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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

Back ground: I'm a new rider, about 2k miles new, and own an '85 V-Max. I'm looking for a project bike. I don't understand the V-Twin.

It seems like all cruiser style motorcycles and even some of the standard bikes are using V-Twins? All I can gather from the V-Twin use everywhere is that it must be the best engine for motorcycles. So why is the V-Twin the best?

Thanks.
Primaris
 

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I don't understand it either and I currently have one V twin and one V four motorcycle.

Seems to me a lot of the in line fours I owned in years past would run circles around these V shape engines.

My in line 4 cyclinder Kawasaki Voyager XII 1200 had more "zip" than my flat four 1200 Goldwing. Both were touring bikes.
 

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On The Road Again!
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The best? Who's to say what is the best.
Depends on what you want.
To me, the best is my '99 Goldwing with the flat 6 engine.
SMOOTH as silk, almost like an electric motor.
Welcome to the forum!!
 

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Its the HD crowd that thinks there is no alternative to the V-twin, and those that want their cruiser to look like a Harley. I've had v-twins and they can do the job, but I find absolutely nothing about them to make them superior to other styles. And even among v-twin supporters, there is variation in style such as the orientation of the MotoGuzzi engine cylinders. The best cruiser I ever owned was my Triumph Thunderbird with its in-line twin engine. And my current ride, a Goldwing with its inline six cylinder engine, 1832 cc, is without doubt the best motorcycle I have ever had. Some of the big v-twins have a problem with heat, but if you don't mind having that front cylinder roast your thigh, then maybe a v-twin is for you.
 

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Nightfly
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When people have nothing more of value to say then it automatically becomes Harley bashing time. I really do tire of it. The most successful motorcycle brand ever, and for being such they must be brought down.

Offcenter is right on, but why don't people try and give some solid information so someone who apparently knows nothing about a motorcycle engine can be better informed, If you think a particular engine has an edge, why not say why you think that, instead of leaving the guy with nothing.

Cruiser riders are usually looking for better low end torque and V-twins usually fall into that category. It gives a rider that feeling of instant power at lower RPM. Something needed when cruising the back roads taking in the scenery. Taking off from a standing start, usually lower RPM's, the power is there immediately when the rider needs it. They just have more low-down torque than an inline four cylinder engine.

Yes Vito the V-twin is superior to other style engines when it come to making low RPM torque and here's why. V-2 engines typically put out more torque and have a lower redline than 4 cylinder engines but a lot of guys don't really know why. The V-2 engines have a longer stroke so it is at a natural advantage with torque. The crank journals (where the bottom of the rods connect to the crank) are like pedals on a bike and the pistons are like your legs pushing down on them. Bikes with pedals that are farther away from the center of the crank are easier to pedal. The reason the redline is lower is because of piston speed. If engine A has 50mm stroke (1.96 inches) and engine B has 100mm stroke, ( 3.93 inches) if both were turning the same rpm, engine B's piston would be traveling twice as fast as engine A's piston.

Here is a real world example. A Ducati 916 has a bore and stroke of 94mm x 66mm while a2002 ZX-9R has a bore and stroke of 75.0 x 50.9mm. If you break it down the Ducati has the equivalent of a single 131mm piston and 94mm stroke, while the ZX-9R has the equivalent of a single 150mm piston and 50.9mm stroke. As you can see the 916 will have an advantage in torque, but the ZX-9R will have a greater potential for peak horsepower and a higher redline.

The engine that you think best is the one the best fits your needs. I don't rate my bike (a modified Harley) on the smoothness of the engine or it's ability to carry great weight, nor the mileage I get out of the tires. I'm only concerned with its nastiness, its quickness and ability to accelerate. I realize I'm not the normal rider on this forum, but that's what I prefer as a rider.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Very informative TR. Hopefully that answers the question. But doesn't sound play into what people like and V-twins give them that sound? Whether it's Harley or Ducati the V-twin has a unique sound. Other types begin to sound like cars. Can't it be that simple?
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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I like V-Twins and while on the topic of reliability and the best ride ever owned my 2012 Victory Croos Country stands tall in the category with 80,000 totally trouble free miles .. Enough so bought a Garage Queen 2011 Cross Country that betting will outlast me with what riding days I have left at age 70 .. Can talk Heat all you want but never had any heat problems until the EPA started insisting on leaner engines to pass their laws ..
 

