Get On The (Power) Bandwagon

Tip #73 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

engine torque, get more power
Get on the (power) bandwagon

Dyno charts show how much torque your engine puts out at a given rpm. That curve keeps increasing before reaching maximum, then shows diminishing returns. The highest area of the curve, wide or narrow, is where the engine works most efficiently—it's called a powerband for that reason.

Your engine provides the same power, and the same actual powerband, no matter what gear you're in. The transmission influences how it is expressed to the rider. At your engine's lowest gear, the transmission provides the highest mechanical advantage, and thus the widest apparent powerband. That's good for acceleration—race performance, riding uphill, and getting out of trouble. But at higher gears, you don't need much torque to keep moving, as Newton's first law will tell you. The apparent powerbands may seem narrower, but the higher gears will make your bike happier and less frantic at higher speeds.

When you're shopping for a bike, consider not just the engine's horsepower, but also the transmission that influences the powerband. It's all about striking a balance between power and user-friendliness.