Tip #263 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual
Examples: Most dirt bikes, scooters, Honda CBR250R.
Characteristics: Light, narrow, simple. Good bottom-end
torque. May vibrate significantly.
Good Choice For: Off-road riding. Economy.
2. Parallel Twin
Examples: Classic old Triumphs. Kawasaki Ninja 300.
Characteristics: Narrow, light, responsive. May vibrate.
Good Choice For: General riding, commuting.
Examples: Most Ducatis, Harley-Davidsons, and Moto Guzzis.
Characteristics: Good balance of torque and horsepower. Narrow. Low center of gravity.
Good Choice For: Cruisers.
4. Boxer Twin
Examples: Many BMWs.
Characteristics: Smooth. Lots of torque. Sometimes limited lean angles.
Good Choice For: Pretty much a BMW exclusive.
Examples: Triumph Speed Triple.
Characteristics: Perfect balance with a 120-degree crankshaft. Halfway between a twin and a four.
Good Choice For: Triumph sportbikes.
6. Inline Four
Examples: Honda CB750, most Japanese sportbikes.
Characteristics: A universal engine architecture. Smooth and powerful, but typically wider than a twin.
Good Choice For: Road riding with a 600cc and up.
Examples: Yamaha V-Max, Honda VFR.
Characteristics: Smooth, lots of torque, narrow. Complex and typically heavier than an inline four.
Good Choice For: Sport-touring.
8. Opposed (Flat) Six
Examples: Honda Gold Wing.
Characteristics: Heavy, complex, but smooth and reliable.
Good Choice For: Luxury Touring.
9. Inline Six
Examples: Honda CBX, RC166, BMW K1600.
Characteristics: Smooth. Fast. Wide. Complex. Unique.
Good Choice For: High-performance touring. Making
a big statement.