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Charlie Tango Xray
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Interesting how one man's observation gets interpreted as a bashing to someone else. I've seen the same people give negative feed back on other brand's clone bikes. "How dare they copy our bikes!" And I've also seen the same people complain when they didn't copy their bike to the last cooling fin. "That bike would look so much better with a V Twin". Make a comment that you like the sound of a two stroke engine and watch for another six paragraph rebuttal.
I prefer the power of my in line fours, but they're wider and often in the way of aging knees. I've used my V four motorcycle to pull my buddie's motorcycle out of the mud several times. If you use your motorcycle like a tractor, yep, V motor torque is your thing. But my favorite motorcycle and everyday rider is a 200 CC forty year old parallel twin with well over 100,000 miles. Whats the saying? "Its more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow". Its never had any motor work done. Not bad for a budget bike built four decades ago. I'd like to think its because both sets of cooling fins are in the front instead of one hiding behind the other. 😘
The truth is, it's no big mystery, the manufacturers will build and sell the bikes that people want, not necessarily the best. Go overseas and the emphasis is on affordable, rugged transportation as opposed to "my motorcycle sounds more biggly then yours". :rolleyes:
 

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I don't have a dog in the fight so I make no comment on "best." I liked three engines of bikes I have owned and they are: First: 3 cylinder BMW K75 flying brick...Incredibly smooth. Second: Kawasaki Voyager XII with its inline four cylinder....Third: 1995 Honda Magna V4. Smooth, very powerful, torque galore.
Presently, at 83, I ride a parallel twin Honda Rebel which does not have enough power to get out of its own way, but hey, I am still riding.
 

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Nightfly
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If you don't know bashing when you see it, then you haven't been very observant. There are those who do give negative feed back on bikes they perceive as being inferior, but you won't find post from me putting forth those thoughts. A lot of guys resent the Harley culture although I don't know why that should influence a decision as to buying a Harley. Sure, there are a lot of fake riders who love to wear the clothes and look the part they perceive that makes them a bad-ass, then go back to their office job on Monday. I don't dress that way and I've never been called out because of it. My suit and tie have never gotten in the way of enjoying my ride. Grin....

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I do believe Harley is grateful for all the clones that have been produced because of the Harley success. Yes, Harley doesn't make all the styles of bikes that many riders prefer, mostly cruisers and touring bikes have been their forté. They don't make a true sport bike like many of the Japanese bikes and for that they get slammed. So what, they've been successful for many a year but, a change is coming and no one knows how it will al shake out.

I still think the live wire bike will land with a resounding thud, mostly it's too over priced.They need to find a way to stop charging Ferrari prices for something with the Harley name on it.
 

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There is no best engine.
There are a variety of engines best suited for a particular job. As explained above, stroke or leveraging power determines torque, and piston speed. My bikes have 1, 2, 3, and 4 cylinders. The best one is the one I am riding at the time.
Most configurations have been around for nearly 100 years. They have all been modified and improved. A notable example would be the side by side twin, with 360, 180, and 270 degree crankshafts. Add counter weights and they are great. Ultimate horsepower comes from higher revs, and more cylinders. There are no V twins in Moto GP. Not all V twins are low reving. It will depend on how they were designed and built, for the intended job.
For the OP, it is easy to find someone who claims this or that is the best.

UK
 

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Nightfly
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There is no best engine.
There are a variety of engines best suited for a particular job. As explained above, stroke or leveraging power determines torque, and piston speed. My bikes have 1, 2, 3, and 4 cylinders. The best one is the one I am riding at the time.
Most configurations have been around for nearly 100 years. They have all been modified and improved. A notable example would be the side by side twin, with 360, 180, and 270 degree crankshafts. Add counter weights and they are great. Ultimate horsepower comes from higher revs, and more cylinders. There are no V twins in Moto GP. Not all V twins are low reving. It will depend on how they were designed and built, for the intended job.
For the OP, it is easy to find someone who claims this or that is the best.

