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What is CC In Motorcycles? [Video] Engines Explained

black and silver motorcycle

Being new to a motorcycle is an exciting time. There are so many things to learn, to understand. When you buy a bike, the first thing you have to remember is the basics. It will help you to know what the engine does, what the transmission does, and the frame.

The CC in motorcycles means CUBIC CENTIMETERS. It is used to measure the displacement of a motorcycle engine. Simply put, the CC refers to the size of the engine. The higher the CC on a motorcycle, the more influential the engine is, the faster the bike will be (the number of cylinders also affects the power and speed). 

For example, a displacement of 500cc, with either one or more cylinders, outputs a total capacity of 500 cubic centimeters; the same is true for a 1000cc motorcycle with 1000 cubic centimeters. 

How do you calculate cubic centimeters on a motorcycle?

A motorcycle’s cylinder dimension determines the calculations of a motorcycle CC. Therefore, if you want to know the displacement of a motorcycle, you have to locate and measure the cylinders’ bore and stroke. Here is the formula:

(bore) x (bore) x (stroke) x 3.1416 = cc


Motorcycle: Kawasaki ZX-6R (636cc)

Bore: 6.8 cm

Stroke: 4.38 cm

6.8 (bore) x 6.8 (bore) x 4.38 (stroke) x 3.1416 = 636 cc

source: powersportsguide.com

What cc is right for you?

If you’re new to motorcycle riding or just contemplating switching from a 4-wheel drive to a 2-wheel, choosing the right motorcycle and the appropriate cc is quite daunting. There are way too many options in the market, after all. 

When deciding which type of bike is right for you, you’ll want to look at the following criteria. A 250 cc motorcycle will handle a rider weight of 160 lbs and passenger weight of 80 kg for starters. It’s also important to consider how much maintenance the bike requires. A 250 cc bike is a great way to start your motorcycle career if you’re willing to put in some extra time and money.

When choosing a motorcycle, riding what you want to ride is the most important thing. Smaller, lighter motorcycles may have less horsepower, but they may also have less weight and more accessible handling characteristics.

You don’t get the complete picture of a motorcycle’s capabilities if you only look at the cc’s. Evaluating how the bike feels and rides is what you need to find the right bike. You have to look at other factors for that.

What factors need to be considered when looking for a motorcycle?

As mentioned above, you’re limiting yourself if you only look at the cc’s of a motorcycle. Here are the factors you need to look at to find the right bike that you will enjoy and love. 

  • Weight – the weight of the motorcycle is a significant factor. A lighter motorcycle will be easier to handle and have better acceleration and fuel to weight ratio.
  • Torque – Torque measures how much force the engine can produce. The more torque a motorcycle has, the more responsive it will be to the rider’s demands. The engine also needs to have a high torque to overcome the motorcycle’s weight.
  • The more horsepower a motorcycle has, the more torque it will have. Therefore, a bike with high horsepower will be able to go faster.
  • Rider’s Body Fit – the motorcycle’s fit will determine how comfortable the rider will be while riding. If the bike is too big for you, it will make it hard to maneuver. If it’s too small, it will feel like it’s too small for you, and the motorcycle will be hard to handle.
  • Intuitive Controls – the motorcycle’s controls are an essential factor. A bike with intuitive controls will be easier to handle and operate.
  • Suspension – a motorcycle’s suspension determines how comfortable the rider will be while riding. A bike with a suspension that has a lot of travel will be easier to handle and will be able to absorb bumps better.
  • Riding Comfort – the riding comfort of a motorcycle is another critical factor. A bike with a comfortable riding position will be easier to handle. It will be more comfortable to ride, especially on long trips. 
  • Fuel efficiency – the fuel efficiency of a motorcycle is an essential factor. A bike with a high fuel efficiency will go further and be more economical to use.

How do you know the cc of a motorcycle on display?

There are many ways to tell:

  • The name or model of its motorcycle typically indicates the engine displacement. For example, BMW C 650 GT features a 650cc engine. 
  • Stickers or decals on the motorcycle will display this information.
  • It’s generally stamped on the engine
  • Motorcycle documentation would also indicate the cc.
  • Measure the cylinder and do the math. 


The cc of a motorcycle is only a part of the evaluation. You need to look at the other factors when looking for a bike. The size of the bike will determine how comfortable the motorcycle will be to ride. The motorcycle’s weight will determine how responsive it will be to the rider’s demands.

The amount of horsepower and torque a motorcycle has will determine how fast the bike can go. The motorcycle’s suspension will determine how comfortable the rider will be while riding. The intuitive controls of the bike will determine how easy it will be to operate. The motorcycle’s fuel efficiency will determine how economical it will be to use. 

A motorcycle with a high cc and a high horsepower is an excellent motorcycle to start your motorcycle career. However, you don’t get the complete picture of a motorcycle’s capabilities if you only look at the cc’s.

I hope this short backgrounder on what a motorcycle cc is has helped you understand one primary factor about motorcycles. Don’t hesitate to browse our blog for more information related to riding and motorcycles. Thanks for reading and as always, ride safe.