What Does a Motorcycle’s “cc” Mean?

A motorbike engine’s displacement is determined using the “cc” abbreviation, which stands for cubic centimeters. It’s possible to hear people use this measurement when discussing a motorcycle’s performance over the speakers in your motorcycle helmet, but it’s far more involved than merely “cc’s equal power.”

We’ll go into more detail about how ccs impact a bike’s power and performance below. But first, let’s familiarize ourselves with the idea of displacement so that we can grasp why a motorcycle’s cc classification is important.

Displacement: What Is It?

The displacement of a motorcycle is another way to gauge the size of its cylinders. Displacement essentially counts how much ground the engine’s pistons cover in a single motion.

An engine with higher displacement may be more potent. The bike can burn more fuel at once because an engine with higher displacement gives the fuel-air mixture more space.

When we discuss cubic centimeters, we discuss displacement. We’ll then examine the significance of ccs in motorcycle culture.

How many ccs are required?

With engines ranging from from 200 cc to 500 cc, dirt bikes and small-cc motorcycles like the Honda Rebel 300 are at the low end of the scale. Monsters like the 2,500 cc Triumph Rocket 3 are at the top.

The motorcycle community has a lot of strong views on the topic of ccs. For those planning to purchase their first motorcycle, recommendations for models in the 250–300 cc range are typical. But you’ll also meet riders who will advise you that you’ll outgrow a 250 cc bike fairly immediately and that it’s best starting out on something more powerful.

As always, the advice is to ride what you enjoy. It is true that a small-cc bike would not have the power to reach and comfortably sustain a highway cruising speed if you are riding on a large highway. A bike with more cubic centimeters won’t necessarily make you a better rider or even provide you the power you need if other factors aren’t in place.

The truth is that if you only consider ccs, you won’t fully understand a motorcycle’s potential. A thorough analysis of the motorcycle’s ride and feel is necessary to find the best one for you. You’ll need to consider a few other criteria for that.

Taking a Look Beyond CC’s

So what other elements affect a motorcycle’s performance besides its cubic capacity? First, let’s discuss the weight of motorcycles. A super-light bike like a Kawasaki Ninja requires a considerably smaller engine than a big, bulky bike like a Honda Gold Wing. And conversely, when you put a Gold Wing-sized engine into a lightweight sport bike frame, you get the ridiculous speed and acceleration of a supersport bike.

In determining how a motorcycle feels and rides, horsepower and torque are produced by the combination of body weight and engine displacement:

Torque is force applied at a distance. It quantifies the force of the combustion in the cylinders, applied to the length of the crankshaft.
Torque multiplied by RPM equals horsepower. It gauges how quickly the engine operates (i.e., moving the motorcycle). The horsepower of a motorbike can be boosted via a variety of methods, such as adjusting gear ratios to use torque more effectively.

Horsepower would be a decent measurement to learn about a motorcycle’s attributes if you had to pick just one. However, keep in mind that this is all a simplified description and that these measurements have intricate relationships that gearheads can spend years perfecting in the garage.

The intangibles, such as how a motorcycle fits the rider’s body and if its controls are positioned sensibly for the rider, are also important considerations. These are crucial for any vehicle, but they are more necessary for motorcycles because the rider and the motorcycle are much more closely bound together physically.


We’re willing to assist riders in learning more about the equipment that fuels their passion at any time. To understand about the astounding variety of bikes on the market today, be sure to read our history of the motorbike and our guide to the various sorts of motorcycles.

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