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What is Torque?

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You have no doubt heard the expression “that bike’s a bit torquey” during your years as a motorcycle enthusiast, but have you ever wondered just what it means?

To clear this up, let us explain just exactly what the word “Torque” means and why it is important when it comes to riding and owning a motor bike.

A simple definition

The simple definition of Torque could be as easy as:

“The Torque generated by an engine is an entity which determines the pulling capacity of the motorcycle”

When considering the sheer power of a motorbike, its maximum speed and power, Torque is just one of the factors that comes into play. Welcome to motor engineering 101 where we shine a light on how torque works.

Torque Is The Force That Gets You Moving

All engines have both torque and horse power, so it’s easy to imagine they are different words for the same thing. They are indeed related, and without torque you would produce no power, although it is a little subtler than that.

Torque is the measurement of the turning force of something, and power is the amount of work something does over a given amount of time. But, what does that mean in a real-life example?

Moving away from engines, and trying not to overwork a metaphor… consider this. If you put an Olympic cyclist on a BMX and a regular rider on a Racer, what do you think is going to happen?

Well, the Olympian with his powerful legs will transfer loads of turning power through the pedals to the wheel and take off like a shot, while the regular riders’ ‘ambling’ legs set him wobbling off at a crawl. He doesn’t have the same capacity to overcome inertia.

What happens next is not surprising though. Soon, the cycling superman is spinning his legs as fast as he can, and has maxed out. Meanwhile, our regular rider has worked up through his 12 gears and is winding the Olympian in. So, despite having less turning force in his legs, ultimately the work he can do (make the bike go some distance) in the same amount of time is greater. This in many respects, is thanks to the ‘system’ of the bike.

Now consider the performance of a 250cc 2-cylinder 2 stroke engine. The reason you have to ride them with the throttle cranked open is because they have low torque, but do produce loads of power in the ‘power band’ way up the rev range. Compare this to a huge 2-cylinder 4 stroke Ducati for example. This bike has bundles of turning force due to its 2 huge pistons and stroke length, and will deliver punchy, hard acceleration from low to mid-range revs, but will rev out comparatively early next to the 2-stroke.

So, putting all the science aside, you can look at torque as the low revs grunt that helps your bike to accelerate hard from low revs. The type of riding experience you are looking for, e.g. fast and furious or low and lazy, dictates the amount of torque you should look for in your next bike.

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