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Which Is Better: Underbone Vs Backbone Motorcycle?

Which Is Better: Underbone Vs Backbone Motorcycle?

1. What Is an Underbone Motorcycle?

What Is an Underbone Motorcycle?
Photo Credit: Moto Deal

Underbone motorcycles are very different from conventional-style motorcycles in terms of styling and structure. These motorcycles are fitted with a step-up single-piece frame and a monocoque design, and most of the body covers and panels are made of plastic to keep the overall motorcycle weight and the manufacturing cost on the lower side. Normally, underbone motorcycles are the lightest motorbikes, providing several benefits to riders. Due to being lightweight, low-powered, affordable, and utility-oriented, the underbone motorcycles are the best-selling and widely used in the Southeast Asian regions. They also share a close resemblance with scooters but are quite different from them.

Examples of Underbone Motorcycles:

  • Honda Super Cub C125 ABS
  • Honda Trail 125

2. What Is a Backbone Motorcycle?

What Is a Backbone Motorcycle?
Photo Credit: Top Gear

A backbone motorcycle is a conventional motorcycle that features a simple and straight backbone-style frame, starting from the head to the tail of the motorcycle. The backbone frame is the most widely used frame in modern motorcycles. However, it has been updated with several improvements, extensions, and subframes to make it more suitable and meet the requirements of modern motorcycles.

Examples of Backbone Motorcycles:

  • Triumph Bonneville T120
  • Triumph Thruxton

3. Difference Between Underbone Vs Backbone Motorcycle

Difference Between Underbone Vs Backbone Motorcycle
Underbone Motorcycle Backbone Motorcycle
Step-up frame Central and straight backbone frame.
Due to the absence of the tube in front of the seat, the gas tank is placed under the seat. The gas tank is fitted above the backbone frame.
Capable of carrying more than one passenger. The engine is installed on the frame.
Can be used as a utility vehicle to carry luggage. Capable of carrying only one passenger.
The engine is mounted at the bottom of the motorcycle’s front end between the rider’s feet. High-powered engines with large displacements are installed.
Underbone motorcycles are low-powered with small engine displacements (50 cc to 150 cc).  

4. Pros and Cons of Underbone Motorcycles

Pros and Cons of Underbone Motorcycles
Pros of Underbone Motorcycles Cons of Underbone Motorcycles
Extremely lightweight motorcycles Lack of customizability
Easy to maneuver Not ideal for long-distance rides
Easy to maintain Slow
Low maintenance costs Low-powered
Nimble Small wheel travel suspensions
Multiple luggage mounting options Low ride quality
Fuel-effective Uncomfortable
Ideal for short commutes Slightly less stable at high speeds
Better urban commuter Low-quality parts
Easy to maneuver on busy roads Difficult to handle at high speeds
Good for city traveling  
Can carry more than one passenger  

5. Pros and Cons of Backbone Motorcycles

Pros and Cons of Backbone Motorcycles
Pros of Backbone Motorcycles Cons of Backbone Motorcycles
Good for long-distance rides Heavyweight
Ensure stable rides Slightly difficult to maneuver than underbone motorcycles
Better support to the frame Difficult to maneuver in stop-and-go traffic
Rigid structure Limited luggage mounting options as the seat covers most part of the frame
Customizable High maintenance costs
More comfortable High fuel consumption
Better high-speed performance Require frequent maintenance
Good for long-distance rides  
Large-displacement engines  
Better acceleration  
Improved storage capacity  
Smooth ride quality  
More reliable and durable  

6. Difference Between Underbone Motorcycles Vs Scooters

Difference Between Underbone Motorcycles Vs Scooters
Photo Credit: Honda Powersports

Most riders, particularly Americans and Europeans, are confused between scooters and underbone motorcycles and use the same term (scooter) for both of them. Although there are several similarities between scooters and underbone motorcycles, they are very different. If you ask an Asian motorcyclist, they will probably provide a more satisfactory answer to this question as they are quite familiar with these types of motorcycles.

6.1 Footpegs

In underbone motorcycles, like most typical motorcycles, mid-mounted foot controls are installed to shift gears and control the rear brake. Meanwhile, scooters have floorboards with adequate legroom and leg coverings to protect the rider's legs from flying mud and heavy wind.

6.2 Engine Mounting

Underbone motorcycles have their engines mounted in the center. Scooters on the other hand have theirs at the very rear. These engines are connected directly to the wheel with no power loss from chains, belts, or shafts.

6.3 Bodywork

In underbone motorcycles, all parts are exposed. The engine, transmission, and drive system can be seen just by looking under it. Scooters work differently, they use lightweight plastic panels to cover these parts up.

Examples of Scooters:

  • Vespa
  • Piaggio
  • BMW CE 04

7. Which Is Better: Underbone Vs Backbone Motorcycles?

Motorcycles today are becoming more and more advanced as technology advances. So much so that most of them are even more expensive than a car. Luxury has also made its way into bikes too and the performance of modern motorcycles is unprecedented when compared to old ones. Not only has the structure become rigid and aerodynamic, but the ride quality, power output, and capabilities have increased manifold as well. There’s no doubt that backbone motorbikes reign supreme over their underbone counterparts when it comes to power and robustness, making them a preferred choice for motorcycle enthusiasts today. To further improve these areas in bikes though, frames have even been upgraded to help reduce vibrations and make them lighter weight so they can cut through air better.

However, the advantages of underbone motorcycles cannot be overlooked. Underbone motorcycles are lightweight, easy to move on busy roads, easy to maintain, and fuel-efficient, which makes them one of the most popular bikes in the Southeast Asian market. For American riders who pick bulky looks, excessive-pace performance, and specific capabilities, the underbone motorcycles seem outdated in the American motorcycle market.

On the other hand, backbone bikes are popular and state-of-the-art due to their customizability. You can even buy a used backbone motorcycle and rework it, making it look new again and improving its performance through customization options and modifications. Using motorcycle parts available at Viking Bags, riders can enhance the comfort, overall performance, and traveling capability of their bikes. Viking Bags offer fairings, sissy bars, crash bars, backrests, handlebars, and new seats. You can also improve the storage capacity of your motorcycle by installing trunk bags, saddlebags, tank bags, and backpacks.

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