How Much Power Do You Need

From CycleChaos
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How much power you need in a motorcycle is dependent on what you will be using the motorcycle for, obviously. If you're going to be racing down at the local dragstrip, you'll need as much horsepower as you can possibly afford.

But for most riders, all that is needed is enough power to safely ride on public roads. And that really isn't that much power.

A motorcyclist needs to be able to go at least as fast as the cars around him or her, or perhaps a little bit faster. He or she needs enough power to get out of trouble, and to stay out of the way of trouble.

Since motorcycles way so much less than automobiles and other vehicles on the road, it doesn't take much in the way of horsepower to have a higher power-to-weight ratio. And the power-to-weight ratio is what determines how quickly a vehicle can accelerate.

Let's call the power-to-weight ratio P2W and define it as horsepower per 100 lbs. (This gives us numbers that are relatively easy to compare.)

The P2Ws for some sutomobiles are[1]:

  • 2007 Nissan Versa (S): 4.49
  • 2007 Toyota Camry (CE): 4.84
  • 2007 Cheverolet Corvette (Z06): 16.12

And the P2Ws for some motorcycles:

(Note, 200lbs was added to the published (dry) weights of the motorcycles, to account fluids and for the rider. This wasn't done for the cars, since curb weights are published and the driver's weight is not as significant.)

As you can see, even a "small" motorcycle can out-accelerate all but the fastest of cars. A motorcycle designed for speed can simply leave them all in the dust.

To ride safely on public roads, almost any street-legal motorcycle has more than enough power.