UK
Exactly right UK. That is why I said the one that is best is the one that is best for your particular needs. There is no best...
 

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Here's an article that attempts to identify, categorize and list the benefits of each type of motorcycle engine:


The V twin, in my opinion, continued to be used in motorcycles because it's configuration means it's shape relative to it's displacement is well suited to packaging in a motorcycle, especially a chain ( or belt) driven motorcycle. The way Harley implements the design, using a single crankpin, results in the unique sound, but also is arguably cheaper to manufacture since the crankshaft can be built-up rather than forged in one piece. This is far more likely the reason the configuration was chosen, back in the early 20th century, rather than for the sound. Make a 45 degree V twin engine with two crankpins staggered at 180 degrees, and it will not sound like the Harley engine.

I would argue that a 90 degree V-twin produces more torque, all else being equal, than Harley's narrower V, and that two crankpins produce a smoother runner with less vibration, but I believe Harley's acceptance and dominance in the US cruiser market largely determined what engines were offered by competitors. They offer bikes that look like and sound like Harleys, because they think Americans want Harleys.

I, personally, prefer the simplicity of a twin, or a single, over multiple cylinders, because I appreciate economy and I like to work on my machines myself. Having a single carburetor, and half the moving parts, is a huge benefit, in my mind, when one is working with a machine that has been rusting away in some basement for the last 20 years. Less is more, and singles and twins win that race. When it comes time to rebuild and balance the carbs on your inline 4, you may start to see the merit of my arguement. Lord help the owner of a CB-X!
 

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The best engine I ever had was a 3 cylinder and I still think that 3’s are better than most any other. They are a unique configuration with their own requirements.I think they fill the gap between the V-twin and 4’s that hasn’t truly been exploited. But every 3 cylinder engine I ever had was great, including my K75 I refer to.
 

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The best engine I ever had was a 3 cylinder and I still think that 3’s are better than most any other. They are a unique configuration with their own requirements.I think they fill the gap between the V-twin and 4’s that hasn’t truly been exploited. But every 3 cylinder engine I ever had was great, including my K75 I refer to.
I'd like to throw in another good triple cylinder that's been rock solid and very dependable. The Triumph Hinckley factory triple cylinder motors made in the 1990's and early 2000's. They were pretty rock solid motors that gave me no trouble on either the old Thunderbird or the old Sprint 955. The bikes they put them in were pretty nice looking too. I think that had a lot to do with their reputable comeback and being the company they are today.

Without a doubt the Japanese inline four's and the Honda flat six motors will be in the history books as pretty great motors. My experience so far with both of the V twins is that they are very torquey motors and I haven't experienced any mechanical issues so far.
 

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Without a doubt the Japanese inline four's and the Honda flat six motors will be in the history books as pretty great motors.
I would have to agree with you on that. But then almost anything Honda is darn good.
 

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I wasn't bashing HD and their V-twin obsession. I was only bashing the idea that the v-twin is the best, the end all and be all of motorcycle engines. As Uncle Krusty and others have stated, there is no "best" engine configuration. I think that folks that automatically define anything by HD as the best just because it is made by HD are shortchanging themselves and their potential experiences with other motorcycles that have much to offer a rider.
 

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V65 Junky
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"The most successful motorcycle brand ever " - TR has surely drunk the Kool-Aid.

Honda is by far away the most successful motorcycle manufacturer in the world and has been for decades.

Honda makes about 15 MILLION bikes a year where Harley makes, are you ready for it? 1/4 million.

The V twin is a cheap engine to produce compared to other multi-cylinder engines.
 

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V65 Junky
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Geez, I just read more of your post TR.

"the V-twin is superior to other style engines when it come to making low RPM torque and here's why. V-2 engines typically put out more torque and have a lower redline than 4 cylinder engines but a lot of guys don't really know why. "

Shake your head.

A K1600 has 160 hp and 129 ft/lbs of torque out of a 1,649 cc engine (100 cubic inches). The HD 101 only has 101 torque and a lowly 77 hp.
 
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