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Motorcycle Weight: Why It Matters & How It Affects Performance

In order to pick the right motorcycle, you need to consider a lot of different factors and explore a lot of different options. One of the most common things people tend to forget is the weight of a motorcycle, and how motorcycle weight affects performance.

The weight of your motorcycle is a very important factor to consider. It affects a lot of things such as speed, comfortability, and ease of riding. Heavy motorcycles also consume more fuel and are more difficult to control. The weight of a motorcycle has a big impact on acceleration and top speed.

You may be able to find a bike with great qualities such as high performance, excellent brakes, and amazing design. But if the motorcycle is too heavy, it won’t be very comfortable or fun to ride. In this guide we’ll consider why motorcycle weight is important and how it affects performance.

How The Weight Of Your Motorcycle Affects Performance

Not only does the weight of your motorcycle have a huge impact on performance, but the weight of the rider plays a part as well. Too much weight will drastically decrease your top speed and acceleration. Therefore, the lighter the motorcycle the better, if you’re going for pure speed.

An average motorcycle weighs about 400 pounds (181kg). The weight of a motorcycle is especially important for people who race or compete in competitions where a lightweight motorcycle will clearly have an edge over heavier ones.

Obviously, it’s not just the weight that determines how fast your bike will go, but it’s clearly an important factor. Plus, it’s not just your top speed that will be affected. So, what else will your motorcycle’s weight affect?

What Parts Of The Motorcycle Are Affected The Most?

Top Speed & Acceleration

Have you ever wondered why a lot of 600cc engines are faster than 1000cc ones? The main reason is that 1000cc motorcycle engines are much heavier than 600cc engines. This significantly decreases both the top speed and the acceleration of the motorcycle.

For instance, imagine two 300cc motorcycles with the same amount of power, but let’s say the first one weighs 300 pounds and the second one weighs 400 pounds. The first one will accelerate much faster and reach its top speed quicker as it weighs less than the second one.

Another important point is that a motorcycle with a 300cc engine can reach the same top speed as a car with a 1000cc engine. Now, how is it possible that they have the same top speed if the 1000cc engine is much more powerful than the 300cc? This is simply because the car is much heavier than the motorcycle.

The same goes for the weight of the riders. Let’s say the first rider weighs 80kg and the second one weighs 50kg. If they try to race each other with two identical motorcycles, the second rider will accelerate and achieve the top speed a lot faster.

Steering & Handling

Another thing that is affected by the weight of your motorcycle is the steering and overall handling. When there is too much load on the motorcycle, riding will feel much less comfortable. So, you need to remember that the heavier the motorcycle is, the less comfortable the riding experience will be.

On the other hand, lightweight motorcycles are far more comfortable, easier to control, and often more fun to ride. That’s why, when searching for the ideal motorcycle, you probably want to go for a lighter bike over a heavier bike.

Brakes

The heavier the motorcycle is, the more time it will need to stop when you activate the brakes. Thus, if your motorcycle is lightweight, it will stop much faster than if you have a heavier bike.

The logic behind this is that the center of gravity of the motorcycle moves forward when you apply the brakes, putting more pressure and load on the front wheel. This leaves less weight on the rear wheel. So, the less pressure on the motorcycle, the faster the brakes lock.

When the brakes lock up, they’re no longer slowing the bike, and instead the wheel just stops turning but continues to travel forwards. With a lighter bike, the pressure difference over both wheels under braking is likely to be smaller than that of a heavier bike. This means there’s less chance of the brakes locking.

The Ease Of Control

Heavy motorcycles are less agile compared to lightweight models. This can make the experience of riding a heavier motorcycle less enjoyable. Long story short, too much weight drastically compromises riding ability and comfort.

For example, imagine going for a walk and carrying heavyweight equipment for camping with you. This would make the walking less enjoyable. The same goes for heavyweight motorcycles. You will constantly struggle to turn, brake, and park when riding.

However, if you are quite strong and muscular, it might be easier for you to control a heavyweight bike. But, if you’re not the strongest, riding heavyweight motorcycles will definitely feel uncomfortable.

Fuel Consumption

The weight of the motorcycle, along with the weight of the rider, can affect its fuel consumption. The heavier the motorcycle and the rider are, the more the engine will have to work to move that larger mass at the same rate as for a lighter bike. This directly impacts the overall fuel consumption.

Furthermore, note that the more load you put on the engine, the faster it heats up. This will not only decrease its efficiency, but it will also reduce the lifespan of the engine. So, if you are planning on buying a heavyweight motorcycle, keep the higher fuel consumption in mind.

Easier To use

One of the main reasons people buy motorcycles is to have fun. So, if a motorcycle is too heavy and hard to ride, it won’t be very fun. On the other hand, if it’s lightweight, and can be ridden at much higher speeds, the overall experience is much more enjoyable.

This factor is fairly subjective though, so you may need to take a few bikes for test rides to find out where your ideal weight lies. It’s different for everyone, and the fun factor of any bike definitely depends on more factors than just the weight alone.

Stability

Although having a heavyweight motorcycle has a lot of downsides, it has one important advantage we must not forget. The heavier the bike, the more stable it is. This doesn’t mean lightweight motorcycles are not stable, but they are not as stable as the heavyweight ones are.

