What Does Cubic Centimeters Mean for a Motorcycle?


When buying a new vehicle, there are always many numbers to comprehend. Every aspect of the engine has a numerical value, each with its own unit of measurement. A figure which is confusing to the non-motorcycle enthusiast is cubic centimeters (cc).

What is a Cubic Centimeter?

  • A cubic centimeter is a three-dimensional measurement of volume. In mathematics this figure would be referred to as centimeters cubed or centimeters to the power of three. A square cube measuring 1 centimeter on each side is equal to one cubic centimeter.

Relation to Motorcycles

  • For motorcycles, cubic cnetimeters, or cc, refers to the size of the engine, in the same way liters do to a car. In real terms it is the amount of the air-fuel mixture displaced each time the piston completes a full oscillation. It is this figure that is plastered across the motorbikes chassis, body work and advertising material to give people an idea of how large and powerful the engine is.

What does it Mean?

  • The higher the number, the faster it goes. If an engine displaces 50 cubic centimeters of fuel-air mix every time the pistons oscillate, it will be slower than an engine displacing 1000 cubic centimeters during a rotation. This is because more fuel is being burned, producing high revolutions which are transferred to the road through the tires. The higher the cc number, the more powerful the bike, resulting in faster acceleration and a higher top speed.

Conversion to Liters

  • It is quite simple to convert cubic centimeters, used for motorbikes, to liters, used for cars. There are 1000 cubic centimeters to a liter, so a 2.6 liter engine is 2600 cc.

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