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What's a CC?

I’m looking at motorcycles and the engines say 1500cc, 800cc. Cubic centimeters?? The bigger the faster im guessing.

Correct on the meaning of cc. However, the higher the cc’s the more power and torque.

Yes, a cc is a cubic centimeter (a measure of engine displacement).

1000 cc = 1 liter = 61 cubic inches.

The bigger the faster im guessing.

In general, but there are other factors.

Cubic centimeters measure engine displacement. The domestic motorcycle manufacturers use cubic inches. You can compare them by converting the units at

Generally, with higher engine displacement, you get more power and less fuel economy. Once you go higher than 1,300 CCs, fuel economy drops to about the same level as a non-hybrid economy car.

“The bigger the faster im guessing.”

Sort of. If you have the same weight and the engine design is the same, then the assertion is correct. BTW, you don’t need any more than 400cc to outrun any car on the highway. When I had a 400cc bike no car ever passed me if I didn’t want it to. But I had a hard time keeping up with my friends on their 750cc-1100cc bikes.

CC = cubic centimeters, same as for car engines except they usually list car engines in liters. 1000 CC = 1 liter.

As for bigger being faster, yes and no. One of the biggest engines out there is in the Honda Goldwing, but it’s also a huge bike and not particularly fast as motorcycles go. There are 600 CC bikes that are very fast, in fact I’d say most 600 CC bikes are pretty fast. When you get up to 1000 CC they can be very fast or made to carry a lot and not so fast. As someone else said, any bike above 500 CC is going to be pretty darn fast compared to most cars. If you get much below 350 CC you can have trouble keeping up with highway traffic, but you will get much better fuel mileage for commuting.

Finally, please, take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. They provide bikes to learn on, and many states accept the MSF course in lieu of a driving test for motorcycles.


My brother-ion-law has a Honda Goldwing and bought it as a leisurely, comfortable highway cruiser. That’s where it excels. These big bikes are not screamers with extreme performance, but they are great touring machines.