorcycle make long trips?

A lot of riders plan to take their motorcycle on road trips.

And with me mentioning their limited capability on highways and interstates, some riders may worry about a 250cc motorcycle when it comes to taking longer trips.

So, is a 250cc motorcycle too slow for longer motorcycle trips?

No, a 250cc motorcycle is plenty capable to take long motorcycle trips and plenty of riders have done it.

Check out this article from a rider who did just that when she put over 10,000 miles on her Ninja250 in one summer.

So yes, 250cc motorcycles can definitely do long trips and tours.

Just keep in mind that there will be some drawbacks.


In conclusion, 250cc motorcycles are not too slow for most riders.

Depending on your needs and skill level, you may want a bike with more power.

But for us everyday riders, we can still have a lot of fun with those 250ccs.

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