As most of you may know, I like to travel a bit. My recent travels took me to South America (Argentina Uruguay and Chile). It did not take me long to realize that there were no motorcycles above 250cc's anywhere to be found. Of course I ran into the occasional motorcyclist who was touring the continent on his BMW 1200GS. But the locals own, ride and rent small bikes. Even in Buenos Aires, an enormous city with a population of 13 million people, I did not see any motorcycles larger than 250cc's. This was very different from what I had witnessed in Europe, Canada and even parts of the Middle East.
The great majority of the world's motorcycles are manufactured and ridden outside of the wealthy, developed nations of the world. Motorcycles are the most affordable form of motorized transport in many parts of the world, and for most of the world's population, they are also the most common type of motor vehicle. According to Wikepedia, the overwhelming majority of the motorcycles produced and used in the world today have small displacement air-cooled single-cylinder engines, both two- and four-strokes. There are around 200 million motorcycles (including mopeds, motor scooters and other powered two and three-wheelers) in use worldwide. Most of the motorcycles, 58%, are in the developing countries of Asia--Southern and Eastern Asia, and the Asia Pacific countries, excluding Japan. As of 2002, in the two countries of India and China, there were a total of only 15 million cars but 71 million motorcycles.
A few years ago, I was in Thailand. The reining vehicles on the road were motorcycles and scooters. I was overwhelmed by the ratio of small motorcycles and scooters to cars. Population of Thailand is 67 million, Vietnam has 86 million, India an astounding 1 billion and China as most of you have heard has 1.3 billion people. The city streets are flooded with motorcycles and scooters. Once again, these two-wheeled vehicles are rarely over 250cc. In fact, the 50cc Honda Cub has sold over 60 million units worldwide, mostly outside of the US. Still produced today, it is the best selling powered vehicle of all time.