This stability factor is often dependent on other aspects of the bike though. So while your heavier bike might feel more stable at higher speeds than a lighter bike, it might not just be down to the weight. But there’s no doubt that heavier bikes can be more stable than lighter ones, just like a heavier car can be more stable than a smaller, lighter one.

What Weight Is Considered To Be Light Or Heavy?

The average motorcycle weighs around 400 pounds (181 kg). Lightweight motorcycles, on the other hand, are considered to be around 300 pounds. However, even the ones that are about 400 pounds are often considered to be lightweight.

Still, anything above 400 pounds is considered heavyweight, there are even models that weigh more than 800 pounds. But remember, different types of motorcycles have different standards for what’s average.

Therefore, it is difficult to be very precise when it comes to an average weight for a motorcycle. Below is a list of different types of motorcycles and some average weights for them.

  • Moped – These motorcycles often weigh somewhere between 160 and 180 pounds (73-82 kg). Anything above 180 pounds is considered to be heavy for mopeds.
  • Dirt bike – The average weight for dirt bikes is from 100 to 250 pounds. If they are below 100 pounds, they are considered to be lightweight.
  • Scooter – The standard for average weight for scooters is a bit different. When a scooter is around 250 pounds, it is considered to have an average weight.
  • Cruiser – Anything that weighs less than 400 pounds is considered to be lightweight for cruisers. Average cruisers often weigh from 400 to 700 pounds.
  • Bagger – Baggers are motorcycles that have a very high standard for average weight. The average weight for them is 700 to 850 pounds.
  • Sport Motorcycles – These motorcycles are considered to be lightweight with their average weight of 300 to 500 pounds. Still, anything heavier than 500 pounds is considered to be heavyweight for a sport motorcycle.
  • Touring – Touring motorcycles, just like cruisers, have a pretty high standard for an average weight. Their average weight is from 800 to 1000 pounds, making them the heaviest on the list.
  • Adventure Bikes – They have a decent weight varying from 500 to 600 pounds. Any motorcycle above 600 pounds is considered heavy for an adventure bike.
  • Chopper – Choppers are also among the heaviest motorcycles. An average chopper weighs from 650 to 720 pounds.

Why Does Motorcycle Weight Vary?

The components that have the biggest impact on the overall weight of a motorcycle are the exhaust system, wheels, battery, engine, and braking system. The most important factors will depend on the type of motorcycle you’re riding.

Most motorcycles that are heavyweight also have powerful engines. On the other hand, most lightweight motorcycles were made to be that way as they don’t have very powerful engines. Although lightweight motorcycles won’t give you the opportunity to ride at very high speed, they tend to have more responsive handling.

Likewise, if a bike has a larger engine, it will also tend to have a weightier braking system to ensure the bike is able to slow down fast enough. So, clearly some of the heavier components of a bike can influence other parts of it too, and a bike can very quickly become heavier as you increase the size of the engine, due to this knock-on effect.

How To Know If Your Motorcycle Is Too Heavy

If you can’t tell for sure whether your motorcycle is lightweight or heavyweight, here are some signs to look out for:

Your motorcycle falls over a lot – If your motorcycle is constantly falling and doesn’t stay steady when you put it down, it’s definitely a sign that it’s too heavy.

You see sparks when turning – If you start getting small sparks when turning it could be a sign that your motorcycle is too heavy as there is too much load and pressure on the tires.

The motorcycle is seriously damaged after falling – If your motorcycle fell on the ground and got severely damaged, that most likely means it is extremely heavy.

If you feel uncomfortable while riding – If you find your motorcycle quite difficult to ride, and actions such as turning your motorcycle and moving it around when you’re not on it feel too difficult, this is a sign that your motorcycle is too heavy and probably over 400 pounds.

Reducing The Weight Of Your Motorcycle

If your motorcycle is too heavy, there are a few things you can do to reduce its weight. Performing just a couple of modifications will make a noticeable difference. Here are some of the easiest modifications to reduce the weight of your motorcycle:

  • Shorten your seat – Shortening your seat is a great way to reduce the overall weight of your bike. Although it is a minor change, it will make a noticeable difference.
  • Remove your fenders – Fenders also add a lot of weight to a motorcycle. Shortening, replacing or removing both your rear and front fenders can help reduce its weight.
  • Replace your exhaust – Lightweight exhausts are made using high-quality materials. They are both lightweight and durable. So, if your exhaust is too heavy, you may want to replace it.
  • Opt for lighter wheels – Wheels play a very significant part in your motorcycle’s weight. Opting for some lighter wheels will reduce the overall weight quite a lot.
  • Replace the rims – Many rims are made of heavy metals. Switching to lighter rims will reduce the overall weight of your bike.
  • Reduce the amount of fuel you ride with – A full tank of fuel could weigh an additional 20 pounds or more. So, if you’re not planning on riding long distances, fill up only half the tank.

Final Thoughts

The weight of your motorcycle has a huge impact on the overall riding experience. Heavyweight motorcycles are usually slower, less comfortable, and more difficult to control than lighter ones. Still, heavyweight motorcycles can be much more stable than the lightweight ones. When choosing your next motorcycle, make sure you consider its weight!