Suzuki Burgman Fuell Cell Concept

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MCX Raptor a motard type underbone

An underbone . or underbone motorcycle . is a small motorcycle built on a frame consisting mostly of one large diameter tubular component. The design is sometimes known as a step-through in the West. Although the fuel tank position, the open-frame design which the fuel tank position allows, and the splash guards give the underbone an appearance similar to a scooter. the wheels, engine position, and power transmission are based on the design of conventional motorcycles.

Despite this basic difference in design, underbones are sometimes marketed as scooters in the West.


Honda Bravo of the Philippines

The powertrain of an underbone is based on that of a conventional motorcycle. The engine is between the rider’s feet and the rear wheel is driven by a regular motorcycle secondary chain drive. Chain enclosure, using sheet-metal covers, is usual.

The fuel tank of an underbone is located below the seat, and it is in this respect only that it differs from a conventional motorcycle, which has its fuel tank between the knees of the rider and a frame member running under the tank from the seat support to the headstock. The underbone arrangement improves ease of mounting and dismounting. Underbones have wheels similar to those of conventional motorcycles.

The engine size of a typical underbone is generally in a range between 50 cc and 125 cc, although some are larger, e.g. the Suzuki Raider 150. Many underbones are capable of reaching highway speeds of 110-120 km/h or more and are allowed on expressways in Malaysia. Singapore and Thailand. Underbones are not allowed on Indonesian and Philippine tollways .

The technical sophistication of larger motorcycles has been increasingly added to the underbone, with fuel injection systems in the Honda Wave 125i. Yamaha Spark 135i [ 1 ] and, since 2007, the Japanese version of the Honda Super Cub. [ 2 ] Modern underbones use capacitor discharge ignition for the ignition system, almost all have indicators, and many have electric starters.


The Heinkel Perle was introduced in 1954, four years before the Honda Super Cub

The underbone concept can be seen in some of the European mopeds of the early 1950s, including the NSU Quickly and the Heinkel Perle. The most important underbone motorcycle was the spine-framed, plastic-faired Honda 50 of 1958. The Honda 50 is still in production and, with more than 60 million built, is the best-selling powered vehicle of all time. [ 2 ]

Other names and derivations

In Malaysia and Singapore this vehicle is commonly known as Kapcai or Kapchai . a slang word derived from Cantonese, being a combination of the word Cub from the word Honda Cub and 仔 in Chinese. In Cantonese, 仔 (pronounced jai , or in pinyin zai ) means little (or its derivatives, e.g. small, mini, etc.). Therefore, Kapcai literally means a Little Cub.

With Honda being a very popular brand in Malaysia, all underbone motorbikes have come to be called kapchai. In Indonesia, it is called motor bebek [ 3 ] (from the Indonesian word for duck).

A variation on the underbone concept known as the maxi-scooter [ 4 ] or touring scooter [ 5 ] is popular in the West. These are much larger than the underbones known to the Asian market and vary in size from the early Honda Helix with 250 cc [ 6 ] to the 850 cc Gilera GP800. [ 7 ] Many current versions are between 400 cc and 650 cc, including the Honda Silver Wing with 582 cc [ 8 ]. the Suzuki Burgman with 400 cc [ 9 ] or 638 cc [ 10 ] ), the Yamaha Majesty 400 with 395 cc [ 11 ]. and the Yamaha T-Max 500 with 499 cc. [ 12 ]

Underbones of conventional size are popular in Western Europe and marketed alongside conventional scooters. They are sometimes referred to as scooters, [ 13 ] despite the design difference between underbones and conventional scooters.

Storage on underbones

Yamaha Nouvo’s helmet storage compartment.

Most underbone motorcycles sold in Southeast Asia come with a standard steel basket, allowing riders to carry goods. More secure storage capacity is often available with the option of a carrier and a top box. Some top boxes are detachable from the carriers.

Some underbones, including the Honda Wave. Modenas X-cite. and the Yamaha Nouvo. have a lockable storage compartment under the seat. Some have a hook in the area between the riders knees for a shopping bag.

Underbone manufacturers

The market for underbone motorcycles is dominated by Japanese manufacturers, though many of them are built in factories elsewhere, including China and Taiwan. In other cases, manufacturers have violated copyright and illegally copied the models of Japanese manufacturers. The Honda Cub.

Honda Wave series and Yamaha Lagenda series are amongst the most copied.

MZ Motorrad currently produces underbone models in Malaysia by their main share holder, Hong Leong Group which is also the sole distributor of Yamaha motorcycle in Malaysia and Singapore.

The major underbone manufacturers are as follows:-

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