Not necessarily. Motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters have engines that are measured in cubic centimeters. The number of cubic centimeters (cc) is a measurement of how much fuel moves through the engine with each rotation of the pistons. For instance, 250 cc of fuel enters the system with each piston movement in a 250 cc engine. Most road-legal motorcycles have engines ranging from 100 cc to over 1,500 cc.
While larger engine size leads to more fuel displacement (and potentially more power), riders should also realize that the larger the bike, the heavier it likely is—which can require more power from an engine just to maintain lower speeds.
A 2013 motorcycle crash study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sheds some light on the misconception that higher ccs leads to more crashes, including the following findings:
- 40 percent of motorcycle riders were killed on motorcycles with engines of 1,000 cc or smaller.
- 28 percent of motorcycle riders were killed in accidents while riding motorcycles with engine sizes from 1,001 to 1,500 cc.
- 17 percent of motorcycle riders were killed on motorcycles with engines larger than 1,501 cc.
- Of all the touring bikes involved in fatal crashes, 86 percent had engines larger than 1,400 cc.
- Of all the supersport bikes involved in fatal crashes, 99 percent had engines of 1,000 cc or smaller.
- The total number of motorcycle rider deaths rose by 18 percent from 2004 to 2013.
Given these findings, engine size alone is not an accurate indication of how dangerous a bike will be. A light bike with a smaller engine could travel much faster than a heavier bike with a larger engine—and overall speed is a known factor of motorcycle crash fatalities.
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