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

The “cc” represents cubic centimeters and is used to measure the displacement of a motorcycle engine. You could hear human being throw this metric about in conversations over your motorcycle helmet speakers when discussing a motorcycle’s performance, but it’s a lot of more complicated than just “cc’s equal power.” 

Below, we’ll get in a little an ext depth on just how cc’s affect a bike’s power and performance. Yet to understand why a motorcycle’s cc rating is useful, let’s an initial get acquainted v the ide of displacement. 

What Is Displacement? 

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

More displacement deserve to mean a more powerful engine. An engine with more displacement provides much more room for the fuel-air mixture, which way that the bike is able to combust much more fuel in ~ once. 

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


How numerous cc’s do You Need? 

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

You’ll find strong opinions on the subject of cc’s in ~ the motorcycle community. For example, bikes in the 250-300 cc range are common recommendations because that folks looking come buy their very first motorcycle. But you’ll likewise meet riders who will phone call you that you’ll outgrow a 250 cc bike virtually immediately and that that worth starting out top top something much more powerful. 

The advice, together always, is come ride what friend like. It’s true that if girlfriend ride on large highways, a small-cc bike simply might not have actually the juice to reach and comfortably maintain a highway setravel speed. However, a cycle with an ext cc’s won’t do you a an ext skillful rider, and also it might not also necessarily administer the power you’re searching for if other facets aren’t right. 

Here’s the truth: If you’re only looking in ~ cc’s, you’re not obtaining the full photo of a motorcycle’s capabilities. Recognize the right motorcycle for you requires a holistic testimonial of just how the cycle feels and rides. For that, you’ll need to look in ~ some various other factors. 

Looking beyond cc’s

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

The communication of human body weight and also engine displacement produces horsepower and torque, both of i beg your pardon are an ext useful than cc’s for evaluating how a motorcycle feels and also rides: 

Torque is force used at a distance. It steps the force of the burning in the cylinders, applied to the size of the crankshaft. Horsepower is torque multiply by RPM. It procedures how fast the engine does job-related (i.e., relocating the motorcycle). A motorcycle’s horsepower deserve to be boosted through various techniques, such together manipulating equipment ratios to use torque an ext efficiently. 

If you had to pick one measurement come learn around the qualities of a motorcycle, horsepower would be a great choice. However note that all of this is a simplified explanation, and also these metrics have facility interactions that gearheads have the right to spend years mastering in the garage. 

Finally, we can’t forget the intangibles, like how a motorcycle fits the rider’s body and also whether its controls space intuitively inserted for the rider. These are important for any type of vehicle, yet they’re crucial for a motorcycle, wherein the rider and the automobile are much an ext physically intertwined. 


Source: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

At Cardo, we’re constantly game to help riders learn more about the machines that strength their passion.

You are watching: What does cc means in bikes

See more: How Should A Lift Operator Travel With A Full Pallet On The Forks? ?

Make sure you don’t miss our history of the motorcycle, and check the end our overview to the different varieties of motorcycles come learn around the incredible diversity that bikes available today. And also before you head out on the road, don’t forget her Cardo Packtalk Bold—the gold conventional of motorcycle communication systems that lets you listen every native of that unlimited conversation around cc’s, torque and also all the rest.