Identify That Motorcycle Engine

Tip #263 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

identify that engine

1. Single

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.

3. V-Twin

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.

5. Triple

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.

7. V-Four

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.