A Complete Guide to Motorcycle Engine Sizes



With so many motorcycle engine sizes available on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is the best choice for you. In the article below, we will explore how the size of the engine influences the performance of the bike so that you can be better informed and make a knowledgeable decision.


Understanding engine sizes

Engine size is measured in CC, which stands for cubic centimeters. It is a standard that is used to measure the volume of the cylinders inside the bike’s engine. In simpler words, it refers to how much space is inside the cylinders. Most motorcycles have 2 or 4 cylinders, but there are a few exceptions, with some models having up to 6 cylinders.

However, there are a couple of factors that influence the performance of an engine besides its engine size or capacity. Bigger cylinders, for example, can hold more air and fuel mixture. The number of cylinders or how fast they can fire is important as well and can influence the performance of the motorcycle.

You can have a 600cc engine that produces its power much slower than a 300cc since sometimes a bigger engine will sacrifice fuel efficiency. Larger cylinders also tend to deplete the volume of gas in your motorcycle at a much faster rate.

When shopping for a bike, you’ll need to consider the engine size in conjunction with the number of cylinders inside, how fast the combustion takes place, the weight of the bike, and the power-to-weight ratio.

Understanding how the motorcycle engine size and power are linked can make it easier for you to pick the right bike for your needs. So make sure to give a read to the rest of our article if you want to learn more about this subject.


What’s the difference between a smaller and a bigger size engine?

Let’s imagine that we have two engines that have similar features and that only the size sets them apart. One has to wonder what the difference between the two engines is, and the answer lies in the power of combustion. Most riders tend to love big engines, especially for bench racing.

The size of the engine is linearly linked with the power that it can generate. With a larger engine, riders can enjoy better speeds, power, and smoother rides.

This is why the market for lower size engines is slowly dying out. However, it is important to note that having a bigger size engine doesn’t necessarily make for a better bike. There are plenty of benefits that come with having a smaller engine.

For starters, a smaller engine allows for more wiggle room to make mistakes, which is essential for new riders who are just starting to figure out how to ride the bike. While smaller engines generally generate less power, they also provide more miles per gallon of gas used.

This means that if you don’t mind sacrificing a little power for fuel efficiency, then going for a bike that boasts a smaller engine can save you plenty of money down the road. Insuring a motorcycle with a low engine size will also be significantly cheaper since lower CC engines are considered to be safer.

However, if your focus is on getting the best performance that money can buy, then you should get a motorcycle with a big engine. Most often, motorcycle brands will use larger capacity models to showcase new technologies that make the motorcycle run better.

It also boils down to personal preference since for some people riding a “slow” bike at full speed is more fun than having to ride a fast bike slow.


How does size affect speed?

To get an idea about how the size of the engine influences the speed it can generate, we’ll take a look at 300cc and 600cc engines. A bike that is powered by a 300cc engine can generally top out at about 140 mph, and it can achieve sustained speeds of about 55-75 mph.

A 600cc engine, on the other hand, can achieve top speeds of about 170 to 200 mph, and it can reach sustained speeds of 75 to 89 mph. However, the miles per gallon with the larger engine suffers greatly.

As you can see, despite being twice the size, the 600cc doesn’t manage to produce double the performance. Once you take into account that when using your bike recreationally you won’t need to go more than 60-70 mph, the 300cc bike is a great all-round option that will let you go fast, and it will save you some fuel usage in the process.

If you’re looking for a bike to take you on the highway or across the country, then having a smaller yet efficient engine is a better choice as it can generally keep you safer and save you money thanks to its superior fuel efficiency. A 300cc engine can easily sustain speeds of 55-75 mph, and they are more than acceptable for riding on the highway.

It’s only when you need the biggest and fastest bike that engine size matters since, in this case, you do need to go all in. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a large engine size as long as you can afford the more expensive insurance, and you have the skill to handle the power that the larger engine can generate.


How does size affect handling?

The size of the motorcycle affects the way in which it handles, and bikes with larger engines are heavier and more powerful. This means that they can accelerate very fast, which can be fun, but it also means that it has several disadvantages.

If you’re a beginner and you’re riding a 600cc bike (or larger), having too much power can make it difficult to handle the bike, which can cause skidding, dropping, or accidental wheelies. However, if you are an experienced rider, you shouldn’t have any problem handling a bike that features a large engine size.

For most riders, it is easier to handle a bike that has a lighter engine, and that’s because not everyone is a professional, and the additional weight and power can intimidate the average rider. Even so, height, quality of the suspension, and seat size influence the handling of a motorcycle much more than the bike’s CCs.

If you want to enjoy great handling and comfort, then what you’ll need to do is not focus on the engine size but rather try and sit on different bikes and ask questions about the weight capacity and the quality of the suspensions.

These factors will matter much more than the engine size. It’s only if you weigh a lot that you might need to size up to a larger engine size (500cc and above). For most people, their weight should not influence the handling of the bike too much.


What engine size should you get?

At the end of the day, there’s no right answer to this question since each rider knows what’s best and what makes him or her happy. What is essential to remember is that bikes are not toys, and when selecting a model to purchase, safety should always be at the front and center.

Thus, if you are a new rider who is just learning the ropes, then starting with a 300cc bike, or lower, is recommended. A smaller engine size makes the bike easier to control for newbies, and it is much easier to stop and slow down.

Price is also important since motorcycles that come with smaller capacity engines tend to be much cheaper than their bigger brothers. This means that if you are on a tight budget, getting a 300cc as opposed to a 600c engine may mean that you will be able to afford the top-spec models and get better performance overall.

Whether you’re interested in the fastest bike your budget can afford, or you want a slower bike that is easy to maneuver and less likely to drop upon stopping, the most important thing is to keep yourself well informed. Only by understanding the pros and cons of each model, you can make an educated judgment when buying your first motorcycle.


Size isn’t everything

In conclusion, it is safe to say that as far as bikes are concerned, bigger is certainly not always better. The larger an engine is, the more experienced that the rider needs to be if he or she wants to handle it properly, stay safe, and avoid accidents.

A rider needs to gain experience if he or she wants to move on to faster and better motorcycles, and the best way to do it is by practicing on a motorcycle with a small engine. Bikes with smaller engines are the easiest to learn on, more affordable, and more economical in the long run.

It is always better to start small and work your way up, and there’s nothing wrong if you prefer a slower bike. There’s a bike out there for everyone, and the size of the engine isn’t everything. There are plenty of riders that feel much more comfortable and have more fun on a “slower” bike. Conversely, for some riders, engine size is the most important aspect, and that’s OK too.