Different types of motorcycle engines

mm Paul Verbiton March 14, 2020
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There’s a whole lot of devices and tools involved in the world of motorcycles, and it can be challenging to identify them, especially if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast. The ambiguous jargon defining these bikes complicates the matter further.

Here’s a cheat-sheet to help you identify motorcycle styles and features like the popular 150cc engine with reverse, the general configuration of the engine, type of cooling system, cylinders, final drive system, and much more.


The simplest engine types, single-cylinder engines most often come from dual sports and dirtbikes, scooters, as well as other small displacement inexpensive models, with a few entry-level sportbikes such as Honda’s CBR 300R. Singles are cheap for manufacturers and can be easily maintained. However, they create a great deal of noise, because of which they can restructure and exceeds 650cc’s. Such lightweight motors produce immense low-end power, allowing them the choice for several off-road riders.

Parallel Twins

Parallel twins are the most common type of motor both for current and classic motorcycles, most typically associated with traditional British motorcycles from brands such as BSA and Triumph. Parallel two cylinders (inline-twins or inline-twos) give a reactive riding sensation with plenty of character and with a set of a cylinder placed side-by-side on top of the crankshaft.

The same as singles, inline-twins are vibratory, but in regular and commuter versions, they are very common due to their relative simplicity, and powerful design. Parallel twins are often also used in bigger dual sports and ADV versions, including Yamaha’s Super Tenere and BMW’s F800GS. Many fun sports bikes such as the Yamaha R3 and Kawasaki Ninja 400 use this.


The V-Twin is the most common motorcycle engine configuration in North America in cruising models by far. As the title suggests, the two cylinders are either V-shaped or formed side by side. Excellently-balanced and exceptional, V-Twins are admired for its strong low-end strength and its iconic “Potato-Potato-Potato” exhaust. Besides the V-form, V-Twins are also typically located between the cylinders, as the majority of inline motors have the intakes behind cylinders.


Also called “Boxer Twin,” they sound flat-twins; two-cylinder engines with the cylinders horizontally arranged (or flatly positioned) and the pistons placed on the contrary side of the crank. These engines are powerful over their entire rotating range and amazingly balanced. These also have a tiny center of gravity, but their enormous size is concise. On the road, this is usually not a problem, and BMW has used this setup since its inception. They swear by those who ride them.

Two-Stroke and Four-Stroke Engine


Although this could be an unnecessarily simplistic method, two-stroke bikes can always be identified with its unique exhaust systems. It is often referred to as ‘two-stroke pipes’ or ‘two-stroke extension chambers.’ However, the latter refers technically to the zone consisting of the neutral chamber, diffuser cone as well as baffle cone). Double-stroke pipes are easy to identify, with misshapen expansion rooms that typically culminate in slim mufflers.


The overwhelming majority of motorbikes produced today are a four-stroke or four-cycle variety (except for mainly dirt bikes) such as the 150cc engine with reverse. There is no distinct round exhaust on two-stroke machines with four‐stroke exhaust systems operating in the very same diameter between the header(s) and the mid-pipe(s). Most four-strokers like the ones with 150cc engine with reverse have slight bulges in the middle tubing, but none are nearly as large as the two-strokes engine.

To be an ethical and responsible motorcyclist means to learn the system inside out. To know what’s wrong with the motorcycle, just listening to the engine’s vibration, helps a lot while riding and keeping the road safe. It is essential to know how much further your motorcycle can go to get the best adventures. The essential part of a bike is the engine; it is also considered as the soul of the vehicle.

Category: Blog, Lifestyle
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Paul Verbiton

I enjoy spotting opportunities and doing my best to grab them if I can. I am eager to see the world, I love taking photos and writing, coming up with topics that are pleasant to read, funny, and interesting at the same time.

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