Carbon copy? No, that can’t be it. Canceled check? candy corn? Circus clown? Well, rats—what go the “cc” mean on a motorcycle, anyway? 

The “cc” stands for cubic centimeters and also is supplied to measure the displacement that a motorcycle engine. You can hear people throw this metric approximately in conversations over your motorcycle helmet speaker when pointing out a motorcycle’s performance, yet it’s a many more facility than simply “cc’s equal power.” 

Below, we’ll go into a little much more depth on just how cc’s impact a bike’s power and also performance. But to recognize why a motorcycle’s cc rating is useful, let’s very first get acquainted v the ide of displacement. 

What Is Displacement? 

A motorcycle’s displacement is another means to measure the volume of its cylinders. Basically, displacement actions the quantity of room that the engine pistons move within one stroke. 

More displacement deserve to mean a more powerful engine. An engine with an ext displacement provides more room for the fuel-air mixture, which means that the bike is able to combust an ext fuel at once. 

When we’re talk cc’s, we’re talk displacement. Next, fine look in ~ why you hear cc’s referenced so frequently in motorcycle culture. 

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How plenty of cc’s do You Need? 

The dimension of motorcycle engines different greatly. In ~ the bottom that the scale, you’ll find dirt bikes and small-cc motorcycles choose the Honda Rebel 300, v engine size from about 200 cc come 500 cc. In ~ the top are monsters like the 2,500 cc Triumph Rocket 3. 

You’ll find solid opinions on the subject of cc’s within the motorcycle community. For example, bikes in the 250-300 cc variety are common recommendations because that folks looking come buy their first motorcycle. However you’ll also meet riders that will tell you that you’ll outgrow a 250 cc bike virtually immediately and that the worth beginning out ~ above something more powerful. 

The advice, as always, is come ride what friend like. It’s true that if you ride on huge highways, a small-cc bicycle simply might not have actually the juice to reach and also comfortably preserve a highway setravel speed. However, a bicycle with an ext cc’s won’t do you a more skillful rider, and it might not also necessarily administer the strength you’re trying to find if other elements aren’t right. 

Here’s the truth: If you’re only looking in ~ cc’s, you’re not obtaining the full picture of a motorcycle’s capabilities. Finding the right motorcycle for you calls for a holistic testimonial of exactly how the cycle feels and rides. Because that that, you’ll should look in ~ some other factors. 

Looking beyond cc’s

So, what are the other components besides cc’s that determine how a motorcycle performs? First, let’s talk around motorcycle weight. A big, chunky bike choose a Honda gold Wing needs a much bigger engine than a super-light bike prefer a Kawasaki Ninja. And also conversely, when you placed a yellow Wing-sized engine right into a lightweight sport bike chassis, you gain the ludicrous speed and acceleration the a supersport bike. 

The communication of human body weight and engine displacement to produce horsepower and also torque, both of which are much more useful than cc’s for analyzing how a motorcycle feels and rides: 

Torque is force applied at a distance. It measures the pressure of the burning in the cylinders, used to the size of the crankshaft. Horsepower is torque multiply by RPM. It measures how fast the engine does occupational (i.e., moving the motorcycle). A motorcycle’s horsepower can be increased through miscellaneous techniques, such together manipulating equipment ratios to use torque much more efficiently. 

If you had to pick one measurement to learn around the attributes of a motorcycle, horsepower would certainly be a great choice. But note that every one of this is a simplified explanation, and also these metrics have facility interactions the gearheads have the right to spend year mastering in the garage. 

Finally, we can’t forget the intangibles, like just how a motorcycle fits the rider’s body and whether that is controls space intuitively put for the rider. These are vital for any type of vehicle, but they’re critical for a motorcycle, wherein the rider and also the vehicle are much more physically intertwined. 

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Source: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

At Cardo, we’re always game to help riders learn more about the makers that power their passion.


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Make certain you don’t miss our history of the motorcycle, and check out our guide to the different varieties of motorcycles to learn around the incredible diversity of bikes accessible today. And also before girlfriend head the end on the road, don’t forget her Cardo Packtalk Bold—the gold standard of motorcycle interaction systems that allows you hear every native of that countless conversation around cc’s, torque and all the rest.